A week that was dominated by the publication of the Smithwick Report on Garda collusion with the IRA and then by the death of arguably the most brilliant and (now) most popular politician (and military leader) in recent history.
..and it was a good week for apologies – but perhaps we could have done with a few more?
Of course Nelson Mandela wasn’t always popular, with everyone, and some of those leading the tributes in Ulster (Unionists) and Britain (Tories) had very different views in days gone by – David Cameron having actually lobbied in favour of Apartheid – which provided perhaps a good apology-opportunity for Davey – which he has somehow missed (so far).
For details of some previous local views see below.
Before the sad news of Mandela’s death, the fallout of the Smithwick report and the reaction to it had a predictable twist – with Unionists developing a sudden appetite for enquiries into security force collusion. And with Smithwick to the fore and fulsome apologies from the Irish government – anyone thinking that perhaps a period that was a bit more Gerry-(Adams)-light in terms of media coverage, will have been disappointed. Outpourings of ‘outrage’ followed Gerry’s observation that, as suggested in the Report, the two senior RUC men might not have been wise to drive through (strongly Republican) South Armagh and hold meetings with the local Gardai in (strongly Republican) Dundalk.
..armed now with a fresh angle on the boul Gerry, the usual suspects were quickly out of the blocks – some, no doubt setting aside their ready-prepared Gerry stories for another day.
Micheal Martin, FF leader and SF’s main political adversary in the South, in commenting on Gerry’s statement claimed
“Essentially, it almost blames by implication the officers themselves,”
A statement obviously designed to damage Gerry but qualified so much (in 3 places) that it is rendered almost meaningless. In contrast there was no such qualification from Slugger which stated
“Adams blames policemen for their own death”.
A departure from the actual facts there by the boul Mick(Fealty) which would arguably result in a Slugger disciplinary card if added to the comments section.
All Unionists were of course ‘outraged’ by Gerry’s comments and the following offering from the Leader of the (not quite defunct) Ulster Unionists, Mike Nesbitt told us that –
“Sinn Fein are the self-proclaimed party of respect. They may need to re-evaluate that.”
Note to Mike: If you want to avoid being totally defunct you will need to be a bit more strident in your criticism of SF when opportunity knocks.
Over at Westminster and before the main stories of the week broke, the DUP sponsored a motion on the “Persecution of Christians”. Leading the debate for the DUP, Nigel Dodds, told the (near empty) house that in relation to Iraq
“we used to have 1.5 million Christians now we probably have only got 200,000”.
What Deputy (leader) Doddsy didn’t add was that he, along with (all?) other Unionists had voted in the same house to send the British army into that country and unleashed the horrors of wholesale widespread sectarianism that would make his own constituency of North Belfast look like a model of good community relations.
Now I’m not sure if the 1.3 million Christians who have departed and the remaining 200,000 Christians who still live in total terror would have been particularly impressed by a Commons motion apologising for British (and DUP) involvement in this catastrophe – but they would probably be more impressed with an apology than hearing about a meaningless motion which can’t turn back the clock.
Whether or not the any of the remaining 18 flag protest days before Xmas will be availed of remains to be seen, but in a week that saw the death of the greatest living statesman – perhaps the poor turnout at last Saturday’s protest also heralded the demise of the latest round of embarrassing and pointless Unionist protests?
No – probably not.