The news that Jeffrey Donaldson has pulled out of receiving a peace award along with Gerry Kelly in the wake of the Maze escape programme (already covered by Mick) is interesting. Clearly Kellys comments on shooting a prison officer will be ill received in the unionist community but Mr. Kellys political views and previous criminal record are well known. As such one is left wondering why Mr. Donaldson wanted to receive a peace award along with Kelly in the first place and indeed how exactly the BBC programme changed his mind. Superficially one might find this surprising in view of Donaldson and Kellys frequent joint appearances in Northern Ireland: appearances faithfully documented on the website of OFMDFM.
Of course what has actually happened is that the BBC programme has shone a spotlight on Mr. Kelly and his receipt of a peace award and hence, made it politically embarrassing for Jeffrey to receive the award. Donaldson has always been very aware of the optics and has minimised any appearances in what one might call “chuckling encounters.” As such, better to suffer the mild embarrassment of Jim Allisters latest attacks on him than the greater complaints he would almost certainly have faced had he and Kelly received the award.