Departure of key aide is another blow to good governance

Morning View
Morning View

The departure of Richard Bullick as a key advisor to Arlene Foster will mean little to the general public.

Even within the political and media world, he was a low-key figure who influenced events behind the scenes, so he was barely noticed outside that milieu. But he operated at the highest levels of the DUP and Stormont.

Mr Bullick has moved into public affairs, which is the sphere in which politics links to the wider world of business and policy and public relations.

As our report today on his departure as a DUP aide reveals, Mr Bullick was highly regarded within and beyond his party.

His exit is a loss to local politics and a casualty of Sinn Fein’s cynical decision to collapse the executive.

For all the cynicism about politicians, it is hard to find people of calibre either to stand for elected office or to help run political parties.

In the absence of talented such people, governance as a whole suffers and incompetence or scandals such as RHI become more likely.

This is not a problem restricted to unionism, or even to Northern Ireland. Nationalism struggles to attract talented advisors also, as does politics across Britain and Ireland. Other countries have a similar challenge.

But the difficulty is all the more acute here, because it is a small population with many political parties.

When the political institutions go into abeyance, no wonder advisors and politicians look for other work.

For the sake of both unionism and Northern Ireland as a whole, the DUP will need to have a successful trawl of talent for the crucial vacancy that the departure of Mr Bullick has now created.

Sinn Fein, with its unpredictable conduct and its arrogant demands, has had its latest casualty, but it shows no indication of being in the least concerned about the instability it is causing.