Rev Gibson right to defend Foster over crocodiles row

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The grand secretary of the Orange Order has defended Arlene Foster’s ‘crocodile’ comments, which have been cited against the DUP leader for more than six months.

Rev Mervyn Gibson said in an interview that she had made a good analogy when she made the controversial comment back in February, even though it might have been an unwise thing to say.

Most unionists accept that it was an unfortunate thing to say, not because it was wrong but because it was so open to being misinterpreted by a thin-skinned and manipulative republican movement.

Mrs Foster had been speaking at her party’s manifesto launch when she stated: “I will never accede to an Irish language act.”

The she said: “This characterisation that we should have given something to Sinn Fein to keep them appeased is not the way I do business. If you feed a crocodile, they’re going to keep coming back and looking for more.”

Mrs Foster has since explained how she regrets making the comment.

But the sustained and hysterical response to it has been telling.

It has been repeatedly said that Mrs Foster described nationalists or Irish speakers as ‘crocodiles’ when she clearly did no such thing. It was a reference to republicans.

Nothing has more starkly illustrated their almost limitless capacity for demands than the recent crisis at Stormont.

While unionists, in a spirit of goodwill, have insisted on precisely nothing in a bid to return to Stormont, Sinn Fein has had a list of demands.

Does anyone seriously think that if the DUP agreed tomorrow to the SF wish list – a bill of rights, gay marriage, legacy, Irish language, Mrs Foster standing aside – they would not have a fresh demand in a year or two?

Very clearly this process of Sinn Fein dictating terms must fail and be seen to fail.