22 January 2006

Borders on the abuse

Sunday Life

Lynda Gilby, straight talking
22 January 2006

Whine, whine, whine! That's all you hear in this country. People with a political profile stamping their foot and crying to the heavens: "It's not fair".

The latest in a long line of whingers who does not appear to have thought the subject through, is Lord Laird, who complains that roughly twice as many Catholics as Protestants are employed working for cross-border bodies in Northern Ireland.

He is quoted as saying: "I, and many other Unionists, did not sign up to the Belfast Agreement for full-scale discrimination against my community.

"This is all part of a grand Republican agenda - a pro-Irish agenda.

"Republicans and nationalists would have the world believe they are non-sectarian guardians of equality.

"Well, here is the evidence in black and white of the real, cloak and dagger nationalist agenda."

I have quoted the good lord at length because I want you to get the full measure of the amount of steam that must have been pouring from his ears when he said these words in the House of Lords last week.

He had been provided with the employment figures by the Government in answer to a Parliamentary question.

So let's just examine the cause of his ire.

Who, do you think, in our community, are most opposed to the North-South bodies?

Why, I hear you cry, Protestants, of course.

So who, then, do you reckon, are the most unlikely people on earth to apply for jobs working for the North-South bodies? Correct!

So if Lord Laird really wants equality of numbers in the workforce of these bodies, should he not be ardently encouraging Protestants to overcome their abhorrence and go and work for them rather than bemoan the fact that they are not already there?

Silence is deafening

Pardon me while I pause to look at that herd of porkers flying across the horizon.

Last week, the Drumcree Orange march was once again banned by the Parades Commission and there hasn't been so much as a peep of protest from the Orange Order or from Unionist politicians connected with them.

Just pinch me. Even stranger, when you consider that the Commission now contains two members who are prominent Orangemen - Donald McKay and David Burrows.

Even Portadown spokesman, David Jones remarked mildly that he was disappointed but not surprised by the ruling. "We are looking towards developing trust to achieve a just and lasting solution, not a quick fix," he added.

Make of that what you may. What I make of it is to wonder just what secret deal has been struck behind the scenes.

Could it be, do you think, that the Orange contingent have been told that if they keep the noise down and bide their time, Orange feet will tramp the road to Drumcree next year or the year after?

The other possibility, of course, is that Orangeism is finally acquiring a large measure of political nous?

Go figure.

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