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Jake O'Kane: In the interests of balance, it's time Sinn Fein were as stupid as DUP

I've done nothing but talk about the DUP for the last year. It's as if Michelle O'Neill has ordered all Sinn Fein members to, ‘do nathin', say nathin', leave the DUP to it, they're ballsing things up nicely'

DUP MLAs Michelle McIlveen, Jonathan Buckley, William Humphrey and Gary Middleton. Does somebody in the DUP have a weird bucket list of trips to repressive regimes?
Jake O'Kane

I’M NOT one for conspiracy theories. I believe men landed on the Moon, I believe Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy and I believe Elvis Presley is dead. But I’m beginning to think a conspiracy may exist among our politicians and lunatics to synchronise bad behaviour for when The Blame Game is off-air.

The first example of this possible conspiracy happened way back in 2006. We usually record the show on the Thursday before the Friday broadcast, to keep things as current as possible. We’d just recorded the last show in that series on Thursday November 23 2006 when, the very next day, Michael Stone undertook his one-man attack on Stormont. This left a gap of a whole six months before we’d be back on air.

When we did come back, I argued that the Stone attack shouldn’t be attributed to the UVF, UDA or UFF, but was, in fact, the first DLA attack in the history of the Troubles. I thought this as Stone was crippled with arthritis at the time he did his Rambo impersonation. It must have taken him hours, on his Zimmer frame, to walk the mile from the gates where he’d been dropped off by taxi – yes, he’d booked a taxi – until his capture in those famous revolving doors.

The next example of bad timing – or was it actually the conspiracy in action – happened around the ‘fleg dispute’ in December 2012. The Blame Game had wrapped a mere matter of weeks before Northern Ireland went mad. Once again, we’d to wait six months before I did my ‘fleg piece’ on our first show back, recorded in Derry’s Millennium Forum.

Bringing things up-to-date, we recorded our last show on Thursday June 7 this year. On that show I mentioned how the DUP desperately needed to follow Sinn Féin’s example when it came to internal party discipline. But even I couldn’t have predicted the tsunami of scandal that has crashed over the DUP since then.

Displaying all the symptoms of political self-harmers, it feels like a week hasn’t passed they aren’t caught out in something. Having just caught our breath after revelations around Edwin Poots & Son property developers, we then watched Ian Paisley whimpering in Parliament after his Sri Lankan-funded holidays.

Now we have a cadre of DUP MLAs and MPs who are discovered to have been on a junket to Israel, paid for by an organisation called ‘Friends of Israel’, which, once again, wasn’t properly registered.

What is it about the DUP and free holidays? Sri Lanka and now Israel – does somebody in that party have a weird bucket list of trips to repressive regimes they’re trying to complete? What next? Will we have Sammy Wilson running naked through some field in North Korea?

The problem this throws up for us comics and other political commentators is balance. I’ve always prided myself on what I call my ‘parity of contempt’ for all our political class but it seems I’ve done nothing but talk about the DUP for the last year. And you know what? Probably like you, I’m getting bored with it. It’s as if Michelle O’Neill has ordered all Sinn Fein members to, ‘do nathin’, say nathin’, leave the DUP to it, they’re messing things up nicely’.

With the DUP going through their miasma of madness, some of their supporters attempt to divert attention by accusing the media of ‘unionist bashing’. When I’ve had this accusation levelled at me, I point out I’m not writing about either the UUP nor TUV, so it isn’t all unionists who are problematic.

Not that this will assuage those who see anyone in the media who doesn’t agree with them as the enemy. Luke Poots this week failed in his attempt to level a charge of harassment against BBC reporter Kevin Magee. The police looked at the accusation and curtly told Mr Poots to take a hike. I find the animosity expressed by many in the DUP towards the BBC hilarious – it’s the British Broadcasting Corporation after all, or is, until it gets renamed after an Irish Language Act is enacted.

We demand an equilibrium of stupidity; we need Sinn Fein to let Gerry Adams start tweeting or Gerry Kelly out with his bolt cutters. We need wee Barry McElduff with something balancing on his head…in short, if Michelle O’Neill cares anything about us in the media, she needs to loosen her grip, and let the balloons in her party float free.

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