Politics in Northern Ireland often takes hypocrisy to levels which are scarcely creditable.
This was illustrated on Monday when literally moments after speaking out against the French terror attacks DUP MLAs joined Sinn Fein in voting for Mitchel McLaughlin – and by extension refusing to vote for the Unionist nominee for the post, Roy Beggs.
As Jim Allister pointed out this was the same Mitchel McLaughlin who notoriously said that while the murder of mother of ten Jean McConville was wrong it was not a crime.
Tellingly it was left to the TUV leader alone to challenge McLaughlin as to whether he believed the murder of the Speaker of the old Stormont Parliament, Sir Norman Stronge, was a crime.
86 year old First World War veteran Sir Norman was murder along with his son by the IRA who then burned their home over them in 1981.
Speaking about the murder Gerry Adams said: “The only complaint I have heard from nationalists or anti-unionists is that he was not shot 40 years ago.”
Now a member of Mr Adams’s party holds the position Sir Norman once held by virtue of a shoddy deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein. Hypocritically the vote to elevate McLaughlin to this post took place just moments after the Assembly united in condemnation of terror.
One wonders if DUP MLAs have any twinges of conscience when they pass the memorial to Sir Norman Stronge on their way into the Assembly chamber.
The move wasn’t simply symbolic – as one of McLaughlin’s first acts as Speaker was to block a Unionist attempt to save the Collegiate Grammar School. This could only happen because the DUP gifted him the post.
Similarly the annual act of remembrance in Parliament Buildings is by convention lead by the Speaker of the Assembly. Will this be the case this year?
And finally, it is important to note that McLaughlin will hold the position of Speaker when we come to the centenary of the Easter Rising. What sort of events will a Sinn Fein Speaker host to mark this event?
TUV Dromore Co Down