There are few politicians on this island who are duller, in a long variety of political categories, than Mark Durkan and his nephew, Mark H. Durkan. They exhibit a certain bleak and strengthless persona which renders them utterly incapable of rising to any political occasion – national or local. In any other political context, it’s questionable whether they would even have a parliamentary mandate given their noticeable lack of charisma or wisdom on all the big issues. Listening to them speak would send you to sleep; having the oratory impact of Valium mixed with Jameson. For what, if anything, do they stand for?
There’s no doubt that Durkan Senior, the Westminster MP and son of a Catholic RUC Constable, will be sweating for his political life after studying the Assembly election results for Foyle. The timing of his retirement from politics may come sooner rather than later now that Theresa May will chance her arm with an early election. For let’s be clear about something – Mark Durkan and his party offer no solutions or innovative ideas to the problems we face, whether it’s at a local level in Foyle or at an all-Ireland level. He takes his seat in the British Parliament and validates, through all his efforts and vanity, the lasting point that the Irish are unable to sway British parliamentary opinion towards their cause; all the while swearing an oath to a Monarch the Irish people do not elect and cannot remove.
Bernadette Devlin, in her maiden speech, spoke of how ‘no Englishman has ever truly understood the struggles of the Irish people’. And in the recent Brexit debate on triggering Article 50, Mark Durkan articulated no such sentiments to counter that realisation. He failed, just like his failure at party leadership, to motivate any considerable number of people towards his point of view within the Westminster Village. Like John Redmond before him, he knows that a British Parliament will represent the interests of British MP’s and sections of the British people. That’s the established order and a few parliamentarians from the North will never alter that reality. The only time his party ever made a difference at Westminster was when they voted to bring down the Callaghan government and usher in Margaret Thatcher!
For someone with such a dismal record, (the man who wanted to join the euro and embrace the Lisbon austerity Treaty) it is a wonder why the media even bother to give him interview time when he is so at odds with the public mood. But the point of this article is to press the need to rid the electorate in Foyle of this man and all his dullness and inabilities once and for all. When he glances at the republican share of first preference votes, he knows deep down he’ll be requesting his P45 inevitably soon. There’s a well known MLA there in Raymond McCartney, who knows a lot more about collective struggle than Mr. Durkan. And there’s an articulate young female republican candidate in Elisha McCallion, either of whom are far more representative of the working class demographics and needs which Foyle carries than this quintessential Redmondite. Unlike him and his lavish London lifestyle, they aren’t living off the largesse of British taxpayers.
Of course, with Durkan’s demise there will follow Colum Eastwood’s political obituary also. For he is the failed leader on who’s watch his party has so deteriorated that in their Foyle heartland they are going to lose the support-base and seat of John Hume. He is the leader who knifed Dr. McDonnell in the back politically, only to go on to preside over another hopeless performance at the ballot box by the SDLP, wiped out in West Belfast forever more. Mr. Eastwood is the leader who is embarrassingly travelling to Brussels to meet other Social Democratic politicians when his party don’t even have a mandate or voice within the European Parliament itself, or a single seat in Dáil Éireann. Who is going to listen to him? What clout does he carry in any negotiations? Does he seriously think a background photo with Jeremy Corbyn affords him left-wing credentials? Or a snapshot with Bill Clinton makes him relevant? The man and his colleagues, who voted for a Unionist party which has oppressed his electorate for decades, are a joke confined to the electoral wilderness.
What we are witnessing across the island of Ireland is a political revival and awakening of the republican phoenix within the masses. A national consciousness and confidence reborn with the coming tide of risen people; People who have had enough of the gloom and obsoletism of an SDLP Winter and are preparing for the blossoms and adventure of a Republican Spring. Patriots are standing up to be counted, determined to shed a failed political class and see this country prosper once again. Indeed, we are finishing the pages of ‘Bleak House’ and commencing the chapters of ‘Great Expectations’.
For a democratic awakening has erupted which may well restructure the very nature of this nation to the core, in a ballot box revolution. When the General Election is called, the objective must be another chip in the Union with Britain and the final nail in the ailing coffin of the Social Democratic and Labour Party; Undoubtedly, the greatest and most assertive legacy which we can obtain for Martin McGuinness is to rid his home-town of the indigenous class that sit within the pro-Brit Parliament which continues to occupy it. Mr Durkan, the time has come for you to go!