Mark Devenport: Almost out of office message

Mark Devenport
Political editor, Northern Ireland
@markdevenporton Twitter

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Mark Devenport

BBC Northern Ireland's political unit is an egalitarian outfit. No one hogs all the glamour jobs.

Instead under the far from stern tutelage of our super efficient producer, Raymona Crozier, we divvy up the different demands between us all.

So I was watching assembly officials answering questions about why, five years after getting a new roof, Parliament Buildings seems to have sprung a series of leaks, when my phone went into meltdown.

Our boss, Adam Smyth, had announced that myself and three good friends and colleagues, Kevin Magee, Maggie Taggart and Mervyn Jess, have decided to embark on a new chapter.

The news quickly made it onto social media and the texts, emails and tweets started rolling in.

The thing was they didn't stop. In advance, I had thought about a few smart Alec lines I might tweet.

However, as I read all your messages, they didn't seem adequate. Social media can be a cruel place, but I found myself first delighted, then humbled and finally rendered speechless by all the lovely comments.

Being lost for words isn't a great long term approach for a professional broadcaster.

So it's time to concentrate on the day job - I am booked on The View later today and I am sure there will be lots to analyse regarding the executive's approach to the latest extremely concerning Covid figures.

What happens from next month? I am not entirely certain. I am ruling out moving to a convent, as my old colleague Martina Purdy has the copyright on that one.

I also don't think I would have much of a career as a bank robber as members of the public continue to recognise me when I wander around with my face mask on.

The pandemic rules out a cruise in the Med or a trip around the world anytime soon.

In the immediate future, I plan to continue tweeting @markdevenport and will probably keep writing and commentating on a freelance basis.

Whilst it's great to read all your tributes when, as Mervyn points out, we still have blood in our veins, this is not an obituary.

I shall always remain fascinated by the challenges posed in organising our society and protecting both lives and livelihoods - the ultimate task facing us all irrespective of which constitutional camp (if any) we occupy.

Next Monday morning Inside Politics Q&A will visit Strangford - the penultimate destination on our virtual tour around Northern Ireland's constituencies.

Any questions you have for our panel (names TBC) please email or tweet using our hashtag #bbcip

"And what about the Stormont roof?" I hear you ask.

MLAs are literally, not metaphorically, kicking the buckets filled by rainwater on the upper floors.

If the matter isn't resolved soon, m'learned friends might get involved. For further developments, I was going to conclude, watch this space.

However, in the light of my own decision, that doesn't really work. So watch other spaces.