Local councils... have painted fake shop fronts and covered derelict buildings with huge billboards to hide the economic hardship being felt in towns and villages near the golf resort where G8 leaders will meet this month.
Northern Ireland's government has spent £2m (€2.3m) tackling dereliction over the past two years, the environment department said.
Some buildings have been demolished and others have been given a facelift in an attempt to make areas more attractive.
And what is this really about? To show that the cruel, mean, unfair austerity program is actually working...
Austerity has failed everywhere it's been tried, not least in Northern Ireland.* Budget cuts at home have hit domestic demand just as budget cuts to the south have hit foreign demand. (Whether it was 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or 2013, Very Serious People were convinced, just convinced that the Celtic tiger had reinvented itself as the austerity tiger — just give it a few more months! — and every time they have been wrong). On either side of the Emerald Isle, deficit-cutting hasn't been a path to prosperity, except of the Potemkin variety.
Just look at Fermanagh. That's the Northern Irish county where the G8 is set to meet in June — and where the economy isn't quite up to the image of "austerity success story". You see, there are shuttered storefronts all over the place, and that's no good. After all, you wouldn't want British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to talk up fiscal rectitude against a backdrop of bankrupt businesses...
To conclude: What do I mean by The Pulse? I mean this:
"They used to say one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day. It was sort of a joke, until the June morning those terrorist bozos whaked us with an electromagnetic pulse from 80 miles up. You always here people yapping on how it was all different before the pulse. Land of milk and honey blah, blah, blah, blah with plenty of food and jobs and things that actually worked. I was too young to remember, so, whatever.... The thing I don't get is why they call it a depression. I mean, everybody's broke...but they aren't really all that depressed. Life goes on."