Here, there and everywhere, but Northern Ireland…

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!

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  • Talk about flogging a dead horse Mick…!

  • John East Belfast

    macswiney

    It is a live and kicking pantomine horse with Murphy at the back end.

    I am wondering who will be next to join him – Catriona Ruane is always good for a laugh on this sort of thing

  • Mick Fealty

    Come on mac… it is funny though, isn’t it?

  • Ok Mick,

    I gotta say that Sammy Wilson’s comments are very funny, but as for Conor calling “Derry” – “Derry”, and choosing not to use Northern Ireland, this is hardly, perhaps earth-shattering news…

    Think we had about 86 posts on this yesterday. Wow…

  • Mick Fealty

    As I said, it’s the silly season… and not just in the media…

  • Dewi

    Yeah Mick – we don’t need another 86 on this today…..because u have to read them all don’t you 🙂

  • Mick Fealty

    I can never predict what threads are going to take off, though length of thread is no guarantee of quality… 😉 But that verbatim from Sammy Wilson was just too good to miss…

  • Sue

    http://tinyurl.com/344xrs is full of credible characters who live in the real world as distinct from people here who are the most selfish, self centred, backward people in the universe.

  • páid

    Yep, Sammy Wilson was funny. Even in it’s stop-go lifetime the Assembly is way funnier than the Dáil.

  • Anonymous

    Folks,

    what might be worth explaining to folk who aren’t aware of how things work is that Murphy is simply doing what all new ministers do(direct rule ones too). Their letters, speeches, statements, press releases etc are written by (middle ranking) civil servants. Certain guidleines have to be laid down, so that the resultant text actually sounds like it might have come from the mouth of the minister concerned. He isn’t asking that officials refrain from using certain terminilogy, just that they refrain from putting certain terminology in his mouth. Seems fair enough?

    That said, I think Sammy’s schtick is pretty funny.

  • fair_deal

    Anonymous

    “He isn’t asking that officials refrain from using certain terminilogy, just that they refrain from putting certain terminology in his mouth.”

    Incorrect I am afraid. That may be the spin Murphy put on it but the memo said that any documents being sent to the minister by officials had to use the terminology too. It is not limited to press statements or speeches.

  • SuperSoupy

    Who cares about this nonsense when Unionists have used their votes to block measures addressing inequality again.

    Slightly more important and symbolic than words. Equality is the problem for them while their cheerleaders piss around on the internet over words.

  • SuperSoupy

    Unionism says “No” –

    – Motion – Single Equality Bill

    Proposed: That this Assembly recognises that discrimination operates in many different ways and on many different levels and encourages the Executive to bring forward harmonising legislation, in a Single Equality Bill, for discussion and consultation at the earliest opportunity.’

  • Garibaldy

    Does referring to the free state as all-Ireland not make him a partitionist unionist?

  • Inebriated Commentator

    Referring to Bavaria as all-Ireland would really show the decline in educational standards.
    Everyone should know it is a Ducth beer!

  • Shore Road Resident

    Good for them. Why take lectures on equality from your inferiors?

  • nmc

    SS,

    it occurs to me that the two topics are not unrelated.

    On the subject of equality, some unionists can’t get past what two men might get up to behind closed doors. Equality’s bad ’cause all them fags are an abomination unto the lord.

    This post is based around their obsession with terminology used by other people – lest it offends their ears.

    In both cases it is Unionism’s aim to apply their rules to things which really don’t affect them at all.

  • Shore Road Resident

    See? Only a complete idiot would have written that. These people aren’t our equals at all.

  • protorious

    Me thinks we need a new thread for the Unionist defeat of the equality bill…

    A slightly more important story than the hilarious mannerisms of our oh so pedantic politicians, no?

  • fair_deal

    SS

    The motion could have had SF and DUP support if the SF had accepted the DUP’s amendment but this was refused.

    No doubt the chance to say unionists say no was too tempting. The politics of power-sahring is a balancing act of getting enough done but still keeping some lines of demarcation between the different parties.

    The defeat of this motion does nothing to prevent the ongoing work on a Single Equality Bill, just rejects the notion it has to be done in a headlong rush by the new Executive.

  • SuperSoupy

    FD,

    That might be a valid point if Unionists had submitted an amendment.

    They didn’t.

    Hence it’s not a point at all, I’ll put it down as a mistake not a deliberate deceit on your part.

  • Ziznivy

    Imagine being lectured on equality by someone who called Special olympics athletes spastics!!

  • fair_deal

    As I understand it SF were asked would they accept an amended motion at the business committee and they said no so the DUP decided to go for a straight vote. If I have been misinformed I’ll put my hands up say fair enough withdraw my comment.

  • fair_deal

    protorious

    Thread started

  • Token Dissent

    nmc – “On the subject of equality, some unionists can’t get past what two men might get up to behind closed doors. Equality’s bad ‘cause all them fags are an abomination unto the lord.”

    Yeah, because as we know that all homophobes are unionists. Seems like you could do with attending a few equality and cutural diversity courses yourself.

    On the original point let Conor et al play around with words all they like. They have accepted the legitimacy of the Northern Irish state and have accepted office as outlined in the 1998 Northern Ireland Act. Their rigid use of traditional Shinner discourse is in such circumstances highly amusing. A reminder of the days when the Provos had ‘principles’, and the intention to bomb and shoot their way into an All Ireland of equals, inclusive of Here and There.

  • nmc

    As I said TD “some Unionists”. Thinking specifically of the free p. brigade who tend to be very vocal about this, as I’m sure you know.

    Obviously I’m not attempting to say that no Republicans or Nationalists are homophobic, however we tend to be slightly less handy with the anti-gay protests. Again I would like to underline that I’m not referring to all Unionists, just the religious fundamentalists.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Fair Deal

    “As I understand it SF were asked would they accept an amended motion at the business committee and they said no so the DUP decided to go for a straight vote.”

    What was the amendment the DUP were proposing?

  • fair_deal

    BP

    Don’t know. It appears Maurice Morrow referred to it in his speech so maybe it will be in tomorrow’s Hansard.

  • Dr Strangelove

    Back to the point in hand…. Who is Sammy’s speech writer ?

  • Token Dissent

    Fair point nmc. I accept that at the level of political and religious elites Prods/Unionists represent an unhappy persistence of homophobic belief and language. The proportionally high representation of Fundamentalists in postions of power is no doubt largely responsible for this.

    However, homophobia is spread through-out the wider society, with factors such as the rural/urban divide and education acting as decisive factors.

    My original point was probably a bit petty, but it does irritate me when I sense that unionism is being dismissed as an easily caricatured monolith.

    Ps, Zesty Orange’s “Loyal Bummers”. I don’t think I have seen that on a Lambeg drum, but maybe in time they could march on the 12th and Gay Pride…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Fair Deal

    “Don’t know. It appears Maurice Morrow referred to it in his speech so maybe it will be in tomorrow’s Hansard.”

    Wouldn’t the substance of the amendment be quite important to understanding the true positions of the DUP and SF? I mean, before we go jumping into our usual tribal positions?

  • lib2016

    Are there really no unionists sophisticated enough to realise when they are making eijits of themselves? Sammy’s bucolic humor may go down well with the older generation but it all helps to make a few more of the younger generation head across the water.

    As for Campbell? I heard him and Murphy put their respective cases on Talkback. Campbell sounded nuttier than the FAIR people which takes some doing.

    Our communities see things differently and use different terminology and in the new dispensation both sides should offer each other equal respect. Murphy seemed quite able to accept the fact that Campbell disagreed with him whereas Campbell din’t even realise that he was showing his own intolerance.

    By the way this was an internal document. The unionist spyrings are evidently still at work. Would unionists have accepted Sinn Fein flouting the Offical Secrets Act so readily or would we have had the usual hypocrisy if the boot had been on the other foot?

  • Bit late for that Billy, it’s already become “Unionists are anti-equality”. But sure we all know they won’t have a Caflick about the place.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    FD

    “The motion could have had SF and DUP support if the SF had accepted the DUP’s amendment but this was refused. No doubt the chance to say unionists say no was too tempting.”

    How can you make that judgement without knowing what the motion SF rejected actually was? I mean, it could have been: “and that this house declares war on the Republic of Ireland and hereby issues a contract on the head of the Pope”*; for all we know.

    (* I suspect the motion was more mundane than this.)

  • SuperSoupy

    afaik. There will be nothing further published tomorrow beyond the verbatim minutes of the plenary as no amendment was formally submitted – all other amendmnets from today’s business are already online. If it was raised informally at the Business Committee it won’t be detailed as that sits in closed session.

    I’m open to correction.

    If the proposed amendment had any reference to policing I’m assuming it would not be accepted regardless as a non-devolved matter (at Unionist insistence).

    So it seems there was either an unacceptable amendment submitted and rejected or none.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Beano

    “Bit late for that Billy, it’s already become “Unionists are anti-equality”. But sure we all know they won’t have a Caflick about the place.”

    No offence mate, but you’re clearly in your tribal trench.

    Having read the bill, there didn’t seem to be anything within it to which a reasonable person might object. From the tone of the debate, it seems clear what happened: Sinn Fein started talking about equality, and the DUP just reacted out of pure instinct. (“Equality” being one of those words that, when uttered by a nationalist, seems to make unionists go into spasms.)

    Do you not think it’s entirely unionism’s fault that it has made itself look bad yet again? As a unionist, does it not make you want to cry to high heaven for a political class that doesn’t simply react as predictably as a talking doll every time its buttons are pushed? Do you not wish to God for political leadership that has a wee bit of nous, that was just a wee bit streetwise?

  • fair_deal

    SS

    Tampico made the reference to MM’s speech so maybe it will put provide clarity on the wording of it and the grounds for the non-accepttance of the amendment.

    Is referring to a non-devolved matter a barrier to accepting it? One of the other motions – the creation of a new offence for attacking public workers isn’t a devolved matter but it was accepted.

    Although it seems to have been clarified that there was an amendment somewhere out there in the ether.

    BP

    Took a friend at their word, will see tomorrow if that was sensible or not.

  • Pounder

    As far as homophobia goes I think both sides are just as bad, you just don’t hear about the republican side of it nearly as much.

    I know several gay men who’ll tell you that when the fundies where protesting outside the Parliment when it opened that there was as many republicans there as nationalists. There is very little difference between Protestant and Catholic fundamentalists when it comes down to it. After all Pope Rat is hardly a champion of civil liberties is he?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    ‘Minister in denial?’

    If using nationalist terminology is somehow to be equated with denial, then long may we reside there.

    This is more a case of the DUP failing to come to terms with accepting nationalists as equals.

    If Gregory, his ‘spies’ within the civil service (which, by the way, will become a more important story in time) or others have a problem with that, I think you’ll find this is only the beginning.

    Personally, I would have preferred Conor to instruct his officials to refer to ‘here’ as the six county statelet and Derry by its proper Irish name…

  • Organes for Sale

    Chris Donnelly
    “If using nationalist terminology is somehow to be equated with denial, then long may we reside there.”

    If this is case then nationalists need to become political realists and start living in the real world. Especially Conor, who seems quite happy taking the queen shilling to administrate part of the UK otherwise none as ‘here’… erm sorry Northern Ireland.

    “This is more a case of the DUP failing to come to terms with accepting nationalists as equals.”

    Oh my, what a poor oppressed people you you are. Woe is me for the plight of irish nationalists….

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Oranges for sale

    “Oh my, what a poor oppressed people you you are. Woe is me for the plight of irish nationalists….”

    I think you misunderstand what’s going on here. It’s not about oppression. It’s about nationalists saying “we’re going to do what we want to know, not what unionists tell us to do,” and unionists are throwing a hissy fit about it.

  • SuperSoupy

    Chris,

    I hope that is a qualified prediction.

    As this story broke along with the other one of hardline Loyalists supposedly being in possession of SF documents, I flippantly asked about the PSNI raids.

    But to be honest civil servants sign up to an official secrets act and it’s a criminal offence to break it, I’m unsure how the handling of this information impacts on others.

    The DUP have been playing silly buggers with equality motions and promoting leaks from government, I think SF should call their bluff on a commitment to working the institutions, law/order and also call the PSNIs bluff on it’s willingness to investigate Unionist crime.

    Sauce for the goose etc.

    Hopefully SF reacting to DUP provocation is only delayed through more pressing electoral concerns. And given the reaction to equality motions from Unionism I’d like to see the veto taken out the next time something like the commonwealth association is raised.

    May be time they learnt their manners the hard way.

  • fair_deal

    BP

    Hansard was no help, Morrow just refers to the amendment but provides no detail.

    SS

    “PSNIs bluff on it’s willingness to investigate Unionist crime.”

    They don’t seem particularly reluctant in investigating
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4449465.stm
    Or prosecuting
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6680747.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/3373535.stm

    Although I have serious doubts about the general effectiveness of the police in all respects, there seems to be a large number of loyalist paramilitaries in Maghaberry too.

  • darth rumsfeld

    NI fans reach out to republicans exclusive-

    That politically correct football songbook in full

    “We’re not Brazil, we’re Here”
    “Here, Here, we’ll support you ever more”
    “Here till I die”
    “Stand up for the Here men”
    “Can you ..er …hear the There men sing?”

  • JG

    official secrets act David Shayler anyone?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Thanks for trying FD.

  • dodrade

    I wrote about this on the previous thread but Sammy Wilson’s light hearted response perhaps shows the DUP/SF work/love in is not as fragile as some would like to believe. Not so long ago this would have provoked howls of outrage, not just Gregory Campbell’s grumbling.