On Thursday the British National Party is standing candidates for the first time in Northern Ireland. Candidates will be contesting the Assembly constituencies of East Belfast, East Antrim and South Antrim. They are also standing in local council elections in Larne (Coast Road ward and Larne Town ward), Newtownabbey (University ward) and Castlereagh (East ward).
Nick Griffin, who apparently faced more than a bit of hassle last night whilst canvassing in Cardiff, was “touring” East Belfast at the weekend, campaigning for the party’s local Assembly and Castlereagh East council candidate Ann Cooper.
He says he had a “great reception”, although the local reaction was distinctly more lukewarm than that from what I’ve heard. The only comment from any local politician on his visit appears to have come from the Conservative council candidate for East Castlereagh, Terry Dick:
“It turns the stomach to see a fascist like Nick Griffin out campaigning for local election candidates on the Newtownards Road”.
“Griffin and his acolyte in this area, Ann Cooper, should be under no illusions. Their brand of racist, extremist politics offers nothing to the people of Castlereagh. Let’s be clear – there is nothing remotely British about the BNP. On the contrary, our country has a proud history of resisting the hate-filled doctrines which inspire men like Nick Griffin.”
“Brave men and women died to protect the freedoms which Griffin’s political predecessors attempted to destroy and which he now exploits to spread extremism. He has a right to voice his opinions, however vile, but voters also have a right to reject them out of hand. I’m confident that the people of Castlereagh will send a clear message through the ballot box that he and his party are not wanted in this area.”
Hopefully, yes. But over to the East Belfast and Castlereagh East electorate on that one, I guess.