Jake O'Kane: How does one dress appropriately for the climate in Northern Ireland?

We exit the same bus into heat and humidity similar to the Amazonian rainforest. We then spend the rest of the day sweating like Gerry Adams finding himself in a lift beside Martina Anderson

Sinn Féin MLA and former MEP Martina Anderson. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Jake O'Kane

I NEVER cease to be amazed at the nonsense which consumes so much of my limited cognitive ability; in other words, I worry about nothing. Worry has been a constant all my life and something fellow neurotics will understand.

Example. I was thrilled to get notified I was to get my second AstraZeneka vaccine on Wednesday past. Having had the first vaccine, I knew the process would be both simple and painless. I also knew the only disrobing involved would be presenting my upper arm for the injection, yet this didn’t stop me both showering and putting on clean clothes for the appointment.

With our weather swinging from sunshine to hailstones in minutes, my choice of what to wear became my next worry. We’ve all had those days standing at the bus stop in heavy snow, grateful we’d the foresight to wear our thickest jumper and warmest coat. Twenty minutes later, we exit the same bus into heat and humidity similar to the Amazonian rainforest. We then spend the rest of the day sweating like Gerry Adams finding himself in a lift beside Martina Anderson.

I finally decided on a T-shirt – allowing easy access to upper arm – jacket and raincoat. I’ve decided this is the perfect combination of clothing for Northern Ireland. If it’s cold, you have three layers, yet if it warms up, you can ditch both jacket and raincoat and mock those around you in jumpers.

I was pondering this while on my way to get my vaccine when I remembered I’d forgotten my vaccine record card.

This is the biggest issue with useless worry; you forget important things. After calling me a few names I couldn’t possibly repeat here, my wife kindly agreed to drop the card down to me.

And so, I’m blessed to join the fortunate who, through luck of being born in this part of the world, need no longer worry as much about Covid. Instead, I’m now thinking a shirt, jacket and mac might be the best Northern Ireland attire.

* * *

LIKE many, I’m a firm believer in karma, the philosophy which states that everyone pays for their deeds, sooner or later. Rarely have I seen it played out with such clarity as with the abrupt departure of both Arlene Foster and Martina Anderson.

There’s something viscerally satisfying in seeing the mighty brought low, but you’d need a heart of stone not to feel some sympathy for the callous nature of their departure.

While there was warm praise for the first minister when she appeared in the assembly having announced she was standing down, it came exclusively from the benches opposite. The few DUP colleagues who sat behind Arlene remained stony faced, obviously fearful of annoying their next glorious leader, whichever candidate called Edwin that may turn out to be.

Edwin Poots announced his candidacy for leadership with indiscreet haste only a matter of hours after Arlene said she was leaving. It made him look like the boy in class who always has their hand up, shouting, “Me sir, me sir, pick me, sir”.

I suspect he believed if he got in early enough, he might win by default. Tragically, Edwin’s maths has never been great. Bad enough that he thinks the world is only 6,000 years old, but now we discover he can’t accurately count the number of supporters he has among the DUP leadership electoral college, of whom there’s only 36.

His initial bold claims of having a majority were quickly called out by his contender, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, as flawed. There are rumours Sir Jeffrey is taking his challenge so seriously he’s told his agent to halt any future bookings he has as a Daniel O’Donnell lookalike.

While the victor isn’t certain, their first pronouncement is: “It’s all the fault of them 'uns on t’other side”.


As for Martina Anderson, the surprise was Sinn Féin requested her to stand down via the media. The video posted by her announcing ‘her decision’ to abide by the wishes of the Sinn Féin leadership and not stand at the next election looked like it would end with a ransom plea.

Sinn Féin usually takes care of such internal business behind closed and locked doors. The individual concerned is called to a meeting in Connolly House and, before sitting down,is informed: “Don’t take yer coat off, yer gone”.

The person then thanks their comrades for their consideration, gets up and quietly leaves. I’ve no doubt Sinn Féin hopes this will be the case with Martina. I’m not so sure.

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