Monday, 9 May 2011

Fisking Tom Elliot's defence of those comments

In today's Newsletter UUP leader Tom Elliot tries to defend his outburst in his acceptance speech where he called talked of "the scum of Sinn Féin". I am producing it in full so I cam fisk it in red.

 My Comment was right um I'll get unto that later by Tom Elliot UUP

MY remarks at the count in Omagh have attracted a great deal of attention and comment.

The people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone suffered grievously at the hands of the IRA, many of whom were members of Sinn Fein for decades. This is true, there is no denying history.

Whilst we are now in a new era and many people would prefer us to whitewash the past, many of us are not whitewashing the past, what we are doing is attempting to move on the fact is that Sinn Fein as a party does come with some pretty awful baggage. As does the UUP and Elliot himself, he will no doubt still be commemorating a Battle from 1690 all summer. As I stood in that hall yesterday I was subjected to abuse and heckling from the worst type of Sinn Fein’s supporters.

My comments were certainly not directed at broad nationalism, republicanism or indeed Sinn Fein supporters and members in general, as I am aware that a number of their members may not have been involved in terrorism.

However we need to remember that a number of these Sinn Fein members are unrepentant members of the IRA, who have murdered people from this province. Sinn Féin have renounced violence and recent murders. Their political aim is still the same that of a united Ireland. They are now seeking to achieve that through democratic means. Just as in the same way that Elliot's Unionist Party forebears sought to keep Ireland, and since 1921 Northern Ireland, in the Union. Indeed the Unionist set up a militia the Ulster Volunteers in 1913 to defend the Union by force if necessary. Neither side is without a paramilitary past in Irish conflict history.

My comments may have shocked or caused discomfort to some people, but I have to say that the murder campaign mounted by the IRA, which resulted in over 3,000 deaths, caused a great deal more.

It is amazing that I get severely criticised for these comments, while just two weeks ago at the republican Easter Rising commemorations senior Sinn Fein representatives glorified the IRA terrorist campaign that murdered many Northern Ireland citizens with comments like: “The IRA were not war mongers. They were a revolutionary force....” Was this a dig at his fellow Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative Sean Lynch.

And: “They took up arms in a bid to force the British out of our country. Their sacrifice and selflessness is an inspiration to us all.” I'll remind Tom that through the summer with a culmination on 12th July he will be celebrating a force from the Netherlands that came over to Ireland to rid the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of its rightful sovereign, because he worshiped God in a different way.

None of these comments, which are insulting to many within our community, received the same type of adverse publicity or attention. Maybe that is because you are a political leader who is talking about a shared future and this was your acceptance speech on being elected to represent ALL the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Yes! Even those that choose to fly a tricolour.

With regard to the results of the election, the UUP entered it with 16 seats and we have returned with 16 seats. Clearly many media commentators and pundits will be deeply disappointed this morning that their gleeful forecasts of meltdown and wipe-out did not come to pass. I’m not sorry to disappoint them.

The Ulster Unionist Party has been around for over 100 years Should I be pedantic and point out that from 1905 -1920 it was the Irish Unionist Party and Ulster Unionists have learned the ability to take a few knocks and come back from them. Life is not just about setbacks, but how you respond to them.

He then goes on to what a leader should be talking about in his acceptance speech.

We did indeed face setbacks in this election, but we also have some good news. I am obviously deeply sad that Fred Cobain did not manage to hold his seat. He will be sorely missed by the Ulster Unionist assembly team and the ordinary working people of North Belfast for whom he was a tireless worker and advocate.
I also regret the loss of our second seat in East Antrim where Rodney McCune put up a great fight but ultimately lost out to Sinn Fein. My commiserations and best wishes go out to all the defeated Ulster Unionist candidates.

But there is good news too with the addition of five new faces to the UUP assembly team, providing fresh ideas and approaches to complement the tried and trusted performers. Amongst the five new faces are two female MLAs in the form of Jo-Anne Dobson and Sandra Overend. I would also like to congratulate Ross Hussey on regaining a seat for the UUP in West Tyrone and Mike Nesbitt for regaining a second seat in Strangford. We will also benefit from the emergence of new blood in the form of Robin Swann in North Antrim.

It is vital that the next four years will provide a settled position for education in terms of both post-primary transfer and a way forward with an administration body. This is something that would instill much confidence within the public of Northern Ireland.

There also needs to be an immediate slimming down of our government and reduction of the size of the structures.

Finally some thoughts from me.

Tom I consider myself a proud Ulster man. On Saturday I  took great pride in wearing an Ulster county tartan. I'm a true man with roots in the north of Ireland. As one family member only people with viking blood like us could have survived and farmed where the family farmed for centuries. Thing is Tom that tartan was Donegal, the farm was in the frozen north of Malin head, the west facing side. One of my grandparents was born there, three of my great-grand parents, three branches of the family have roots in Donegal. Indeed one member of the family was Grand Master of the Orange Order in St. Johnstown, Donegal.

So yeah they may have been staunch Unionists but the flag of the land of my roots combines the Green of nationalism, the orange of unionism and the white of peace. It is a flag that was meant to symbolise a shared future, much in the same way that Elliot is meant to be leader of a party that is looking for a shared future. He should be one of those who really needs to grow up on the issue of symbols.

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