Friday, 4 July 2014

Whatever takes the focus off real issues.

My auld granny, God rest her, was famous for her comment “the sun brings out some sights.” Yesterday here in the North of Ireland during the televised walkout of  Unionist leaders from Stormont that comment sprang to mind as did the Benny Hill TV show theme tune.

It would appear the talks over the Parades Commission's refusal to allow a return orange parade past the Ardoyne shops were ended swiftly with unionist leaders joined at the hip in opposition to the determination.

In reality meaningful engagement requires an open mind and the ability to listen, hence the two ears and one mouth, whereas playing to the gallery consists of little more than a dramatic exit akin to a spoilt child chucking it's toys out of the pram with little or no consideration given to the potential consequences of such actions.

We witnessed similar behaviour during the 'fleg' dispute at Belfast's City Hall when the DUP encouraged mass opposition to a democratic decision made by the elected representatives who make up Belfast City Council and along the way they used this as an opportunity to scapegoat the Alliance Party as punishment for taking Peter Robinson's seat in a democratic election. Although the DUP would deny this. 

Oddly enough at that time the 'fleg' dispute played a crucial part in overshadowing plans abolish the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

The 'Fleg' protests saw months of violence and unrest, the question is will the failure of the unionist leaders to abide by legal decisions lead to a more silly, silly season than usual?

Unionist leaders issued the following in a statement:

The Unionist parties have pledged to work collectively on this issue. We do so to avert violence and destruction on our streets with the attendant harm that this would cause to Northern Ireland's community relations and reputation. The desired direction of travel for Northern Ireland has been to leave behind the use and threat of violence. This decision and its surrender to publicly issued republican threats is unacceptable and flies in the face of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Northern Ireland who want to move forward on a basis where cultural expressions are undertaken with respect and met with tolerance.”

Now let's look at this situation removing the orange tinted shades. Unionist leaders claim the decision to re-route the march has been taken on the basis of rewarding republican violence and threats.

Surely if that was the case, the violence that emerged from members of the orange order and it's supporters last year would have swayed the decision to allow the return parade to pass the Ardoyne shops?

And let's not forget the infamous protest camp at Twadell which continues to cost the tax-payer millions of pounds to police . Call me naïve but this money would be better spent on housing the growing numbers of homeless, or to fund the 36 different cancer treatments denied to citizens here that patients in England can avail of but can't be afforded here. All this money wasted policing what is technically an act of trespass as this camp is on public land and no permission has been given by the Government Department headed up by the DUP's Nelson McCausland. I suppose a question which must be asked is who pays the public liability insurance for the camp?

Unionist politicians and Orange leaders have often referred to the Parades commission as an unelected quango.

Now here's a thought, could it be that the Parades Commission which is a state appointed body who oversee contentious parades, are operating in the best interest of the wider public? It stands to reason that no matter what decision is made someone, somewhere will not be happy, but that is a fact of life.

Could it be that the Parades Commission is concerned for the people who live in that vicinity who find themselves annually caught in the cross fire during the twelfth celebrations whether it be at the hands of republicans or loyalists?

Do the feelings and views of residents who live in the area in question and the sensitivities around this contentious parade count for nothing in the eyes of Unionist leaders?

Do Unionist leaders also withdraw support for public safety as by their own admission the area has witnessed a lot of violence during these alleged cultural celebrations?

By comparison when the Northern Ireland Parole Commission which is also an unelected body detain a citizen claiming they are doing so in the interests public safety Unionist Politicians are often keen to welcome the ruling.

So why support one unelected group and not support  another who too claim to operate in the interest of public safety? Will Unionist Politicians now call for the disbandment of the RQIA , The Requlation Quality Improvment Authority which oversees the regulation of healthcare, after all they're not an elected body either? Where does the nonsense end?

It would seem the only thing consistent from the so called leaders of Unionism is the same old tripe they regurgitate when they don't get their own way.

One of the constant arguments we hear as to why a parade should go ahead is that it is traditional, or a traditional route, yet this does not acknowledge demographic changes across the six counties.

Another word continually bandied about is 'culture' when in reality this goes beyond culture and is a matter of control which stems from the old war cry 'a protestant state for a protestant people.'

Yesterday's grand gesture was little more than a stage managed 'look at us we're defending the faith at all costs' with a statement released five minutes after their dramatic exit. Followed by chief huffer Peter Robinson who said "the institutions have been put under threat by the behaviour of the Parades Commission and those who threaten the Parades Commission,"

It would seem the institutions as they call them are put under threat/pressure every time nationalists and unionists hurl their pacifiers from the pram in a bid to get their own way.

It is worth keeping in mind that the foundation the 'institution' (Stormont) is built on was flawed from the outset. The Good Friday Agreement was sold by the Nationalist & Unionist parties as a stepping stone to a united Ireland and a secure Union with Britain all in the one package.

The orange and green gravy train that runs around the marble corridors of Stormont in my opinion serves only to deflect from the real issues and the fact that the British Government continue to rule indirectly via the egotists known as members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The north of Ireland must provide great entertainment for those watching from afar with our 'political leaders' pictured huffing over what is a legally binding decision taken in the public interest by the appointed body.

These actions will only serve to portray us as a nation of religious muck savages who are too stupid to fight against real injustice and instead focus attention on a stretch of road.

We are a multi-cultural society and if this really is about cultural expression then why insist on doing so in  an area that has seen more than it's fair share of violence over the years as a consequence of cultural/traditional parades.

A few hours ago the Daniel O'Donnell of unionism, Jeffrey Donaldson announced that Loyalist paramilitaries are to take a "peaceful approach" over the restriction of a contentious parade.

Whilst this news is most certainly welcome I would question on what authority Jeffrey Donaldson feels obliged to speak on behalf of Loyalist paramilitaries? And if Jeffrey Donaldson is speaking on behalf of Loyalist paramilitaries should he not be arrested and questioned for consorting with and speaking on behalf of murderous terrorist groups?

There are so many issues impacting on the people in the north. Schools are being closed year in year out with no thought given to our growing population. Health care staff are under extreme pressure the point of tears, homelessness, unemployment and suicide are on the increase and every cruel blow in terms of cuts is hitting the poorest most vulnerable in society.

And in the midst of all this our so called political leaders see a dispute over a stretch of road and their idea of cultural expression take precedence.

I suppose whatever takes the focus of their ineptitude, inability to deliver and impending welfare reforms that have suddenly become lost in the midst of the rattling of sabres and beating of tribal drums.

All aboard the Stormont Express you don't need a ticket just a blinkered perspective.

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