Animal metaphors and similes are very common and we might speak of someone as being ‘as busy as a bee’, or as ‘blind as a bat’.
Even the Sinn Fein vice president and deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill was at it on Monday night when she was interviewed on the UTV View from Stormont.
She described unionists who have mounted a legal challenge to the Northern Ireland Protocol as ‘more of a dog chasing its tail’.
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Yet a few years ago when a unionist leader spoke of ‘feeding a crocodile’, Sinn Fein worked up a fake outrage. It was just a figure of speech but they declared that she was ‘calling us crocodiles’.
They played the victim for all they were worth and even sent members of Ogra Shinn Fein out, dressed in crocodile suits, to emphasise the depth of their outrage. But using that argument unionists could now legitimately say Ms O’Neill was ‘calling us dogs’. Perhaps the question should be put to her, were you ‘calling us dogs’?
In truth the crocodile row was just a ‘fake grievance’ and a shameless political ploy and Monday night exposed the hypocrisy of it all. Either that or Michelle O’Neill was indeed ‘calling us dogs’.
Irish republicanism runs on grievances and Connolly House is a factory of grievances. So Sinn Fein simply looked on it all as an opportunity to manufacture another ‘fake grievance’. It was designed to nourish Irish republicanism’s carefully nurtured sense of victimhood. After all republicans do see themselves as the ‘most oppressed people ever’.
Nelson McCausland, Belfast
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