- With freedom of speech comes the right to express the freedom to choose to listen.” - my auld man!
Not long in to the New Year and the resolutions of parity of esteem and cultural respect, agreed by all political parties in the myriad of agreements since the Good Friday Agreement, have faded back to poignant and celestial ideas from the bad old days of the conflict. Borne out by Foster’s and Nesbitt’s responses to media questions on the possible attendance of either at any event commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising.
Foster and Nesbitt have both ruled out any participation whatsoever in any of the events organised throughout Ireland to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.
Foster, keen to stamp her new ‘manly’ authority on the DUP and to allay the fears of the old DUP misogynist guard, has unabashedly stated that she will under no circumstances be participating in any commemoration event for 1916 as it was an attack against the UK to which she has bequeathed her political self too.(1)
In other words the lady-boy isn’t for turning and she will endeavour to retain Unionism’s business as usual agenda. An agenda made up of bigotry, sectarianism and racial hatred of all things Irish.
In the same report, Nesbitt, not as blunt as Foster as he - unlike her - has no longer the millstone of proving one’s loyalty to all things bigoted hanging around his neck, but with the same level of disgust at such a thought, has intimated that he will also not be attending any commemorating event for the same reasons and his party will continue to lay wreaths at the graves of the dead British soldiers killed during the rising in Grange-Gorman military cemetery in Dublin.
Pastor James McConnell can now relax after winning his court case of being accused of grossly offensive remarks and in making such remarks by improper use of a public electronic communications network. A victory not just for McConnell but also for free speech and one which this avid raconteur is in full support off. The judge ruled that the remarks were offensive but not grossly offensive under the law.
Obviously, grossly offensive remarks, unlike offensive remarks, must meet some additional criteria in order to be declared as such. What that criteria is, was not expounded or clarified by the judge. So we can only surmise that perhaps, if Pastor McConnell had made the remarks at a graveside while one of his flock held the ‘good book’ aloft from which he regularly reads from, or if he had stated that putting a bullet in the heads of Muslims was more acceptable than a prison sentence, if - since he is ‘against their theology and what they believe in’ - he had burned the Koran or even if his remarks had been made against the Caliphate (replace with British State) and called for the right to bear arms against that State would his actions have been considered offensive or grossly offensive?
PUP Billy Hutchinson has joined in with Jim Rodgers and attacked the invite by Belfast City Council to the Republic’s qualifying team (supported by the norn iron manager’s family) and the ‘norn iron’ qualifying team (unsupported by the norn iron managers family) to a reception at City Hall to congratulate them both on their success. Hutchinson displayed his bigoted narrow mindedness by singling out James McClean as a potential catalyst for trouble if he were to attend. McClean, who has made his political views very clear and run contrary to the cosmetic ideology of norn iron society, is persona non grata because of such views.
Rodgers, in his usual sectarian and racist form, amateurishly fumbled and stumbled around to try and put a halt to this invite by stating that the mainland teams of Wales and England should be invited and couldn’t for the life of him understand why only the Republic and norn iron were. Very puzzling Jim indeed!
And so, will this be the year that sports people like James McClean be perceived on the same level as those Unionist rugby players who don the green jersey of Ireland and are not thrashed or determined to be trouble makers by the Irish media because of their political views?
Will this be the year that in November, when the British are given the ‘freedom of expression’ to lay wreaths of poppies at the graves of their war dead in Ireland, will they complain if that ‘freedom of expression’ is removed? Considering that it is the current political children of those same people who put those soldiers there in the first place that graciously grants them this expression! Would Cameron reciprocate the gesture if the shoe was on the other foot and will nationalist politicians give a second thought to laying a wreath at Belfast City Hall cenotaph or will Kenny, having his history slapped down in to the mud and so derisorily tread upon, be in attendance in Enniskillen this November?
Now, the English Monarchy can rest at ease knowing that their interests in Ireland are under newly elected High Sherriff of Belfast, Jim Rodgers, who for the next 12 months will no doubt fervently offer his own persona to shield and protect the Windsors ... a loyal duty which he has already stretched to their national football team!
In this year 2016, under British Unionism’s asymmetrical politics of disrespect and, pompous arrogance, those who hold a difference of opinion to them can look forward to just as much grace as they have/had afforded on the Irish people 100 years ago. But I leave you with these words that come from a mouth that couldn’t spell ‘freedom of expression’ or even equality!
"Anyone who is engaged in public debate or speech ought to be happy at the result today. We live in a free society and in a free society, people should be free to express the beliefs that they hold."
DUP Sammy Wilson speaking on Talk Back on Pastor McConnell’s court case victory. Profound words that Wilson fails to put in to practice or respect....well, only if you are on his side!
(1) Belfast Telegraph 08/01/2016.