A point of priniciple or just jumping up and down in muddy puddles?

It’s been on Stephen Nolan’s show and TalkBack, and finally Slugger… One Unionist friend calls it ‘jumping up and down in muddy puddles’ (sorry, tried to get a Peppa Pig video to reference and failed)… For two parties banged up together in the Scottish Baronial style of Stormont Castle, it’s a perfect opportunity to have a good old fashioned faction fight… What’s the problem? Sinn Fein controlled Newry and Mourne Council have been playing ‘let’s wind up the local Prods’, again…As the Newsletter notes, the trouble began with a presumably quite innocent request from Irish national gymnastics team when they asked the council to relax its strict “no flags or emblems” policy on council property for an event in the city’s sports centre planned for May.

That would be the island (ie ‘here’ and ‘there’) team, not just ‘Ireland‘ (aka ‘there’):

Newry Sinn Fein Councillor Pat McGinn said it was time to review the matter and develop “a new forward-looking and challenging flags and emblems policy” which would promote “equality and good relations”.

He was also adamant that the Newry gymnastics event should not be drawn into debates in other councils. A national sporting championship “is not the type of event that should be drawn into or equated with the more complex and highly sensitive argument in relation to the flying of flags and emblems throughout the north of Ireland,” he added.

Not surprising that the local representative does not want this to be read across to other areas. It would take another wrecking ball to those much vaunted equality provisions that are supposed to be protecting the rights of minority communities across Northern Ireland…

It is likely that the Dublin headquartered gymnastics organisation (much like the IRFU) simply does not understand the general feeling of Northern Irish unionists on this matter…

But, in any case, it has proven a nice (electorally advantageous) break from the tedious civilities of living cheek-by-jowl in the Castle for both Sinn Fein and the DUP…

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

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