Politics; it’s a parochial game for us over here

Politics, particularly here in the North, is all about local perceptions. We can’t, or prefer not to, see things through others’ eyes.

Politics, particularly here in the North, is all about local perceptions. We can’t, or prefer not to, see things through others’ eyes.

Nelson McCausland, chair of Stormont’s Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee says there’s a perception that Derry is “ripping the back” out of its City of Culture year. If that’s the perception in the unionist section of Nelson’s constituency, it’s the opposite of most people’s perception here. Mr McCausland wants to know if we’ll still be looking for a legacy from 2013 in 3013. Now there’s a nice generous thought, expressed with characteristic graciousness by the DUP man!

What would Derry be needing culture for, is the implication. If North Belfast is a cultural desert, except for a few contentious band parades, dubbed as “Ar Kulchur,” by columnist Brian Feeney, why can’t Derry be happy with something similar? Mr McCausland is almost the ideal man to chair the so-called Culture Committee from a DUP perspective. Only the gracious MP and MLA for Cúil Rathin agus Léim an Mhadaidh (Coleraine and Limavady) might be ‘better’.

Ironically, most people here have long since given up on a worthwhile legacy from 2013. We’ve accepted the culture title, good while it lasted, was a consolation prize. Here’s a nice wee culture sticker for poor Derry seemed to be the thinking. Maybe the judges thought it would distract us from the harsh realities of life in an economically depressed town with high unemployment, poor transport links and an under-developed university.

Meanwhile, Strangford’s UKIP MLA David McNarry angrily tackled Transport Minister Danny Kennedy for spending more money on the Derry to Coleraine railway. Why does Derry need a railway? What will it do for Strangford? Mr McNarry didn’t exactly put it like that but these questions were implied.

Then on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Danny Kennedy was anxious to claim credit for saving our railway. When he took over as Transport Minister it was “on life support,” he said. Of course, he didn’t tell us that the rest of the line from Belfast as far as Coleraine had already been up-graded so it didn’t need to be “on life support”. So, claiming credit for saving the line is like claiming credit for deciding to stop neglecting some of your children. Again it’s all a matter of perception. Clearly perceptions differ in the seat of power in Belfast from perceptions in Derry.

Back to UKIP’s man at Stormont, David McNarry; he doesn’t want us to have trains but he does want us to have our lovely border checkpoints back. Well, they’ll hardly inconvenience the people of Strangford too much. It’ll be a different story here. Mr McNarry wants us to be good Little Nordies like the Little Englanders he supports. They want out of the EU. That will mean border controls here, he told us during his election campaign.

The Scots don’t want to leave the EU. The Welsh don’t want to leave the EU. The Little Englanders do. If Britain were to drag us out of the EU because the English want out, it would yet again reinforce the need for decisions about Ireland to be taken in Ireland.

History tells us, perceptions about what might be good, or bad, for Ireland count for nothing in Britain. Politics, it seems, is a relentlessly parochial game everywhere.