We are now just over a week on from the infamous flag vote at Belfast City Council and whilst it is now clear that the Alliance Party will emerge from this with its credibility and reputation greatly enhanced it has come at an enormous cost to its elected members, officers and activists who have been put under intolerable pressure. Now we know what mob rule looks like. If Northern Ireland was a normal society rival politicians would have by now put differences aside and be standing shoulder to shoulder with Alliance in a united front on the side of democracy against mob rule.
This is not a normal society.
On Monday morning the Assembly was supposed to be debating an emergency motion condemning the violence. What we got was the usual qualified condemnation and weasel-like point scoring. If you are looking for statesmanship and responsible leadership from the unionist parties you would be best advised to look elsewhere. This also applied to the one UKIP member who gave this qualified condemnation which was typical on the day. He said:
What happened will leave a deep and lasting scar. The wound is open and festering within the political landscape and, as a consequence, the Alliance Party will pay dearly at the ballot box. That said, I say to the joint proposers of the motion that UKIP will vote for it. It encapsulates our condemnation of violence. The rest of it comprises what any right-thinking person would endorse. Unfortunately, despite its length, the motion falls short of expressing the full rigour of unionist anger aimed at those who combined to take down the Union flag …
Essentially the unionist line is “We condemn the violence against you but it was your own fault. Because you refused to give in to the intimidation and bullyboy tactics of the mob that we stirred up you have brought this on yourselves.”
What a miserable pathetic excuse for politicians we have in Northern Ireland.
Naomi Long MP interviewed on the BBC referred to a pogrom against her party. This is what it is beginning to look like. Last night a police woman, who was keeping an eye on the MP’s office, was lucky to escape with her life after her car was surrounded by a mob and a petrol bomb thrown into it. Police are treating it as attempted murder. It is also noticeable that the night time attacks on the homes of elected members seem to be being carried out primarily against the female members. This is disturbing in itself.
The good news is that party membership applications and donations have soared in the last week but it’s come at a high cost both to both party members and the community at large.
* Declan Wilson is a councillor on Gloucester City Council