McCann meets…..Michael Copeland MLA

Last week, I sat down with East Belfast UUP MLA, Michael Copeland. We talked about his entry into politics, the flags protests and the performance of the PSNI.

I want to apologise first for the audio but here are some quotes that I thought were interesting

On the Executive’s performance in tackling underachievement;

Thus far in my view they’ve failed and they will quote figures of many millions of pounds invested in things like the Skainos project. To the average person living in despair it doesn’t address the issues….it seems to a vast number of what I would term traditional DUP supporters that the DUP said no, no, no and never, never, never, until god spoke to Paisley and told him to do something that was infinitely worse than that which he had criticised and politically destroyed other people for.

On the flags unrest;

It has seriously challenged the relationship between the police and a section of society and it’s not a section that can be labelled as feckless, wasters, unemployed, unemployable or thugs. Some of them may well attract some of those labels but the substantial numbers of people involved in those affairs are ordinary people, many of whom were or are employed.

On the PSNI’s response to the anti-internment parade;

I did accompany my wife and daughter to a…anti-parading demonstration in Royal Ave. The policing operation of that was in my view flawed. It seemed to be that the police operation was aimed at getting a nationalist or republican parade along Royal Ave…at all costs. We were confined and the way in which it was portrayed in the press was two entirely different things…The policing operation in my view was not best handled. I remember seeing footage of a police officer telling some people who were talking to him that they would do what he because he was the law. With the greatest respect to him, he is an upholder of the law, he is not the law, he is not above the law nor, does he make the law.

Audio available here;

Michael Copeland interview by Ontherecord98fm on Mixcloud

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  • Submariner

    It seemed to be that the police operation was aimed at getting a nationalist or republican parade along Royal Ave…at all costs.

    I believe that the PSNI were upholding the lawful determination of the parades commission as they are required to do and which they paid a heavy price for. It seems Mr Copeland has a problem with the PSNI upholding the law.

  • Clanky

    There appears to be a strain within unionism who seem to think that the police should only be there to maintain the traditional balance of power in Northern Ireland.

    Unionists should be allowed to parade wherever they want, but how dare those uppity taigs lift their heads above the parapet.

    The more unionists maintain this ridiculous stance the more they are join to be seen as pariahs by normal people the World over and the weaker their position will become.

  • sherdy

    Everybody’s out of step but us poor innocent unionists!
    And this man is supposed to be one of the less extreme of the species. God help anyone looking for progress in this province.

  • Red Lion

    David, in your series might I suggest an interview with someone from NI21 ? They are easily contactable through usual social media/website and if you told them you were doing something for slugger they’d be on the ball I think.

  • aquifer

    The Brits said ‘go share’ and the Unionists so-called try to invent something called second class British citizenship, reserved for Catholics only.

    Who are these people?

    Faint hearts who cannot defend British values.

  • Comrade Stalin


    It would have been interesting if you had asked Mr Copeland exactly why he travelled a mile or so from his East Belfast home to watch a republican parade in the city centre.

  • derrydave

    What a pathetic point by Mr Copeland. Yes, the police officer in question is an upholder of the law and was actually trying to uphold the law at that time whilst Copelands fellow protesters were actually attempting to break the law – as an elected representative, why bother focus on this though, when instead you can make a ridiculously stupid point about the police officer saying that he ‘was the law’. What a complete idiot of a man – does he also remember seeing footage of his fellow protestors attacking the police and making a complete mess of one of the main shopping streets in Belfast ?

  • Dietrich

    Just like Mr Copeland, and much like Gerry Kelly,Alban Maginness, Colin Duffy etc. in other circumstances, I travelled from my home to “observe” the policing of the protest and the planned Dissident parade in Royal Avenue, in light of many instances of PSNI overkill since the Twelfth of July at Woodvale.
    It seems the demonisation of a section of the PUL community by senior PSNI personnel and the “chattering classes” led to very heavyhanded policing on the night in question.
    I currently have a complaint lodged with the Police Ombudsman having been “treated” to a water cannon soaking and an unprovoked assault by hyped up persons dressed in the garb of PSNI public order personnel.
    Not that the usual suspects would believe it, but I am not an unemployed, drug dealing, flag shruded ne’er do well as stereotyped by some.
    I was standing on a footpath, amongst onlookers who were predominantly over fifty and female, and no missiles were being thrown from the side of Royal Avenue I was on.
    Despite this, Mr Baggott’s finest subjected us to a “Police Riot”.
    I commend Michael Copeland for standing by this marginalised, demonised section of the populace, unlike his party leader and sidekick who legged it as soon as the Robocops went into overkill mode.

  • quality

    Vile man with a completely undeserved sense of self-importance.

  • David McCann

    I have to say I disagree with that he is actually a very nice man who’s concerned about the opportunities of his constituents.

    Again I think it’s always interesting to get the view of people on the opposite side of the debate.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    ‘I did accompany my wife and daughter…’

    What kind of copout bolloxology is that? Is he trying to say he only went because his wife and daughter went or what?

    In a nutshell he’s encapsulated why the UUP are toast. They can’t go full steam ahead into the sewer like the DUP and they’re not prepared to condemn the fleggers like Alliance. Pick up yer hat on the way out.

  • Morpheus

    A ‘very nice man’ who fights for the OOs right to parade where ever they want whenever they want but seeks to take exactly the same right away from others. He is a hypocrit like the rest

  • quality

    I’ve noticed from the times I’ve seen Copeland speak publicly, he has a tendency to give a false air of weight to everything he says. In reality it is rehashed pseudo-Owen Jones nonsense.

    The flag protesters had jobs? Wow ok, I’ve completely changed my opinion of them. Policing and parading are fine when they support his political ideals. Vile.

    If he was concerned about the opportunities of his constituents he’d stop offering such cheap excuses for ‘protests’ (read rioting) orchestrated by those same groups who oppress not insignificant numbers of his constituents. Do a bit of leading rather than playing to the crowd.

    The thing about class/worker politics is they should be uniting. Copeland has zero interest in that. Why should he? The Lower Newtownards Road is where his vote is, not the other side of the fence.

    He was at his level as a councillor, in a council that has no real powers. Then again, the intellectual and moral level of the Assembly on both sides (and in between) is unbelievably low.

  • Seamuscamp

    “the substantial numbers of people involved in those affairs are ordinary people, many of whom were or are employed.”
    Oh dear, is that supposed to excuse breaking the law?

    “It seemed to be that the police operation was aimed at getting a nationalist or republican parade along Royal Ave…at all costs.”
    The Parades Commission had authorised the parade. Should the police have ignored the marchers right to march? Or perhaps attacked the marchers, as in the past?

    Mr Copeland’s perspective as revealed in the audio is somewhat strange eg 20% of the UK GDP came from East Belfast (!); the NI Labour Party was replaced by the Alliance Party.

  • Comrade Stalin


    par for the course.

    I was privy to a story (third-hand) about an occasion a few years ago where the police had to close a major road in East Belfast, I think it was a section of the Knock dual carriageway near the PSNI headquarters. Traffic backed up a long way, and after a time one of the officers was greeted by the approaching figure of a certain MLA for East Belfast who indicated that he was in a hurry and asked when the road would be cleared.

    The officer explained that he could not say when the road would be cleared; and in response said MLA exploded, launching into a several-minute-long tirade where he described aspects of his time in the UDR and complained of how policing had gone badly downhill since the days of the good old RUC who would never have countenanced such disgracefully poor traffic management, and how the officer could be assured that the matter would be raised with his superiors.

    The officer replied that the road was closed because of a chemical spill which was both an explosive and fire risk, but advised said MLA that he was more than welcome to drive across it if he was willing to risk his car catching fire. Said MLA placed his tail firmly between his legs and toddled off without so much of a word of an apology.

  • aquifer

    The OO are toxic for UUP, but where else would they get the footsoldiers at election time?

    If Unionism cannot expand beyond Protestantism it will just not have the votes.

    The Orange have the UUP in a death embrace.

    If only Alliance were edgier. They need to get Basil.

  • Comrade Stalin

    aquifier, it won’t be long before we get the answer on whether or not edgy Basil is vote-winning Basil.