Life

Leona O'Neill: Brexiteers and non-working politicians should top Santa's naughty list

With essential services increasingly squeezed and the dividing lines between the main sections of our community ever-hardening, top of my Santa wish list this year is a government, writes Leona O'Neill

Who ought to be on Santa's naughty list? Donald Trump, Brexiteers and Britain First, for starters

Dear Santa,

It’s myself, Leona O’Neill. You’ll remember me from that time I was put on the naughty list in 1981 after calling you an idiot for gifting me a handmade rocking horse with the paint still wet that ruined my good My Little Pony pyjamas.

It was only years later, Santa, when I discovered that it was in fact my father – who had been up all night putting the finishing aesthetic touches to this thing of absolute beauty he had spent months creating – was to blame for the pyjama debacle, that I bitterly regretted my outburst. I hope that the passage of time has healed some of the hurt my cruel, misplaced words caused.

Anyway, I’m on again this year with my list of demands, or Christmas wishes as kids call them. I hope that you pay more attention to these wishes than the ones presented between the years 1981-1989. I can’t express the level of disappointment on Christmas morning when I was met with everything except a real life pony. But we’ll put it behind us and forge on in the spirit of Christmas.

The biggest wish you could grant this year, Santa, is to get our government up and running again. It’s been two years now we’ve been adrift with no working government at Stormont, no ministers to sign off on important issues, no stability to attract investment and a ceaselessly decreasing level of hope inside every citizen.

Our schools, our hospitals, our businesses, our very way of life is being threatened. Sprinkle some magic dust, Santa, and make them care about the people who voted them in again. Make them care about making this place better for everyone. Make them stop blaming each other, blaming us, blaming the media, even blaming you Santa, and just get on with it.

There is a darkness creeping back into Northern Ireland, a blackness and coldness in people’s hearts. It can’t go on. We can’t be divided again.

We are in a constant state of flux and it seems our politicians don’t give two... well, you can imagine the word I’m thinking of, Santa, and not wanting to be placed back on the naughty list, I’ll just say it rhymes with flux. See what you can do.

And since you have the magic dust out of the bag, perhaps you could spread a little hope about the place. God knows we need it.

Santa, I’m hoping that my nice and naughty lists correlate precisely with yours. On the nice lists will be my friends who are fighting cancer and other serious and life-limiting diseases this year, in many cases having to battle for treatments to stay alive. From Melanie and Lesley Kennedy to little Billy Caldwell. I hope they keep their heads up, keep the fight going and know that we are all walking beside them. Give them peace, give them hope and give them a future.

Also on your nice lists should be everyone working to make Christmas less lonely for those who have no one on the big day. From the cafes and churches opening their doors to provide a warm welcome, a hot dinner and a present to people, to those who are working with our homeless people, give them all – givers and receivers – joy in their hearts.

Your nice lists should be packed with those who stand up to injustice, those who fight the corners of others, those who have an empty chair at their table this year and are feeling the intensity of their loss at this special time. There are many with sore hearts, Santa. Give them peace.

Bags of coal for the following naughty people. Any politician who has navigated this corner of the world into the extremely rough seas of Brexit. God alone only knows how it will all end up and we’ve them to thank for it.

Our politicians who refuse to go back to work, therefore dragging the north backwards, destroying all the good work we have done and accepting a pay packet for doing so.

Donald Trump. It would take a War And Peace-length document to explain his badness, so just trust me on this one.

Inexplicably dry turkey for online trolls whose sole purpose it is is to make others' lives a misery. Burnt roasters for Britain First and the people who support them, and for the like-minded folks who have hate in their hearts for their fellow man, burn their spuds to the bottom of the pan so they taste really horrible.

And Santa, I’m still holding out for that real-life pony. There’s still time to make amends.

Much love and happy Christmas to you and all reading this column,

Leona

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