Belfast Telegraph

Are leaders deaf to silent majority?

By Lindy McDowell

With the whiff of burning city centre commerce and tourism industry still heavy in the air, Northern Ireland politics has reverted to all parties fighting it out with Blame Ping-Pong.

We have been here so many times before ...

What is wrong with our so-called leaders? ALL our so-called leaders? Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness can manage the united-front-for-jobs-sake thing in Shanghai and Rio (five-star accommodation as standard.) But oddly, they can't seem to do it back here where presenting a settled face to the outside world is equally important if we're ever going to attract major inward investment.

Doesn't either party leader worry that all that money they spent on the trips to South America and the Far East only a few months ago has now been entirely negated given the images that have been ricocheting around the globe in the last few days like a kerb stone bouncing off North Street plate glass?

At times of crisis here, party leaders always play to their more extremist supporters.

But parties under pressure tend to leak from both ends. True, they lose the people who think they're not being tough enough with 'them 'uns'.

But much more damaging will be the loss of those voters who want to see real, responsible leadership. How many decent members of all parties have been turned off, disgusted at the blatant, mindless vote-chasing antics of party bosses who feel unable to condemn the maggotry of their own side (on all sides) without blaming someone else?

There have been a couple of thousand people maximum on the streets causing mayhem. To put this in context, we have a population of circa 1.8 million.

Tail wagging the dog? It's not even in that league.

In one incident alone, 56 police officers were injured. The strategy of taking abuse from rioters while videoing them for later prosecution has rounded up a large number of offenders. But at what price? Matt Baggott's job is a hellish one and I do have sympathy and respect. It's just that sometimes he comes across a tad too Gwyneth Paltrow.

A strategy that leaves so many officers injured is just plain wrong. So is the party political courting of the respective extremes. The vast, vast majority of people here are sickened by it all.

What is wrong with our leaders, all our leaders, that they don't seem to have grasped this yet?

Belfast Telegraph


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