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Real scandal is councillors' failure to condemn harassment at clinics

By Henry McDonald

Novelist Martin Amis once wrote that of all the "isms" that sprouted up through the 20th century, feminism was and still is the most benign and necessary ideology of our time.

Unlike nationalism, fascism and communism, there were no slave camps, no mass deportations, no oceans of blood shed in the cause of female equality. Feminism was the ultimate progressive social revolution because in Amis' words "if violence is the curse of our species it's not because of women."

Given the still appalling treatment of women across the planet - from the misogynistic theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Iran, to the locker-room groping Jock-like behaviour of Donald Trump, or the insidious discrimination one half of humanity still faces in even advanced democracies - how does the campaign to witch-hunt one DUP councillor compare with the daily repression of females everywhere?

Councillor Graham Craig said in relation to council chief Suzanne Wylie: "And I often have the slightly greater pleasure of the chief executive whizzing past me on her bicycle in the morning which does quicken one's step slightly." For this, Alliance and other councillors reacted as if Graham had behaved like Benny Hill or, worse still, one of the Ayatollahs. He has since apologised for his juvenile remark and that really should be the end of the affair.

Meanwhile, a real feminist issue in City Hall on Monday night concerned a motion condemning harassment of women outside reproductive rights clinics in Belfast; a motion which three SDLP councillors refused to support.

That was the real scandal besetting Belfast City Council last night - three councillors belonging to a party aligned to the Socialist International declined to condemn those who intimidate women outside clinics in this city.

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