Vanity projects are an endless demand on the public purse

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and then Prime Minister Gordon Brown during the 2010 leaders' debate.
David Cameron, Nick Clegg and then Prime Minister Gordon Brown during the 2010 leaders' debate.

The water crisis is over – for the moment.

Workers are being offered an enormous bung totalling four per cent (this doesn’t include the pension issue, the cause of their industrial action in the first place) to ensure that families up and down the country won’t ever again have to melt snow for water to wash the dishes.

Sandra Chapman

Sandra Chapman

Their on-call allowance is to be increased to £135 a week (that’s more than the state pension) back dated to September last.

What a bountiful start to their new year and how happy their union NIPSA must be. Of course we all know where this record largesse is going. What’s to hinder every other public sector worker to down tools and demand similar packages?

We can be grateful for one small mercy when it comes to squandering taxpayers’ money. Belfast City Council had the support of only one party – who else but the economically illiterate Sinn Fein whose idea it was in the first place – for a proposal to fund political parties to the tune of £175,000 a year, as if it is ratepayers’ responsibility to do such a thing.

But then coming down the line is another demand from the public purse – the £353,000 prison costs here of convicted Tyrone drug smuggler Michaella McCollum when she returns to Ulster.

From Tyrone but holding an Irish passport the Dublin Government successfully lobbied for her release but they want her returned to the North. Of course they would.

Why should they pay when the mugs of Ulster can be made to foot the bill for her criminality? As they say, you couldn’t make it up.

Add to this is the proposal of the Sinn Fein minister John O’Dowd to push through plans for an Irish-medium school in Dungiven despite numerous professional groups insisting the scheme is not viable. But then Sinn Fein show no mercy to the taxpayers when it comes to pushing forward their republican agenda.

Do they care that many frail, elderly people are marooned in their homes with just a paltry 15 minute visit from a care worker a few times a day if they’re lucky to help them? So short is this care service that some of these elderly people are having to choose between eating or going to the toilet.

Then there are all those patients languishing for hours on trolleys when they arrive at hospital emergency units because there isn’t the money to provide proper care? One could fill this newspaper with more deserving cases than the water workers or Michaella McCollum.

Then there is the re-branding of our new super councils. Consultants are earning hundreds of thousands drawing up those new corporate looks with an estimated £150,000 paid out to date.

Former councillor Seamus Close has described the exercise as `an extravagant waste of money at a time of cutbacks and austerity’. Austerity? Is that not a Greek thing? You might well ask.

And then there is the latest vanity project of the DUP who plan to spend heaven knows how much on a legal case to fight their proposed exclusion from the UK-wide televised leaders’ debate.

Top lawyers have been hired according to the party for the `courtroom showdown’ in London according to the News Letter this week. Where is the money coming from as we all know that lawyers do not come cheap and `top’ lawyers ask for the equivalent of lottery wins for their services. It would make McCollum’s prison costs seem a pittance.

I haven’t encountered anyone who thinks our politicians should be involved in a national televised debate such as the one proposed since, because of impartiality rules, it would mean all our parties would have to be involved.

I cringe at the thought. We could end up a laughing stock. All this, too, supported by the taxes we pay.

Our politicians live in cloud cuckoo land, unfortunately they don’t sound as good as the famously shy bird.