“Between the stirrup and the ground
I mercy asked and mercy found”.
It’s always good to see and hear a conversion. This past few days we’ve had two for the price of one. You remember how the flag protestors made it clear it wasn’t just the flag being “ripped down” they were upset about, it was the way politicians seem to have abandoned them?
Good news, then. Those politicians have had a change of heart. After years of neglect, they have suddenly found conversion, repentance, as they sense that they are in danger of falling from their high horses. A day or three ago, we had Peter Robinson criticising the rough deal that was being doled out to loyalist protestors in terms of bail, when compared to a republican who was granted bail. “Lack of impartiality!” was Peter’s cry, which must have cheered the hearts of many nationalists, who for so long have felt the police were less than impartial.
Then this morning I hear Nigel Dodds on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster, explaining vigorously that there really really must be impartiality, that release of loyalist protestors who were in no danger of doing anything unlawful (give or take the odd road-block) should be released on bail. He was quite worked up about it, I thought.
And then I asked myself: have these two last-minute conversions got anything in common? Might they have, at the heels of the hunt, any similar motivation? And you know, I think it’s just possible they might have. Last time out, Peter Robinson lost his Westminster seat to Naomi Long - that can’t happen again. And Nigel Dodds can feel the hot breath of Gerry Kelly on his collar as his, Dodds’s, majority shrinks and shrinks and shrinks. Call me a hardened cynic, but might the two men’s sense of outrage link with their desire to get back into their seats at all costs, even it involves appealing for mercy to people who’re convinced they were abandoned by them years ago? Just askin’, like.