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Chloe Farand reporting for The Belfast Telegraph writes that Ian Paisley Jnr (son of DUP founder Ian Paisley) has hit back against critics of his party in a speech to politicians in London. His arguably smug and fairly antagonistic response was to essentially say: ‘tough luck, we’ve already got the money’.

Theresa May’s notorious ‘bribe of the DUP’ to the tune of £1.5bn caused outrage across Britain. The sheer nerve of it – whilst concurrently enforcing crippling austerity – was just astonishing. And all simply so May and her gang of Etonian waffle-monkeys can cling to power in Westminster. It will surely go down in history as one of the most distasteful, and desperate acts committed by a peace-time Prime Minister of this country, ever.

And yet rather than tackling this sensitive matter in a way that might reassure the scepticism of Britain outside Northern Ireland, Paisley Jnr chose to virtually goad those concerns instead:

We got £1.5bn out of it.

I’m not asking for sympathy – I’ve got the money, the cheque cashed.

However, Mr Paisley Jnr did say something arguably positive for those who fear the renewal of religious tensions in Northern Ireland, especially considering the party’s hard-line Protestant stance:

The DUP deal is something that I believe should be universally celebrated. £1.5bn for all of our people, our Catholic people, our Protestant people, our people of no religion. I ask you, how could you object? You shouldn’t, and I don’t believe you can.

How can we object Mr Paisley? I’ll tell you.

Because this Tory government have spent the past two years plus stripping Britain to its bare bones; selling off the spare parts. We’ve been pretty much told there’s no money for anything. We’re watching our public services crumble around us, while our societies descend into division and hateful bitterness. In fact, our people are so frickin’ angry, they voted for economic suicide as a ‘protest vote’.

A million people are using foodbanks, and homelessness is on the rise exponentially. And yet politicians, whilst denying wage increases in line with inflation for the likes of nurses, have still found the money to award themselves pay rises way above inflation.

Also it’s because the Conservative party specifically smeared Jeremy Corbyn and Labour prior to the election for supposed “dealings with the IRA” and a “magic money tree”. Then did an outlandish deal with a fringe Northern Irish political party with arguable terrorist links, and produced a “magic money tree” of their own to fund it. If you honestly can’t see why people in Wales, Scotland and England are pissed off about that, I put it to you that you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

And of course, whether Paisley’s apparent willingness to share that ‘bribe’ with people of religious groups (as well as atheists) the DUP have opposed for so long actually turns out to be the case, is another question entirely. The inability to reach terms with Sinn Fein is hardly encouraging.

But if all that wasn’t enough, there’s the sheer imbalance of the funding (eg: the bribe):

Playing the violin

But perhaps what sticks more in the craw, is that Paisley also tried to play the sympathy card – despite having specifically started his speech saying otherwise. He went on to distinctly complain of the party’s widespread ‘abuse and misrepresentation’:

We were the recipients of vitriol the likes of which would probably be considered reprehensible and indeed would not have been directed at any other group. If I certainly said some of those things about other groups in our society, or if you had said them, even about Muslim groups, in this city, you wouldn’t get away with it.

One of the defining features of right-wing hypocrisy in recent times is the groups and individuals who complain/whine about the ‘prejudice’ they face, seemingly painfully unaware of the irony. To everyone else, it just comes across as sheer petulance. You don’t get to complain about ‘prejudice’ if your entire mantra is built on the stuff. Whether it’s against Muslims, Europeans, Mexicans, gay people, or even just Roman Catholics and women wanting an abortion – prejudice is always still prejudice.

And yet here we have Ian Paisley Jnr virtually implying that the ‘abuse’ of the DUP (eg: mostly just opposition to their policies and anger expressed at shameless bribery) has been somehow worse than the racism and xenophobia faced by the Muslim community (and others). Again, the simple lack of empathy and objectivity is astounding.

No. It is not even the same playing field. People of Britain do not now somehow mistrust and view all Irish people with suspicion, or blame them for the policies of one minority group. Northern Irish people are not currently facing travel bans to the United States, being looked at funny on public transport, slandered in their own communities, being attacked and verbally abused in the street, or being demonised on every right-wing news and tabloid page across the Western world. Certainly, any suggestion that ‘hate-speech’ of the Islamic community is ‘not tolerated’ in Britain is sheer nonsense. An internet connection and a Facebook and/or Twitter account is enough to prove that wrong in a heartbeat.

A bit rich

Andy Pollak writing for The Irish Times refers to an article he wrote in 1986, describing followers of Ian Paisley and the DUP as: 

Believing they were inherently superior to their Roman Catholic neighbours because of their religion. They were ‘born again’ Christians, living in the ‘light’ of pure Protestantism, free men who communed with God without the interference of priests or man-made rituals. Catholics, on the other hand, were benighted and ignorant souls who were enslaved by the ‘darkness’ of Roman superstition, the idolatry of the Mass, and the rule of the papal anti-christ.

Responding to those thoughts now, he says:

I wonder how many Northern unionists of the DUP persuasion still hold such appalling, near-racist views. Too many, I suspect.

The DUP complaining of prejudice is also a bit rich. Especially when in recent times, their now-allied Conservative party members and even politicians have openly referred to groups they don’t like as “leftist tossers” and “dicks”, “Nazi stormtroopers”, “communists and Trots”, “antisemites”, and God knows what else. Not to mention belittling Grenfell survivors as ‘milking it’, or a Tory politician (and unbelievably former Mayor) comparing those on benefits to dogs – saying they’re “brown, stink, and can’t speak a word of English”. 

Yes, our hearts bleed for your mistreatment Mr Paisely. But we’re similarly sure the £1.5bn you’ve been handed will soften the blow.

If you listen closely, you can hear him playing the world’s smallest violin.

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