Politicians in harmony at Stormont

WHEN Ulster politics is in suspension there's only one thing for a former Minister to do - get up and sing. Especially as it's Christmas and Downtown Radio's Tommy Sands is putting on a special show from the Great Hall at Stormont. So sing is exactly what Bairbre de Brun, former holder of the health portfolio in the Assembly, does on Saturday night when she joins the Sands ceili (6pm), which goes on for a couple of hours. And the lady definitely proves that singing for your supper is good for your health.

Fame Academy and Pop Idols will be forgotten when Sinn Fein's Bairbre makes out with a ballad in Gaelic called Brid og ui Mhaille, which is all about a lass called Young Bridget O'Malley. Downtown managing director David Sloan said today: "She brings the house down - this Minister is a smash hit."

Appearing in the programme too - it was recorded in the Great Hall in front of an audience of Assembly members and their families - will be the SDLP's former Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers, who also does her thing in Gaelic with a ballad called An Mhaighdean Mhara, which is all about a mermaid.

And the PUP's David Ervine sings Leaving Dalriada, an emotive ballad written by his brother Brian about an exile who was ordered to leave the country by a gunman. "It was a wonderful evening," said Mr Ervine.

© Eddie McIlwaine, Belfast Telegraph.