I see my old friend Nelson McCausland is in the news again. Nelson is a man of great moral integrity, which means he’s always alert to any case where people may be falling short of the high standards he himself observes. In case you’re raising your eyebrows at that, let me remind you that when he was Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, he wrote to the Ulster Museum telling them to display a range of Creationist and other anti-evolution material. His high standards told him that the job of the Museum was to “reflect the views of all the people in Northern Ireland”. Richard Dawkins at the time suggested that maybe the museum should also exhibit the stork theory of where babies come from - “or perhaps the museum should introduce the flat earth theory”.
These days Nelson is getting a bit puce-faced over this £18 million in the Housing Executive accounts that's gone missing. He says it’s “a scandal” and the result of either “incredible incompetence” or “wilful corruption”. “This is taxpayers’ money that could have been used to build around 200 much-needed social homes”.
I like that kind of talk. It shows a Minister with a strong ethical backbone, and when he comes on people who have done wrong, he swings his parish-priest blackthorn stick with energy and in a very public way. In fact, Nelson is so caught up in stick-swinging he's quite forgotten that there’s a link between the Minister for Social Development and the Housing Executive. That is, the Minister is er um you know responsible for the Housing Executive. If that’s the case, the buck stops at the top and the Minister is maybe damaging himself each time he swings that blackthorn at the Housing Executive.
But I’m sure there's another, more innocent explanation. It’s surely not conceivable that a Minister would yell for everyone’s attention while he hits himself over the head with a big stick. Isn't it?