Is it just me, or has anyone noticed how ‘the media wing’ of the British Government has been setting the tone and limiting the parameters of the discussion on Northern Ireland’s future?

The standard practice politico-journalists – if that might best describe them – is generally to start an impartial BBC interview with a loaded question.

By that, I mean a question that starts with a statement of the opinion of the journalist or the BBC presented as the general public consensus, followed by an opportunity to agree or disagree.

Agreement will allow the person being interviewed to get a word in edgeways; increasingly, disagreement will entitle the interviewer to repeatedly interrupt you before you get halfway through a sentence, to the point where it is impossible for the listener – and often the speaker – to coherently follow the train of thought.

The debate is characterised as the interviewer not having a view, but merely being the empty vessel through which ‘the voice of the people’ is speaking, and holding the political advocate/representative to account.

Meanwhile, the people are muttering at the TV or the radio in disagreement with the interviewer as often as with the interviewee, and generally switch off at the point where the BBC starts interviewing itself, to make sure we all get the message.

Other TV and radio outlets are available, and behave much the same.

But we are not paying their bills.


Regular readers of this column will remember that a few weeks back, I summed up the key areas of financial action dictated by maths, regardless of politics.

If you missed that, here it is again: seek to the cancel the debts; see where you might be able to decrease the expenditure; see where you can maximise the income.

Debt first – the UK can, and should, write off the existing debt to the Treasury Reserve.

Writing off debt is not an unusual thing to do in the Business and Finance world.

The debt is owed because of overspending in the Northern Ireland Budget.

The total amount owed is significantly greater than the £113million the NI Executive is being press-ganged into raising this year alone.

For the everyday person with an overdraft with the bank, and who gets a bit of a financial lift with a win on the horses, birthday money, or even a decent pay rise with back pay, the money goes into the bank, but the overdraft – which is debt – eats it all, and for everyday need, you are back to square one!

The Department of Finance – and therefore the rest of us – will be in the same boat even if they raise the £113million.

The Head of the Civil Service indicated some time back that the debt by March, 2023, looked more like twice that amount.

Like any savvy money-lender, the Tory deal includes increasing the capacity of the Executive to borrow more money, even though they can’t currently meet their everyday costs, never mind pay back what they owe!

So we will have even more debt than before, in order to meet much the same level of services we already have.

Many charities providing community support and advice have sought legislation preventing money lenders from seducing people into borrowing money that they cannot possibly afford to pay back without significant impoverishment.

Most people living in hardship have learned over time, and often the hard way, that ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ is rough going, and leads nowhere in the long run.

The Minister for Finance might do well to talk to them and the people working with them to reduce unreasonable debt burdens before taking on the Treasury.

They know a thing or two!


Finding a balance between maximising income and minimising expenditure is a problem every person and household faces every single day.

It isn’t working out well for most, and our children are suffering most, as a result.