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Sunday 25 June 2017

   

Dinosaur chasers betray their guilty consciences over DUP hunt

It's open season on the DUP for the sins of being white, Christian and a bit old-fashioned, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards


Fired: Theresa May’s chief of staff Nick Timothy and joint-chief of staff Fiona Hill were let go yesterday. Photo: PAFired: Theresa May’s chief of staff Nick Timothy and joint-chief of staff Fiona Hill were let go yesterday. Photo: PA

'They are revolting people," said that famous Irish actor Stephen Rea last week about the European Council for Fatwa and Research, based at the Clonskeagh Mosque in Dublin.

I'm kidding, of course. A metropolitan liberal like Rea wouldn't dream of saying such a thing about Muslims. At the launch of Kilkenny Arts Festival he was talking about the DUP, on whom it's open season, for they are white, Christian, proudly British and a bit old-fashioned and therefore an unprotected species.

He wouldn't say it about Sinn Fein either. Rea, who comes from a Northern Ireland Protestant background, was an enthusiastic convert to republicanism. In 1983 he married the late Dolours Price, who 10 years earlier had been a participant in the car bombing of the Old Bailey in London, where 200 people were injured.

The unrepentant Price later admitted that she had driven Jean McConville, widowed mother of 10, to her death at the hands of the IRA.

But of course the DUP has maddened liberals by being prepared to provide a Tory minority government with a confidence and supply arrangement similar to that provided by Fianna Fail to Fine Gael.

Responding to last week's Queen's Speech, the Green MP Caroline Lucas asked if the absence of any proposed bill on the environment and climate change was because Theresa May had been "influenced by the DUP dinosaurs who sit beside me?"

The visibly upset DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson then asked the Speaker, John Bercow, if it was "parliamentary for the honourable lady to describe us in the unparliamentary terms that she did, which I regret. She does not understand the policy that my party has on the environment."

It was not unparliamentary language, said Bercow, adding: "It's a matter of taste as to its desirability."

Lucas was delighted. "I just called the DUP dinosaurs, here's why," she tweeted to her quarter-of-a-million followers, with the link to a blog on The DUP's Climate Science Denial by John Gibbons, an Irish environmental activist. "Sorry for any offence caused to genuine prehistoric creatures," she added. This was accompanied by an image of a tiny green dinosaur.

To put it politely, Gibbons is a particularly intolerant elder in what I call the 'Church of the Climate-Change Warriors'. He became so enraged in a long debate on radio some years back as broadcaster Henry Kelly and I asked polite but sceptical questions about climate change being man-made that he said we shouldn't be allowed to speak.

I'm sure Lucas would disagree with that, for does the Green manifesto not say: "We want everyone to have a voice, not just those who have the loudest voices"?

For an avowed feminist and enthusiast for gay rights, Lucas has certainly shown tolerance in sharing a platform with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the head of that Clonskeagh outfit I mentioned earlier, who at the time was relaxed about female genital mutilation, wife-beating and, punishing gays and lesbians as one would "any sexual pervert - the same as the fornicator".

I don't wish to be mean to Rea and Lucas, for they are merely reflecting a section of British and Irish opinion that is so exhausted from expressing tolerance towards terrorists that they're dying for targets they can despise without guilt. People who blame the IRA on colonialism and insist that a chap shouting "Allahu Akbar" as he explodes his bombs or wields his knives on innocent passers-by has "nothing to do with Islam" were happy to denounce Leave voters as fat, stupid and uneducated.

Furious that the hated Conservatives won more votes than Labour, they are, of course, thrilled to have the DUP to bash and most of the press showed itself ill-informed and bigoted. For days, deeply unpleasant cartoons in newspapers and on the internet showed the Establishment in Orange collarettes, culminating in one in the London Times that showed a hideous crowned Arlene Foster complete with facial stubble sitting on the throne reading her Queen's Speech.

"This DUP lot seem to be a delightful bunch", tweeted Gary Lineker, who has reinvented himself as a condescending liberal. "'The will of the people', I guess."

I don't like any religious (or indeed secular) fundamentalism, but the DUP has come a long way in the past few years. Politicians whose families, friends, colleagues and constituents were terrorised for decades share power with people who were in, or supported, the IRA.

Arlene Foster's social conservatism is probably on a par with where most TDs were less than 10 years ago. Her party is trying to do a deal that will be in the interests of all of Ireland.

Isn't it time that liberal fundamentalists in these two islands abandoned their bigotry and tried to get to know people whose courage and stoicism deserves our respect?

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

Ruth Dudley Edwards' 'The Seven: the life and legacies of the founding fathers of the Irish Republic' was published by Oneworld on March 22

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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