I took HMS Vanguard to work for the first time today (normally Elenwe drives what is now referred to as new Gordon). I managed to turn off the sat nav and the automated heater. However, I was completely unable to change the tuning on the radio: as such I was stuck with Radio Ulster rather than Radio 4.
As such I heard the interview between Mark Carruthers and Tom Elliott. This came after the News Letter ran an article detailing a meeting between Elliott and Danny Murphy, secretary of the Ulster Council of the GAA. This meeting seems to have been cordial and Murphy was quoted as saying:
“We discovered where our positions are, and I think we’re better acquainted with the position of the Ulster Unionist Party with regard to the GAA, and they probably have a better understanding of where we’re coming from.”
On the question of Mr Elliott attending a GAA event, Mr Murphy said that was a personal matter.
“I don’t think that, if we are going to work at building respect and understanding, that we shouldn’t be telling people what they should or shouldn’t do or vice versa.“
At the time of the leadership election when Elliott had said he had no intention of attending GAA (or gay pride) events he explained that this was because he had no interest in tokenism and pointed to his work for the GAA in Fermanagh. Elliott at the time stated that he would assess all invitations on merit and that while he did not completely rule out attending a GAA match in the future, he did not have any plan to do so. This position seems to be practically indistinguishable from what he said today despite the BBC’s attempt to spin Elliott’s position as a U turn.
What the interviews in the News Letter and on Radio Ulster do show is that Elliott’s position was nothing like as extreme as was suggested. In light of that it is still unclear why Trevor Ringland decided to perform his leaving melodrama over this non issue. One would almost think he was looking for an excuse to leave after Elliott’s landslide election victory. A few weeks ago there were a few rumours about creating a new liberal unionist party: rumours which seem to have come to nothing; unrelated facts, I am sure.