If folks here on the rock think that their government should get a failing grade for rural development, think again.
In comparison to Northern Ireland's attempt to look tidy and prosperous, we are doing fine.
The British are hosting the hosting the annual Group of Eight leaders’ summit there next week. They want the place in "ship shape" so local councils have been given funding to spruce up the desolate store fronts that have fallen into decay over the years of economic hardship.
Northern Ireland has been hit hard by the latest economic downturn. In fact, the five-star hotel where the leaders will meet is in recievership!
The spruce-up is little weird. The Minister of Environment says "Northern Ireland is in the international spotlight so it is entirely
right that we should portray it in the best light possible,"
Except the plan is a little wonky. Monty Python wonky.
Hundreds of premises, closed stores and other buildings have been been given a cosmetic makeover. Empty units have been painted, stickers have been placed in windows to give the impression of a thriving economy. Bakeries are booming, meat shops are packed and other "phoney" businesses will adorn the route the leaders will take to the meetings.
English taxpayers will spend millions on the facelift to show-off a side of Northern Ireland that does not exist for world leaders. The irony of the facade of a prosperous state in the face of the G-8 trying to manage it's way through the recent financial crisis is not missed on me.
President Obama will attend the G8 Summit at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh from June 17 to 18.
It is the second trip to the Emerald Isle for Obama whose great-great-great-grandfather was born in in County Offaly - the birthplace of the his