I know, I know - one shouldn’t keep beating out the same old tune on a drum. But I’ve just heard a short bit of The Nolan Show and consistency has elbowed its way once more to the front of my thoughts.
William Crawley (presenting in place of Stephen Nolan) had Gerry Kelly and Jeffrey Donaldson on, and William queried Gerry about the fact that some delegates at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis were wearing badges saying ‘Sniper at work’ . Gerry’s response was that he hadn’t seen them, that he wouldn’t wear one himself, and that the media seemed to be very interested in this matter while rather less focused on unionist attitudes to commemoration of the Ulster Covenant, Larne gun-running and related events. Jeffrey not surprisingly disagreed. He said it showed that there were still unreconstructed elements within republicanism intent on “rewriting history...It is wrong to glorify those who took life during the Troubles”.
On the face of it, a credible stance. But then (as I suspect Gerry Kelly began to say with five seconds in which to say it), there’s this old consistency thing. If it’s glorifying the taking of human life to wear a badge with ‘Sniper at work’, what is it when you devote most of a year to men who threatened force and smuggled in guns under the benign gaze of the RIC in the early part of the last century? If it’s wrong to glorify (such a big word for a badge) republicans who took life during the Troubles, it must surely be equally wrong to glorify members of the UDR by constructing monuments to them in Lisburn, for example. Or to glorify the British Army which shot down fourteen innocent people in Derry. Or to rejoice in victory at a battle that happened over three hundred years ago.
I accept that Jeffrey is sincere in his wish that violence shouldn’t be glorified. He is, after all, a committed Christian. But either he is being
selective in his condemnation of those who engaged in violence or he has a terribly, terribly bad memory. Consistency, Jeffrey. Try it. You’ll like it.