What other nation in Western Europe would tolerate a senior member of a regional government using his personal blog to publicly list individuals and their home addresses when those persons are at risk of a terrorist attack? Yet that is the very situation we have in Ireland with Nelson McCausland, the minster for social development in the regional assembly at Stormont. McCausland is a Christian fundamentalist, a believer in biblical-literalism and Creationism (meaning the world is several thousand years old – not four billion), and a leading light of the British ultra-nationalists in the DUP and the Catholic-haters of the Orange Order. He – and those like him – are the nearest thing the European Union has to the crazier, evangelical elements of the Tea Party movement in the United States. This includes the minister’s belief that the British Unionist community in Ireland is descended from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel and that the Irish-Scots dialect of English is a separate and ancient language (though presumably not of Hebrew descent. The mythical Picts maybe, though certainly not the historical ones…). As for the man himself he has a dreadful political record on all sorts of issues, from challenging the science of evolution to denying global climate change, from opposing gay rights to blocking Irish language rights. If there is a crank cause out there McCausland is for it, courting controversies in a manner eerily similar to his US counterparts.
Recently the north Belfast politico landed himself in some hot water after he used his eccentric blog, Nelson’s View, to publish a photo of Gary Spedding, a member of the moderate Alliance Party (AP), posing with the Irish national flag during a trip to the UK. The image had been uploaded by Spedding to his own personal Facebook profile and McCausland used a copy of the photo to attack the DUP’s liberal Unionist rivals in the Alliance. This led to the AP activist receiving a number of death threats, some of which may have come from British terrorist sources. However Nelson McCausland has ample form on this score regularly “naming and shaming” those he deems unworthy, often with identifying photographs and hints as to their home addresses. Following the funeral with military honours of Dublin-resident Séamus McLoughlin, a former veteran of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army, he named both the deceased man’s daughter and the area of Belfast in which she lived (I won’t link directly to McCausland’s blog as he is ill-deserving of any web traffic, even incidental). In the post-war north-east of Ireland that is no small thing and certainly not something that is done without knowing the possible dire consequences of the action.
Which begs the question. How on earth can anything, even a supposed “peace process”, justify this Unionist and separatist zealot with his frankly bizarre theocratic beliefs being in a position of authority in a government, even a pantomime local government like that in Stormont?