Bad week for nationalism. Hence the gloating on Slugger O’Toole and the admiration there for Jim Allister of the TUV. He socked it to Sinn Fein this week or to paraphrase Slugger …it was a victory for common sense and victims. Er…quite.
But no doubt Sinn Fein will take the SpAd thing as a defeat. And in their terms an injustice.
In truth Sinn Fein were careless and not very politically aware not to think that unionists would get artificially agitated that a Special Advisor (salary £70,000) Mary McArdle appointed to assist a Sinn Fein Minister, had been in prison for murder.
It is of course unusual that a person could get a job as a civil servant, having spent twelve years in prison. With some degree of justification Sinn Fein point out that many of their MLAs have been in jail for paramiltary-related crimes. But the obvious riposte to this is that they have been ELECTED.
Personally Im not at all worked up about Mary McArdle. I hold that Sinn Fein had a right to appoint her….AND a duty to defend that decision at an election. Jim Allisters motion to ban people with a serious criminal record (as he would put it) from being Special Advisors was always going to be contentious.
To block it, Sinn Fein needed the support of at least one SDLP member. After some very public wavering, they decided not to support Sinn Fein. Of course they were not swayed by Jim Allister of TUV, the persuasive voice was Ann Travers, Catholic and sister of the woman murdered by comrades of Mary McArdle.
The consequence is that Sinn Fein dont have to defend an insensitive decision. SDLP have to defend seeming to side with Jim Allister. The months between now and the summer of 2016, when the next Assembly Election are littered with elephant traps and ultimately this SpAd trap will be forgotten. But clearly this was not a good performance by SDLP.
The simple fact is that the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was presented as stepping stones to a united Ireland AND a series of obstacles to a united Ireland. Clearly SF saw it as a “right” to appoint Ms McArdle and this has now been thrown out.
But less publicised…certainly on Slugger….has been the decision of the High Court to rule out the “Prayers in the Park” wheeze by the Orange Order in Portadown, scheduled for next week. Denied the “right” for decades to march down the Garvaghy Road and exercise their traditional “right” to piss off Catholics in Portadown…they hit upon the wheeze of WALKING to the public park in the area and singinging hymns and saying prayers. How very….ya know…Christian of them? Who could possibly object?
Well the residents were not impressed and the High Court agree. Nice try…but back to the drawing board for the Orangemen.