Sunday 25 January 2009

Discrimination - a unionist reflex

Live TV and radio can be dangerous for politicians. Deprived of the minders, speechwriters, editors and the advice of colleagues, they can just open their mouths and say what they think, and there it is ... on the record for ever more!

Sammy Wilson, DUP MLA, MP, and Minister for the Environment, had just one of those moments today on the Politics Show, when he showed the watching world (well, the micro-world of Northern Ireland at least) that the old unionist reflex - discrimination - is alive and well.

Wilson said firms should give jobs to locals ahead of foreign nationals in the current economic downturn. He said it made sense to give preference to people "with roots here", and "a lot of people moved in because of opportunities that there were."

Ignorant not just of equality legislation (which as a Minister he is obliged to uphold), but also of the values that underpin that legislation, Mr Wilson let slip that he finds it acceptable, even sensible, to discriminate in employment on the grounds of 'localness'. This is, besides an implicit call to discriminate on grounds of race (after all, didn't the Asians, West Indians, North Africans, etc, 'move in because of opportunities that there were', and aren't their 'roots' elsewhere?), also an insight into the thinking of the DUP. If, in 2009, they consider it acceptable to discriminate against Poles, Lithuanians, Brazilians, Asians and Africans, then does anyone really think that they do not find it equally acceptable to discriminate against Catholics, their traditional enemy?

Wilson has done a useful service by reminding us of the true nature of the unionist mindset, and reminding us of why it is essential that unionism, and its ugly prejudices, are defeated.

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