Unreconstructed Unionism in Cookstown: Whither catholic outreach?

Whilst the unionist unity debate rages on, Mick’s thread linking to an article by Michael Shilliday, a vocal opponent within the UUP to the idea, is interesting for highlighting both the dangers of the aspiration for a unified unionist (or nationalist) voice and the gulf between the infrequently lofty rhetoric of the DUP’s Peter Robinson regarding his party’s vision of a unified community and the words and actions of his own fellow party members (more on that here and here.)

The policy of DUP councillors in Cookstown of refusing to stand for a minute’s silence for relatives of deceased Sinn Fein councillors was cited by Michael Shilliday as one reason why he opposed the ‘all Prods together’ strategy. Another blogger is also rather unimpressed, not least by the latest declaration by one of the Cookstown DUP councillors, Maureen Lees, that she would “rather die” than be photographed with a Sinn Fein colleague- a remark made during a meeting of the Council’s Good Relations Committee!  

From the Mid Ulster Mail:

Councillor McNamee’s mother Lily had died and at a subsequent council meeting the DUP refused to stand for a minute’s silence.

Late last year Councillor McNamee’s brother Pius had died and the DUP were not in the chamber for the minute’s silence held at that time.

Councillor McElhone, who is a member of the Good Relations Committee, said the Council should be setting an example and the attitude of the DUP was setting back community relations.

SF Councillor Cathal Mallaghan also voiced his disgust at the DUP saying it was making the job of building community relations more difficult.

Meanwhile Councillor McNamee said he had been left “insulted” by fellow councillors who refused to mark a minute’s silence following the death of his brother.

“It is totally disgraceful, but this is an ongoing thing,” Councillor John McNamee said. “The same thing happened when the fathers of Councillors McAleer and Clarke passed away. They refused to stand for a minute’s silence when my mother died and now they refused to enter the meeting until after the other members had respected a minute’s silence in memory of my brother.

“I have challenged the three DUP councillors on this issue. They are clearly out of step with their party and their community.”

It was at a Council meeting on December 13 when Councillors Ian McCrea, Maureen Lees and Samuel McCartney refused to enter the council chambers while the Council stood for a one minute silence as a mark of respect.

“This does seem to be a problem found only amongst councillors in Cookstown,” the Sinn Fein member said. “From our point of view it is not the our feelings but those of the wider family circle who are the worst affected. I personally couldn’t even contemplate doing this to anyone’s family.”

 

An earlier row over this policy by DUP councillors had led to the party alleging it was unfair that a minute’s silence for the deceased mother of a Sinn Fein councillor was held alongwith one for the relative of a council employee.

Again from the Mid-Ulster Mail:

In June last year the DUP said it would write to the family of a Cookstown council employee whose sister had died and who had voiced their “deep hurt” at the party’s refusal to stand for a minute’s silence.

DUP councillor Ian McCrea apologised to the family while claiming that it was unfair that the minute’s silence was conducted jointly with that of councillor McNamee’s mother.

 

 

  • There’s really not much that could be usefully said regarding such deep disrespect.

  • “Pigs and grunts” comes to mind.

  • Theres really no difference between good manners and bad manners.
    Its how you were brought up.

  • cynic2

    Infantile behaviour but given that it is mid-Ulster what do we expect

  • Drumlins Rock

    Cynic, can I just point out next door in Dungannon good co-operation has been going on for decades.

  • JR

    Just plain bad manners and disrespect.

  • aquifer

    Where’s Cookstown?

  • Limerick

    Where’s Cookstown?

    Near Teebane.

  • MrPMartin

    Might be easier if such gestures did not take place. In my opinion, the concept of a minutes silence for anything is akin to the passage in the bible where Jesus derides those who publicly exhibit their prayer and fasting and long faces. Show respect by all means but with private quiet dignity and most of all, sincerity.

  • pauluk

    Another manufactured republican controversy, no doubt.

    But I am curious. Does anyone know if any members of the families of the ‘offended’ Shinners were ever involved in the IRA murder campaign against the Protestant and Unionist populace in and around Cookstown?

    If so, then it would be little wonder that some folks are still unwilling to show their respects, particularly as no remorse has ever been shown or expressed by IRA volunteers and their supporters for their many heinous crimes against the Cookstown community.

  • pauluk

    Just a thought, I suppose that as long as there are unrepentant terrorists there will be unreconstructed unionists.

    I definitely support the progress being made at reconciliation in Northern Ireland, but that doesn’t mean that (former) IRA men still don’t turn my stomach when I see them on TV or where ever.

    We just have to suck it up, and get on with life, eh?

  • Dec

    ‘I definitely support the progress being made at reconciliation in Northern Ireland’

    That’s patently obvious judging by your stream of consciousness above.

  • pauluk

    ‘Reconciliation’ like Robbo at a GAA match. It will not win him votes, but certainly respect.

    I’m wondering, when are nationalists going to reciprocate with a gesture like, maybe, starting to refer to the Six Counties as Northern Ireland. 😉

  • cynic2

    Drumlins

    Sincere apologies. I meant that hole around Cookstown and Magherafelt

  • Obelisk

    ‘Reconciliation’ like Robbo at a GAA match. It will not win him votes, but certainly respect.’

    To paraphrase a famous saying, ‘you don’t reconcile with your friends’.

    As for the Six Counties/Northern Ireland thing, never. That’s part of the disagreement we have which we have decided to be relatively civil over. Insisting we use that term is in itself a lack of accepting who WE are, and isn’t reconciliation.

    I am sure there are plenty of examples of Unionists making gestures as well, but maybe due to limitations on reporting I am unaware of them (I don not mean that sentence as sarcastic by the way, I am sure Unionists have made gestures).

    There are plenty of examples of Nationalists making gestures as well, but often they don’t measure up to what Unionism would like. For example, Sinn Fein Lord mayors and wreath laying at the cenotaph. For Nationalists, its a sincere gesture in that they go as far as they can. For Unionists I reckon, the fact it doesn’t go as far as they’d prefer might diminish it.

    As for the Cookstown incident, well it really is hard to argue in defense of it, especially when other Unionists are writing about how deplorable it is.

  • Limerick

    As for the Six Counties/Northern Ireland thing, never. That’s part of the disagreement we have which we have decided to be relatively civil over. Insisting we use that term is in itself a lack of accepting who WE are, and isn’t reconciliation.

    Imagine people expecting you to accept reality.

  • andnowwhat

    This is the sort of vild behaviour that Basil Mc Crea pin danced to avoid mentioning ontheradio this very afternoon.

  • socaire

    Remember the cretin from somewhere up north who said, after British gunmen murdered thirteen in Derry, “We don’t call it Bloody Sunday – we call it Good Sunday” This is just an extension of this mentality. First you must dehumanise …………………..

  • Hopping The Border

    Was it George Seawright Socaire? The former DUP man would certainly approve.

  • “in Dungannon good co-operation has been going on for decades.”

    DR, IIRC there was an inter-schools group in Dungannon but I don’t recall there being such a group in Cookstown. I think such groups acted as a check on violent activity during the course of the Troubles. Coleraine certainly deteriorated following the demise of JCSS, the group that I co-ordinated.

    I’ve referred to our historical ‘hotspots’ – places which suffer more than others when the blood is up. Portadown and north Belfast are examples – perhaps Cookstown is currently on that list.

    Ballycastle, the HQ of Moyle District Council, wasn’t affected to the same degree as Cookstown. I was at the pre-Christmas council meeting and was invited to join the councillors afterwards in the Mayor’s Parlour. Moyle doesn’t and never had a mayor but it doesn’t want to be seen in a lesser light than its neighbours! Most of the councillors and some officials were there – SF, DUP, UUP, SDLP and Independents were represented. The atmosphere was very different from what sometimes pertains in the council chamber where they huddle in their party groupings; perhaps the prospect of tortilla wraps and booze helped loosen the comfort zones as they sat at random in a circle formation and had a good sessions crack.

  • Barnshee

    “perhaps the prospect of tortilla wraps and booze helped loosen the comfort zones as they sat at random in a circle formation and had a good sessions crack.”

    Get stuck in lads its only tratepayers money
    Pass the sick bag Alice

  • Barnshee, if it adds to the civility is it not a small price worth paying?

  • Barnshee

    “Barnshee, if it adds to the civility is it not a small price worth paying?”

    I have personal knowledge of “chairman`s parlours” where what passes for the local “great and good” fling taxpayers money down their throats if the form of “free booze”

    Let them be civil at with their own money

  • ayeYerMa

    As usual, Republicans trying to collect the PR harvest from the seeds of duplicity that they sowed in advance.

    No one has answered the question that I asked on another thread – in what workplace is it considered normal to hold a minute’s silence, not for the death of a colleague, but for the death of a RELATIVE of a colleague whom you have most likely never heard of or met?

    This is nothing but the Provos playing games and inventing rituals as they go along, just to make Unionists show “respect” to the family – the Provo Mafia family that is.

    Well done DUP! Pity most journalists these days are either too thick or biased to be able to see through such antics of such a shower of murdering ******s.

  • PaulT

    ayeYerMa,

    the annual 11/11 minute silence at 11am, everywhere. Every year

    And then there’s what seems to be every other football game, at Stamford Bridge I’ve stood for the Tealady and Fat Franks mum

    Although don’t think either of those originated in Connolly House.

    But how’s them apples for starters

  • Drumlins Rock

    AYM, the practise could be a carry over from Orange Lodges where it is an important part of the business, not sure if it is universal or common in other areas. A quick google revealed

    “Cavan County Council passed a vote of sympathy with Senator Diarmuid Wilson and the Wilson family on the death of his mother.”

    “Sympathy was extended at a meeting of Sligo Borough Council to the wife and family of the late Mr. Eugene Deering, father of the acting editor of The Sligo Champion, Paul Deering.”

    OK almost all the many examples are from Irish county Councils, but i’m sure it happens elsewhere too!

  • DR, I don’t know about minutes of silence but expressions of sympathy were extended at that Moyle DC meeting just before Christmas. I’d hoped to put up a link but there’s been a blunder – the previous minutes were repeated in error!

  • PaulT

    “I’m wondering, when are nationalists going to reciprocate with a gesture like, maybe, starting to refer to the Six Counties as Northern Ireland.”

    or indeed when will the British\UK subjects refer to Ireland as er Ireland and not the republic (eh Mick)

  • Update – 31 Jan, 4:14 pm:

    Condolences

    Councillor McIlroy [DUP – Giants Causeway] offered his condolences on the death of former Councillor Malachy McSparran [SDLP – The Glens]. He stated that he was a man of integrity and principle and offered his deepest sympathy to his wife and family.

    All members wished to be associated.

    Councillor S McKillop [TUV – Giants Causeway] offered her condolences to the Greer Family from Bushmills on the death of Walter Greer [DUP 2011 candidate – The Glens]. .. Moyle minutes 19.12.2011