Friday, 13 May 2011

Why Jim Allister must be heard, if not listened to.

Well, Jim finally got the chance he's been waiting for; a shot at standing up in the Assembly and 'holding the cosy consensus of Sinn Fein & the DUP to account'...

Except unfortunately for Jim he didn't really get to do much of that. Sure, he got a couple of remarks in about McGuiness and Gerry Kelly but what he really wanted to do was object to Francie Malloy getting the Dep. Speaker nod by embarrassing the DUP. The thing is though, was it also unfortunate for us that The Speaker didn't allow Allister to finish his remarks?

Now I disagree entirely with Jim Allister in pretty much everything, policy wise. Where I, Jim & supposedly the rest of the assembly do agree is on the need for democratic representation for all and that includes the groups we don't like and within the chamber it also means the individual you may not like.

Mr Allister was elected by the people as much as every other MLA and it's easily argued that more than any other MLA, those who elected him knew what they were getting. To cut him off, as Willie Hay did on Thursday was to stifle a voice of dissent. Democratically elected dissent.

The aftershow in the great hall, where Peter Robinson and his new sidekick Jonathan Bell all but pushed Allister out of the media's attention was also a cause for worry. When you try to crush your opponents by denying them the chance to be heard you give them a weapon - the right to claim an injustice.

If you want to beat Jim and the TUV, then engage with them and defeat their argument in the public sphere. It really shouldn't be that hard.

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