Here is a thought.
The Orange Order is calling for protests up to and including Civil Disobedience so that they can get up the Crumlin Road in Belfast.
There has been much comment that this is illegal.
I’m not so sure.
I speak as a veteran of Civil Disobedience.
Christmas 1971…nationalists were encouraged to post letters with the Queen upside down …a stamp is after all only a receipt for a service. Its probably not illegal to post a letter that way. Presumably everyone makes a mistake.
Likewise we were encouraged to buy halfpenny stamps. If we posted a Christmas card with five halfpenny stamps instead of a single stamp….Post Offices would run out of them. And that would be …apparently very bad.
I was enthusiastic about Civil Disobedience. I was led to believe it would stop the British War Machine in its imperialist tracks.
So as I stuck our halfpenny stamps …upside down…on our 1971 Christmas Cards…my father pointed out that I was still “licking the Queens backside” and doing it a lot more than was strictly necessary.
Which brings me to last week. Ever anxious to use my Translink bus/train card….I obtained a ticket to Larne Harbour….but along the route I decided Id like to have a look around Carrickfergus.
No harm done. A ticket to Carrick costs me nothing….just like a ticket to Strabane, Newry, Enniskillen, Bangor, Derry….all the same to me.
And free wi-fi means I can update my Facebook Status with gems such as “just approaching Trooperslane”.
So getting off in Carrickfergus instead of journeying on to Larne cost me nothing.
Indeed if I had obtained a ticket to Derry and got I off at Yorkgate (the first stop after Belfast Central) then it would have still cost me nothing.
But who exactly pays the nice folks at Translink for my three or four trips a week across Norn Iron.
Presumably the nice folks at the Depatment of Social Development (DSD) pick up the tab for me.
Suppose this was mis-used.
Just imagine several thousand Orange pensioners descending on their local train station or bus stop and obtaining “end of the line tickets”, depriving folks from getting to work….and maybe travelling a single stop and doing it all again….several times a day.
I am not off course suggesting that the Orange Order should adopt such a tactic. Merely stating that it is Civil Disobedience but is hardly “illegal” unless of course it is fraudulent to effectively over-charge the DSD.
I dunno. Somebody at Twaddell Avenue should ask their MLA (Nelson McCausland) to ask the Minister for Social Development (Nelson McCausland) for advice.