Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and DUP's Gregory Campbell both seem to be embracing 'sticks and stones' ethos
There is a children’s nursery rhyme that goes ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.’ It would appear that this is the principle being embraced by the DUP and Sinn Fein at the moment.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell doesn’t see the problem in repeating unfunny jibes directed at the Irish language community in a bid to attack Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein not content with attempts to rewrite Irish history, mangles Greek mythology and uses foul language to attack unionists, saying that they need to be ‘broken’ by using the principle of equality against them.
Just in case her party leader didn’t make enough of an impact, Michelle Gildernew MP, present at the same event, used unparliamentary language about the aforementioned Gregory Campbell to emphasise the point. So does this antagonistic behaviour really make a difference?
If, as long as the sticks and stones are not utilised, does it really matter what words politicians use about each other and their respective communities? Well it does matter. Words can damage, causing hurt and offence, creating distance and alienation. Words can help to further degrade our Government and sour our politics.
There is another children’s poem by Barrie Wade that takes a different perspective. It says that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can also hurt me…Stones and sticks break only skin, while words are the ghosts and haunt me.’
As Barrie Wade says ‘pain from words has left its scar…cuts and bruises now have healed, it’s words that I remember.
As the all-party talks continue, we as elected representatives have a responsibility and a duty to lead by example and provide a constructive and positive way of engaging instead of, as is the case for some members of DUP and Sinn Fein, acting like children in a school yard.