No, honestly, take as long as you like we’ll just wait here ‘til you’re ready

The patience of people across the province is wearing thin over the failure to move forward
The patience of people across the province is wearing thin over the failure to move forward

Many, many years ago before I reached the heights of business journalism, I was an education correspondent.

The work frequently entailed dealing with school inspection reports that took the expression ‘bone dry’ to another galaxy.

The awarding of a ‘satisfactory’ was enough to have heads in joyous rapture, while a ‘good’, well, a good was virtually unheard of.

Which is why it was faintly alarming when the Chartered Accountants were among the few - along with Retail NI and Hospitality Ulster - to bother to issue a statement following the collapse of the latest talks round on Wednesday.

Accountants, like school inspectors, do not indulge in hyperbole as Zara Duffy set things out succinctly: “The failure to reach agreement is creating an instability which is now affecting jobs, essential services and the quality of life for people in Northern Ireland.

“The UK will leave the EU in just over a year, and we expect Northern Ireland to be more adversely affected by this than the rest of the UK. This is already creating a great deal of uncertainty around future business relationships and trading realities. Unfortunately the democratic deficit that exists without a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly only intensifies this uncertainty.”

And that’s just for starters.

On top of our creaking education and health systems, not to mention the collapsing roads network, it also emerged this week that the life expectancy gap in the UK is widening as data reveals a boy born in a poor neighbourhood today will die 8.4 years earlier than someone from a rich area.

Couple that with evidence that the poorest fifth of households have seen their wealth decline in real terms over two years.

The top 10% of households owned almost half of all total wealth, while those in the top 1% owned assets worth at least £3.2m. Those in the bottom 10% had £14,100 or less.

Finally, new housing figures indicate that more and more young are destined to spend their lives in rental accommodation as house prices have risen an average seven times faster than their incomes.

But it’s okay, we can wait...