Did Ruth Patterson not get Peter’s memo?

The general opinion on Slugger – never mind media commentators and conversations in pubs and livings rooms – has been that the DUP have been edging towards the centre ground. Throughout the election campaign, Peter Robinson avoided criticising the deputy First Minister and generally avoided needling Sinn Fein – and Martin McGuinness reciprocated with his frequent references to “Peter and I”.

While pockets remain in the DUP that still articulate their distrust and discomfort at working so closely with Sinn Fein, the more moderate mood is widely prevailing. But respect and politeness was absent in Belfast City Hall last night as the Lord Mayor and deputy Lord Mayor were announced.

This morning’s News Letter reports [not online] that “New SF mayor is snubbed by deputy”, going on to say:

The new Belfast deputy lord mayor last night refused to acknowledge the Sinn Fein lord mayor she will be working closely with for the next year … She refused to accept congratulations from Mr O’Donnghaile, shake hands, talk to or even look at him … Ms Patterson told the News Letter after the meeting that she has not yet made a decision on whether or not she will talk to the lord mayor.

The new Lord Mayor explained:

I wanted to wish her congratulations, it is unfortunate she refused to accept them.

Speaking today on Good Morning Ulster Niall Ó Donnghaile outlined his intentions:

I intend to work with all of the council members and that includes the deputy mayor and her fellow members of the DUP … I do want to be a mayor for all … not just unionists, loyalists, but republicans and nationalists and many different people who make up our city. I am confident that we can move the city forward in this new term.

Issuing a statement, Alderman Robin Newton (who leads the DUP group in the City Hall) stood of up his party colleague:

Ruth Patterson has been a Councillor for more than ten years. She knows how Council meetings should be conducted and what the protocol is for such occasions. She will be a fine ambassador for our city and brings a wealth of experience and dynamism to the role which others can only aspire to.

If the DUP dig in their heels in Belfast while Sinn Fein continue to drift towards moderation and inclusivity, the “dinosaur” label may well be transferred from Tom Elliott to the Belfast DUP … or at least, Ruth Patterson.

Update – UTV clip of the “snub”. h/t to Jude Collins and his post that featured it.

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  • I have often disagreed with Niall Ó Donnghaile on the error of his party’s ways but I congratulate him on his election. He is the first – and only the first – past pupil of Belfast’s excellent Irish Medium secondary school, Coláiste Feirste, to be elected to such high public office.

    I had some time for Ruth Patterson previously – I remember she spoke at an Irish language event in Belfast City Hall and even said a few words as Gaeilge – a la QEII – but she is wrong on this occasion. Even if she doesn’t agree with the election of the Sinn Féin candidate, she has to work with him. It’s a case of ‘silly buggers’ entirely if the DUP and SF can work together in Stormont but not in the City Council….

  • “Sinn Fein continue to drift towards moderation and inclusivity”

    Thank goodness I wasn’t eating my porridge when I read that, Alan! You really do need to get out more. Can I recommend an excursion to Waterfoot, Cushendall, Ballycastle and Dunloy? Perhaps one of Martin McGuinness’ special advisors could fill you in. Here’s Martin on tour [youtube] – but no mention of the dark side. Some independent republicans appear to be outflanking even the more militant members of Sinn Fein.

  • thethoughtfulone

    Do you not think all these things are very planned and deliberate with the aim of providing a wee bit of something for everyone.

    Was it really a co-incidence that Gregory was the one to lead the DUP reaction to the “special advisor” ruckus. Once a party becomes big enough there can be someone in it to react in the required way to ever situation.

    Cynical manipulation of public opinion or modern day clever politics?

    They’re probably the same thing in effect.

  • Speranza-II

    I intend to work with all of the council members and that includes the deputy mayor and her fellow members of the DUP … I do want to be a mayor for all … not just unionists, loyalists, but republicans and nationalists and many different people who make up our city. I am confident that we can move the city forward in this new term….

    …where oh where,do they intend to move the city too?-

    Ar a laghaid tá ‘Pháirtee An Lucht Oibre ag druidim ar ais i dtroe William Thompson agus an ‘Local Co-op,O’Cadhain,Connolly,Costello….Cle,dheis,cle,dheis,che….is insan lar,An Spailpin Fanach,The Landless and The Land Lords…

  • And Im glad I wasnt eating my corn flakes when I read that. Makes a mess of the keyboard.
    Sinn Féin are NOT drifting towards the “middle”. They are effortlessly weaving between the middle ground and the hard ground.
    There is no concession whatsoever.
    They dont do concession. As the Mary McArdle story shows.
    Stunned disbelief that their bona fides are challenged in respect of Ms McArdle..one day.
    Next day …..the “new face” of Sinn Féin in Niall Ó Donnghaile.
    Its not “calculated”. Its just how they are wired.
    And let me say I welcome Niall as Mayor. I have a lot of time for him (especially if Sinn Féin have a vacancy in their Press Office).
    Ruth Patterson.? The curiousity at the South Belfast count was that the DUP was not entirely at ease with itself.
    She belongs on the Gregory Campbell wing of the Party.

    But continuing SF success WILL embolden SF. They are not the minority nationalist party as in 1998. There is not even parity now, with clear water between them and SDLP. Even a re-vigorated SDLP would take a minimum of two election cycles to even be on parity again.
    This means that the media can no longer treat SF as an oddidy, sniffily dismissing them. The Media now has to deal with SF with more respect and are falling over themselves to do so.
    Look out for new “talking heads” on UTV and BBC in studio discussions. Some marginalised figures will become mainstream again.

  • Cornflakes aside …

    > Sinn Féin are NOT drifting towards the “middle”. They are effortlessly weaving between the middle ground and the hard ground.

    There’s no doubt that the difference between the extremes is getting wider. And in general, SF are much better at keeping a coherent message and tone than the DUP.

  • “SF are much better at keeping a coherent message and tone than the DUP”

    Perhaps it is, Alan, but it retains ‘the muscle’ to do so. What do you suppose happens to elected representatives who stray off message or are too slow to change when the message is turned on its head?

  • Obelisk

    This sort of highlights a bit of contradiction I’ve been thinking about recently. Here we have yet another clear sign that some in the DUP still aren’t altogether there with the whole power sharing thing.

    I wish I could find the links to what other commentators have said but it boils down to two positions.

    1.) The UUP is being decimated because it was a broad church party based around preserving the Union.

    2.) Peter Robinson is a master tactician who has constructed an imposing edifice in the DUP, forming essentially a new broad new church that appeals to broad swathes of Unionism from the Ballymena bible belt to the more liberal areas of Belfast and indeed the Loyalist Working Class Areas.

    The difference between the two is of course that the DUP is a centralised party, whereas the UUP seems to be more a collection of party associations without a coherent vision.

    But given that control, isn’t all the more important the DUP has a top notch politician like Robinson managing, balancing and reassuring the various points of view in his broad church, including those who are still very uncomfortable with sharing power with Sinn Fein.

    And then what? Peter Robinson won’t last forever, and whoever succeeds him will have to maintain that careful balancing act. Like Fianna Fail and the UUP before, is power all that holds the DUP together? If power was lost (improbable right now but nobody could have imagined what the UUP would be like today, thirty odd years ago) or if a sufficiently big crisis arose that the leader wasn’t able to manage perfectly, how long before the rot would set in?

  • Rory Carr

    Alderman Robin Newton has testified to Deputy Lord Mayor, Ruth Patterson’s 10-year experience as a councillor and goes on to say that, “She knows how Council meetings should be conducted and what the protocol is for such occasions.” Unfortunately, despite her decade of experience, it is newly elected Lord Mayor, Niall Ó Donnghaile who is the one demonstrating a degree of maturity that seems beyond his Deputy’s grasp.

    As to Alderman Newton’s assertion that the new Deputy Lord Mayor ” will be a fine ambassador for our city”, I fear that will be only as an ambassador to the world of all that sectarian intolerance for which Belfast had become such a byword and which we might have hoped its politicians were now striving to leave behind. Not it seems its new Deputy Lord Mayor though. What is it she is after I wonder – a special slot on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart ?

  • iluvni

    What a silly oul bag.

  • lamhdearg

    two points the election is over, so the dup can release the hounds, and “Sinn Fein continue to drift towards moderation and inclusivity” what

  • Ruth’s behaviour as reported, for whatever reason, makes her look intolerant, and hands the moral high ground straight to Sinn Fein. It reflects badly on the DUP as a whole.

    I’m not particularly inclined to give Robin Newton too much credence. He was reported in the Belfast News the other week as complaining that Alliance would have to make up its mind about the constitutional question, because unionist parties now held fewer seats than nationalist parties. He seemed to have missed the point that Alliance has its electorate largely because just about everything is more important than the constitutional question. Day to day living is rather more urgent.

  • carl marks

    hard to believe that this sort of thing still happens in politics here. just yesterday some posters were asking if the new mayor would lay a wreath at the cenotaph to prove that he was a mayor for all the people of belfast and now we have a deputy mayor who wastes no time in showing that she is not even going to talk to a large part of the people of belfast for how can she talk to sf voters when she has proved that as far as she is concerned their votes are not important enough for her to show common manners to the people they voted for

  • The Raven

    “2.) Peter Robinson is a master tactician who has constructed an imposing edifice in the DUP”

    So why are the oft-quoted 140,000 “unionist-minded” voters not turning out *for anyone* any more? I keep coming back to it – if the two parties were *that* good, there would have been more than a 54% turnout.

    And on the theme of this thread – did the same thing not just happen in the north west between two politicians from those parties?

  • tacapall

    “A DUP councillor has said Catholics living in a south Belfast apartment block should move to the Republic if they objected to a huge Northern Ireland flag being erected on their building. Belfast councillor Ruth Patterson said residents of Whitehall Square should be aware that they were living in “a Protestant area”.

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2004/jul3_move_to_Republic.php

    Is there anymore needed to say about this woman.

  • ayeYerMa

    tapacall, nice of you to bring up a story from 2004, but there have always been flags flown on Sandy Row and said Catholics would have been aware of them when they moved there.

    She is also quite bloody right on pointing out that some nationalists really have a nerve objecting to symbols of the place they live.

  • Comrade Stalin

    AndyB:

    Succinctly put, and that is the part that people seem to forget. Unionists carping about how Alliance are un-unionist are simply serving to remind everyone that Alliance represent what many people want to get away from – the politics of flags, constitutional issues and tribal territorialism. Alliance just delivered an increase on its vote a couple of days after a TV debate where David Ford was cross-examined on this matter and made it clear that Alliance was not campaigning on any kind of unionist credentials.

    ayeYerMa:

    tapacall, nice of you to bring up a story from 2004, but there have always been flags flown on Sandy Row and said Catholics would have been aware of them when they moved there.

    Normally I would agree that it is a bad idea to dig up crap from years ago, we do need to get past it, but given that we are talking about a councillor who insists on harking back to the past I find it entirely apropos.

    She is also quite bloody right on pointing out that some nationalists really have a nerve objecting to symbols of the place they live.

    Who said they were nationalists ? Oh of course, I forgot, anyone who objects to flags must be a fenian. Silly me.

  • tacapall

    AyeYerMa.

    “She is also quite bloody right on pointing out that some nationalists really have a nerve objecting to symbols of the place they live”.

    So are you saying that UVF, UFF, UDA, flags are symbols of Sandy Row and any catholic or anyone else for that matter has to accept it, after all these are “our terrorist” flags and we will decide if its insulting to any other religion.

  • pauluk

    Many Nationals vote for Sinn Fein/former IRA members partly as a means to keep them from returning to their violent ways.

    The DUP, in turn, and for the good of NI, are obliged to work with a largely unrepentant group of former terrorists and their supporters, whether it turns their stomach or not. Most are able to suck it up and put on a brave face, but for some, it doesn’t come quite so easily. Thing is, can you blame them?

  • JR

    She has behaved disgracefully. But I suppose that is how she was elected to behave.

  • Comrade Stalin

    So are you saying that UVF, UFF, UDA, flags are symbols of Sandy Row and any catholic or anyone else for that matter has to accept it, after all these are “our terrorist” flags and we will decide if its insulting to any other religion.

    More interesting is to consider the logical conclusion of the argument put up there, which is that every single person living on Sandy Row or the Donegall Road supports the UDA/UVF/etc flags – after all anyone who objects must be an outsider.

    I don’t believe that of course, I think that people in those neighbourhoods are crying out for someone to speak up against the drug dealers, racketeers and general anti-socials in their midst. Sadly, unionist elected representatives have yet to rise to the challenge.