Pride on the Hill was an extension of the Pride Talks Back events of previous years Belfast Pride Festivals. Chaired by William Crawley, there were representatives from all the main political parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly, save for one. It seems that it was too much to hope that Peter Robinson‘s DUP would turn up to the event.
It blows a hole in the new cuddly image Peter Robinson has been trying to put out there,
He says he’s wanting to reach out and he claims he wants to reach out to catholic votes, but he’s not wanting obviously to reach out to the gay community.
Although we did not have MLAs from every party on the panel, we did at least have elected representatives: Dolores Kelly MLA (SDLP), John McCallister (UUP), Steven Agnew (Green Party), The Rt Hon. the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Niall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Féin), Cllr Michael Bower (Alliance Party), as well as John O’Doherty from The Rainbow Project.
The notable absentee was any representative from the DUP. Sadly, they decided not to attend. Not only that, but the organizers of the event said that a DUP member told them that the event was totally repugnant.
All evening, there have been many tweets and comments on Facebook looking for the identity of that MLA. David Thompson has stated that it was Jim Wells MLA.
This would that be the same Jim Wells MLA, who as
the DUP’s spokesman and it would appear policy maker on international aid and development came unstuck at the first question [at the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies‘ Election Hustings]. The Rainbow Project’s Education Equality Officer Gavin Boyd asked a question that as many of the candidates mentioned Uganda how they felt the Assembly could reconcile giving aid or development funding to Uganda or the 50 African states where being gay is illegal.
It is clear that the DUP still has a long way to go to be able to see the need to come and listen to those in the wider Northern Irish community who feel that they are marginalized and are not listened to. There are many issues that need addressing but it is very difficult for ministers in the Executive to get these issues on to the floor of the Assembly until the DUP come on board. For how long do we have to wait?