Culture wars

Pic by Charlie McMenamin

‘Over 1,000 attended a Uniting Ireland conference in Derry’ will read the Sinn Fein press release after yesterday’s event in the Millennium Forum.

The conference (coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday), comes just days after the Sinn Fein led lobby for bringing the 2013 All Ireland Fleadh to Derry successfully won over the Comhaltas organisers (after much wrangling). The internal unease within the north/south split in Comhaltas in Derry and the reversal of the Ulster council’s initial decision, has somewhat tarnished the campaign to bring the Irish music festival into the six counties for the first time.

The stuttered process has provided oxygen for those unhappy with the UK City of Culture title and those opposed to Sinn Fein and the entire political process, including the Real IRA, who are most likely behind the bomb attacks on the City of Culture office (which brought plenty of negative coverage) and Derry City Council’s tourist HQ just last week.

Neither is the campaign beyond criticism which extends beyond politically or culturally motivated opposition to UK City of Culture.

Undeterred, Sinn Fein have come out swinging in the latest battle of this ‘culture war’ and what better way to do it than gather 1,000 supporters in Derry city centre on the day of the Fleadh announcement. A well choreographed and much needed muscle flex of sorts by Sinn Fein in the city.

It appears the Sinn Fein PR machine is targeting not just those on the nationalist side (many moderate nationalists were at the conference), but reaching across the political divide. While Basil McCrea was invited to address the weekend conference, over in Armagh, Peter Robinson was sitting beside Martin McGuinness watching Derry lose the McKenna Cup final to Tyrone in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds.

With Robinson’s bid to reach out to Catholic’s suffering from a few council level embarrassments, it was much needed and mutually beneficial positive PR for both camps. Let’s face it, the GAA in Tyrone needed some good PR after last week, and it’s reassuring to nationalists that the DUP leader appears appreciative of such an important facet of their culture.

It’s clear though, with Scotland’s hotly mooted independence referendum firmly on the agenda, both the DUP and Sinn Fein have their own thoughts on a distant Irish reunification referendum down the line.


About AldousDuke
Mid Tyrone journalist, not so freelance any more.

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