Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Are Sinn Fein behind the Union flag court case?

A legal case has been taken by a Tyrone nationalist to prevent the flying of the Union flag on court houses on designated days.  The person taking the case is named Helen McMahon.

In making her case she argues that the flying of the Union flag from Omagh Court House on designated days, as set out in the Flag Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 goes against the Belfast Agreement of 1998.

The case has now been extended to include all court houses and if she were to win, depending on the judgment, the same arguments could then be applied to all public buildings.

Martin O'Rourke QC told the High Court that the flying of the Union flag on the set days defies a commitment to ensure equality for the identity, ethos and aspirations of each of the two main communities in Northern Ireland.  He then referred to the nebulous 'parity of esteem' phrase in the Belfast Agreement.

Now there may be many people named Helen McMahon who live in and around Omagh.  For all I know there could be dozens of them, although I doubt it.  So let us park the Union flag court case for a moment and move on.

Here are some pictures that appear on the Facebook page of a woman named Helen McMahon, who was educated at St Brigid's High School in Omagh. and who may or may not be the woman behind the legal case to take down the Union flag.  We simply don't know. 

On 28 March 2018 this Helen McMahon updated her profile picture to the above but that is not the only affirmation of her political views.

She is clearly a supporter of the Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley, who represents West Tyrone and who was elected  on 3 May 2018 in the by-election that followed the resignation of Barry McElduff.  The day before the by-election Helen McMahon changed her Facebook profile picture and stated her intention to vote for the Sinn Fein candidate.  So this Helen McMahon is not only a republican but also a Sinn Fein voter, or so she says.

But there's more about this Helen McMahon. Here she is now out in May 2016 with a team of Sinn Fein election workers, during an Assembly election.  Such was her enthusiasm about working for Sinn Fein that she changed her profile picture to feature a selfie taken by Sinn Fein MLA Declan McAleer.  That is Helen in the middle of the row behind Declan.

There's another photograph on her Facebook page just before that one and it's dated 4 April 2016.

So here are some people dressed up in republican re-enactment uniforms and there is Helen in the back row behind the three teenagers?

Helen McMahon's interest in Irish republicanism even stretches back to 19 March 2011 when she posted a video of IRA hunger strikers, one of a number of videos about members of the Provisional IRA.

Now this Helen McMahon from Omagh is also someone with an ear for music and her choice is extensive and varied.  As well as the pop and country she has an ear for Irish rebel music, including the Irish Brigade singing The Sniper's Promise and the SAM Song, one about an IRA sniper and his armalite rifle and the other about an IRA rocket.

Now we don't know if this Helen McMahon, a Sinn Fein activist from Omagh. is the same person as the nationalist Helen McMahon from Omagh who is taking the court case.

Neither do we know who is funding the judicial review and if the applicant received legal aid.

However it would be interesting to know more about it because it would help us to understand whether the court case is a further attempt by Sinn Fein to poke unionists in the eye, which is how unionists and many others will see it.

The Sinn Fein position is that the Union flag should only be allowed to fly on public buildings if there is an Irish Tricolour beside it.  Their alternative is no flags at all, with the Union flag removed from all public buildings in every part of Northern Ireland.  

Poking unionists in the eye seems to be a fair description of what Sinn Fein are about.

The advent of Mary Lou and Michelle hasn't made much difference.

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