The Nelsonian approach

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The bloke on the right will be familiar to southern readers. It’s Éamon Ó Cuív, scion of the de Valera family, Minister for Culchies and Gaeilgeoirí and uncrowned King of Connacht. The bloke on the left, if you need an introduction, is the new Stormont culture minister, Nelson McCausland, attending his first North-South Ministerial Council in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I’m sure a grand ould time was had by all, but on the way Nelson gave the Beeb the benefit of his thoughts on multiculturalism:

Speaking earlier, Mr McCausland said he would not attend a Catholic church service during his tenure as minister.

“I would not attend a service in a Roman Catholic church,” he said.

“That has always been my position and remains such.

“That does not mean I do not have good relationships with Roman Catholic people.”

And furthermore:

Some nationalists have criticised the minister’s attitude to the Irish language and the GAA.

The Ulster-Scots enthusiast told the BBC his knowledge of the Irish language would “probably remain somewhat limited”.

“I always take the view that just because somebody can say a few words in any language, it doesn’t mean they’ve got any great knowledge of it,” he said.

“I’m living at present in a cul-de-sac but it doesn’t mean I’m fluent in French.”

You said it, Nelson. And again:

Mr McCausland is also responsible for sport, following DUP leader Peter Robinson’s reshuffle last month.

His predecessor Gregory Campbell caused a row by referring to the all-Ireland football final as an “international event” after Tyrone’s victory over Kerry last September.

Mr McCausland said he did not know Tyrone were the Gaelic football champions, adding that neither did he know who the Northern Ireland champions were in squash or lacrosse.

Now, let’s not be overly cynical. It’s not as if Nelson has no cultural credentials at all. He plays the accordion, and he used to be the Heid-Yin of the Ulster-Scots Heirskip Cooncil, and those credentials are surely good enough for me. He’s even signalled that he might attend a GAA match, as long as it wasn’t on a Sunday. Since Nelson is a big cheese in the Lord’s Day Observance Society, one can only admire his fidelity to his principles.

Of course, lots of nationalists will be burying their heads in their hands and saying, “Oh Lord, we thought Gregory Campbell was bad…” But I reckon winding up nationalists was why Nelson got the job in the first place. I’m sorry if that makes Peter Robinson sound like a Machiavellian schemer, but it’s the only explanation I can think of.

8 Comments

  1. Phil said,

    July 9, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Ye Gods, the DUP. It’s not the bigotry that drives me mad so much as the tone of it – that awful twinkly schoolmaster pedantry, as if to say “I know I’m talking bollocks and I know that you know, but I’m going to get the last word anyway”. (“No, Hawkins, I do not intend to twist your ear off, but that does not mean to say that I shall twist it on.”)

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    July 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    But to get the full McCausland effect, you have to imagine him accompanying this with “Love Me Tender” on the accordion. Not many people in the DUP have a worthwhile party piece.

  3. Ciarán said,

    July 9, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Another of McCausland’s conditions for attending a GAA match is that the park can’t be named after a ‘terrorist’. Presumably then he’d never attend a senior football or hurling championship match seeing as both trophies are named after ‘terrorists’ as well. Very convenient.

    I think the UTV report hit the nail on the head in the matter, mentioning that the GAA is the biggest spectator sport in Ireland. It takes a special kind of bigot to claim such ignorance, and be proud of it, plus who the hell cares about squash or lacrosse? (Actually they probably get more coverage on the BBC than the GAA at any rate.)

  4. Mark P said,

    July 10, 2009 at 12:34 am

    “the GAA is the biggest spectator sport in Ireland. It takes a special kind of bigot to claim such ignorance, and be proud of it,”

    Or, to be fair, a random man from many parts of Dublin. Or quite a few women from any part of the island.

  5. Luton Diesel said,

    July 10, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Can’t remember whose definition of a gentleman is “someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t”. In any event, it rules out Nelson and Willie McCrea. I would imagine, however, that Willie McCrea would be a more convivial dinner guest.

    I am reminded of a profile of Nelson I read in a newspaper many years ago, the focus of which was his presidency of the Ulster Lord’s Day Observance Society (at that stage, he was just a bit of a media curiosity on the fringes of Paisleyism, not having asserted himself as part of its properly political rather than religious manifestation). The detail which still comes to mind is his boast to his interviewer that he kept himself informed on current affairs by reading all the Sunday papers in his local library every Monday, so as not to defile the Sabbath.

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    July 10, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Willie is a better singer, if you like that sort of thing. But Nelson is much more likely to start reciting big chunks of Burns.

    There is an atavistic South Derry part of me that still loves to watch hurling, even though I think you have to be bonkers to play it. Can’t imagine it would be Nelson’s cup of tea, though.

  7. Ciarán said,

    July 10, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Or, to be fair, a random man from many parts of Dublin. Or quite a few women from any part of the island.

    But none of those people are Ministers of Culture with a remit for sport.

  8. ejh said,

    July 10, 2009 at 8:44 am

    he kept himself informed on current affairs by reading all the Sunday papers in his local library every Monday, so as not to defile the Sabbath.

    He has a local library that opens on a Sunday? Christ, they’ll be opening on Wednesdays next.


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