Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Saddest thing about sectarian wedding song and Up the ’Ra chants is that participants are so young


Simply the worst: an image from the wedding in Carrickfergus
Simply the worst: an image from the wedding in Carrickfergus
I'm all for drawing attention to the threat posed by climate change, but let's face it the Extinction Rebellion protesters are not staging a rebellion (see Hong Kong for details.) They're on a jolly
Lindy McDowell

By Lindy McDowell

Always on the lookout for ways in which we can capitalise on plentiful local resources it has occurred to me there might well be an entrepreneurial opportunity in providing professional sectarian services to the public.

After yet more mobile phone footage this week of displays of bigoted behaviour at both Oktoberfest in Derry and the 'Simply the Best' wedding in Carrick, I'm convinced there must be a market out there.

My plan isn't ready for Dragons' Den just yet - it needs a bit of tweaking - but I'm thinking of an ad campaign something along the lines of:

"Need help ensuring your party or big event goes with a real sectarian swing?

"Our team at Sectarian Solutions can supply the perfect note of nastiness. We provide music to get your guests up and chanting those offensive slogans they love. We even offer an imaginative selection of abusive terms which can be used at the event itself or online afterwards to critique other people's sectarian celebrations.

"We cater for all types of family and public functions. Weddings a speciality. Why bother releasing those doves of peace when you can wow your guests with our Bonfire Wedding Cake? With its fondant iced pallets it can be customised to your individual requirements. We supply a full range of edible flags and emblems to decorate the cake including, of course, that finishing touch - small sugar-iced election posters.

"If it's a parade or street theatre you're organising check out our range of fancy dress in unco-ordinated camouflage with balaclavas in all colours."

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As I say, the business plan may need a bit of fine tuning but lunatic as it seems, you do sometimes get the impression we're not so far away from commercialising sectarian services here given the frequency and the variety of those viral videos.

Whether it's football fans singing "We hate Roman Catholics" in a bar or GAA players on a bus shouting "pile of f****** Huns" about wee girls in an accordion band, not a week now passes that we don't have another example to mull over.

In fairness, in the two incidents just mentioned nobody else in the bar or on the bus seems to have been especially outraged. The offence was caused only when the footage got out online.

Equally the slogan-chanting bride and groom seemed to have been confident that none of their guests was going to take umbrage either. But how utterly disrespectful their performance was to the hotel's management and staff (from both sides of the community).

As for those Up the 'Ra chanters (and the band) in Derry, not much respect there for equality and the feelings of those few unionists still left in that city.

What these viral videos point up isn't just the bitterness of the bigotry but the scale of it.

Saddest of all, I think, is that so very many of the participants are young.

They're from the generation that in most cases didn't experience the Troubles first-hand. Their hatred is of the heirloom variety. It's been passed down to them.

Who do we blame - the older generation who bequeathed the bigotry? Or the younger generation who mindlessly picked up the baton of tribal hate without questioning its provenance?

Those viral videos are just the visible symptoms of the poison that's infected yet another generation.

It's not enough to tut-tut at the footage and the bigotry.

We should make it our business to do something to tackle it.

Protest distinctly posh

I'm all for drawing attention to the threat posed by climate change, but let's face it the Extinction Rebellion protesters are not staging a rebellion (see Hong Kong for details.) They're on a jolly. It's all very middle-class and twee with yoga in the street (are yoga mats biodegradable?) and naturally a bit of cricket. They're not targeting government, they're targeting working people. But who cares about the peasants on Planet Posh?

Shameful Trump move

Treachery is never a good look. And in a week in which he has thrown America's former allies, the Kurds of Syria, to the wolves of Turkey's Erdogan, Donald Trump has never looked worse. In Rojava, the self-governing state run by these brave people, women are treated as equals and human rights are respected. The same heroes who took on and defeated Isis are now abandoned. Shame on you Donald Trump. Shame on you America.

Cunning Coleen to solve Brexit next

Detective of the week is undoubtedly Coleen Rooney whose forensic probe aimed at uncovering the grass within her inner circle has thrilled social media.

In online posts Coleen explained her cunning strategy of blocking some of her closest friends on Instagram while feeding fake stories to another account.

The fake news got published. Coleen had identified her mole.

"It's... Rebekah Vardy's account." Ta-dah! To use a beauty salon term, Coleen had nailed it. Or maybe not.

Rebekah Vardy emphatically denied that she'd been responsible. Her case for the defence was that other people had had access to her account.

But the War of the Wags ignited the wags of Twitter.

Coleen was being compared to Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote), Lieutenant Colombo and Interpol. She was WAGatha Christie.

Amid the eternal Brexit wrangling, her investigation had given the nation a right laugh. She's united broken Britain, one poster summed up.

Not everybody was feeling the warmth and the mirth though. There's always some saddo out there who feels the need to spew bile.

Trolls told pregnant Rebekah Vardy that they hoped her baby would die. There was (as there usually is with trolls) extravagant use of the c-word.

Whether or not Rebekah Vardy was snitching she doesn't deserve the evil abuse hurled at her.

Meanwhile, on holiday in Dubai, she was not taking it lying down on her sun-bed.

She hadn't argued with Coleen, she told an interviewer, because that would be "like arguing with a pigeon. You can tell it that you are right and it is wrong, but it's still going to s*** in your hair".

If only Jean-Claude Juncker and Dominic Cummings were this much fun...

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