Irish Republican News · November 23, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Just who elects these DUP flat-Earthers?

By Anne Cadwallader (for Daily Ireland)

The DUP, on occasion, give every impression of being the modern equivalent of the Flat Earth Society.

If you remember from your school days, no matter how much astronomical evidence exists to show the earth is round, even to photographs taken from outer space, its members persist in believing the earth is flat.

“Columbus sailed the ocean blue

In fourteen hundred and ninety two.”

... goes the mnemonic rhyme familiar also from our school days.

In 1492, the popular belief was that Columbus’ men would drop off the edge. They didn’t, of course (ultimately, it was native Americans whose world was really threatened by the voyage.

Whatever excuse those sailors had, 500 years later evidence, incontrovertible to all but the mentally deranged, tells us that those believing in Creationism suffer from a major delusion.

Homo sapiens, we can all safely concur, is descended from the apes and lives on a spherical planet. God might have created the world, but He didn’t do it in seven days.

The most recent example I can remember of Creationism raising its unlovely head in Ireland was in the mid-1980s.

As I remember it, there was a proposal to build an interpretive centre on the shores of Lough Neagh in mid-Ulster to explain the geological history of the area, including the story of lignite.

The local council, on which the DUP had not insignificant power, voted against the museum as planned because it would contradict the Biblical timetable of creation as interpreted by the Free Presbyterian church.

It caused a minor furore at the time and that was that.

This week, however, we saw a couple of other examples - some almost amusing if they had not been so insulting, others downright dangerous - of the Creationist theory at work in Ireland.

Maurice Mills, in whose favour hundreds of good people in Ballymena cast their votes at the last council election, expressed the view that the people of Florida and Mississippi had the misfortune earlier this year to be geographically located close to Louisiana.

When God sent his “Divine Wind” (in the shape of Hurricane Katrina) to punish New Orleans for hosting a Gay Pride event, His sense of direction unfortunately slipped a bit and the breeze hit those two states as well.

Mr Mills describes it as “marking their card”.

“Oops!” I can almost hear Jehovah saying to himself, as he contemplated the floods barrelling over Biloxi.

The sight of hundreds of bodies rotting in the foetid waters over the next few days, however, must have defied even the Great One’s sense of humour.

The wonderful Mr Mills also this week informed millions of people suffering from the unspeakable horrors of AIDS throughout sub-Saharan Africa that it was all their fault for indulging in “abominable and filthy” practices.

No matter that any cursory glance at the medical literature shows that AIDS in Africa is almost universally spread by heterosexual sex. Mr Mills obviously has a superior source of information.

He then informed the millions who perished in last Christmas’s tsunami in Asia that this was also their fault because they live on a continent that isn’t “God-fearing”.

Judging by his photograph, the source of this garbage looks a kindly old codger. In any other society, he would be disregarded as a crank, albeit a crank with the most odious beliefs.

Here, he gets elected deputy mayor of Ballymena. Twice.

The DUP, on a more senior level, was indulging in some other Flat-Earthism this week on the subject of the Irish economy.

As you read this, the Northern Secretary, Peter Hain, and his subordinate ministers from the four corners of England, un-elected and unaccountable as they are, will be outlining how we are to be governed for the foreseeable future.

The Review of Public Administration, whatever it delivers, was by and large conducted without input from locally-elected politicians.

But the DUP would rather allow its voters to suffer the vagaries of what joys the Northern Ireland Office and New Labour come up with than share power with those their neighbours have elected.

The same party also castigated Hain for a speech he gave in New York in which he expressed the view that the Northern economy would benefit from learning from and linking-up with that in the Republic.

Sound good sense, you might think, considering the massive boom in the southern economy that shows no sign of abating and which will need 10,000 more workers annually for the next decade.

Economists have been saying the same for years - that it makes no sense at all to have two economies on the same island, competing for the same investment and working in parallel.

Quietly, businessmen - for whom the buck will always be more important than any ideological hang-up about nationalism - have been figuring this out and forging new relationships.

The DUP spokesman on the economy, George Dawson, chose rather to call for Hain’s resignation and challenge his view that the northern economy, on its own, is unsustainable in the medium/long-term.

It makes the Flat-Earthers look almost reasonable.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News