Peter Robinson takes the grandstand view

After returning from a week trying to ski I thought I was the world's expert at falling flat on my face, going backwards when I should be going forwards and colliding into my nearest and dearest. Then I clocked back in to work at Stormont and realised the Ulster Unionists were providing me with stiff competition.

Having been stuck in a snowy rut as others swept effortlessly past, I can appreciate a bit of what Tom Elliott must have felt as he learned of Peter Robinson's trip to the McKenna cup.

There might not have been many unionist votes in the GAA stands - but with such gestures Peter Robinson once again cuts a swathe into the more moderate territory the UUP used to call its own.

And whilst the first minister is doing the "big picture" stuff, the UUP leader is left wrestling with yet more internal ructions.

First McClarty, then McNarry - why has Tom such a problem with Davids?

So inclusive has the first minister become that it's getting hard to imagine him returning to his old "hard man" rhetoric.

But the fuzzy warmth clearly didn't rub off on whoever wrote the DUP's response to the Westminster boundary commission's proposals.

The DUP said the suggestions in relation to South East Belfast and the new Glenshane seat had the "stench of gerrymander" - an accusation strongly rejected by the commission.

It's understood the commission may look again at its three seat Belfast plan (the Alliance likes it, the SDLP hates it).

If it does, East Belfast could expand radically into current North Down and Strangford territory.


That would pose interesting questions about how much longer the DUP's non-aggression pact with Lady Sylvia Hermon might be sustained.

But by then who knows quite how unionism will be aligned? Or to which party a certain Strangford MLA might belong?

On a different note, congratulations to the pupils from Belfast's Methodist College who have emerged as one of the UK winners of a BBC Schools Debate competition.

They will be working with the Radio 4 "Any Questions" team on a future programme.

Commiserations to all the other local entrants - I had the responsibility to either watch or listen to the many articulate and entertaining Northern Ireland debates, which ranged across issues like the wearing of poppies, the worth of public sector strikes and the future of the NHS.

With boundary changes and, perhaps, fewer MLAs per seat, Stormont will be a smaller legislature in the future.

But from what I have watched I can tell there will be no shortage of would-be politicians looking to take their place on the blue benches.