Loyalist mob siege Belfast city hall after Sinn Fein snub army cadet

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There were angry scenes at Belfast city hall recently as the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile refused to present a Duke of Edinburgh award to an army cadet. The heated debate inside coincided with an angry loyalist mob outside who attacked cars outside claiming this was an attack on their community. It brought back memories of the sectarian cockpit of city hall politics of the 1980s.

What started as a private event soon dominated the news headlines and radio phone in programmes once again exposing the sectarian realm of doing business here which events such as the famous MTV awards and media spin cannot simply wash away.  Belfast city council's 19 unionist representatives all voted against accepting Ó Donnghaile's apology, but the motion was carried by the Alliance party, Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

On the one hand we witnessed what politicians do best; whipping up of tensions and fear to maintain their sectarian powerbases and divert attention away from their failure to deliver on the ground. Secondly, it is a learning curve for Sinn Fein who left their youngest councillor out to dry is an embarrassing climb down for the ‘Provos’ and have finally put to bed any illusions that you can ride two horses with one arse. Their reformist parliamentary path is riddled with inherent contradictions, broken promises, betrayals and hypocrisy. Especially when you consider that nearly 10 years ago, on the eve of the Iraq invasio,n Sinn Fein and others were more than willing to lay out the red carpet for Tony Blair and the face of American imperialism George Bush at Hillsborough Castle.

All this in turn is rooted in the Good Friday Agreement and ‘peace process’ which institutionalises two competing sectarian blocs on the basis of ‘parity of esteem.’ This is interpreted to mean that opposing militarism and imperialism is tantamount to being ‘sectarian’ and that we have to ignore the horrors of military occupation, torture and brutality because it may upset percieved support from 'one side of the community'.  In the meantime those who have suffered and died at the hands of the British Army here and across the world and told to turn the other cheek in the interests of ‘normality’.

While our local rulers continue to squabble over the crumbs from Westminster and sectarian point scoring it’s us the working class who are bearing the real brunt of their active imposition of these vicious anti-social cuts. Its up to us to oppose the ugly face of sectarianism and build a better society for all.

WORDS: Sean Matthews

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