Political Unionism continues to fail the young people who made up the majority of the small protest at Sheskburn House in Ballycastle. It is unfortunate and deeply regrettable that there are those who use opportunities like a protest to hide their own inadequacies behind. The story of Monday night in Ballycastle was not what took place outside Sheskburn House but the tragedy that unfolded in the chamber. Substantial funding for a £400,000 redevelopment project in Bushmills had been lost and no Unionist representative could give answers or alternatives to overcome the situation. The fact was no one representing the good people of Bushmills had bothered to read the appendix of a report to prepare for debate on the night of the protest.
It’s a damning indictment on Unionists that a row about a flag took precedence on a major project that could have provided redevelopment of dereliction, jobs and a smarter looking village. I want to take the opportunity to share my thoughts;
In the interests of community relations and upon quite animated requests, I went out to speak to people who are after all my constituents.
I was concerned by so many in the small crowd coming to what was billed ‘A peaceful protest’ wearing balaclava’s or with faces covered.
What I saw reminded me of old National Front supremacist marches of the 70’s in England. But like everyone else, these people deserve leadership and it is unfair that those who claim to, fail them time and again.
I could see that political Unionism’s dispatch to the protestors offered nothing and it is clear they are starved of sincere leadership. Those who addressed the gathering returned to the chamber in Moyle ten minutes later to cement the death of a £400,000 investment in the village of Bushmills.
It is important to say that going out to the steps to tell young people from Working Class backgrounds to essentially, ‘Keep Waving the Flag’, but then return to the chamber to remove and asset strip the Life Chances of those self-same people is perfidious to say the least.
When the TUV representative spoke in the Chamber after the protest, she admitted she had failed to read the appendix of one of the most important documents presented to the Council in her time serving her constituents. It was clear she was not alone.
While its fair to say the Library project has turned into farce, I will continue to work on what is best for the site and the community in the village of Bushmills. Opportunities will present themselves again and funding streams will always make themselves available. With proper representation and a realistic business model, an alternative for the community will be available in the future.
On the flags issue, I do recognize that Moyle’s Policy on flags has served the entire community well including those who covered their faces. It shall stay in place despite any sideshows to the detriment of community relations.