Updated: 19/12/16 : 04:59:13
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Foster should say 'no' to fair-weather friends

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

JOHN KELLY took a very dim view of anybody criticising his daughter.

Those are her own words, spoken exactly one year ago this week as Arlene Kelly became the new leader of the main political party in the North.

In 1979 she hid under the bed for seven minutes as the IRA mounted a (premature) gun attack at her home, in which her father was shot in the head.

Born Survivors

He survived. Arlene Kelly survived an IRA bomb on a bus in her later life.

The obvious thread is that Arlene Foster is one of Life's born survivors.

Politics will always test 'survivor' skills. Foster has plenty of that and more.

She once described criticism -- by a unionist -- of her decision to share power with Sinn Féin as ''lower than a snake's belly.''

Foster doesn't mince words and doesn't 'suffer fools' either.

Admin Leave

It is difficult to know how to weight this weekend's 'upping the ante' by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on her own immediate leadership.

His party wants her to stand aside -- a sort of administrative leave -- while political allegations against Foster are investigated.

How would Adams himself feel if he had to stand aside as leader every time serious allegations were made against him?

Yesterday, two of my ex Sunday Tribune colleagues defended Adams on the specifics of OTHER party leaders attacks on him recently in the Dáil. I agree.

Both Conor Brady in The Sunday Times and Tom McGurk in The Sunday Business Post argued that those other ''leaders'' (think Micheáll Martin, for one) should cut some slack for Adams.

Agreed and agreed.....but in 2016 Adams himself needs to show and to demonstrate that - quoting Shakespeare -- ''the quality of mercy is not strained.''

This week's proposed Motion of ''No Confidence'' in Arlene Foster deserves to fail in its prime purpose.

That is, insofar as a prime purpose can be identified. Check.

Some of those said to be campaigning for Foster to step aside are actually campaigning against Stormont itself and against it's institutions.

Sinn Féin hardly stands, does it, with that ragbag of ideas. We all agreed to 'move on', sensibly, a long time ago.

Politicians do not do administrative leave and if they did we would never have any politics anywhere in the world.

Let there be a full investigation of the dispute engulfing Foster. Let's have fair procedure and natural justice, too, not prejudicial play-acting.

Same Script

Think here in Sligo, not too long ago: We would solve all our problems, some suggested, if only -- if only -- Declan Bree would take a hike.

He took a hike alright; his vote hiked up in the subsequent election, reflecting a perceptible rise in public esteem in a difficult time.

That same sort of script is not at all unlikely if Arlene Foster, Arlene Kelly, is forced to the polls for not 'standing aside,' whatever that dubious phrase means in politics.