Mitchel McLaughlin…Our Man In The Commonwealth

A few weeks ago, Mitchel McLaughlin became Speaker of the Norn Iron Assembly. For the best part of two decades, he has been the “acceptable face of Sinn Féin”, the kinda SF member that doesnt scare the unionists. He is MLA for South Antrim, and really for five years he has largely been off our screens. He was serving as Deputy Speaker and it is deemed inappropriate for a Speaker or Deputy Speaker to be seen as partisan.

His predecessor, William Hay of the DUP, had been a success in the Chair.

Surprisingly perhaps, McLaughlin has accepted a role as Chair of the “Norn Iron Commonwealth Parliamentary Association”. I am not a big fan of the “Commonwealth”, which is successor to the damnable “British Empire” but I have a certain sympathy for Mitchel, who seemingly feels that it is a load of shyte but it is something which comes with the territory of being Speaker. I dont really have a lot of sympathy for him looking for a fellow member of the group to do the day to day running of the group. As no Sinn Féin members are on it, I hope he is not looking to SDLP members, who include (I think) Dolores Kelly, John Dallat, Alban Magennis and Sean Rogers.

Mitchel seems to be saying “I believe in Diversity….but not too much Diversity”.

There is an echo of a similar Sinn Féin inspired farce a few years ago. Readers might recall that Niall Ó Donnghaile, Mayor of Belfast was due to hand out “Duke of Edinburgh Awards” to the city’s young people but had an attack of Republican vapours at the sight of a 14 year old girl in a British Army cadet uniform. Niall, got a lot of deserved criticism for handing over the ceremony to a DUP Deputy. I suppose Niall would have been okay about handing over an Award to a 14 year old girl wearing a Polish Army cadet uniform. It would have been a great photo opportunity to show off the City’s alleged committment to Diversity.

For several years after 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin sniped at SDLP for conceding too much to unionists. Eventually they overtook the SDLP as the guardian of nationalist conscience. Yet Martin McGuinness toasts Mrs Windsor and Mitchel McLaughlin is Chair of the Assembly’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Still best wishes to retired Speaker…William Hay. Now he is “Lord Hay” and in the British “House of Lords”….where the lover of precedent Mitchel McLaughlin will surely go, when he steps down.

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6 Responses to Mitchel McLaughlin…Our Man In The Commonwealth

  1. michael c says:

    No John ,only former SDLP leaders are elevated to the lords.SF dont go to the commons either.McGuinness indeed may have “toasted Mrs Windsor” but he or his colleagues never did nor never will swear alliegence to her.

    • If you are thinking of Gerry Fitt….he had left the SDLP when he went to the “Lords”.
      I am neutral on the “oath of allegiance” but I myself took one to get a job in a council job in 1969. So a month later did a young man who would later become a prominent member of Sinn Féin.
      I am sure that neither you nor I did it with any serious devotion to Mrs Windsor.
      We took the oath to do a job…no big deal.
      Of course, SF people used to refuse to recognise the British courts didnt they?
      But if they are involved in an accident and get whiplash….youd be amazed at how quickly they recognise the courts, if there is a whiff of compensation in the air.
      Not recognising a court.
      Recognising a court.

      • michael c says:

        Thing is John ,you and I know Mitchell will never be in the Lords and such nonsense should be left to the regulars of Slugger ,a forum we both correctly despise.

      • Oh I am sure Mitchell will never be in House of Lords. I will not criticiise his decision to chair the Commonwealth Parliamentary Assn. It is perfectly in line with his commitment to work for all of the Assembly.
        I dont criticise it. I merely ridicule it.
        Mitchell is 69 and I dont know if he ever worked for say Derry City Council in the 1960s or 1970s….but if he did he would have taken an oath of allegiance as I did (I affirmed it, it did not involve GOD) and any of our near contemporaries in age….Mickey Brady, OLiver McMullan, Francie Molloy, would have done the same if they had worked for councils or any Norn Iron ministry up to early 1970s.
        Now You and I both know that several SF members did so…..and nobody can blame them. Taking an oath merely to get a job is not unworthy.
        But when they go all pompous about taking an oath in Wedtminster to do a job and honourably represent the people who sent them there….thats different.
        They have an absolute right not to take seats, their voters accept this.
        They have no right to be hypocrites.

  2. Rowan Silverbeard says:

    There does seem to be a pattern where something the SDLP does is criticised and then when SF do something similar it is claimed to be historic. It is the way of politics but can be annoying when such spin doctoring is too obvious.

    • Its not unique to SInn Féin.
      Take Charles Haughey and FIanna Fáil rejecting the Anglo Irish Agreement and then doing a U-Turn.
      Effectively DUP are a mirror image of Sinn Féin. They sniped at UUP “treachery” until they overtook the UUP.

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