There are no end of northern nationalists prepared to resort to law when it suits their cause. Equality laws for instance provide a ready stick to beat the backwoods men of the DUP when it comes to some socially conservative policy.
Yet so far only a nationalist minister, Conor Murphy, has been brought to book for actual discrimination in an administration which is getting more and more obsessive (and inventive when the need arises) with a need to preserve public largesse for their own community.
In today’s Irish News Newton Emerson points out that many nationalists are put in danger by a generally weak approach to law and order. He gives the example of a young loyalist man given a non custodial sentence for making pipe bombs:
Responding to McDowells non custodial sentence, Sinn Fein’s MLA Daithi McKay expressed mild disappointment, while the SDLP issued no statement at all. Unionist silence was explained by the deference unionists show towards small town thuggery.
The SDLP’s deference is to the legal profession and the professional exuse making industry in general, and Sinn Fein has to be careful around any prison or paramilitary related issue.
But more broadly Sinn Fein and the SDLP are in hock to a centre left, anti custodial philosophy that makes it difficult for them to support imprisonment, even in support of their own broadly centre right constituents.