Mayor Ó Donnghaile: Sinn Fein’s breath of fresh air?

Nuala McKeever welcomes Sinn Fein’s new Lord Mayor of Belfast, not least because of his youth and lack of baggage:

Niall O Donnghaile’s year in office is a fantastic opportunity for Belfast to tackle in a meaningful way the problem of suicide among young people. He has spoken already about his desire to work in this area to give young people a sense of hope and optimism that life is worth living.

Shame on the old fogies who profess a desire to change but are immediately threatened by any change they didn’t plan themselves.

As one of the older members of our society (it’s hard to write that sentence) I have to concede that my generation aren’t the bright young things any more. We may not like what younger generations do or how they talk or the music they love or the hairstyles they wear but we’ve had our day in the sun.

We caught up with him during the Council elections when he was just plain old Niall:

Listen!

, , ,

  • “he seems to know what he’s doing when it comes to giving soundbites to the media”

    I think I’d rather have a bite of one of those tasty French Tarts in the BelTel photo 🙂

    No amount of sanitisation by the MSM will neutralise the odour emanating from SF spokesmen, irrespective of age. Shame on those old fogies who can’t see through the hype.

  • joeCanuck

    Nevin,

    So you aren’t even prepared to wait a short while to see whether or not this very young man has an offensive political odour about him. Hardly seems fair.

  • Independent Ulster

    joeCanuck

    You say

    ‘So you aren’t even prepared to wait a short while to see whether or not this very young man has an offensive political odour about him. Hardly seems fair.’

    Many people have a problem with SF the party, there is nothing unfair about that, it is a matter of political opinion.

  • joeCanuck

    IU,

    Just so there is no confusion, I am not and never have been a SF supporter. But I am prepared to judge individuals by their actions not by the actions of others.

  • He is young and so far untarnished, a lot rides on the backs of young shinners, will they be prepared to say something was wrong, will they have the courage to take on their political and party masters should they need to. It will take a lot more than well practised sound bites but if it is to work then people like Mr Ó Donnghaile and Mr Doherty in the south are crucial to SFs future.

  • Limerick

    “will they be prepared to say something was wrong”

    Pippakin,

    Of course they won’t not if it would ‘criminalise’ the ‘struggle’.

  • Joe, it would be a very different matter if the PRM had left its old habits behind in 1998 but it hasn’t. It would be helpful if I could put up an MSM link to illustrate a point but the threats apparently still ensure silence, directly or indirectly.

  • Independent Ulster

    Limerick,

    You say,

    “Of course they won’t not if it would ‘criminalise’ the ‘struggle’.

    Although I agree with your sentiment, SF do admit individual actions were ‘wrong’ but not their terrorist campaign. For example they might agree that it was wrong to murder Mary Travers but would not agree that their campaign of murdering those associated with the courts was wrong.

    We can expect Mayor Ó Donnghaile to know that drill well.

  • Limerick

    Independent Ulster,

    Of course.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    so far, he seems to be doing grand so let’s give him a chance.

  • Youth isn’t always a guarantee of freshness. However Niall Ó Donnghaile has started his new role well and if he were a Mayor of my town/city, I’d be happy. Tús maith leath na h-oibre as we say in Irish.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    JoeCanuck

    “I am not and never have been a SF supporter. But I am prepared to judge individuals by their actions not by the actions of others”

    Well said – I couldn’t agree more.

    Nevin

    I’m a bit disappointed as I expected better from you. Unionists complain about dealing with convicted IRA people, but then when people come along such as Niall or Pearse Doherty who have no such baggage, you don’t want to deal with them either. This young man seems to be trying to truly reach out to people – especially young people.

    That’s a lot better than Nationalists have had from Unionist mayors over the years including the current deputy mayor.

    Out of interest, do you think that there is any odour eminating from her given some of her crass comments in the past and her current childish behaviour or is it only Unionists who have the right to be offended?

    I don’t see waht the issu However, fair enough. However, that’s a 2 way street. There are plenty of Unionist politicians

  • lamhdearg

    I would like to hear what someone who once lived in the strand, but no longer lives there ( no pressure) has to say about niall, say someone like Paula mcCartney, maybe some hacks or would be hacks can get a quote or too.

  • Cynic2

    What a pity that, on all sides, we cant have more of this and fewer cases of buggins turn and ‘special’ murderers in politics. That’s what we need for the future.

  • Trapattoni

    Despite a very good start from the Mayor some contributors seem determined to hide behind the usual tired old excuses, which is sad to be honest. There are more people in this society than Sinn Fein who need to leave their pasts behind and move on.

  • Independent Ulster

    MonkDeWallyDeHonk,

    There are many Unionists and Nationalists who do not believe that a Party such as SF or the PUP with their close links to paramilitaries and who still argue their respective campaigns of murders were justified are suitable partys for office.

    This is not a sectarian point of view but a moral point of view.

    It is a safe bet that the new fresh faced mayor beleives the IRA murder campaign was justified or else he would not have joined a political organisation where that is the party line.

  • Trapattoni

    IU what about the more traditional Unionist Parties and their links to para militarism, plenty of those of the Unionist benches were members of UDR/UVF were they not?? Didn’t David Ervine once threaten to tell what colour the wallpaper was in the sitting room of a very prominent Unionist??? At the end of the day we can all get into what aboutery and finger pointing but I’m not sure what it achieves.

  • Independent Ulster

    Trapattoni,

    You say,

    ‘IU what about the more traditional Unionist Parties and their links to para militarism, plenty of those of the Unionist benches were members of UDR/UVF were they not’

    I am no fan of any political and paramilitary meetings in sittings rooms or elsewhere but most rational people are able to differentiate between state forces and paramilitary forces (your reference to UVF and UDR) and also differentiate between talking to paramilitaries and being in the same organisation SF/IRA.

  • Trapattoni

    Thats the thing though IU for many(at least 1/3 it would seem) there was no difference between the state forces and loyists.

  • Trapattoni

    *loyalists

  • Trapattoni

    *loyalists even

  • HeinzGuderian

    trapa

    For someone who doesn’t see the need for whataboutery,your contributions are stuffed full of them !!
    Lets sit back and judge the young fella,me lad,by his actions.
    I look forward to seeing him at Windsor Park,supporting Our Wee Team !! 😉

  • J Kelly

    Mick, this issue of baggage is in my opinion overstated and even one sided, baggage only raises its head for repoblicans but never mentioned when it comes to other parties and their histories and involement with armed groups. Many unionist and loyalist politicians have long associations with disgraced organisations like the RUC, RUC Reserve, the UDR, the The 3rd Force, the Vanguard, Ulster Resistance and so on. All of these organisation have been involved in murder. How many of the Unionist Politicians at Stormont would have association or membership of these armed groups.

    Further I believe that talk of baggage in terms of republicans and their links to the IRA or in jail being a hinderance or a negative is invented by the media and the so called chattering classes. Thousands upon thousands of people in republican and nationalist communities have been to jail or have had a relative or a friend who has been to jail and they are now teachers, youthworkers, builders, solicitors, taxi drivers shopkeepers and even journalists and many of them are held in the highest regard in their communities and wider society.

    Niall is held in the same regard as Sean McGlinchey in Limavady both republican activists doing a job that has been asked of them for all the people. The only difference between the is age,

  • Monk, these were the sort of young people I was privileged to work alongside. What future is there for those who are anchored to a Pearsean or similar cult?

  • “There are those who still see a baton as a weapon. Thankfully, others see it as something to be handed on.” – Nuala McKeever

    What a great quote to finish on..

    Have to say I agree that Ruth Patterson is acting like a sulky child, how can Belfast hope to promote community relations when it’s Deputy Mayor won’t speak to the Mayor because he’s from “the other side” – Ridiculous. (N.B – I know it’s just just because he’s a Catholic but because of his party history but the young people of interface areas care not for such nuances)

    Her party tried ignoring and not speaking to Sinn Fein for years and eventually even the most ardent antagonist of them all, Big Ian, had to concede that the only way forward is to sit down with the other side and batter out a shared agenda.

  • Neil

    The mask slipped on Ruth alright. We know the DUP and SF can work well enough, even friendly in some cases such as with Marty and Robbo.

    But Ruth can’t shake hands with a catholic who had no part in any organisation or war. He was most likely just someone who wanted a UI as many people do, and decided to work towards it in a democratic fashion. But it would appear sectarianism wins the day here for whatreason has Ruth to refuse to shake this man’s hand, other than the fact that he’s from the other side. Well done love, lead by example.

    To my mind it’s just another example of Unionism shooting itself in the foot. Sometimes Unionists whinge ‘why has Loyalism got no books, movies or art in the way that Republicanism does’ or ‘why does the international community not understand our position’. Well the reason being that it’s hard to make a hero of a group of people denying jobs and housing etc. to people on the grounds of sectarian discrimination (as in the 70s), but then every so often we have a Drumcree or Holy Cross and you make the headlines again. Things like this, pettiness, will largely go unnoticed internationally but it underlines why Unionism/Loyalism is so unattractive to people the world over.

  • sonofstrongbow

    “no part in any organisation”. Wrong he is a member of the Murder Party aka Sinn Fein.

    Few unionists are concerned about movies or other media telling their story. I suspect they are too amused watching the Irish Republicans’ fantasy projects coming to page or screen. If anyone has a spare five minutes flick through ‘Before the Dawn’ to see what I mean. I challenge you not to laugh out loud at some of the material within.

    Silly liberals, emotionally stunted Irish-whatevers and assorted other useful fools in foreign climes can be given a by-ball because praise where praise is due Republicans do tell a good cry-in-your-beer take on things. It is their usp.

    Locally the market is also understandable. After all when you supported murder, voted in large numbers for those murderers’ representatives (and in many cases the actual murderers themselves) it is important for your own self-esteem to characterise the squalid sectarian rampage prosecuted by those murderers as some sort of ‘just war’. This provides a rich seam to mine; demonising the ‘enemy’, manufacturing wrongs, elevating thugs into morally tortured souls struggling with ‘having’ to kill etc, etc.

    These sensitivities manifest daily when the MOPE narrative is challenged: witness slugger over the past few days for examples.

    Perhaps they should be cut some slack given that as the end credits role and they come out into the real world again it must grate that they find themselves still living in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • DC

    Breath of fresh air – he’s aged 25 but looking around 40.

  • Greenflag

    independent ulster,

    ‘This is not a sectarian point of view but a moral point of view.’

    Pull the other one – When it comes to ‘morality’ some unionists won’t ever face the fact that in NI there is no higher moral ground and certainly no Irish nationalist or even republican is going to take generalised ‘unionist ‘ political preaching re ‘morality with any more than a grain of salt . Recent and not so recent history has provided more than enough examples of how ‘unionist ‘ morality just meant ‘more for us ‘ and less for them .

    Never mind what they say just watch what they do -Patterson is just the latest in a long line of ignorati among Unionist pols who don’t yet get the message that NI is no longer a ‘unionist ‘ only political entity .

    One would think that with Unionists now a minority on Belfast City Council that some ‘unionist ‘ politicians might wise up .

    Good luck to the new Mayor . He’ll need it . I trust he has a strong enough neck and enough cojones not to be miffed by just another unionist troglodyte of the ilk of Patterson .

    I suppose if Ruth Patterson ever has to do business with an SF or SDLP Minister in the Executive she won’t be too affronted if they keep her waiting for any appointment and then meet her with both hands resolutely behind their backs so as not to embarass the poor eejit by proferring their handshakes and forcing the poor woman to stand her ground on her ‘moral ‘ principles 🙁

  • Trapattoni

    Aaaaah personal insults, he must be doing a good job

  • Independent Ulster

    Greenflag.

    You say,

    “Recent and not so recent history has provided more than enough examples of how ‘unionist ‘ morality just meant ‘more for us ‘ and less for them . ”

    My moral position is not ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Unionist’. Any paramilitary violence or indeed unlawful state violence should be viewed as immoral.

    A party either ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Unionist’ that seeks to justify and in many cases actually took part in such violence and SF and the PUP are two obvious examples should not be afforded support or respect like those partys such as the DUP, the SDLP, the UUP or Alliance that condemn such violence as wrong.

  • Greenflag

    Independent Ulster ,

    Your ‘moral ‘ position is of your own consequence as is your political preference . Alas ‘morality’ is more than a two faced god or goddess when it strays into politics and more particularly into conflict situations and more especially into post conflict situations

    So your position on lawful state violence would be that it’s often a necessity to maintain order in societies generally ?

    States like the USA not too long ago carried out ‘lawful ‘ violence and discrimination against african americans , Russian communists under Stalin ‘lawfully ‘ deported whole peoples such as the Kalmucks and Volga Germans to Siberia . When does a State’s lawful violence against it’s own citizens reach a point when violent resistance /revolution is the only recourse ? Should Germany’s Jews have fought back during Kristallnacht against the lawful State forces that condoned the burning out and looting of their homes and businesses?

    It’s easy to condemn violence but unfortunately history shows us that it’s usually the only method that removes tyrannical or oppressive regimes from power. Regimes or political entities that don’t learn to adapt to new circumstances be they demographic , economic or strategic soon enough disappear from the great game . At this stage some ‘unionists ‘ are making an attempt to adapt to the new dispensation . Some never will . Their perfect right of course -but bleating about the ‘immorality ‘ of SF or the PUP is redundant . I’m sure that the 280,000 voters who gave SF their vote will tell you where to put your ‘morality’

    Then again even the mad ayatollahs of the middle east and the crazier evangelicals spout long and hard about ‘morality ‘ not unlike the ‘princes ‘ of the Roman Church . But as I’ve often said never mind what they say just watch what they do in real life . Be prepared to be disappointed in the unctious ones ! And all of the above each in their own sectarian and discriminatory manner found justification for the slaughter of infidels etc during mankind’s gory religious history. 🙁

  • Independent Ulster

    Greenflag,

    I agree with you: it is a complex and vairied world we live in and sometimes it is good to have simple moral code with a few simple rules to help us get by.

    One rule, shared amongst the Western democracies and of which I am a strong supporter, and shared amongst peoples of many religinos and indeed those of none is that you should not kill people simply becuase they have an opposing view to your own.

    Those partys in Northern Ireland, Unionists or Nationalist who dont support this principle are not deserving of respect or support.

  • Cynic2

    J Kelly

    ” disgraced organisations like the RUC, RUC Reserve, the UDR”

    Dont you mean the RUC GC old chap. And remember they won the war no matter how you try to spin it while themuns you appear to support murdered thousands and were forced to accept a deal with SF Ministers signing up for seats in a British Parliament within the UK and with even the Irish Constitutional Claim removed. Why we even have former bombers like your namesake working as a Minister in a British Regional Devolved Government (with its powers devolved by favour of the UK Parliament you note).

    Now I fully understand that in your mindset you genuinely believe that you are right when you say that

    ” talk of baggage in terms of republicans and their links to the IRA or in jail being a hinderance or a negative is invented by the media and the so called chattering classes”

    but there are thousands of people in our society people who fervently believe many strange things. That doesn’t mean that those things are true or that those people are right. Some of them end up locked up in hospital or care in the community. Others with milder delusions with help can go on to live useful lives. We even elect some of them to public office.

    For example you assert that there is no difference between the respective mayors in Limavady and Belfast. Yes, they do both aspire to a United Ireland and I respect that view and aspiration, but one of them murdered people – totally innocent pensioners in Coleraine whose only crime was that they were mostly Prods shopping in a Mostly Protestant town.

    That act makes him a sectarian murderer. That is clearly something that the Mayor of Belfast isn’t and it’s something that no amount of wishful thinking on your part will erase.

  • Limerick

    Do republicans genuinely believe that if they continue to clog their own propaganda rags, and the internet, with claims that the security forces were in the same league as the terrorist groups, it will somehow come to be regarded as fact outside their own lonely parallel universe?

    Or do they realise that attempting to do so immediately identifies them as terrorist supporting loons?

  • Cynic2

    Perhaps its the only way they can sleep at night?

    Now wait for the howls of rage at that comment

  • Greenflag

    independent ulster ,

    ‘sometimes it is good to have simple moral code with a few simple rules to help us get by.

    At the level of our ‘individual ‘lives I agree . There are more than a few common moral principles which all humankind share . Equally there are some areas of human life which are not ‘shared ‘ re morality . Catholics and many evangelical protestants find ‘abortion ‘ repugnant and immoral . Jewish people don’t . For them at least according to rabbinical law life only begins outside the womb .

    ‘you should not kill people simply because they have an opposing view to your own.’

    Full marks for the obvious or it would be if there was no war or tyranny or oppression of peoples . In the USSR some 13 million civilians were killed by both German and Russian forces -many were victims of reprisals for earlier atrocities committed by one side or the other .

    Today Russians and Germans cooperate to both their countries advantage . Meanwhile some ‘Unionists ‘ continue to berate SF for it’s espousal of a war/conflict /terror campaign that ended a decade or more ago .

    Moving on time I’d say

    Of course you might think that those 13 million civilians would have been spared had the Germans not invaded Russia in 1941 and you might think that the 4,000 lives lost in Northern Ireland would have been saved had earlier unionist regimes had a whit of political sense . But that’s always the way with the powerful . They don’t see beyond their own narrow ground or world and thus the world eventually shrugs them off and replaces them with another bunch of ‘improved’ thugs who are just a little closer to the people -for a while anyway until they too become arrogant and bring the house down on themselves indue course . FF being just another example to the old Unionist party .

  • carl marks

    Independent Ulster
    “A party either ‘Nationalist’ or ‘Unionist’ that seeks to justify and in many cases actually took part in such violence and SF and the PUP are two obvious examples should not be afforded support or respect like those partys such as the DUP, the SDLP, the UUP or Alliance that condemn such violence as wrong.”
    how did the dup and uup get in there was ulster resistance,the third farce,vangaurd not violent groups involved in murder etc and were the dup and uup not involved in these groups,(please dont run out that old chestnut about the violence not being expected when you live in a place like ni making blood and thunder speechs marching with colour partys and wearing military dress eg red berets is only going to lead to one thing)

  • Neil

    you live in a place like ni making blood and thunder speechs marching with colour partys and wearing military dress eg red berets is only going to lead to one thing

    Not only Northern Ireland though:

    On 7 August 1986, in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Robinson led a group of 500 loyalists into the village of Clontibret in County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. The loyalists attacked the unmanned Garda station in the village and daubbed loyalist slogans on the walls. They then held a quasi-military parade along the main street and attacked two Gardaí. More Gardaí arrived shortly after and fired shots in the air, scattering the loyalist crowd. Robinson was arrested and held at Monaghan Garda station. He pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly and was fined IR£17500 in a Drogheda court to escape a prison sentence. As a result, Robinson briefly resigned from the DUP deputy leadership. There was also violence both before and after a court appearance in Dundalk, including Ian Paisley being attacked with stones and petrol bombs after Jim Wells and other Robinson supporters waved flags and sang Loyalist songs. At his trial the judge described him as “a senior extremist politician”.

    More on Ulster Resistance, five pound land deals and homophobic aldultresses here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Robinson_(politician)

  • HeinzGuderian

    Same old,same old,from the *new* Lord Mayor of Belfast…………….a man for ALL the people ??

  • ulsterscotnua

    Unionist people feel they are entitled to snub and be ignorant to people from SF.
    Only one problem. Violence and threat of violence resulted in the birth of the six counties.
    Having bullied the British army into getting a portion of the island of Ireland and by deceit and trickery it amounted to the 6 counties.
    These six counties were ruled in such away that Catholics and Nationalists were deprived of houses and jobs, they were made to feel like 2nd class citizens.
    The Civil Rights Campaign of the late 60’s and early 70’s was met by violent Unionists, police and B Specials. Nationalists were burnt out of their houses by the so called security forces and the Provisional IRA was formed.

  • between the bridges

    Unionist people feel they are entitled to snub and be ignorant to people from SF.
    Only one problem. Violence and threat of violence resulted in the birth of the six counties.
    Having bullied the British army into getting a portion of the island of Ireland and by deceit and trickery it amounted to the 6 counties.
    These six counties were ruled in such away that Catholics and Nationalists were deprived of houses and jobs, they were made to feel like 2nd class citizens.
    The Civil Rights Campaign of the late 60′s and early 70′s was met by violent Unionists, police and B Specials. Nationalists were burnt out of their houses by the so called security forces and the Provisional IRA was formed.

    google whinge translate..

    it was all the proddybrits fault

  • Limerick

    So his first act in office was to insult unionists. Imagine my surprise.

  • carl marks

    Limerick says:
    10 June 2011 at 10:03 pm

    “So his first act in office was to insult unionists. Imagine my surprise.”
    limerick instead of going into mopery mode look at what happened
    He has kept portraits of the Queen and Prince Philip and put of a copy of the proclaimation and a potrait of James Connelly this seems to me that he is respecting both traditions if however you chose to be insulted it says more about you than the mayor.
    by the way his first act was to reach a hand to the deputy mayor we all seen what happened then

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Heinz

    “Same old,same old,from the *new* Lord Mayor of Belfast”

    Really, I thought that he kept 50% of the Unionist pictures and added 50% Nationalist. That seems to me to be a fair split. Given that SF are the largest party, I think that was a fair thing to do.

    When Alex Maskey was mayor (despite the sickening treatment he received from many Unionists in City Hall), he had both a Tricolour and a Union Jack in his Office – an attempt to recognise both traditions.

    To be honest, it doesn’t really matter to people like you what any Nationalist mayor does. Anything other than the place being filled with Unionist symbols and no Nationalist symbols at all will do. Just like the good old days of Gerrymandering and Unionist misrule eh?

    And this from the people who have howled for decades about democracy (or Unionists twisted version of it pre 1972). Oddly enough, you don’t seem too keen on democracy when it doesn’t produce the results you want. If only the gerrymandering hadn’t been stopped eh?

    It’s hardly the first time that Nationalists have had gestures of equal representatiion thrown back in their faces. For years, the SDLP rotated the mayor’s position in Derry trying to set an example to Unionists in Belfast and many other places who worked overtime to make sure Catholics got as little represenation as possible. Did it work? did it f**k!. Even in 2011, we had an attempt by Unionists in City Hall to collude to minimise “taig” representation.

    I hope that both SF and the SDLP keep trying to show fairness (which is a lot more than Catholics got from Unionists for over 50 years). If Unionists want to throw it back in their faces that’s down to you.

    Do you ever wonder why NI Unionism has such a negative image and has minimal support in Britain and pretty much nothing beyond that?. Boorish behaviour such as that from Ruth Patterson might be a bit of a giveway.

    Anyway, if you don’t like the new Mayor that’s down to you. However, just so you know, the days of the City hall being covered with Unionist regalia and the taigs knowing their place are long gone and won’t ever be coming back.

  • JoeBryce

    Ulster Scot puts his finger on it. People from our (unionist) political tradition have no business giving ourselves moral airs. Northern Ireland exists because of an act of insurrection, one that the British state would likely have put down had it not been for the Somme. As long as we faced “a Catholic state for a Catholic people”, followed by an armed struggle that cast us as pieds noirs, we could evade the truth; but the historic concession of the GFA is slowly depriving us of our illusions. Partition was the consequence of our “armed struggle” of 1912 – 14, was contrary to the will of all but 4 of the 32 counties, and now is only endorsed by 2. We pride ourselves on being a moral people, and so in many ways we are: it’s time to face realities. Although I take some pleasure in the vast irony that the wholly peaceful triumph for the SNP has done more for Irish nationalism in a single day than 40 years of fratricidal struggle.

  • carl marks

    between the bridges
    “google whinge translate..
    it was all the proddybrits fault”
    do you dispute the facts put forward by ulsterscotnua these are well documented by many respected historians but perhaps you have a alternate history, You throw the sort of thing it goes like this,
    in the country of nornironia there lived the tribe of orange they ruled fairly and treated the greenies well allowing them there own little places were the greenies were untroubled with jobs or new houses the tribe of orange would march every many times through the year through the places of the greenies , the children of the greenies would dance and frolic at these parades and the adults would tug their forelocks thankful that the masters had brightened the dull days for them for they knew there place.
    then the wicked dubs cast a spell and the greenies went mad and attacked the masters who called upon the great ones across the water to help but they to conspired with the dubs to ruin nornironia.
    will that do for a start

  • dwatch

    Irish News article by Roy Garland 13 June 2011.

    ‘Belfast’s new Mayor Niall O’Donnghaile has tried to reach out to unionists by visiting the Loyalist Shankill Road, attending the Presbyterian General Assembly and being present at a graduation service for Bible College students.

    As a member of Sinn Fein he wishes to see the complexity of cultural traditions reflected in the Mayor’s parlour. This clearly needs to be approached with sensitivity but Mayor O Donnghaile sadly seems to have lost sight of this need along the way.

    He has moved or removed some pictures of Royalty from his parlour. This is hardly of earth-shattering significance but he replaced them mainly with a framed copy of the 1916 Proclamation. This to unionists introduces threat rather than inclusion and comes across to some as almost a declaration of war.

    Replacing pictures of Royals with ones of the Irish President or other less-contentious Irish artefacts would be less contentious. Many Ulster Catholics are not offended by Royalty just as many Loyalists are not offended by the Irish President. One leading Sinn Fein member has confirmed that the Royal wedding was avidly watched on TV in West Belfast. Admittedly this was said to be mainly by women wishing to see Kate Middleton’s dress!

    The real point is that the 1916 Proclamation is not equivalent to Royalty but rather to the Ulster Covenant 1912. The latter represented a threat of violence against the British Government by Unionists while the former represents actual violence from a minority leading, among other things, to the death of soldiers, civilians and policemen in Dublin. It helped to let loose a catalogue of violence and counter violence that remains with us.

    Yet former Irish Nationalist Mayors have for example introduced an Irish Tricolour and a poem in Irish to the Mayor’s parlour. Many unionists accept this while others are now annoyed at the removal of pictures of Royalty. But the introduction of the 1916 Proclamation with its in-your-face physical force tradition rankles most.

    Republicans involved are either unreconstructed nationalists or ignorant of unionist sensitivities. Leading Republicans in the past spoke of having to come to terms with their British identity but last week one spoke of cultural differences being set-in-stone in a way that seemed to leave no room for a shared future.

    The 1916 Proclamation, despite mitigating factors, comes across to unionists as war mongering. For Republicans it is war on the Brits with unionists dismissed as little more that British lackeys. But the real Republic did not always welcome unionists but was at times a haven for the IRA. The unionist population there was depleted and diminished and today is almost nonexistent. Those who remain generally keep mouths shut and heads down. A tiny number remain to speak out but are not taken seriously. They feel alienated in their own country.

    In this context the Mayor’s actions threaten a spiralling reaction. Some unionists could feel obliged in response to highlight the Ulster Covenant and early UVF as opposed the Proclamation and the IRA. Next year marks the centenary of the Ulster Covenant so this is not inconceivable. The Lord Mayor should perhaps encourage a new covenant/proclamation that commits our people to a new beginning based not on threat but on fostering trust and friendship and the final rejection of violence.

    Sinn Fein claims they want a united Ireland capable of including unionists who, according one reading of the proclamation, are to be cherished. But the Mayor now seems to be pointing in precisely the opposite direction. Republicans own much to the Presbyterian tradition, but 1916 was not 1798.

    If true unity ever happens it will be by consent. Any alternative would be too awful to contemplate. Given this, it makes no sense to alienate unionists further from whatever remains of their Irish identity. Beneath the surface there still lurks a fondness for things Irish in many unionist hearts but this remains precarious despite Queen Elizabeth’s helpful visit.

    If Sinn Fein is serious about unity they must act with kindness and sensitivity. We live with a terrible violent legacy that is yet to be overcome. To do so we must embrace rather than confront and alienate each other.

    Denigrating opponents could put any kind of unity on the back burner for a very long time. Mayor O’Donnghaile was right to seek new relationships but harking back to the symbols of physical force could damage goodwill and alienate people in both traditions. It could so shatter the dream of unity so much that no one could ever put it together again.’

  • dwatch

    Dissidents demand Sinn Féin mayor removes City Hall art

    (Suzanne Breen, Sunday World)

    Republican dissidents are demanding Belfast’s new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor takes down a poster from his parlour which they claim insults Ireland’s patriot dead by being displayed in “a bastion of British rule”.

    Niall Ó Donnghaile removed pictures of Prince Charles and the Queen Mother from his City Hall office and replaced them with the 1916 Proclamation and a poster of the United Irishmen.

    However, the artist who created the poster commemorating Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen’s 1798 rebellion said he is “deeply offended” that his work is on display in the mayor’s parlour.

    And Republican Sinn Féin has threatened that if Ó Donnghaile doesn’t remove the poster, they will picket City Hall. Party spokeswoman Geraldine Taylor said: “Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Robert Emmet would be turning in their graves if they knew where their picture was hanging.”

    New York artist Brian Mor O’Baoigill told the Mirror: “I created the poster to honour republican martyrs who fought for Irish freedom. To display it in the home of the British government in Belfast is the greatest insult possible.

    “The men of 1798 died to rid Ireland of the British. Hanging their picture in an office controlled and paid for by the UK makes a mockery of their efforts. When Belfast City Hall is located in a united Ireland, I’ll be honoured to see my artwork displayed there. Until then, I demand Sinn Féin removes it.”

    Ó Donnghaile (25), Belfast’s youngest ever Lord Mayor, caused unionist anger when he replaced the royal portraits with republican ones last week to make City Hall “more balanced”.

    However, O’Baoigill – whose parents are from Donegal – said he was “devastated” when he saw a Northern Ireland TV news bulletin showing his art in the mayoral parlour.

    He is mystified as to how Provisional Sinn Féin came to own the poster as the only place it’s now sold is Republican Sinn Féin’s west Belfast headquarters.

    O’Baoigill’s art has long caused controversy and condemnation. He designed an ad which flashed over an electronic billboard in Times Square in 1983 wishing IRA prisoners happy Christmas.

    He was a cartoonist for the Irish People, the newspaper of pro-IRA group Noraid. One of his cartoons celebrated the IRA’s attempt to blow up the British cabinet in 1984.

    Entitled Brighton Beach Memories, it stated, ‘Remember Maggie, we only gotta be lucky once’. The cartoon was unanimously denounced as “sick and revolting” by British MPs.

    O’ Baoigill claims Sinn Féin and the IRA have “sold out” republicanism. He has emailed Ó Donnghaile requesting that his artwork be taken down but had so far received no reply. The US-based Irish Freedom Committee has urged Irish-American activists to contact Sinn Féin at Belfast City Hall to support O’Baoigill’s demand.

    Newshound: Links to daily newspaper articles about Northern Ireland
    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/arts2011/jun13_Dissidents_art_City-Hall__SBreen_Daily-Mirror.php

  • dwatch

    Removing portraits has caused hurt

    NEWSLETTER: Published on Tuesday 14 June 2011 09:14

    THE inexperience of Niall O’Donnghaile is evident from his disregard for long-standing customs at Belfast City Hall. He seems to think that the Lord Mayor’s Parlour should now look like a Sinn Fein office, with the ‘Easter Rising’ Proclamation given pride of place.

    Removing portraits of members of the Royal family has caused deep hurt and is not the actions of one who is genuine about ‘reaching out’ to the unionist community.

    He is quoted as saying: “I thought, given the fact that for many in this city the Queen is viewed as their Head of State, it was important that that was reflected in the parlour; on a personal level, that’s quite a tough decision for me.”

    Firstly, the Queen is not ‘viewed’ as the Head of State, she IS the Head of State of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Anyone having respect for the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland would accept that it is entirely appropriate that her portrait be given prominence in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour of our capital city.

    Instead this Lord Mayor moves her portrait to the far end of the parlour, behind the entrance door. In his blinkered ‘ourselves alone’ view retaining her portrait even in that relegated position was ‘a tough decision’.

    Really? Is he such a Sinn Fein clone that he cannot tolerate others’ allegiances more graciously?

    He goes on to say, “Her husband is in full military regalia in the portrait. So, that is difficult and will be difficult, I am sure, for people entering the parlour.”

    Exactly who does he have in mind as entering the parlour this year? The mind boggles. Certainly not unionists, it would seem.

    Could Sinn Fein, with 16 councillors to choose from, not have allowed this new councillor more time to mature and to learn from engaging with others before appointing him to the top post at City Hall?

    I fear this will be a long and divisive year.

    Councillor Brian Kingston

    DUP

    Belfast City Council

  • Trapattoni

    So visits to the shankill and attendence at Bible class graduations and istallations of moderators are all well and good but hell mend you if you express any overt republican opinions. I’d like to say I’m suprised.

  • carl marks

    dwatch i enjoyed the above post what a laugh loved the general mopery but a few bits really stood out
    “Anyone having respect for the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland would accept that it is entirely appropriate that her portrait be given prominence in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour of our capital city.”
    of course the fact that sf is the largest party in the dome of delight due to the democratic process means nothing only unionists feelings can be considered no doubt we will here some twaddell about breaking with tradition which translates as when we run the show we done it our way and treated you lot with comtempt and now that you lot are in the majority you still have to do it our way. of course the deputy mayor has given us all a lession on how the dup intends to hounour the mandate of the nationalist people.
    ” i fear this will be a long and divisive year”
    indeed it looks like it again the deputy mayor got us all off to a good start no doubt when the turn of the dup comes round they will make a gesture towards nationalists perhaps a tricolour in the mayors parlour or if they remove the offending pics maybe a pic of the Irish president or perhaps a antrim gaa jersey..
    Bad news dwatch the old days are gone the nationalists are here to stay and we know our place and it isnt were you think it should be, but dont get to concerned we wont treat you like you treated us we will put up with the rudeness the mopery and the general attidude that only your feelings and votes count and will get on with politics

  • dwatch

    Hope you enjoy this one as well Carlmarks.

    NEWSLETTER.
    ‘Unionism can block Sinn Fein’s goals of a united Ireland’
    Published on Wednesday 15 June 2011 08:58

    ONE of the weaknesses we unionist people have is our over-reliance on pleasing sights and sounds. As long as the cultural drama is in the halls and on the streets we delude ourselves that all is better than it really is.

    Politicians know this and ensure an appropriate diet of comfort creating visual aids and announcements to ensure the loyal faithful are still focused on the imagery created for them.

    I do not suggest a reduction of cultural and historical events but concern myself that we can anaesthetise ourselves from reality.

    A republican told a relative many years ago: “I don’t care how much your boys march, we will soon own the ground they march on.”

    Another similar protagonist said to me: “The republican party are in the game of easy, easy, catch the monkey.”

    Neither am I unaware of the strength of a unionist population, especially when they decide to work together for the broader non-party interest.

    The republican/nationalist network have access to a major back room of professional volunteers who are not interested in acclaim and glory.

    They are content to pass from this scene of time without headlines.

    It is my personal belief that the unionist bloc are still in time to operate a combined strategy to restrict the creeping paralysis toward the goals of an ultra-left wing ideology of Sinn Fein/IRA and a united Ireland.

    Cllr David Barbour

    Coleraine

    Comments

    DrDavidGreen

    If I were an Ulster RC, or indeed a Shinner, the last thing on my radar screen at present would be a re-united Ireland. The EU is not too enamoured with the ROI at present so expect even greater hardships ahead for DUBLIN. Ulster unionists are riding high at present and need to be more Brussels-oriented in their thinking. The Shinners are caught between Scylla and Charybdis. They must know,although they can’t say it out loud to their supporters, that the first casualty in a reunited Ireland would be their own party. At present they still listen too closely to the ghost of Padrig Pearse and treat the (irrelevant) Proclamation as their bible. I wonder if the Lord Mayor has actually read it? Most republicans in the ROI are embarrassed by its exclusivist language and prefer to keep it hidden. It was made irrelevant by the Belfast Agreement which formally and legally recognised Northern Ireland. The blasphemous Pearse must be turning in his grave! How dare he compare the 1916 events to the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour. Congratulations to the RC church for keeping him outside the pale. Sadly, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, viewed from here in Christian Greece, has chosen to display a document in his office which is the symbol of a pagan past St Patrick sought to exorcise for all time.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/community/letters/unionism_can_block_sinn_fein_s_goals_of_a_united_ireland_1_2773136

  • FuturePhysicist

    Such a waste of public money to see political debate deliberately being steered by Sinn Féin away from job creation and promoting to non-issues like flags and emblems.

    The reduction of MLA’s and councilors cannot come soon enough, as hard working, well trained and educated young people are driven to suicide by the lack of employment opportunities, while others who are simply given roles or inherit mandates waste their time as self-servants and no matter how much they try to deny it careerists too.

    Spoilt politicians like these don’t deserve even half of the mean industrial wage.

  • carl marks

    dwatch disagree with the concept of your post seems more like wishful thinking to me perhaps for a few more years unionists might be able to block a united ireland but the why it keeps splintering and bickering among itself it unlikely that it will be able to get its act together and lets face it its all about paredes and flags for them so forgive me if i don worry about the musing’s of a minor politician or a religious fundementilist crazie.

    FuturePhysicist (profile) says:
    15 June 2011 at 11:31 am

    Such a waste of public money to see political debate deliberately being steered by Sinn Féin away from job creation
    and promoting to non-issues like flags and emblems.

    seems to me that it the unionist’s who are doing the steering or should that be stirring seem to be gurning about something they can do nothing about and what about that fool in limavady with his pocket sized union jack causing meeting’s’ to be cancelled because he doesnt understand the rule’s but still keep dreaming and moping boys remember we cant take your dreams away you will always have those.
    by the FuturePhysicist i agree there’s to many MLA’s and councilors

  • FuturePhysicist

    I agree, when the current Mayor is out the 1916 Proclamation will probably be just taken down, but we’ve seen the same sort of mopery from Sinn Féin quite often too.

  • carl marks

    FuturePhysicist (profile) says:
    15 June 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I agree, when the current Mayor is out the 1916 Proclamation will probably be just taken down, but we’ve seen the same sort of mopery from Sinn Féin quite often too.

    agreed and just for the record and i know dwatch doesnt believe me and has made claims about me in other posts which he hasnt been able to prove im not a shinner nor do i vote for them but people like dwatch have to be challenged there hatred amd blinkered outlook could if allowed to go unchallenged end up dragging us back to the bad old days

  • dwatch

    Looks like Mayor Ó Donnghaile’s should have talked to Gerry first before taking the portrait of the Queen down and hanging the 1916 proclamation in the Monarch’s rightful place has shown SF have two hopes for a UI.
    Bob Hope and no hope:

    Bad news, Gerry …public support for Irish unity has plummeted By Liam Clarke
    Friday, 17 June 2011

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/bad-news-gerry-public-support-for-irish-unity-has-plummeted-16012932.html#ixzz1PVjIILwB

  • carl marks

    Looks like Mayor Ó Donnghaile’s should have talked to Gerry first before taking the portrait of the Queen down and hanging the 1916 proclamation in the Monarch’s rightful place has shown SF have two hopes for a UI.
    Bob Hope and no hope:

    Bad news, Gerry …public support for Irish unity has plummeted By Liam Clarke
    Friday, 17 June 2011

    Of course the election we had since which is in fact a poll of a much larger type (and the accaurcy of these things is directally related to numbers) would point to a very different outcome but you continue to grasp ar any straw you see dwatch old chap as to takin the queens portrait down from her rightfull place all your doing is more of the old unionist thing of only our views and feelings count you ignore the simple fact that the mayor has the right to put what he wants on his wall.

  • dwatch

    Waning support for united Ireland among Northern Catholics

    MOST CATHOLICS IN the North would now prefer to stay part of the UK while the number wanting a united Ireland has hit a record low, according to a new survey.

    http://www.thejournal.ie/waning-support-for-united-ireland-among-northern-catholics-157651-Jun2011/

  • dwatch

    Well well well guess what, SF are beginning to panic now.
    Referendum call amid low Irish unity support
    http://www.u.tv/News/Referendum-call-amid-low-Irish-unity-support/dbf29be4-832a-4f64-b2d9-c558a88176b0
    Just because 26% vote for SF does not mean all those voters would want to go into the UI in the present climate. Forby a large increase in immigration even emigrants who flocked to the celtic tiger EIRE a few years back are all leaving the Irish Republic. Nobody with any sense wants to live there.

  • FuturePhysicist

    No one with any Sence? Such nonsense to suggest the workers at Major international firms like Intel and Pfizer don’t have sence.

    The Brain drain in Northern Ireland and the lack of variety has made it utterly senseless for many to stay here. For a scientist or engineer the nation of shopkeepers who cling onto an antiquated measurement system and who’ve slashed state science funding more than many Western democracies.

    Fact is there are still many who can get substinence from the corpse of the Celtic Tiger than from biting the Red Hand that feeds you.

  • dwatch

    ‘Fact is there are still many who can get substinence from the corpse of the Celtic Tiger than from biting the Red Hand that feeds you.’

    Sure but Edna Kenny & Fine Gael have enought trouble with their own economic problems and dont want to add to those problems by feeding and paying welfare for poor republicans shinners from NI as well. Just listened to some republicans (SF voters) speak on BBC radio talkback they don’t want a UI to pay £200 every time they see a doctor and even more to see the dentist.

    Furthermore the last thing Fine Gael wants is all those SF republican politicians from Northern Ireland to join together in a UI with EIRE.

  • PaulT

    “…Just listened to some republicans (SF voters) speak on BBC radio talkback they don’t want a UI to pay £200 every time they see a doctor and even more to see the dentist….”

    Point is dwatch, the doctor costs £200 a visit, the arguement is only over who pays the bill, personally I think if you can afford to pay you should pay for yourself and not ask me and others to.

    Ring a doctor in Ireland and appoints are pretty immediate, living in London, I’ve not gone to the doctor in 5 years, not worth the hassle of trying an appointment.

    Why, cos if your bored and have a bit of a tickly cough you might as well pop into the doctors…………yeah I just love the NHS, keeping OAPs and the unemployed out of the rain for 60 years

  • Trapattoni

    Polls mean little of nothing.

  • carl marks

    dwatch
    if what you claim is true(which i doubt) that most catholics dont want a united ireland and so must be some form of unionists tell me why do they not vote unionist, also i belisv the same report stated that most unionists dont have a problem with a united ireland so tell me do you accept that.

  • dwatch

    carl marks, its not my claim, its a survey done each year since 1998 by the Northern Ireland life and times. Even the Irish News ( a Catholic nationalist newspaper) has published the following:
    http://mail.ntlworld.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=fb893c86e8&view=att&th=1309dfb790ebb36b&attid=0.1&disp=inline&zw