An SNP councillor for Partick West in Glasgow has come under fire from fascists and loyalists for being a supporter of a united Ireland. Feargal Dalton, who was born and raised in Ireland but has lived in Scotland for two decades, is facing calls for his resignation, with over 1,100 people having signed a petition over the past few days calling for the First Minister to “remove” Dalton as a councillor. This is not something that Nicola Sturgeon has the power to do.
The petition – which has been spread on far-right and loyalist social media pages, including by Britain First – states that Dalton gives “tacit support to Irish republicanism in whatever form it takes” which is an ideology that is “wholly against the British/Scottish political principles of support for all no matter their background”. This, apparently, leaves the councillor incapable of representing “all his constituents no matter their background”. While it’s fascinating that even raging bigots are now trying to couch their bigotry in anti-discrimination rhetoric – also taking care to point out that it’s not about Dalton “being Irish” – the case for his alleged support for a “violent anti-British ideology” seems so tenuous as to be non-existent.
In fact, Dalton moved to Scotland as an officer in the Royal Navy, in which he served for more than a decade. So he might not seem the most obvious target for a loyalist hate-campaign, but the councillor has committed an unforgivable crime: not only does he have an image of a tricolour on his Twitter page, but has also made the occasional mention of his support for a united Ireland, once tweeted an image of an LGBT rainbow flag with a starry plough superimposed on it, and has made references to commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising. According to one frothing unionist blogger, this dossier of evidence is enough to label Dalton as a member of a “militant republican element” within the SNP. Presumably the Queen that they like to sing about so much is a militant republican too, given that she laid a wreath to members of the IRA a few years ago.
Last year, police became involved after Dalton received anti-Irish abuse on Twitter, although the investigation ended after Twitter refused to hand over evidence.
As we’ve seen in the past few days in Glasgow, with the tedious and soggy celebration of former glories that was Orangefest, loyalism in Scotland is dying on its arse and unable to offer much to anyone. Once a force with great political weight and all the benefits that came with being a dominant social group, it is now obsessed with feeble appeals – bizarrely all addressed to Nicola Sturgeon – to sack politicians that might have once said something they disagree with. Brendan O’Hara, the new SNP MP for Argyll and Bute, faced a similar petition of faux-outrage recently, attracting nearly 3,000 signatures.
That the proponents of anti-Irish racism are acting from a position of weakness in 2015 does not make it any more acceptable. And if there really is a “militant republican element” within the SNP that exists beyond the fantasies of the loyalist blogosphere, they’ve certainly been keeping very quiet over the past few years as the party committed itself to criminalising those singing republican songs at football matches…
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal