Saturday, 19 May 2012
First we had the first minister at a GAA match and now junior minister Jonathan Bell has uttered the word. Yes that word. Begins with an ‘s’, has a ‘y’ at the end and an ‘orr’ in the middle.
Yes, Mr Bell has apologised for having the sheer temerity of saying that golf clubs may be bastions of middle class bigotry. Next thing he’ll be partying with the kids at a rave and heading to a dark rock club…
But the apology stands to the golf world.
“Hold on,” said one long standing golf club member from the nicer part of Belfast, “Our son Charles has loads of catholic friends – they are amongst the best bar staff the club has ever employed. We’re very forward thinking, you know. Only last year we let a woman in as well!"
Now we’re sure that the vast, vast, majority of people who go to golf clubs are not bigots and members’ rooms are not sectarian hideaways. No, honestly that’s our view.
But Mr Bell has had the good grace to say that he was…”sorry” for the golf club metaphor. He did point to the glaring, bleedin’ obvious fact that this is a divided society, and not just in the parts of Belfast that list rioting as a summer pastime.
We may go to work together, even walk past each other in town, but come nightfall we turn our cars towards the area where we know the people are, largely, of the same religion.
We send our children to schools; the large majority operate as de facto segregated systems.
Employers over a certain size still have to send in lists of their staff’s religious make-up.
Subsequently Sinn Féin junior minister Martina Anderson bite the golf club bullet too and apologised for any misunderstanding. Now each and every golf club can take away the elephant in (the room) the bunker of the fifth hole.
The reality is that our political system, for all the fine words of the people at the ‘top’, remains one that is divided. And whilst we may bemoan this fact, we must face up to that it is we, the electorate, who are to blame. We elect them after all. Now if the middle classes weren’t such a bunch of bigoted bast**ards and a shower of sectarian s**ts then maybe they’d come out to vote and change all that? Nah, not likely to happen.