Lack of demand for 2,000 “nutter” badges ordered by political opponents of the Maze peace centre has left a financial hole for several of the DUP’s rivals.
The consignment, seemingly ordered by the TUV and Ulster Unionists, was shipped to Northern Ireland after DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt’s infamous description of Maze opponents as “nutters”, a comment he withdrew after an audio recording refuted his initial denial of having uttered the term.
Last month the DUP – which had been the sole unionist party supporting the peace centre – withdrew its backing, effectively scuppering the centre’s development.
But despite widespread unionist opposition to the Maze peace centre, there was limited appetite for badges emblazoned with a picture of a hazelnut and with the phrase “Proud to be a nutter, raze the Maze”, pictured. One is up for sale for £1 on the internet auction website eBay.
Now the parties opposed to the centre have been left with most of the badges and a bill for about £500.
An email from UUP general secretary Colin McCusker to other political opponents of the Maze centre set out the difficulty. In the email, seen by the News Letter, Mr McCusker said: “As you know we produced 2,000 ‘Nutter’ badges on the back of the comment by Jimmy Spratt.
“Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much interest in these as we had anticipated, and to say they have been slow to sell is an understatement.
“Having spoken to [TUV press officer] Sammy Morrison this afternoon, he has very kindly suggested that the collection that was taken up in Lisburn Orange Hall [at a rally against the Maze proposals] be used to cover the outlay. The cost of the badges was over £500 and the collection was just over £300. If we are all in agreement, please let me know.”