IAN Paisley Jnr was in combative form on Newsnight on Friday, galloping to the aid of Edwin Poots when Nick Watt suggested in a background piece that the new DUP leader was rather socially conservative in his outlook.
Although Nick didn’t mention Edwin’s Christianity, Ian Óg blasted interview Faisal Islam and the BBC over their attitude to Edwin Poots’ faith and Christianity in general. “You should be ashamed of yourselves,” he thundered, “and the BBC should be ashamed of yourselves for starting from that position.”
And then the North Antrim MP and travel correspondent of The Burning Bush engaged the services of perhaps England’s best-known Catholic to defend the honour of his Free Presbyterian Church brother.
“I say absolute cobblers to your programme so far, that’s what I say initially. I’m reminded of the Frank Skinner line – you can be anything in Britain today except a Christian.”
Squinter consulted Professor Google, but wasn’t able to establish whether that is indeed a Frank Skinner quote. He did find the following from the Black Country comic: “It’s easier to come out today as a Christian than it is as an alcoholic.” Which isn’t quite the same thing, but sure…
Anyway, the Mayor of the Maldives continued: “He is entitled to be the leader and he is entitled to have his faith. He has never been in a position where he would try and force his faith down your throat or anyone else’s throat and he would not allow those things to get in the way of how he engages in policy and policy-making.”
Which is just how it should be and shame on anyone who ever thought it would be any other way.
But wait… what’s this? Why, it’s a court ruling from January 2015 reported on the BBC. It begins: ‘A former Health Minister’s ban on the donation of blood from gay men in Northern Ireland was ‘infected by apparent bias’, a court has ruled. A judge also backed claims from lawyers for a gay man that Edwin Poots’ stance was influenced by Christian beliefs.”
Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of letting faith get in the way of policy and policy-making, Ian.
The report continues: “The minister has consistently rejected claims that his position may have been influenced by his religious views. But lawyers for the gay man who brought the challenge introduced remarks made by Mr Poots in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“The DUP MLA was recorded as saying: ‘There is a continual battering of Christian principles and I have to say this – shame on the courts for going down the route of constantly attacking Christian principles, Christian ethics and Christian morals on which this society was based and which have given us a very good foundation.”
“The judge cited a news article from 2001 in which Mr Poots spoke of the rights of those receiving donations to be told they were getting “clean blood” uncontaminated by the HIV virus. He added: “The minister’s very troubling lack of candour and his attempt to conceal the fact that he had made a decision are plainly circumstances that are material to whether a fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias.”
Looks like we’re in for a pretty eventful ride with Pootsy as head buck cat of Unionism.
Away from gay blood, you have to ask yourself what it’s going to mean to have a young earth creationist in charge of the DUP, instead of holding senior positions. The leaders up to now have your regular Protestant enthusiast. The first leader and founder of the party, Ian Paisley, was hardly a mild-mannered country rector, but he was more interested in preaching fire and brimstone than in dating the age of rocks.
Peter Robinson was a Whitewell Tabernacle man who spoke up for Muslims and sent Pastor James McConnell to the shop (or maybe it was the other way round), but he didn’t spend his time worrying that some of the crew of Noah’s Ark might have been trans. Arlene Foster, meanwhile, is Church of Ireland, which is practically Roman Catholic, so she hardly loses any sleep over whether God got the news about the big storm on the sea of Galilee from Barra Best or Frank Mitchell.
Why we are the (misunderstood) people
RANGERS fans were celebrating wildly over the weekend as the club lifted the Scottish Premier League trophy. Squinter’s been talking to the chairman of one of the Pravince’s largest Rangers supporters club to gauge the mood of The People in Belfast and Glasgow.
– First of all, congratulations. The first club in 36 years from outside the Old Firm to win Scotland’s top league.
– Yeah, very funny. We’re the same Rangers and everybody knows it.
– Have you paid the liquidation bills from 2012?
– What do you mean?
– The facepainter?
– The milkman.
– The paper boy?
– Let’s move on. Why were Rangers beating the melt out of each other on the Shankill Road and in George Square?
– High spirits, horseplay, you always hurt the one you love – that kind of deal.
– I know the club was greatly encouraged by the support it received after the racist abuse one of its players received in the Czech Republic.
– Absolutely, sometimes our game can get a bad name, but when it comes to racism, we’re all singing from the same hymnsheet.
– So why were fans singing ‘I’d rather be a P**I than a Tim?
– Jackie, they were singing ‘I’d rather be a Jackie than a Tim.’ Wee joke about names. Harmless fun.
– Fair enough. What was the crack with supporters attacking police?
– It was a dignified and proportionate protest against two-tier policing.
– Here or in Glasgow?
– It’s expected that the bill for policing the celebrations will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– What’s your point?
– Is that too-dear policing?
– Ha, ha.
– The fans were in fine voice on Saturday.
– Great to hear, isn’t it?
– Why would you want to be up to your knees in Fenian blood when you’re in a good mood. Like, if you’ve just got put out of the cup, fair enough – who wouldn’t want to be wading through Fenian blood in that case? But you were supposed to be celebrating.
– We enjoy wading in Fenian blood whatever our mood. It’s part of who we are. Splish-splash, on the lash. Magic.
– So why do fans in Belfast sing the Famine Song so often?
– You mean the Sloop John B?
– Whatever you call it.
– Because it’s a complete banger.
– Let’s see the words now… “The famine is over, why don’t you go home?”
– Good, isn’t it?
– The famine happened in Ireland.
– Well spotted.
– So how come people who are living in Ireland want people who are also living in Ireland to go home?
– Give me a minute to think about that one.
Squinter watches a fair bit of English football, but he’s not a fan of any team. Even so, he was more than a little more interested than usual in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday evening past in which Leicester beat Chelsea 1-0. Here’s why...
•Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic got Israeli citizenship after pumping $100m into groups enabling illegal settlements in Palestine.
•The young people of Leicester paid for the Lenadoon memorial to plastic bullet victim Julie Livingstone (14).
• Come on, you Foxes!