By Jamie Bryson
Tomorrow a sanction hearing will take place whereby unelected Local Government ‘commissioner’ Marie Anderson will sit in judgement over Alderman Ruth Patterson, a woman elected by the public for over 18 years.
The ‘crime’ committed by Alderman Patterson was making a truthful speech to Belfast City Council which highlighted the factual link between Crumlin Star Football Club and an IRA terrorist Eddie Copeland. These comments lead to a somewhat farcical complaint by Tim Attwood, a little busybody who relishes the type of whiney tell-tale culture encouraged by having a commissioner who is only too keen to systematically target unionist elected representatives. A look at the statistics will show a grave disparity in those the commissioner ‘punishes’.
The most disturbing part of whiney Attwood’s complaint is that it was backed up by a witness statement by Eddie Copeland. Did Alderman Patterson have the opportunity either herself or via a chosen representative to face her accusers and cross examine them- especially Copeland- on the veracity of her comments? No, she didn’t. Ms Anderson withheld Copeland’s identity and at no stage even sought to raise the issue as to whether Alderman Patterson’s comments were actually true.
The entire rigged process is designed to force compliance with ‘pro peace process’ discourse; in other words elected representatives are required to forsake truth or steer away from raising uncomfortable questions in favour of the ‘greater good’. Follow the logic of that, elected representatives must not say anything that would upset the IRA, because we as a society must keep them on-board lest they go back to murdering and maiming. That is democracy with a gun to its head.
The same outrageous treatment has been dished out to Councillor Jolene Bunting. I disagree with much of what Jolene says and stands for, but it isn’t for some unelected and out of control bureaucrat to ‘suspend’ any elected representative. If you don’t like Jolene Bunting or another as a public representative then the remedy is to vote for someone else; it is for the electorate to unseat elected representatives, not Marie Anderson.
The Patterson case drives a dagger into the heart of democracy. It chills public debate and rides roughshod over the enhanced Article 10 protections offered to elected representatives. It is precisely why it is embraced by the likes of Attwood and other left wing fanatics; it restricts individual freedom in favour of collective groupthink.
Whether you like or dislike Alderman Ruth Patterson, she has been a public representative for over 18 years. She stood by the unionist people- often going against the grain of her own political interests- when many other elected representatives turned their backs. She put on a uniform in defence of this country as a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment and devoted her life to standing up for what she believed in. She was not rewarded with political patronage or a cushy job within the party machine when a member of the DUP. Taking a stand and going out on her own politically was a risk, and one that didn’t pay off for Alderman Patterson, but she did it for the right reasons.
It has been widely reported that Alderman Patterson will bring the curtain down on her long career of service to her country and the unionist community by retiring in May. This has been her position for some time- since as a far back as 2016 in fact.
It is an appalling indictment on our society and the politics of the peace process that one of our own would find themselves dragged through an appalling and biased witch hunt conducted by a commissioner who is, quite frankly, a power hungry lunatic.
Ruth Patterson, a woman who served her country and stood against the IRA, will tomorrow have Marie Anderson- acting as a solemn defender of the man that ordered the Shankill bombing- sitting in judgement over her for making accurate and truthful comments. No doubt looking on will be Attwood, grinning like a spiteful little child, and others with political agendas.
I am proud to call Ruth Patterson my friend. Say what you want about her, but she always put the interests of her country above her own. She is as far from a career politician as you could ever imagine.
She started her service to this country wearing the uniform of the Ulster Defence Regiment, and if it is to be brought to an end by a despicable witch hunt presided over by the tyrannical Marie Anderson, then it comes to an end with Ruth Patterson standing in defiance of the IRA commander that ordered the Shankill bomb. I know whose side I am on.