Friday, 20 January 2012

Beyond the lunatic fringe - and beyond a joke

According to and Manx Radio:
“A former Lord Mayor of Belfast is speaking in Port Erin this weekend about how he turned his life around from an unpromising start. With dyslexia and little education, Reverend Eric Smyth was told at a young age he wouldn't amount to anything. However, after finding religion he went on to become Lord Mayor of the city and, in that role, met former president of the United States Bill Clinton, and was awarded an OBE for his charity work.”
Well, that’s one interpretation of it. Possibly provided by someone with little or no link to the real world, or just a compulsive liar.
It might be nearer the truth to consider Smyth as a professional bigot who became a DUP councillor in 1981, only keeping his seat for most of those years because he moved house after the wards were redefined in 1985, which meant the only constituents he had to please were the Shankill hardliners. He also tried regularly to run for the Northern Ireland Assembly in its various forms but failed – dismally - eventually even quitting the DUP in 2000 because they would not back his mayoral campaign.
He only met Clinton because he was contractually obliged to welcome him to Belfast in his role as mayor between 1995 and 1996. After Clinton had gone he told the press that "the President stands for republicanism and is a supporter of it". There was an election looming, but being such a fair minded Christian this cannot have been connected.
And as such a firm Christian man, what about his involvement in any ecumenical efforts which might have brought an end to Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’? You can get a sample of his stance on those things by his call for a boycott of Catholic shops towards the end of his mayoral year in 1996.
The ‘charity work’? Well, both his sons were jailed for drug dealing, so rather than just apologise for being a poor parent he spent time conning free trips abroad under the banner of a bogus social campaign called European Cities Against Drugs then coming home and preaching about it. Not too seriously though, as upsetting the drug rackets which funded rival Shankill paramilitaries at the time would have lost him votes. Actually, considering Smyth went on record in 2004 supporting a Shankill hardline view that Loyalist paramilitaries should not give up their weapons, we can be fairly sure he is no pacifist or critic of violence either – at least not violence inflicted (with state help) by one Christian faction on another one without such friends in political high places.
As Northern Ireland left the dark ages and Smyth’s political career nosedived he spent more and more time as Reverend of the Jesus Saves Mission Church, a sorry bunch of chancers he founded which is closely aligned with the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, which is in turn a breakaway of Paisley’s similarly monikered freakfest. He disagreed with the DUP's implementation of the St Andrews Agreement, and following Paisley's agreement to stand down as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, he stated that Paisley "has gone back on everything he ever preached and there was no way he could continue as leader although I do think he should have stood down years ago."
So, a freeloading halfwit who not only broke away from Ulster’s most right wing political party because they got softer on Catholics, but also broke away from a church run by Paisley (which was in turn little more than the DUP at prayer) because it didn’t hate women, gays and most other people enough, then tried to form a hardline splinter group to the right of the hardline splinter group….
Hmm. Just the kind of wholesome character you need to spend a weekend taking moral advice from, isn’t he?

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