By Councilor Padraig McShane

A motion brought by Sinn Fein to Moyle District Council condemning Israeli actions in Gaza this month in normal circumstances could have been applauded but there is nothing normal about Moyle. The only Council in the North to operate without ‘Standing Orders’ it allows for previous decisions to be overturned on a whim. It allows the Chairman almost unrestrained powers when chairing a meeting and allows, at her discretion, the opportunity to take any counter proposals she deems acceptable from the floor.

With all this in mind, the opportunity to attack Moyle’s historic Twinning Agreement with the Municipality of Gaza presented itself. If one Councillor was missing, the motion should have been withdrawn removing the opportunity for a counter-motion. Apologies were received on behalf of Councillor Blaney at the beginning of the meeting. At this point, Sinn Fein should have informed the Chair that Item 9, Gaza Motion be withdrawn. They didn’t.

No one can question the commitment that Sinn Fein has shown to the Palestinian cause over the last generation. Likewise other Republicans and Nationalists and more and more Unionists. For anyone to engage in such nonsense is utter folly. So it begs the question, what was Councillor Thompson thinking when he brought the motion to the floor of the Chamber – a motion that he knew he could never win? Simple mathematics indicated what way the vote would go. I warned Sinn Fein of exactly this type of scenario ten days prior to the meeting. I implored upon their conscious to withdraw the motion.

This type of motion that we see time and again from Councillor Thompson is ego driven. The nature of these motions contains no substance and is simply employed to attract personal attention. I would hazard a guess that the Councillor went on a solo run and in doing so could have destroyed two years of work by a dedicated group of volunteers who were the driving force behind the Twinning project.

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While Thompson’s ego did not receive the boost it so desperately craved, the TUV’s alongside the Orange Order’s certainly did.

Councillor Sharon Mc Killop in a piece (most likely dictated on her behalf by Jim) stated;

“A proposal put forward by Sinn Fein’s councillor Thompson expressed “solidarity” with the people of Gaza – was up for debate.

“Thankfully, however, the motion presented the council with an opportunity to vote on the twinning arrangement again and I am delighted to be able to say that due to proposals put forward by councillor McIlroy and seconded myself the council passed a resolution ending the twinning arrangements between Moyle and Gaza. (Ballymoney Times Webpage)

The normally very talkative Councillor Thompson for his part declined to comment on Councillor McKillop’s comments according to the Newsletter on 28/11/12.

Mc Killop’s Party Leader Jim Alister went on to add;

“This is a welcome development. I know that the twinning arrangements were a great source of annoyance to many ordinary people in the area. In fact, I suspect that the annoyance the issue caused Unionists was the chief reason why Nationalists pushed ahead with it. Sharon was worked hard on this issue and I am delighted with the result of last night’s vote.” (Ballymoney Times Webpage)

While Jim and the sidekick Mc Killop engaged in the odious triumphalism that sets them apart from most elected representatives it was the former Co Antrim Orange Grand Master and Moyle Councillor Robert McIlroy that delivered the predictable rebuke and subsequent counter motion to Thompson’s posturing;

‘we are dealing with terrorists’ and ‘we should not be associated with that’. He called on the Council to withdraw from its ‘alignment’ with Gaza. (Ballycastle Chronicle Webpage)

There are many ways to champion the supremist Orange Order and the TUV. Ideally it should be down to them to take on the obnoxious task. But every once in a while a Public Representative can come along and do their job for them. For every action there is a re-action. It is of the utmost importance that we think of the re-action before we engage the action. What else could we have expected from the Orange Order and the TUV. It may now be time for someone to read over Councillor Thompson’s armature ideas, stunts and arguments before they are let loose on the public.

While expressing my disappointment with an individual, I reiterate that I commend the work SF and others in Moyle have done and continue to do on behalf of the Palestinian people. Unionist intransigence and bigotry manefisting itself in the most repugnant of Political guises in the TUV and the Orange Order share the responsibility of shaming humanity. This type of Jim Crowism must be erased from the pages of time and we must all work together to obliterate it.

The Twinning itself is a permanent Twinning mechanism so while a vote was taken to massage some equally large egos it changes nothing. The Twinning with our friends in Gaza remains.

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