Forget North Korea what about ending the impasse in the North of Ireland?
POLITICAL silly season normally ends when the Dáil returns from its lengthy summer break but this year it appears to be running well into the Autumn. It seems utterly ludicrous but this week we find ourselves asking what do Ministers John Halligan, Shane Ross and Finian McGrath have in common with eccentric American basketball star Dennis Rodman?
Well, it would seem, the members of this unusual quartet feel that they can succeed where both the US and UN have failed and bring “peace in our time” to the Korean peninsula.
For those unfamiliar with Mr Rodman, he is a former NBA player of the year and a colourful personality, to put it mildly, who has enjoyed an eclectic career since retiring from professional basketball. Among other things he has tried his hand at professional wrestling; dated numerous celebrities; appeared in a variety of very poorly received action movies and once even tried to marry himself.
He is also idolised by North Korean despot and basketball fanatic Kim Jong-Un whom Rodman calls his “friend for life” and who he has visited in Pyongyang on several occasions.
Ahead of his most recent North Korean trip last June, Rodman said he hoped to help ease North Korea’s international isolation by bringing more international sports to the pariah state that is led by his dictatorial friend.
He was roundly mocked at the time but, to be fair, given his close relationship with Kim Jong-Un it’s arguable that, however unusual his lifestyle, Rodman could exert a far more positive influence on Kim than most other westerners.
Quite what level of influence Ministers Halligan, Ross and McGrath think they could exert on Mr Kim and his regime remains unclear. However, Minister Halligan is confident that he, and his two Independent Alliance colleagues, can bring something to the international negotiating table.
Given that Transport Minister Ross has, thus far, been unwilling to intervene in Irish bus and rail disputes, many question why he would be suited to resolving the growing Korean crisis.
The answer remains unclear but, perhaps, we could be in for a surprise if the Ministerial visit is allowed go ahead – something the Department of Foreign Affairs suggest is highly unlikely.
Maybe a few outside voices are exactly what the world needs in order to resolve nuclear tensions in the Asia Pacific region.
In Leinster House the Independent Ministers’ suggestion has been met with polite bemusement while the general public has reacted with a mix of hilarity and righteous indignation.
Why, many ask, are three Government Ministers focussing on North Korea when Northern Ireland remains mired in political turmoil? Surely Stormont not Seoul should be the priority.
We do not doubt the three Ministers’ sincerity on the North Korean issue but, in all honesty, it’s difficult to see much merit in their proposed peace mission.
Stepaside Garda Station is to reopen. Could the border along the 38th Parallel be next?
We’ll have to wait and see.