It has been intriguing to watch the outplaying of what is clearly an orchestrated unionist political strategy in Belfast Council over the Duke of Edinburgh award ceremony saga. False rage that has involved calls for the Mayor’s resignation and even a return to loyalist street blockades.
But what is most noteworthy is the contrast in reactions to the comments attributed to the Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, during his party conference, and the actions and utterances of the Belfast Mayor.
Regarding nationalist reaction to Sammy’s Sectarian Satire Show, words of condemnation accompanied rolled eyes, with Conor Murphy delivering a sufficiently dignified rebuke in the Assembly chamber to the DUP figure.
After all, those who have watched previous episodes in Sammy’s conference series will know that he has form in deriding the appearance of catholic Irish sounding names like Seamus in the public eye. Not only did the Finance Minister refuse the opportunity to apologise for his insulting remarks when challenged in the Assembly chamber, he instead chose to further expose himself by stating that he revelled in the fact that he’d annoyed republicans.
Yet there were no calls for resignation from the Executive Minister nor street blockades.
Contrast that with the actions of unionist representatives in Belfast City Hall, who have attempted to make the Duke of Edinburgh awards saga into a resignation matter, bringing several hundred loyalists onto the streets of Belfast city centre to block the road.
An interesting aside from Mick’s welcome commentary on the city council meeting tonight. Mick quotes Bob Stoker as saying: “You and any future SF Lord Mayors need to set aside your principles to do the job properly.”
Given that the veteran UUP politician is clearly implying that doing the job properly involves respecting the legitimacy of the ‘other tradition,’ when exactly can we expect unionist politicians to pay their respects to the Irish republican war dead (including many protestants amongst their number) in reciprocation to the republican gesture of laying a wreath to remember British army casualties from the city?