My old friend, the late Gerry Burns used to tell me about a colleague who visited a Council Chief Executive in hospital to tell him that the Council had passed a resolution to send him best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Knowing that he’d had a few run-ins with councillors, the Chief Executive replied: “Really?”

“Yes,” said the colleague, “it passed by five votes to four, with 11 abstentions!” Gerry chuckled at the thought that while only a quarter of Councillors voted in favour, it still went down in the record books as a formal good wish!

A couple of weeks ago, as frustration at Stormont grew over measures to combat Covid, the DUP told us with a straight face that they had got agreement on a way forward with the other four parties in the coalition.

Considering Sinn Fein voted against, the SDLP abstained and both Alliance and the Ulster Unionists made it very clear they felt forced into agreeing rather than face an even worse situation, it was some agreement.

Nobody would disagree that the awful Covid crisis has put our politicians in an extremely difficult position, to say the least, but they certainly have given their many critics an open goal. The public, already frustrated by a lack of clarity, is in an angry mood with those they elected to take crucial decisions.

Angry is not my word, a former DUP Minister, Simon Hamilton now in a business role outside politics, tweeted that there was “real anger” about the Executive decision a couple of weeks ago.

All this has led to serious questions being asked about the very existence of Stormont; and if it doesn’t work, where do we go from here?

More immediately, though, confusion reigns in our approach to Covid. While it would be unfair to totally lay the blame at the door of our politicians – individuals need to take responsibility – the fact is that the squabbling shambolic operation at Stormont and its poor leadership is causing dangerous confusion.

So, we get people who are so frustrated and annoyed that they’re going their own way and defying public health messages.

A Pastor in a church in Belfast says he’s opening his doors and holding church services. Students in the Holylands in the city mingled on the streets after house parties. And the queues outside shops on Sunday were, surely, a direct result of the decision to open up for a week and then close them from Friday for at least two weeks.

What sort of mad logic was that? Everyone could see what was going to happen; but as Groucho Marx said, “why a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can’t make head or tail of it.”

So maybe one of our smart kids could explain to our leaders that, if the shops have to close tomorrow because they’re a risk in spreading Covid, what sort of damage has the last seven days done?

And how will we gauge that. When the numbers of Covid cases rises in the next couple of weeks, how do we know when people were infected?

As well as a lack of clear thinking and the lack of a cohesive plan, I think one of the problems that the public has little understanding of the logic of decisions.

We’re being told what to do, and an atmosphere of fear has built up, but our so-called experts in going out and communicating their reasoning. The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor seem to be selective in going on the media to explain, and when they do I personally find them far from convincing.

I read one newspaper report that in England, only 1.6 per cent of infection comes from hospitality, while another report suggested that opening schools could see the R rate rise by 0.2. How do they know all this? And do we believe what we want to believe?

While there are many people defying the rules, many more are compliant and taking real care in schools, in sports clubs, in restaurants and cafes, in shops. And yet, they are the people suffering.

Covid is here, there’s no doubt about that. But the confusion and the lockdown is causing real hardship and problems.

There are practical problems and psychological problems with mental health, whether that be schoolchildren having to sit GCSEs this week after missing long periods in class. Or children not able to play, or footballers not able to resume their Championship because of some strange IFA decision not to classify them as elite.

There are too many heartbreaking stories in our communities.

I read a tweet which told this story about a friend getting a taxi to work: “Driver broke down over latest lockdown. Yesterday worked 14 hours for £15. Last week made £70. He’s five months in mortgage arrears. Kids go to school with bread and beetroot sandwiches. Has sold car, tv and most furniture. Kids sit on deck chairs.”

And the sad news this week of the death of Mickey McPhillips really rocked me back. Such a decent and likeable man, and his brother Richie has given an interview revealing that Mickey was at a low ebb. Having had Covid symptoms he was very fearful of bring the virus back home to his 85-year-old mother and had been isolating. He didn’t live to know that a test was negative, poor lad.

People are struggling; remember that.

Opening the whole issue out, the politicians bear an awesome responsibility and we need to remember that they didn’t cause Covid and are having to deal with an unprecedented problem.

But when all this is over, and it will be, I’m wondering how we will judge our politicians. Will they be judged on how well they performed and handled the Covid crisis?

Or will there, as always, be little accountability. They didn’t even sit at Stormont for nearly three years. Will we judge them on how they wasted millions on RHI, or how they continue to fail to fully implement a mental health strategy? Or tackle racism, or child proverty?

There is much focus on our health service at the minute which is under incredible strain. But it already was, and it seems to me that politicians, top civil servants and management are not accountable for the way our health service is run. Our health workers, who had to go on picket lines last winter to get a decent wage, have been badly let down.

Pat Cullen, director of the Royal College of Nursing, told the Irish News this week that conditions were "unsafe". She said our health service was short of more than 2,500 nurses prior to the pandemic.

"We have now depleted our nursing service to the point where we can only run a Covid service," she said. "What we are seeing now is every part of society suffering as a result of what they’ve done to nursing for the past 12 years.”

Aside from the rising waiting lists even before the pandemic, we’re now in the incredible position of seeing two public inquiries being set up into the scandal at Muckamore and the concerns about the clinical practice of a consultant at Craigavon hospital.

And we still await action on the O’Hara inquiry findings of cover-up of the deaths of children in hospitals.

All this on the watch of our Assembly.

Covid is putting our politicians under pressure like never before, no doubt about that. But their track record in leadership and competence is now being exposed.

The thing is, when election time comes around again, will we vote for “our side” in order to keep “them ‘uns” out, or will we elect politicians outside tribal lines to make our lives better?