The strange case of the minister in denial continues… (yep, it’s the silly season in NI, even as the political nerve ends of the Republic are fraying to the end of every synapse)… Gerry Moriarty is in fine form with the tale of the Northern Ireland Minister who doesn’t want to be reminded by his officials that he is in fact a minister in the Government of Northern Ireland. DUP MLA, Gregory Campbell:
It flowed from a document leaked from Mr Murphy’s department to Mr Campbell, who is MP for East Derry, or is it East Londonderry? The memo carried the advice that the “following terminology should be used in submissions to Conor Murphy from officials”: that the Republic of Ireland should be referred to as “all Ireland” or “across the island of Ireland” and that Northern Ireland should be termed “here” or “the north”, and Derry should be called “Derry”.
It’s worth repeating his party colleague Sammy Wilson’s comic take in the Chamber:
In the chamber, though, Sammy Wilson couldn’t miss such an opportunity, setting up his routine by allowing that if “here” was Northern Ireland then it followed that “there” was the Republic.
He continued: “I can imagine someone ringing up the Minister and saying, ‘Is the Minister there?’ And his official saying, ‘No, he’s here’. ‘Can I speak to him?’ ‘No, he’s not here.’ ‘But you told me a minute ago he was there.’ ‘No, I said he was here, but he’s not here.'”
Sinn Féin’s Assembly team leader John O’Dowd interrupted that while he always found Mr Wilson amusing, he wasn’t sure he was speaking to the subject, which was housing and planning yesterday.
“I can only conclude,” said Mr Wilson, “that any member of the public engaging in that conversation will have the right to think that the Minister’s staff were not all there.”
Moriarty concludes dryly: “Bud Abbott and Lou Costello would have been impressed”. Indeed Gerry!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty