The DUP has launched an audacious proposal to put Northern Ireland back on the economic map, this time as a global centre for the international face painting industry.
“We have seen huge growth in the face painting sector since 2006,” says North Belfast candidate Nigel Dodds, “mirroring the spread of the ‘family fun day’ as our favourite method of wasting time cheaply. It is now virtually impossible to attend any public event without the opportunity to have one’s face decorated as Spider-Man, a tiger, or a Ninja Turtle. Just the other day I attended the launch of our party manifesto, and came home made up as Batman.”
“However the shortage of skilled facial artists has become particularly serious since the inclusion of “kiddies activities” became a requirement for grant funding of normally politically sensitive occasions. No self respecting bonfire is complete these days without a face painter and a bouncy castle. It’s a prerequisite for grant funding.”
The growth in the sector has led to fears that a ‘skills gap’ may develop unless Stormont steps in to plug it, with skills.
“It’s a seller’s market out there,” says Mr Dodds, “and prices are sky-rocketing. Already we are seeing organised criminals smuggling in cheap foreign face painters then charging hundreds of pounds for their services, much like we saw with the protection rackets that engulfed the bouncy castle industry in the 1990s.”
First Minister Peter Robinson says that his party will use its position at Westminster to lobby for more support for the sector. “We recognise the importance of face painting to the wider economy.” he claimed. “Once, Northern Ireland was a world leader in building ships that sank, then we became a global centre of excellence in rebuilding stuff that we’d blown up, now we are at the cutting edge of the face painting industry.”
“By 2018 face painting will have replaced agriculture and call centres as our biggest employers,” he concluded. “The economy is safe in our hands.”