Monday 22 October 2018

Language of blood will only raise the risks of extremism

Flirting with provocative rhetoric was a step too far for DUP leader Arlene Foster

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster, at the Conservative Party annual conference. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster, at the Conservative Party annual conference. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Eilis O'Hanlon

It may be possible, with sufficient bending over backwards, to find a charitable interpretation for why DUP leader Arlene Foster, when describing her party's position on Brexit last week, told a BBC reporter that "the red line is blood red"; but right now it's hard to think of one.

There's an unfortunate history of politicians using blood rhetoric to emphasise a point, not least Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech warning against the dangers of immigration, and 1916 leader Padraig Pearse's insane conviction that "blood is a cleansing and sanctifying thing, and the nation that regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood".

That last one was at least a hundred years ago. Arlene Foster decided to dabble this week in the same rhetoric in the full knowledge of where such absurdities can lead. Suffice to say that it's a turn of phrase more beloved of extremists than democrats. She'll be talking about the sanctity of the "soil" next.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss