Jamie Bryson’s invitation to Commons “risks devolution”

Posted By: February 17, 2018

Distributed by Irish National Caucus
“’ Mr. Bryson …  has described himself as opposed to the peace process, described the UVF as “patriots” and has referred to the Pope as “the Antichrist” on social media.’
In a previous post, I explained the historical fact that  in 1920 Northern Ireland had been created  TO BE  anti-Irish and anti-Catholic. … As if to prove my point, The Times of London reminds us that Mr. Bryson rallies support by claiming  the Pope is the Antichrist. How can such Sixteenth Century nonsense still gain political traction? Because anti-Catholicism is still deeply rooted in a significant section of the Unionist/Loyalist/Protestant community…. So, sadly,  the anti-Catholic dog-whistle is still heard in 2018 — just as in the United States the racist dog-whistle is still heard by some. Sectarianism and racism are the flip sides of the same coin.”—Fr. Sean McManus

Jamie Bryson’s invitation to Commons “risks devolution”

Jamie Bryson was jailed for protests and has described the Pope as the “Antichrist”
Patrick Maguire. The Times. London. Saturday, February 17, 2018

A House of Commons committee has been accused of jeopardizing efforts to restore devolution to Northern Ireland after it invited a controversial loyalist to give evidence in parliament.

Leading politicians said that the Northern Ireland affairs committee’s decision to hear evidence from Jamie Bryson, the blogger and activist, risked damaging its credibility.

Mr. Bryson featured in protests against the decision of Belfast city council to limit the flying of the Union Flag to specific days in 2012, later serving five weeks in jail. He has described himself as opposed to the peace process, described the UVF as “patriots” and has referred to the Pope as “the Antichrist” on social media.

He has been invited to next Wednesday’s meeting of the committee, chaired by the Tory MP Andrew Murrison, into how the functioning of devolution in the North could be improved. Colum Eastwood, the SDLP leader, and Claire Sugden, the independent unionist MLA and former justice minister, will also appear. Naomi Long, the Alliance Party leader, has pulled out in protest at the decision to invite Mr Bryson. She said the committee had made itself vulnerable to “public ridicule”.

“I am genuinely at a loss as to why a select committee of such standing would allow itself and its reputation to be diminished by inviting this individual to attend and give evidence,” Ms Long wrote to Dr Murrison.

Labour politicians also criticized the decision. Conor McGinn, the Newry-born MP who sits on the committee, said Mr Bryson’s invite raised questions about impartiality. “This has damaged the integrity and credibility of the inquiry, and will also raise questions about the role of the committee at a time when things are at a very delicate stage in Northern Ireland and between the British and Irish governments,” he said.

“It also highlights the fact that there is no Irish nationalist representation on the committee and its membership is overwhelmingly made up of pro-Brexit MPs, which means it is viewed as not reflective of the wider community in Northern Ireland.”

Of the 13 committee members four backed remaining in the EU. Owen Smith, Labour’s spokesman on Northern Ireland, said inviting Mr Bryson set a dangerous precedent. “I do not believe that Mr Bryson is an appropriate figure to appear before the committee at taxpayers’ expense, especially at a time when all efforts should be focused on rebuilding trust and good faith between communities and restoring an assembly government.”

The SDLP said Mr Eastwood would not pull out. A spokesman said: “The SDLP fully understands that Jamie Bryson is a dangerous eejit but we believe it is better to robustly take on and take apart his arguments than to allow him free rein and an open microphone.”

Mr Bryson said the issue was “an intolerance of differing viewpoints and the fury that grassroots loyalism would dare to engage in an open inquiry”.

A committee spokesman said: “In this particular session we’re looking for a range of views on ways that the current situation in Northern Ireland can be changed. He is one of four on the panel and has attracted more attention than the others, but we’re looking for a range of options, and that includes his views.”

Sinn Féin described the committee as a “pro-unionist talking shop dominated by the DUP and their allies at Westminster.”