DUP/TUV Motion Demanding an Apology for SF Councillor’s Tweet

An interesting piece of politicking is taking place in Mid and East Antrim Council meeting. A motion proposed by Alderman Gregg McKeen (DUP) and seconded by Councillor Timothy Gaston (TUV) states:

That this council demands a public apology and states that we have no confidence in Cllr. Hardy as Vice Chair of the Community Planning Committee, after her recent derogatory publications on social media about Her Majesty the Queen.

This is in response to Councillor Patrice Hardy (Sinn Fein) posting the following image

Patrice Hardy

We’re perhaps all aware that in this modern age of instant communication, offence is taken with or without due consideration of context (or even content).

Precisely what part of this communication that was derogatory hasn’t been made clear as yet. One could argue that a Sinn Fein councillor posting a picture of themselves with the Queen is a country mile away from what might have happened only a few years ago.

The seemingly light-hearted and jovial tweet from Councillor Hardy has caused ire amongst some of the majority-unionist council members in Mid & East Antrim.

Councillor Gaston, one of those who has taken offence at this “derogatory communication”, is also encouraging the contractor of a Ballymena public-realm works to replace these manhole covers, removing”uisce” – Irish for water.

manhole cover

No complaint has been made for a breach of the code of conduct, the only action against Councillor Hardy is this motion calling for demanding an apology. The motion has been adjourned by the council Chief Executive until legal advice has been received.

Given the significance of flags and symbols in our still-divided society, it is not entirely surprising that this could have caused offence, indeed a cynic could be forgiven for thinking it predictable.

In the last number of years some significant steps have been made in both communities, with the Queen speaking Irish in Dublin, Martin McGuinness [albeit belatedly – Ed] attending a reception for the Queen.

It appears that some Mid & East Antrim council members haven’t yet got the memo yet that themmuns can be respectful, sometimes.

How wonderful though that our society has the time for elected representatives to take offence at incidents such as this and not concern themselves with such trivial matters as how to further integrate our communities. 

First Minister Foster’s warning that there is the risk of Sinn Fein taking the First Minister position following an assembly election must cause even further consternation if this would mean more Sinn Fein members giving a friendly nickname to the monarch.

Heaven forfend.

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  • Cosmo

    What does a Community Planning Committee, do ?
    meanwhile, can the cost of getting legal advice on this issue be identified, and published, for Ballymena citizens to know what their rates are being spent on.

  • Pete

    Don’t think the tweet is offensive at all. However I think one could have predicted that the caption on her picture could be a bit unwise in our society.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ballymena???? What about the whole of Mid and East Antrim, from the Bann in the west, to Carrick in the south and almost to Glenariff in the far north! Hey, man, my rates too!!!!!

    Although Councillor Gaston is perhaps honestly concerned that those citizens of Ballymena who vote for him and whose grasp of Irish is perhaps rusty might mistake the word “uisce” in its phonetic pronunciation for “whiskey” and drain the sewers. Perhaps he should think to provide fountains of the actual stuff for the Bonfire events with any monies saved so that in future anyone so “challenged” might be in a clear position to tell the difference.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I thought it playful myself, friendly almost. But then my own quasi-religious awe at Royalty is reserved for the genuine article:


  • Ernekid

    It seems that Cllr Gaston is a contender for the coveted title of Biggest Buffoon in local politics.

  • the rich get richer

    Councillor Gaston Is Terrific !

    That he can get all his constituents needs and desires satisfied and Still have Time for This ;

    He is better than Terrific…… Super Terrific .

    Ta Se an-mhaith !

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    How’s about changing the ‘c’ in uisce to a ‘g’ and passing it off as Scottish Gaelic?

    “NOT Irish you say?! Hmmm, that’s all right then….”

  • Heather Richardson

    It’s a crowded field…

  • Gingray

    Ha! Very good.

  • Gingray

    So its derogatory to refer to the Queen as Lizzy?

    Brilliant 🙂

  • Simian Droog

    She’s between 8 and 80 so it’s only fair to presume a DUP councillor might struggle there.

  • chrisjones2

    You might even think there was an election coming up and the bogeyman hasn’t been seen about much so we need to get him back to show we can put one up to him / her / it

  • chrisjones2

    I do it all the time. I should be banned from Slugger and clapped in the Tower (or even worse the Tower Centre in Ballymena where I am forced to use toilets knowing that the sewers have bi lingual manhole covers)

  • Gingray

    Yes. Yes you should be 🙂

    I just dont see how its derogatory, surely we can call her anything we like as per freedom of speech as long as it is not defaming her character or inciting hatred?

  • John Collins

    Perhaps a good idea- After all whisky may well come from uisce, or uisce bheatha, which literally translated means ‘the water of life’.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, yes, as I know all too well, but most of the others aren’t thinking of sending out armies of Mid & East Antrim road maintenance operatives with grinders to “correct” the offending manhole covers…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed it does, and “comes from” both ways!!! Both the word itself and, with a few additives to the stuff flowing down mountains and over moors, the other stuff that ends up in the bottles…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And he can send out the boys with the paint pots, and save on the noise pollution the grinders would create…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But you’ll have to have a major explanation campaign. When I was asking for a medieval Latin inscription for my Uncle’s gravestone (to reflect his interests), the girl I was discussing it with asked, eyes narrowed, “Is that Irish……”

    “No”, I said, “but I can translate it to Irish if you need me to…..”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As trgr says below, “ta se an-mhaith !…….”

  • Zorin001

    Whoever backed Silly Season to begin pre-Saint Patrick’s Day can collect their winnings now.

    Then again who are we kidding, its always silly season here.

  • Cosmo

    Will there be a public apology made to Ballymena town centre, for the planning permission ( and its interesting history of nods) recently voted for, by councillors, re Green Pastures ?

  • Jollyraj

    I’d say the tweet was classless, rather than offensive. And it is pointless to seek an apology in that case.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m offended by her spelling ‘off’ with one f.

  • Cosmo

    She has managed to develop a version of the H Clinton bright electioneering open mouth ‘smile’.
    Twitter HQ laid off 300 staff – it’s on the decline.

  • Ryan

    Queen Elizabeth II has done more to further reconciliation here in the last 5 years than Unionism has in the last 5 decades. That’s a sad but true fact. While the DUP/TUV demand “respect for orange culture”, they then go about trying to erase any reference to Irish culture in sight, even the barely noticeable Irish word for Water on manhole covers doesn’t escape the intolerance of Unionism. The Unionist logic seems to be: Respect our “culture” while we disrespect yours. I’m sure that will work out just as well as the Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People did…..

  • Blamigo

    DUP and TUV shouldn’t fall into the usual trap of making a martyr out of a moron. There’s a tipping point in these things were the initial agitator ends up becoming the victim of the piece.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I remember my (non-Jacobite of course) Unionist cousins calling the Lady at Windsor “Our Liz”. It was used familiarly too in Orange circles as I remember.

    “Manufactured outrage…….”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Interestingly, the new Mid & East Antrim Logo can be “read” two ways. If you see it as an image going upward, it suggests two “traditions” converging, mixing, and going ever upward together (suggesting “improving”). But it can also be read as a dropping away from co-operative unity and falling away to even lower depths of disagreement………

    Interesting too that they have picked the Oxford and Cambridge colours from the boat race. I used to have boat race parties when I lived on Putney Embankment and the waterfront was full of these colours. A perfect image of two things that pretty much equate engaged in an “there can only be one” event “Highlander” (the movie) style. I wonder if there is any possible esoteric “correspondence”……..

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    Makes you wonder what level of respect she has for Ultach.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Their belief in the miracle of “creative destruction” perhaps extends to the written word. Mind you, it’s much less problematic with language than it is with people’s skulls and knee caps, or glass windows.

  • Nevin

    The MSM and some excitable bloggers do tend to focus on tiffs between our elected representatives. Where are they when these very same politicians collaborate in the face of the vagaries of bureaucracy?

    I work with politicians from all parties and none. I’ve never met Patrice or Greg but Tim did feature in a visit by a US archivist that I helped to facilitate last year. Negativity doesn’t always rule. Okay?

  • Jollyraj

    “DUP and TUV shouldn’t fall into the usual trap of making a martyr out of a moron.”

    Excellent point

  • Jollyraj

    I don’t see any respect for unionist culture at all in any of your contributions.

  • Greenflag 2

    I prefer Queenie myself -It at least gives sufficient titular respect to the old dear without being rude 🙂 .

  • Greenflag 2

    A DUP councillor /politician arrives at the pearly gates at some point in the not so near future . The sign on the gate says ‘Tar isteach ‘. (come in ) .
    He refuses to cross the threshold . Jesus is sent to interview him ,
    ‘What did you do in your lifetime ” ? asks Jesus .

    Silence . ‘I must know ” pleads the Lord but the DUP man remains obstinately silent
    An angel is sent for to find out what is going on and asks the Councillor /politician why he won’t answer Jesus’s questions.

    Finally the DUP councillor bursts out – “Why should I – I don’t speak Irish and I don’t talk to Palestinians either .’

  • submariner

    What exactly do you mean by Unionist culture?

  • Neil

    Gaston previously stated that the GAA was intertwined with terrorism. His party boss called Irish “leprechaun language”. One of his colleagues made the pages of Private Eye because he didn’t want to pardon the Islandmagee witches (in case they were actually guilty); meanwhile another of his colleagues is this week in the Impartial Reporter holding forth on his opposition to equal marriage and how he wouldn’t have Catholic friends as he doesn’t refer to Catholics as friends.

    Yeah I can see who the moron is. And the agitator. If you want to be a member of the TUV and issue ridiculous, offensive statements all the time, developing a thicker skin might be an idea. The TUV is truly the party of giving and taking offence, for that is all they do.

  • Jollyraj

    Uhm..the culture of people who could broadly be described as ‘unionist’ in NI. I know what you’re thinking – it’s simply British culture. And in many ways you’d be right. But it is a distinctive flavour of Britishness, just like the North West of England is distinct from the South East of London. Ryan seems very clear on what Irishness means, I wonder how he understands us in cultural terms. Same question applies to you if you fancy it.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Ballymena is a CITY?

  • Jollyraj

    I’d tend to agree with the comment on the GAA, but nothing else there. I’m neither TUV member nor voter.

  • the keep

    But then he has form doesn’t he Jollyraj?

  • Blamigo

    The old Prod Parliament for Prod people mantra always gets a run out. Always conveniently forgotten how Craig said it in response to de Valera who made it clear 3 years previous as to what type of State the Republic was intended to be. Craig was picking up the challenge laid down by de Valera as to which ideological philosophy was best suited to the running of a State.

  • submariner

    Really can you give us any examples.

  • Jollyraj
  • Jollyraj

    Cherry picking history does tend to cause problems…

  • Ryan

    What abouttery

  • Ryan

    If Unionist culture is Orange bands making demands and nearly sparking a civil war over Drumcree, Orange bands marching in circles outside Catholic Chapels, the Orange Order preaching anti-Catholicism, Unionist bonfires burning Catholic statues, Irish emblems and effigies of Catholic priests or Unionists gathering outside Holy Cross school to spit on, scream abuse and hurl blast bombs at Catholic school children then no I don’t respect Unionist culture because its not a culture, its just hatred.

  • Jollyraj

    Don’t be silly Ryan.

    Unionist culture is none of those things. Perhaps I can show you where you’re going wrong. If I were to follow your logic, I would conclude that Irish culture is smearing excrement on walls, shooting unarmed people in the back, and arrogant militia gangs roaming the streets in places like West Belfast & raping teenagers. It isn’t.

    Grow up.

  • Thomas Barber

    Do unionists not get the bit about republicans being opposed to the idea of a monarchy, do they just brush under the carpet the Crowns history in Ireland and how they, when it suits, can take up arms against their own Crown yet here they are complaining when a republican calls the woman by the name she was given at birth. What an arrogant bunch of hypocrites some unionists are, Councillor Hardy should have called her the parasite that she is and give them something to gurn about.

  • Thomas Barber

    Feel free to tell us what Unionist culture is then. Is this unionist culture –


  • submariner

    Would you also agree then that the OO is also intertwined with terrorism and that Mr Gaston being a member of the loyal orders is being a hypocrite

  • submariner

    But what exactly does in entail that makes it different to British culture.?

  • LordSummerisle

    I doubt very much if Cllr Gaston is reflective of Unionism in general or indeed Ballymena in particular. There seems to be a misconception about that town as being some sort of bigoted hole. I can only say from personal experience that it is not a bigoted hole. Fair play to the good Cllr he is good value.

  • Spike

    A quick search through Timothys ‘issues’ in the chamber this past year would display either a very intelligent play on the lowest denomitor in his constituency or, more worryingly, a disturbing indictment on our society that someone with his views/outlook are still being voted onto councils.

  • I remember Squinter in the Andytown News joking about going to see a car “behind enemy lines” in East Antrim, and I remember seeing a Scottish woman dressed as the Pope at coverage of the Twelfth in Belfast, which was treated as a hilarious jape.

    If we are at the stage where even our political reps can (almost) laugh about our differences in views than we have come a long way. Seems healthy to me.

    However, if we have to go down the road of respect for other views then my first thought is that it should be two-way thing, or else surely it is just whataboutery.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So I’m told; “City of the Seven Towers”, no less.


    Tourists come thinking “San Gimignano” and discover that they are being offered a few nineteenth century Church towers and the like.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They come thinking ‘San Gimignano’ and leave thinking ‘Scottish Central Belt’…

  • Nevin

    “Known locally as the ‘City of the Seven Towers’ due to its highly visible seven towers in bygone days, Ballymena, despite its recent expansion, maintains its links to the past. The seven towers, (named such by Sir Shafto Adair) were: Ballymena Castle, First Ballymena Presbyterian Church, The Old Parish Church, The Braid Water Mill, St. Patrick’s Church, the Old Town Hall and All Saints Roman Catholic Church. Only three of the original towers remain – All Saints, St. Patrick’s and the Old Parish Church.” .. source

    Ballymena, never known short on hyperbole! Still, a small advance on its po-faced critics.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, Nevin, have you visited San Gimignano? But thanks for the list, as the tourists can now compare them three one by one with San Gimignano’s Campanile della Collegiata, Torri deli Ardinghelli, Torre die Becci, Torre Campatelli, Torre Chigi, Torre die Cugnanesi, Torre del Diavolo, Torre Ficherelli,
    Torre Grossa, Torre di Palazzo Pellari, Casa-torre Pesciolini, Torre Pettini, Torre Rognosa and Torri die Salvucci. That’s three-a-tower I think.

    And I must admit Ballymena is simply too easy a target…….

  • Nevin

    No – but I have been to Torr!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ah, the reputed seat of Bricriu of the Bitter Tounge, from an Rúraíocht, at whose dun on the peninsula Fergus was waylaid when Naoise returned from the isles! I wonder if Sir Shafto (“Bobby” Shafto, either the first or second Baronet, I’m not sure which) wintered in Italy? So perhaps he was referring to San Gimignano in so titleing Ballymena! The first time I saw the Tuscan hilltop town (at 7.30 on a May morning when I was spending two months with friends in Tuscany just after fnishing a particularly stressful film) it was like something from a Giorgio de Chirico painting! Having been in Ballymena at 7.30 on a May morning also, all I can say is taht if he was making any comparision, he would have been very,very tounge in cheek! The impression of the deserted streets is quite different……..