Unbelievably, the staffers at LAD stopped drinking for long enough to suffer an alarming moment of collective clarity.  The most disturbing result of this was an unwelcome sense of awareness which suggested sobriety was not to be embraced and after much heated debate, the Skol was flowing once again.

Quality peeve as endorsed by LAD
During this time of abstinence however, some things were written down which could almost be deemed to have origins in coherent thought.  The general theme of this material had a tone of discontent.  Mostly along the lines of what is wrong with Narnarn politics?

We constantly hear Arnold Foster harping on about what a great place Narnarn is to invest in and how golf courses and the Titanic legacy will drive our economy from strength to strength.  Okay, perhaps that's a bit flippant but beyond being photographed holding things, you could be forgiven for thinking that is at times, Arnold's economic strategy.  Similarly, the First Minister (FM) and deputy First Minister (dFM) fly around the world telling everyone how great things are in this little place of ours and that Narnarn is the place to be; we have the skills, the infrastructure, the technology.  Yes, we have it all,  except a working government and politicians who are genuinely interested in moving forward.

Golf will save us all!
Our politicians are charged with dragging us into the future but we are all suffering at the hands of an Executive that is inept and barely, if at all, fit for purpose.  Even the FM and dFM can't agree if the Executive is working or not, but the proof is surely there for all to see, with a near total lack of Executive business being debated (a generous term) within the Assembly.  The majority of the electorate seem more keen to move on than those we have elected.
Whatabouterye big mawn?
For any political novices out there, our devolved government is the Executive, the work of which is scrutinised by the legislature, in our case the Assembly (you may be forgiven for being unaware of such, given that the media generally treat the two as a single entity called Stormont).  That is what should happen but at present the Executive is suffering a case of legislative constipation which leaves the Assembly struggling to create business and on watching recent debate, you could be forgiven for thinking you have mistakenly tuned into a town council meeting.

There is much comment regarding voter apathy and perhaps some of this could be explained by looking at the demographic of our MLAs.  Over 80% of members are male, with an average age of 53.  The female contingent of just 21 MLAs has an average age of 44, which brings the overall average down to a respectable 51.  The oldest MLA is 73, the youngest just 22, which is perhaps too young in terms of life experience but nonetheless, is a positive step in attempting to gain interest of younger voters.  That's a simplistic view but as moderate voters see the majority parties pander to a small minority to the detriment of the majority, is it actually worth voting?
The Young Parlimentarians Club
Notably, the two parties with the highest average age, SDLP and UUP are the parties which have endured the biggest losses since devolution.  Perhaps that suggests the more moderate parties are suffering due to a lack of younger representatives or simply arrogance and relying on past victories?  The grey vote has been mentioned in relation to both and this is something the parties need to address if they aren't to fade into obscurity in the very near future.  They hold sway with the middle and upper classes who it seems, are giving up their democratic right.  Given the state of Narnarn politics, is it any wonder?

We're left with extremes, the hard line DUP on one hand and the socialist (far more socialist than the SDLP) Sinn Féin on the other.  Both these parties appeal to polar opposites of the electorate and probably mop up the more moderate voters who feel an 'X' for the UUP or SDLP is wasted vote, yet can still be bothered to vote.  Together, they're meant to be working in a power-sharing partnership and working towards a brighter future for all but that isn't happening.

Despite small glimmers of progress, both parties are generally backward looking, choosing to argue again and again about the past, who is to blame, who is the biggest victim, who was right, who was wrong.  It's the biggest stumbling block to progress but it is also something that cannot be ignored.  A question could be asked about how much emphasis is being placed on the past at the cost of the future, shared or otherwise?
Would the captain go down with this ship?

At the moment, the past is like a chain around our collective neck, it pervades and impedes.  As things stand, we are in no danger of progressing far until agreement is reached on the past.  While MLAs accuse the Victims' Commissioner of failing to define a victim, they seem to forget that they have been unable to agree a definition of victim for years!  Is there a different way to address the needs and legacy of victims without having what must often appear to those looking in, as a victims industry?  It sometimes seems strange that other countries look to us for help on conflict resolution when it could be said we are yet to deal with it properly ourselves.  Is the victims issue holding progress back as a whole and if it is, how could victims be better served?  Another impass at the Executive doesn't help.
Perhaps things will really start to move for Narnarn when the current crop of aging career politicians move on, hopefully to be replaced with younger ones, more closely matching the local demographic, who grew up free of the direct influence of the Troubles and, touch wood, free of the influence of those who seek to retain the status quo; young politicians who want a brighter future for their peers and for future generations and can rise above the whataboutery politics that is hobbling the current political establishment.  Would it be better if the moderate parties rose to prominence once again or is it time for something entirely new?  What is certain is something at the Executive table needs to change soon before the Stormont institutions fail us again.