I have a question: why is Sean Kelly hated so much by unionists? “He murdered nine innocent people,you idiot!” might seem a reasonable reply. Except that my dictionary describes murder as “the unlawful premeditated murder of one person by another”. What Kelly did was unlawful - he helped carry a bomb into a crowded area of people - but the premeditated bit is slightly less clear. He was bent on killing people, but the people he killed weren’t those he had premeditated on killing. The reason behind the bomb was that it would catch a UDA meeting that was said to be happening above the fish shop in the Shankill. Those were the people that Kelly and his companion Thomas Begley were intent on killing, not the people in the fish shop. Then the bomb went off prematurely. The evidence for this is that they very nearly were both killed themselves in the blast. If that is the case - and it seems to me impossible to construct it any other way - then Kelly was not guilty of the premeditated killing of the ten people - including his companion - who died. He was guilty of the premeditated intention to kill the UDA people but failed. Only if you ignore that fact does the unique hatred he generates make sense.
Here’s another (unrelated) question: why does Peter Robinson say the arrest of Kelly puts the whole peace process in jeopardy? Oh, that’s easy. It might mean that the young man shot was the victim of an IRA unit - a non-dissident IRA unit. A they-haven’t-gone-away-you-know unit. Which would be terrible, because the IRA is supposed to have decommissioned and disbanded years ago. Mmm. Assuming that the First Minister got that one right - a big assumption - why was he not on his feet saying the peace process was in jeopardy when the flag protestors, who by general consent were being supported in their actions by the UVF, were going about their merry work? Not a peep out of him. Or at least not a peep about that. Lots of peeps about the Alliance Party, and after them about Sinn Féin and the SDLP being deliberately provocative. But the UVF? Ach sure they’re OK. They’re on the side of the forces of law and order. Even if they did toss a petrol bomb into a car in which sat a police officer.
And a last one. Why are the DUP and the UUP fielding a joint candidate in Mid-Ulster? It clearly can’t be about winning the seat, since last time out Sinn Féin won by a country mile over the combined unionist vote. That was back in the days when Martin McGuinness was the hate figure of unionist politicians. In fact, I can still see and hear Willie McCrea make his gracious acknowledgement of defeat, when Martin McGuinness first won, by telling the Mid-Ulster electorate that if they “lay down with dogs they would get up with fleas”. In which case there must have been a lot of scratching going on in Mid-Ulster over the years. But back to the question: why are the DUP and the UUP field a joint candidate? Who just happens to have some fairly noticeable links with the DUP? Because Mike Nesbitt clearly has a political death-wish. Not content with a party that’s in tatters anyway, he now is busy shooing that party towards the gaping mouth of Peter Robinson,who will swallow them whole before congratulating the unionist community on their wisdom in singling out his party, the DUP, as the only true voice of unionism.