Belfast Telegraph

Any hope that the change in local government will mean new politics has been well and truly deflated

By Malachi O'Doherty

The news that Belfast's new councillors are to get a bus tour to introduce them to the city says everything about politics here.

They are going to represent us, but they cannot be presumed to know the city they will serve. So – if they can agree – they will go up the Shankill and down the Falls and over to the Lisburn Road and up the Shore Road, and they will be able to marvel at sights they have never seen before, except perhaps on the news.

Can't you just hear them saying things like: "Oh, I never knew we were so close to the sea." Or: "Who knew there was such a good view of Black Mountain from the Shankill?"

At least many of them will be familiar with each other.

None of them will need Ruth Patterson or Mairtin O'Muilleoir pointed out to them.

Mairtin is the exception among councillors in that he now has a personal support base, proven by him scoring higher in Balmoral than anyone else in his party could have hoped to. At least he won that by running around in a pink shirt and being nice to everyone. Ruth opted to go for the sourbake image, and it lifted her profile rightly.

Any hope that the coming super council would be an opportunity for a new type of politics has been deflated by the stale character of some of the young blood infused into it.

There's Deirdre Hargey for Sinn Fein, who will always be remembered for the inordinate number of people she managed to join in the toilet of Maginness' bar the night Robert McCartney was murdered. Indeed, there must have been something eerily emetic about the drinks served that night, for everyone missed the atrocity enacted in front of them because they were relieving themselves or chucking up.

It will never be cited in her credit that she overreached herself in the interests of justice when she refused to make a statement to the police, but gave her negligible evidence to a solicitor.

But, then, most candidates are judged by the party they stand for rather than by the stands they have taken.

Look at the pathetic Jolene Bunting of the TUV. She will be followed through her political career by reminders that she tweeted her bigotry against Catholics. Writing on the day after St Patrick's Day in 2011, Ms Bunting wrote: "I'm so sick of the poor Catholic b******* they make me sick. I wish they would just go down to Ireland and then they can fly their flags and change the street signs down there.'

Granted, she's entitled to be thought older and wiser now, and so she will be, as soon as the evidence of it is forthcoming.

There are some new faces which bring new hope and we can look forward to hearing what difference young Emmet McDonough-Brown (Alliance), Ross Brown (Green) and Gerry Carroll (People Before Profit) will make.

If they can get a word in.

Belfast Telegraph


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