DUP councillor arrested while Sinn Féin minister walks free
DUP councillor Ruth Patterson (left) has been charged by police after comments she made recently on Facebook about a planned republican parade in Castlederg in County Tyrone on 11th August. Apparently she responded to a comment about an imagined attack on the parade in which several people (including Sinn Féin members) are killed. She wrote: “Who cares how we would be judged, we would have done a great service to Northern Ireland and the world." She expanded: "Would I shed a tear? No. Would I loose (sic) a night’s sleep? No, would I really worry about what anyone else thought? No.”
And so she has been arrested and charged with sending a 'grossly offensive communication'.
Sinn Féin deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness (right) has not been arrested or charged by police for a speech he made in Londonderry a few weeks ago, in which he referred to the murderous activities of the IRA as 'a very proud and honourable struggle'. The bombs exploded in that city by the IRA were not imagined; the murders of scores of police officers, soldiers and civilians (including a nine-year-old boy) were not some Facebook fantasy. The cleansing of Protestants from the west bank is not some fiction: they have been systematically, bullied, bombed and burned out. McGuinness spoke of dead IRA members as 'the real heroes of the struggle' - the true and honourable freedom fighters.
But none of this is offensive in the slightest: the PSNI turned a deaf ear to this glorification of terrorism.
Ruth Patterson's comments were undoubtedly disgraceful and insensitive, but she belongs to a political party which has consistently eschewed violence and murder as a means to a political end. She has, in any case, apologised for her conduct, saying: "I completely withdraw this flawed Facebook comment. Murder and terrorism can never be justified in any circumstances. To descend to such a level would be to repeat the actions of those we stood against during the dark days of Northern Ireland’s Troubles. My ill-judged comment is completely incompatible with the polices of the Democratic Unionist Party and what is expected of me as an elected representative. I recognise that my careless comments fall short of the standards expected of anyone holding a responsible post. I deeply and sincerely apologise."
Martin McGuinness's comments are arguably more disgraceful and insensitive, and he belongs to a political party which has long advocated and indulged in violence and murder for political ends. Contrary to the principles of the Just War, he has orchestrated the death of harmless civilians and other innocents. And he has never apologised for his participation in decades of indiscriminate carnage and sectarian slaughter.
Ruth Patterson's conduct may merit an internal DUP inquiry and possible suspension, but her arrest at the hands of the PSNI for a crass Facebook comment is grossly disproportionate, especially while the real thug offends with impunity.
But this is the price the peacemakers pay for sharing power with terrorists.