An interesting piece of politicking is taking place in Mid and East Antrim Council meeting. A motion proposed by Alderman Gregg McKeen (DUP) and seconded by Councillor Timothy Gaston (TUV) states:
That this council demands a public apology and states that we have no confidence in Cllr. Hardy as Vice Chair of the Community Planning Committee, after her recent derogatory publications on social media about Her Majesty the Queen.
This is in response to Councillor Patrice Hardy (Sinn Fein) posting the following image
We’re perhaps all aware that in this modern age of instant communication, offence is taken with or without due consideration of context (or even content).
Precisely what part of this communication that was derogatory hasn’t been made clear as yet. One could argue that a Sinn Fein councillor posting a picture of themselves with the Queen is a country mile away from what might have happened only a few years ago.
The seemingly light-hearted and jovial tweet from Councillor Hardy has caused ire amongst some of the majority-unionist council members in Mid & East Antrim.
Councillor Gaston, one of those who has taken offence at this “derogatory communication”, is also encouraging the contractor of a Ballymena public-realm works to replace these manhole covers, removing”uisce” – Irish for water.
No complaint has been made for a breach of the code of conduct, the only action against Councillor Hardy is this motion
calling for demanding an apology. The motion has been adjourned by the council Chief Executive until legal advice has been received.
Given the significance of flags and symbols in our still-divided society, it is not entirely surprising that this could have caused offence, indeed a cynic could be forgiven for thinking it predictable.
In the last number of years some significant steps have been made in both communities, with the Queen speaking Irish in Dublin, Martin McGuinness [albeit belatedly – Ed] attending a reception for the Queen.
It appears that some Mid & East Antrim council members haven’t yet got the memo yet that themmuns can be respectful, sometimes.
How wonderful though that our society has the time for elected representatives to take offence at incidents such as this and not concern themselves with such trivial matters as how to further integrate our communities.
First Minister Foster’s warning that there is the risk of Sinn Fein taking the First Minister position following an assembly election must cause even further consternation if this would mean more Sinn Fein members giving a friendly nickname to the monarch.