And so, to the latest incident of the false rage contagion, which spread to Donegal yesterday, where a group of protestant youths stormed out of a cross-community gathering because of the fact that Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson had been asked to speak.
Whilst Turgon’s thread contained the Newsletter version of the story- complete with false allegations of an IRA speech- the truth would appear to be a lot simpler than that and considerably less comfortable for the loyalist protestors involved.
On today’s Nolan Show, one of the event organisers, former garda PJ Hallinan , dismissed the idea that there had been an IRA speech and appeared completely perplexed as to why anyone could have objected to the content of the speech.
“There was nothing in what Martina Anderson said that anyone could have taken exception to.”
Most tellingly, he stated that he’d been told the loyalist protest was a reaction to the Mayor/ cadet story in Belfast, and that some of the loyalists had left the premises prior to the speech which was supposed to be what had offended them.
The objection to Martina Anderson’s presence on the basis of her republican background is most interesting, not least since one individual long associated with the cross-community Messines Project is former UDA Leader, Glenn Barr, whose own loyalist credentials are well known.
As another caller to the Nolan Show also pointed out, youths from nationalist and unionist inner-city areas regularly attend meetings where former republican and loyalist activists speak as part of efforts to defuse tensions in interface areas.
Objecting to the use of Irish (in Donegal no less!) is straw-clutching at its worst and is clearly a face saving exercise by those who had jumped the gun in their haste to indict Sinn Fein’s Junior Minister on what is clearly a bogus charge.
The link with the Cadet story in Belfast City Council is also noteworthy, not least for the precedent the protesters would appear comfortable with setting. As we’ve noted here on Slugger, there were three notable incidents in the past week involving politicians acting or speaking in a manner which was inconsistent with the culture of reconciliation and tolerance most political parties are purportedly interested in developing. To date, but one of those political figures has expressed remorse, a position confirmed by leading colleagues in his own party.
Alas,his fellow Belfast City councillor, David Browne and, perhaps more importantly, Member of Parliament and Executive Minister Sammy Wilson, have yet to follow the Mayor’s lead and express remorse for their words- indeed, Sammy Wilson has even boasted about his ability to annoy the ‘other’ in an Assembly reply when the matter was raised on the floor of the House.
Ironically, Mr Wilson recently paid a visit to a catholic post-primary school in West Belfast. Were nationalists to catch the false rage contagion, presumably cars belonging to unionist councillors attending the next City council meeting would be attacked by tricolour-waving mobs chanting republican songs in objection to the description of the Irish language as ‘gobbledegook’ by a unionist councillor, whilst catholic kids would walk out of schools when DUP representatives set foot in the doors.
But that’s not likely to happen, nor would nationalist and republican politicians appear interested in rubbing that bottle.
And that’s a worthwhile story in its own right.