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Political shambles hitting basic services

Secretary of state Karen Bradley has so far failed to distinguish herself in a role that requires deep understanding of complex issues, deft handling of divergent views and a strategic vision for restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland.

It is almost two years since the institutions collapsed and apart from an ill-fated attempt at agreement in February, which foundered after the DUP got cold feet, there has been no real sense of urgency from the British government to get power-sharing back up and running.

Mrs Bradley, who foolishly admitted a complete lack of knowledge about the fundamental differences that exist in Northern Ireland politics, has taken a largely hands off approach, no doubt guided by the DUP which is currently propping up Theresa May's precarious administration.

Yesterday the secretary of state convened a meeting of the five main parties at Stormont but rather than using this platform to move matters forward, it lasted just 45 minutes before she reportedly headed off to catch a plane.

Four of the five parties were left distinctly unimpressed with a discussion variously described as 'pointless' and a 'waste of time.'

Mrs Bradley's apparent lack of interest in the political impasse can be seen in contrast to the concerns of the wider public who are wondering when the drift will end and some semblance of proper government restored.

Drift is not a sustainable policy, as we can see from the pressing difficulties faced by our schools.

We hear a lot of statistics about budgets and deficits but a primary school principal has cut through the plethora of figures and in stark terms illustrated the impact of financial constraints.

Graham Gault, head of Maghaberry PS in Moira, told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster that parents are having to donate toilet rolls among other basic items, a situation he described as 'a disgrace.'

He is absolutely right but with no serious effort being made to bring back devolution, it is a disgraceful situation that will simply continue.

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