First person: Have you heard? Roberta McNally has declared that Catherine Seeley, the Sinn Féin candidate for Upper Bann, is a tramp. She’s also spoken of the nationalist/republican population of that area as ‘taigs’.
Second person: And your point is? Roberta McNally isn’t even a DUP member.
First person: True. But she did sign the nomination papers for the DUP’s David Simpson, who’s also running in Upper Bann. She’s been photographed canvassing with DUP politicians, and one photograph shows her with David Simpson’s arm around her.
Second person: Oh, that’s different. How embarrassing for the DUP candidate. I expect he’s come out like a greyhound from the traps and condemned this insult directed at his young Sinn Féin opponent and disassociated himself from all talk of ‘taigs’?
First person: Well actually, no.
Second person: Nothing? Not even a peep?
First person: Nope.
Second person: But the DUP party itself, following its leader’s call for the development of more Catholics within the DUP ranks, has surely come down on it like a lorryload of Lurgan spades?
First person: ‘Fraid not. Deathly silence.
Second person: Mmm. Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. Two slips.
First person: Perhaps. But if that was the case she’d probably have apologised for it.
Second person: You mean she hasn’t?
First person: Not a syllable. The Belfast Telegraph says she “remains defiant”.
Second person: Very odd. How do you explain it?
First person: Well, either Ms McNally considers Ms Seeley a young woman of low moral standards –
Second person: I thought you said she called her a tramp.
First person: She did, but it’s assumed she was using it in the sense of a prostitute or slut, rather than a homeless person who walks the country begging.
Second person: Oh. That’s serious. And a bit disgusting.
First person: It is indeed. And the taigs remark isn’t a lot better.
Second person: So did it just slip out? Or…
First person: Well that’s just it. Either it slipped out accidentally, and so revealed the way Ms McNally thinks of people who disagree with her politically, or it was said deliberately.
Second person:Deliberately? Why would she use such language deliberately?
First person: Well we can’t be certain but maybe because she thinks it’ll help win David Simpson votes.
Second person: How could it do that?
First person: Well, it could confirm in the minds of a section of the electorate that David Simpson in his alter ego as Ms McNally is contemptuous of Ms Seeley in particular and the nationalist/republican electorate in general.
Second person: And you think a section of the electorate might cry “Huzza!” and pump the air at the thought? Not to mention vote for David Simpson?
First person: It’s possible.
Second person: That suggests David Simpson has a low opinion of a swathe of the people who will vote for him.
First person: Or maybe he knows a bit of sectarian and personal insult goes a long way to help a DUP candidate such as himself get elected.
Second person: That’s depressing.
First person: Indeed. But it might also be true. And effective. Rally the troops, get them ‘uns returned to their back-of-the-bus box.
Second person: That’s even more depressing. You’re sure Roberta McNally hasn’t declared herself ashamed and apologised? Or that David Simpson hasn’t disowned people who use language like that?
First person: Perfectly sure.
Second person: Dear God. I hope nationalists and republicans at least are outraged by this sort of talk.
First person: I think you could say that.
Second person: And that they’ll express their outrage on 7 May.
First person: That remains to be seen.