They’re a bit like buses. You’re standing there and suddenly out of nowhere, two arrive. You hop on one of them and the other quickly fades to the back of your mind or is totally forgotten. That’s why the HET people must be today thanking God for Nelson McCausland. If their biased actions, where the ‘security’ forces got a velvet glove investigation while others felt the weight of their iron hand - if their lop-sided approach hadn’t emerged at the same time as the Nelson McCausland affair, they’d be getting hammered a lot harder and longer than is now the case.
That's because everyone is talking about my old chum Nelson. For example, the BBC’s The View made for interesting viewing last night. It was like a studio version of a medieval kitchen preparing a banquet. On the spit was dear old Nelson; gripping the spit’s turning handle was Mark Carruthers. Mark kept asking Nelson questions about his relationship with the people in Red Sky, and Nelson kept twisting this way and that to avoid the flames. Instead of answering, Nelson did all he could to imply that the whole thing was makey-up stuff by the BBC and that his, Nelson's, dealings were nothing short of exemplary.
Part of this strategy involved accusing Mark of not allowing him to answer the questions put. Talk about chutzpah. What Nelson was actually doing was playing for time. Filibustering. Yammering on about the general poor quality of all contractors working for the Housing Executive, rather than addressing what was asked, which was about him and meetings with Red Sky people.
Credit where credit is due - Mark got his teeth into Nelson's ankle and wouldn't let go. Are you going to answer the question? Will you answer the question? Why don't you answer the question instead of answering one I haven't asked? Nelson’s defence, insofar as he had one, seemed to be that most every contractor apple in the NIHE barrel was rotten, not just Red Sky. EH? I’m thumping this child, but don’t you be blaming me for it, sure the whole street is full of thumpers? Mmm. Did you come up with that line yourself, Nelson, or did your political adviser suggest it? Things weren't helped when the interview ended and Mark crossed the studio floor, where both Michael Copeland of the UUP and Alex Maskey of Sinn Féin agreed that the Minister would be doing himself and the rest of us a favour by stepping aside while investigations were underway - something Nelson had found laughable. That is, an appalling vista.
And as if The View grilling weren't enough, now Stormont’s being recalled on Monday to have a little chat with Nelson. It’ll be interesting to see if the DUP decide to stand by their man or the sound of DUP feet will be heard thundering to put some distance between them and this dead man walking. Either way, let’s hope it gets sorted quickly and correctly. Because the revelation that the HET is useless when looking at ‘security’ forces’ actions is, in the end, a far more important story.