All of us who are committed to Democracy will be outraged at the attack on Hannah Kenny of People Before Profit in East Belfast last night.
She was subject to sexist and sectarian abuse. It follows on from the attack on Elsie Trainor (SDLP, South Belfast) a few weeks ago.
Other women like Cara Hunter in East Derry have also been targets.
Big brave men.
This election is marked by two things. On the plus side, I have been heartened to see posters in places once deemed unlikely. And canvassers reaching out. A very good sign. On the reverse side I have heard canvassers abused. Paul Doherty (SDLP) abused on Shankill Road and Conor Houston (also SDLP) billboard vandalised in Newtownards.
To be absolutely clear, I am not making it an issue that is about SDLP. Far from it. As a supporter, these are the stories (and others) that I am most likely to hear about. I obviously do not hear as much about other parties and I suspect for every story of abuse that makes the news or social media, there are scores that do not.
Abuse goes with the territory…literally.
This village is 100% nationalist. There are DUP, UUP, TUV posters within its limits. Also predictably SDLP, Sinn Féin and Alliance.
It reflects well on our village. I am proud of that.
But these attacks on women….are just beyond the Pale.
Charlotte Carson (SDLP East Belfast), her posters have been damaged or stolen (no doubt to decorate a bonfire later in the year). And just how insulting is that? Nobody in politics should pass (possibly with their children) a decorated bonfire and see their image prepared to be burned.
It is pure HATRED and we need legislature to make this a hate-crime that should be prosecuted more thoroughly.
These are brave people.
I am a fully paid up coward. Ahead of the 1973 Assembly Election, I was canvassing with SDLP in West Belfast..on Springfield Road and we decided to demonstrate our anti-sectarian credentials and cross into Ainsworth Avenue.
We got a few leaflets thru doors before we were chased. But I can always claim that I got two leaflets thru doors on Ainsworth Avenue.
There is nothing worse than these vile attacks. We have to ask who is getting attacked. We have to ask who is doing the attacking.
There is a curious imbalance.
We are politically somehow obliged to say that one community is as bad as the other. I am not a politician. If we call a spade a shovel, these sectarian attacks seem like one way.
But I have to be optimistic. Two weeks ago I was in East Belfast. There are still some parts of Lower Newtownards Road where I would consider unwise for me to be. It is a generational thing.
One surprise in East Belfast was the number of People Before Profit posters all along Newtownards Road. And quite a few SDLP posters.
Indeed one of Charlotte Carson’s posters was at Holywood Arches which…yes its a generational thing…surprised me. And a few days ago, I was on a bus coming from Bangor, I looked across fully expecting it to be removed. It was still there. We cant judge people by the bad behaviour of a few.