Question Time and David Dimbleby came to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall back on Thursday 11 February. The panel included Jim Allister (TUV), Gerry Kelly (SF), Margaret Ritchie (SDLP), Lord Trimble (UUP/Cons), Sammy Wilson (DUP) and Shaun Woodward (Lab).
There were at least a couple of live blogs following the questions and answers: over on Slugger O’Toole, and on Biased BBC. Live blogs do have a tendency to become pass-remarkable. They’re informal, offhand and snippy rather than being an authoritative account of the event.
One comment in particular stuck out from the Biased BBC coverage. It was written by that blog’s main organiser and writer David Vance, an anti-agreement unionist commentator who can often be heard on radio and TV, and is currently a spokesperson for the TUV (and tipped to be their Westminster candidate in East Belfast).
Responding to a comment by “Julio”
Julio: not enough muslims on this edition
David Vance responded a few seconds alter with the words
David Vance: Yes, no Muslims in the audience…one upside
Last time I checked, Muslims didn’t wear a special badge, wear a uniform, share a particular style of haircut … or all have the same colour of skin. You can’t spot a Muslim in an audience any more than you can spot a Christian, an atheist, a gay, an accountant, a lawyer, a fluent Irish speaker, or a TUV voter.
Stating that there were no Muslims in the audience – to me – implies prejudice, religious intolerance and plain ignorance. Fear of the other.
The comment got some debate over on Slugger at the time, though no direct response from David Vance on that point.
Incidentally, the TUV are pretty vocal against the Irish language. David Vance recently issued a statement on the matter, and the TUV’s vice-chair and election candidate for Lagan Valley Keith Harbinson caused a fuss a few months ago when he issued a statement (later amended) calling it a "leprechaun language".