Cartoon – “The Doctor will see me now…”

Colum Eastwood cartoon

Following a gaff by SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell speculation arose about a leadership challenge from the Derry MLA Colum Eastwood. This has since been confirmed by the former mayor. Alasdair remains bullish and defiant, counting Fergal McKinney as a indefatigable supporter, raising the tempo for the contest ahead.

Brian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger.

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  • Brian

    You realise that your “gaff” isn’t recognised as such by most observers?

  • “speculation arose about a leadership challenge from the Derry MLA Colum Eastwood.”

    Really? In which parallel universe?

  • Nevin

    Alasdair McDonnell likely to face leadership challenge .. BBC

    The BBC understands at least five branches of the party have nominated Colum Eastwood to stand against him at the party conference in November.

    Sources said Mr Eastwood, 32, will spend the weekend deciding what to do but supporters expect him to run for the leadership.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the biggest controversy about Alasdair’s “Taig” comments is the large cross-community support for them. The DUP only have themselves to blame here, and do not believe that they have to respond.

    Frankly many people simply don’t believe the DUP have any other policies … and the campaigns they supported in Fermanagh-South Tyrone, all four Belfast constituencies (with Naomi Long being the replacement “Taig” in the East), Upper Bann, Newry & Armagh, Mid Ulster, South Down, South Antrim, Foyle and West Tyrone as well as the European election … pretty much are based on this assumption.

    A young unemployed person has the fear of “themmuns” shoved down their throat … because the DUP want to grandstand on the most divisive aspects of the union with Great Britain.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    One of those comments, Kevin, that make me wish for a gold category of up vote.

  • peepoday

    DR NO,[taig about the place].Good luck to young Eastwood.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m happy to give the DUP credit where it’s due, Willy Hay deserves praise for his dignity and diplomacy around the ABOD marches and as a speaker. Gregory Campbell defended the radiotherapy satellite centre with a modest humanity. Peter Robinson welcomed the Fleadh, Arlene Foster is heavily involved in the rugby bid and the DUP health ministers aren’t politiking the need for child pediatric cardiology centers down the road in Dublin for families here. I have praised Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson for speaking out about the insanity around a UK invasion on Syria.

    But I would like to read a DUP manifesto one day and not have to squint to find bread and butter politics in it. I’d like to see DUP stand up for their principles and beliefs rather than engaging in the whataboutery and relativism of those on the other side. And if the DUP are accused of not wanting an Irish Tim about the place, by all means they can stand by their record of representing others and solidarity with fellow Ulster-people of all shades but going on the defensive is simply digging a hole.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I am mistakenly assumed to be a “sound protestant” occasionally by those who meet me and have not taken the trouble to keep up with the gossip, so I sometimes hear the stories none of “themuns” usually get to hear. Many illuminate DUP attitudes to “the other side.”

    I agree that sometimes the DUP forward Public Interest issues, especially those no sane person is going to oppose, and I once frequently had Paisley defended to me by distant members of my family flirting with the DUP from the behind the tent flaps of “inherited” UUP support on the grounds that he acted on all constituents issues without concern for religion, but for me the DUP pantomime emulation of what they perceive as the “Giants of earlier Unionism” on this issue of the pure protestantism of their party qualifies any good they may actually achieve somewhat.

  • Zig70

    You’re right (choke!), but omg no link? It must be the blood moon.

  • kalista63

    And in condemning the taig comment, Gregory Campbell feked it all up by refusing to support Pope Francis coming north and as we all know, the Pope’s a kefflik.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I assume you were being sarcastic.

  • Gopher

    Yes it really needs a Gold medal for absence of mind. I cant help but read Kevin mentions “All four Belfast constituencies”. North Belfast I assume is still one of those is it not? The only religous assumptions that I seem to recall were those of Gerry Kelly and one could argue that if we are being creative and Kevin in his own way is, that the Ex Mayor did not want a specific one about the place judging by the spirit of his election campaign. The DUP are bigots there is no doubt but alas they are not the only people with blinkers.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, are you perhaps telling me that the DUP have secret plans to train up political aides from Catholic backgrounds to perhaps be nominated as DUP candidates who will ensure cross community support for the Union? I await developments with some excitement!

    Although accusations of sectarianism against “themuns” are frequently on Nigel Dodds (OBE) tongue, can you really see him hiring a Catholic political assistant who might one day be nominated to take his place on the benches? Gerry Kelly certainly created a rather sulphurous atmosphere by his letting the “All welcome in a United Ireland” narrative within SF slip uncomfortably below the belt line like a pair boxer shorts with rather elderly wasted elastic, but the DUP do not have to issue such statements, everyone of whatever religious or ethnic background knows that their narrative does not include Catholics. Would they be retaining the support of that hard voting block that turned against “Lundy” Trimble and the UUP (for whom “nice people” still seem to vote) where it not for the hint that against all practical showing, they are still in some way the true party of “not an inch.”

    Kevin’s comment “I think the biggest controversy about Alasdair’s “Taig” comments is the large cross-community support for them” is utterly valid for those of us who do not choice to view the world along Marvel Comic lines, and are perhaps actually looking at one community unnecessarily divided by some very outmoded habits of thought that gums up the possibility of any real Public Interest thinking.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unionist pacts ARE grandstanding on the most divisive aspects of the union with Great Britain, doesn’t matter what Gerry Kelly says. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It clearly sends the message that the DUP’s and UUP’s version of a shared future is only with the rest of “big U” unionism. There is a Caravan up in North Belfast waiting for all this grandstanding and jingoism to deliver social-economic improvement, you have to ask in the post-war period when has this type of politics really delivered anything?

    People are leaving Northern Ireland because of this type of politics, and the failure to deliver connected with it. This is a form of “Dis-Unionism”, engineered to “put the party first”.

  • Gopher

    One always finds oneself as devils advocate for the DUP simply because of the ineptness of their opposition. Bernadette Smyth was hand in glove with the DUP in the last election even set policy for it with Robinson’s famous U Turn on limited abortion. Is Bernadette Symth a Prod? I know certain facts however embarrassing like Bernadette Smyth are uncomfortable for the narrative but they remain facts none the less. Kinda drives a horse and coach clean through it.

  • Gopher

    There is a caravan in North Belfast that 99% of the population don’t give a thought about. Nationalism failed to increase its turnout by a single vote that has nothing to do with Unionism and everything to do with nationalism. Your arguement falls down at that fence sorry.

  • Kevin Breslin

    How does my argument fall down the fence?

    Why did Nigel Dodds need a pan-Unionist pact to win a seat in North Belfast, if he wasn’t afraid of being unelected by “taigs”?
    It’s not to ensure greater investment from Great Britain, he hasn’t done that.
    It’s not to ensure cultural investment from Great Britain, he hasn’t done that.
    He has however derailed a debate on the Northern Irish economy … to rant about the IRA.
    Derailed another to moan about Joe McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn supporting Irish unity like other British citizens and use that … to rant about the IRA.

    He has not spoken on one UK-wide fiscal matter since re-election, while ranting every week about the DUP not being in the Opposition debates before the election, which probably again would be used … to rant about the IRA.

    How this is supposed to encourage greater social economic or even spiritual unity with Great Britain boggles my mind.

    I see better social, economic and spiritual connections, and solidarity with Great Britain being made by Fine Gael, in the Irish government and Hollande in the French government.

    Sinn Féin and the SDLP stood in every seat, as did the Alliance party.

    Unionists pacts only existed so that the DUP and UUP could keep playing the “I don’t want a taig about the place” game, even though UK, they claim to love allows freedom of conscience, political belief and religion.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I can play devils advocate and Godwin’s law at the same time.

    Nazi Anti-Semite physicist called Johannes Stark worked together with Jewish socialist physicist Albert Einstein on the Principle of Relativity.
    A few years later Stark would even attack Werner Heisenberg, the lead scientist on the Nazi War Effort for supporting Einstein’s scientific work during the war, work that could have even helped the Nazis win the war.

    However, Stark was a supporter of the Final Solution, he literally did not want a Jew about the place, but when it came to a fellow human being scientist with a German name, German clothing and German accent carrying on the legacy of other great German scientists like Kepler he couldn’t care less. Einstein didn’t advertise his Judaism in Germany, Jews were being persecuted there long before the Nazis rose to power.

    Einstine was a model German physicist to Stark, until the point it became politically convenient to see him as a Jew.

    So Jim Allister working with Ann Travers, or the DUP working with Bernadette Symth can simply be seen as putting political convenience before their own personal desires. The DUP are happy to work with atheist supporters of abortion like Billy Hutchinson on flag protests and the Unionist Forum.

    The question was about the optics here, and yes there is an optics that the DUP don’t want an Irish nationalist, or indeed a non big U unionist, about the place.

    In some ways that isn’t fair to the DUP, but the feeling in the wider community would see it as true … and mono-communal, mono-religious pacts like those in North Belfast encourage these optics.

  • Gopher

    Interesting Kevin I have just finished the second volume of Richard J Evans trilogy The Third Riech in Power which deals with “German Physics” I would recommend anyone reading it to get the correct timeline and narrative.

    So basically what your saying is the DUP will work with people that agree with them no matter what they believe which is hardly the absolute sectarianism reflected in the good Dr’s comments.

  • Gopher

    So why can’t nationalist parties increase their vote?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I cannot really speak for the entire populations of non-voters but their representation will not be “about the place” under any circumstance, whether they are wanted there or not.

    There are plenty of unionists sitting on the armchair simply because of the DUP, the UUP, UKIP and the TUV are fighting to protect a sort of James Craig version of the Union, when time has clearly moved on from that.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well the absolute statement reflected in Alasdair’s comment was “they do not want” i.e. they have to have an Irish nationalist or Catholic about the place but they do not want to be in that situation.

    They are bound by necessity rather than choice.

    Are the DUP willing to be partners, are they willing to fight elections on the basis of the good of all people of Northern Ireland, not just a narcissistic case of unionists like them?

    Are they going to consider the greater good and show courage like Trimble and O’Neill once did, or are they going to tell the electorate to fear and blame the other side?

    There is a genuine question among pragmatic observers of the DUP as to when the DUP will stop saying “Never” during this crisis and find a way to get public and political support for a way forward.

    Also I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with what I said about German Physics. There really wasn’t a narrative to make. At the end of the day, I’ve benefited from the work of Einstein and Stark, because mortal enemies like them had once worked together.

  • Gopher

    Simple solution why don’t the other parties develop policies that encourages people to vote for them Instead of the DUP then we won’t have to worry about them.

    Like I said Richard J Evans is a pretty good read.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, you’ve really caught me out there, I’m blushing with acute embarrassment across about a whole square centimetre of flesh. I must also confess that I have one friend, a devout Catholic farmer, who votes DUP on what he thinks of as their conservative business policies, but I do not know if he has become a party member or is short listed for the council elections or anything like that. “Kinda drives a horse and coach clean through it.” The phrases “clutching at straws” and if I’m being kind and taking the suggestion seriously, “one swallow does not make a Summer”, perhaps come more appropriately to mind.

    As I remember it, the DUP are also “allied” with Sinn Féin, being in government with them and all that. So Ms Smyth is perhaps not the only Catholic they occasionally discuss policy with. “Kinda drives a horse and coach clean through it.”

    Although I’m very much a “pro-choice” person, I suppose the DUP must be credited with some degree of open mindedness to have espoused such a profoundly Catholic doctrine as a mark of their covert ecumenicism, although perhaps I would have wished for something perhaps a little more progressive, myself. But you deserve credit for bringing Ms Smyth to our attention and showing that the pronouncements of Gregory Campbell and others are simply a gross media plot to discredit a generous, open hearted and liberal party who welcome “Ulsterpeople” of all confessions into their crusade to secure the “Thousand year Union”……….