Friday, 15 April 2011

Petrol Bombs and Bricks Shall Not Stop Our Democratic Shared Future

The fact that election campaigners in Northern Ireland are going door to door canvassing in something to be applauded. Indeed it is something that all to recently would have led to some candidates setting foot in certain parts of the area they were seeking to represent.The fact that twice in the past 24 hours on two separate incidents SDLP canvass teams have been attacked is a shame to those who carried out such attacks.

Not Delores Kelly's windscreen but an example
Last night a petrol bomb aimed at the car of election volunteers and today when a brick was thrown at the windscreen of Delores Kelly seeking re-election in Upper Bann. This is not how this election campaign, or how the last assembly or the next one, is going to get along. There is consensus that things now will be done through the ballot box, this anti-social and indeed anti-democracy attacks on candidates are something that nobody involved in politics should condone, we should all stand together and condemn such actions. Thankfully nobody has been seriously hurt in either incident, although people could so easily have been.

However, all is not light an consensus in Northern Ireland right now. Tom Elliot along with the leaders of all the parties attended the funeral of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr last week (an event that united the majority of the population with only a few dissenters). However, a group of fundamentalist Orangemen have called on the UUP leader to be expelled from the Loyal Order.

People outside Northern Ireland may not know what the fuss is about. Well yesterday as I was reading the DUP council candidates profile as they came through my door the one thing that I did notice was the mention in three of the four of involvement in or with the Loyal Orders, it is shorthand to the Unionist base to vote for them they're one of you. However, as myself and few others have expressed we don't see the point of such emphasis when we are talking about a shared future. In fact the DUP recently were actually asking Catholic economic liberals to vote for them based on their right leaning economic policies rather than the left leaning of the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

So while Northern Ireland parties are talking up a game of sharing over the airwaves, through the doors there is still a little of the politics of separation coming through from some quarters. It is not what I have been used to the last 9 years in Scotland and I will taking serious consideration over how I place my preferences on May 5th.

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