In an almost comical moment after the 2010 general election, Martin McGuinness predicted to the media that the newly elected Tory government was going to inflict “huge pain” in terms of spending cuts.
The deputy first minister stood beside Peter Robinson when he made that prediction. The pair got on reasonably well then.
The DUP leader had himself gone into the 2010 election predicting “early cuts” as the only guaranteed Tory policy, and saying that the Conservatives offer “nothing but pain for Ulster”.
Coming from Mr Robinson, the prediction was party politics, in the face of the UUP-Tory pact. The first minister cannot be unaware of the Treasury’s unwavering generosity to Northern Ireland in terms of the lavish subvention to the Province.
Coming from Mr McGuinness, the prediction was almost comical given how grotesque it was, in light of near limitless UK generosity to Northern Ireland generally, and to republicans specifically, given the cross-party determination at Westminster to install Sinn Fein-IRA in government at Stormont, despite the economic cost of almost 40 years of republican terror.
It is absurd to suggest that Northern Ireland has suffered real pain from cuts. We have free prescriptions, which England doesn’t, and more hospitals per person than Great Britain. Most parts of the mainland don’t have free travel at 60, which the Province does.
The days of consequence-free spending at Stormont, which governs a part of the UK that enjoys higher per capita spending, were unlikely to continue indefinitely.
Welfare Reform is needed in Northern Ireland, in which 180,000 people are on Disability Living Allowance.
The Treasury is penalising the refusal to accept reform. The Alliance minister Stephen Farry has merely pointed out that the penalty threatens projects such as the Magee College expansion.
SDLP and Sinn Fein, who have combined to thwart the National Crime Agency (which suited south Armagh criminals), are now also responsible for cancelled projects such as Magee.