Two days after the DUP’s Jonathan Bell’s rapid apology for the Northern Ireland Junior Minsters’ two-handed assault on golf clubs.
…speaking at the Community Relations Week conference, Mr Bell said: “Many communities may not paint their kerb stones or put out flags, but scratch the surface and you find the prejudice and the hate whispered behind closed doors or joked about in golf clubs or over dinner parties.”
However, speaking later on BBC NI ‘s Stormont Today, he said it was “a clumsy use of language”.
“Sorry is what I essentially want to say,” he said.
And one day after the intervention by the NI First and deputy First Ministers
…the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described comments by two Stormont junior ministers about hidden sectarianism to be found in golf clubs as “an unfortunate choice of words”.
First Minister Peter Robinson said he’d been in dozens of golf clubs and never heard any bitter or sectarian comments in them.
The local branch of the Golfing Union of Ireland welcomed an apology from the DUP minister Jonathan Bell for the comments made at a community relations conference.
Earlier Sinn Fein had declined to echo the DUP’s direct retraction, instead stressing that sectarianism exists throughout society here.
As Mark Devenport notes on his BBC blog
The speed with which the junior minister performed his U-turn reflected the embarrassment of the DUP over remarks which picked out golf just weeks ahead of the prestigious Irish Open.
Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson hasn’t followed suit as yet – a party spokesperson told the BBC’s Nolan show that “people shouldn’t lose sight” of what the junior ministers were saying.
Ms Anderson said: “Without doubt I regret the confusion that was caused by the metaphor.”
She added: “Of course I do regret the confusion it has caused. I do apologise for anyone who misunderstood the way I was using the metaphor.”
Let’s look at that metaphor again
[Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson] “There’s attitudes among middle class society here in the north, in the golf clubs that Jonathan referred to and elsewhere.
“Talked about behind closed doors the unspoken and hidden sectarian comments that we may not hear about, but that are doing absolute fundamental damage to our society.
“We have to find a way of bringing about that attitudinal change among the hidden sectors of our society that we do not get an opportunity to engage with.
“And that may be in the golf clubs or in those spaces were there may not be tension as such but there are attitudes there that are doing damage.”
[Is that why “many people within the middle class vote Sinn Féin?” – Ed] You might very well think that…
To quote Bacon again. [Again?! – Ed] Again.
“Idols of the cave have their origin in the individual nature of each man’s mind and body; and also his education, way of life and chance events. This category is varied and complex, and we shall enumerate the cases in which there is the greatest danger and which do most to spoil the calrity of the understanding.
Men fall in love with particular pieces of knowledge and thoughts: either because they believe themselves to be their authors and inventors; or because they have put a great deal of labour into them, and have got very used to them. If such men betake themselves to philosophy and universal speculation, they distort and corrupt them to suit their prior fancies.”
All of which may, or may not, have something to do with why we’re still waiting on the “Cohesion, Sharing and Integration” strategy. Rebranded, and “watered down” to the “lowest commmon denominator“, or otherwise.