Oh dear. Speaking in Westminster’s Public Bill committee Ian Paisley Junior has suggested that:
Most of the illegal fuel that arrives in the United Kingdom is laundered in Northern Ireland, in south Armagh. It just so happens that it is laundered by a friend of the leader of Sinn Fein, a Mr Murphy.
“It just so happens that it was his party that blocked this legislation. I do not know if you are getting the coincidence here, but I am picking up something.
“I think that we have to recognise that there is a vested interest by some people who are still wedded to the past – there is a vested interest for them to keep their criminal power intact.
He goes on to make provocative remarks about paedophiles and international gangsters, which has been quickly snapped up by his local political rival in north Antrim, Jim Allister, who asks the politically embarrassing question:
…one does have to ask if he now believes his party made a mistake in going into government with the IRA’s political wing. Does the First Minister agree with the comments of one of his MPs? If he does why does he remain in government with Sinn Fein?
The premise for Mr Paisley’s comments are the blocking positions of the SDLP and Sinn Fein on a proposed move, which from a cursory glance at the legislation appears to be little more than a re-organisation of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency into a new body called the National Crime Agency.
As such it makes little or no sense for the SDLP to be blocking it, or at any rate pushing it as something additional to what already pertains when it clearly isn’t.
Back to Paisley though. Is this a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or a deliberate attempt to stir political trouble for Sinn Fein in Dublin at a time of heightened tension in the Dail?
Either way, Stormont’s one big political glass house. Just be careful with them stones Junior.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty