Jude Collins

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The News Letter gets a half-nelson on Logic

I’m glad I was smuggled into Bill Clinton’s talk at Magee College last week because if I hadn’t been, I’d have missed hearing him say that he thought every young person coming out of school or college should have a sound grasp of the economic system under which s/he lives, and know how it operates at local, national and international level.  When you see how the bankers and the governments have screwed up the entire economic system, you think it mightn’t be a bad idea. On the other hand, presumably the people who did the screwing up were educated in economics. Hardly an advertisement for pushing the rest of us into the same system.

Personally, if we’re talking about adding to the school curriculum,  I’d have one subject  ahead of economics,  and that’s logic.  Not that it’d solve our problems but it would help  spot and defuse some piercing voices, and maybe protect ourselves.

Take yesterday’s News Letter.  It whipped itself into a froth-mouthed frenzy about the research findings of Professor Jon Tonge.  The prof asked people whether they had sympathy for the reasons why some republican groups like the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA continue to use violence. He found that 14% of nationalists said they did.  You got that? They said they had sympathy for the reasons  some republican dissidents use violence.  In the next paragraph, the News Letter goes all moral and expresses concern over ‘the support for the dissidents’. 

The same sort of contortionist logic was popular when John Taylor was stalking the land. Taylor warned unionists that when they met their Catholics  neighbours, they should keep in mind that one in  three supported the IRA.  How did he know? Because at that time, something like one in three Catholics voted for Sinn Féin.

It’s hard to know whether a brotherly arm around the shoulders or a firm pair of thumbs on the windpipe would be the best response to such eejits. There is a difference between being sympathetic to the reasons for republican dissident violence and approving of that violence. Honest. The reasons are that dissidents long for a united Ireland and don’t believe one is on the horizon or anywhere near it.  Lots of people completely opposed to violence would sympathise with that reading of the situation.  I’ve some sympathy with it myself.  But only a logical contortionist would equate such sympathy with support for killing or injuring people.  Likewise with the good Lord Taylor or whatever he calls himself now. Lots of people voted for Sinn Féin – and still do – but to deduce from that that those people supported or support the IRA is to reduce your logical skills to the level of a half-pissed parakeet.

But hey, why bother with logic when you can hype up the never-trust-a-Fenian quotient in the knuckle-dragging community.


  1. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/did-orange-order-chiefrsquos-comments-breach-hate-laws-14969381.html

  2. It's not so much hyping up the 'never trust a fenian' than hyping up the dissidents to try and embarass Sinn Fein.

  3. PRIME Minister David Cameron wants to completely merge the Ulster Unionist Party with the Conversatives, The Impartial Reporter has learned.
    Mr. Cameron made his ambitious proposal to new UUP leader Tom Elliott during talks between the two politicians on Tuesday.
    But the plan has been angrily rejected by Mr. Elliott who says the UUP isn’t ready for such a merger, despite Mr. Cameron’s pleas to mend the ill-fated link-up between their two parties.
    Speaking to The Impartial Reporter from the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham, the Fermanagh man revealed how he strongly disagreed with the Prime Minister’s proposal during the 25-minute-long discussion.

    Tom Elliott pictured outside Stormont.
    “We accepted there was no point in rehashing what went wrong in the past because we are all aware of the issues. He wanted to focus more on how we go forward. He’s still keen on a link, but he and I disagreed on the level of that link. He is more keen on a much higher level of a link arrangement whereas I feel the process needs to go slightly slower. He wants fully-blown integration where the two parties would be one but obviously I don’t believe unionist people are ready for that yet,” he said.
    The two politicians failed to agree on the conditions of the link-up but plan to meet again in a few weeks for further discussions.
    “We eventually agreed to go away and come back with options and suggestions for each other and meet again at the end of this month. I still think there’s merit in having the link between the two parties,” said Mr. Elliott.
    The meeting was also attended by UUP Chairman David Campbell and Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Other topics discussed included the state of the economy and the appointment process of Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Minister.
    On Monday, Mr. Elliott also met with DUP leader Peter Robinson to discuss unity between the two parties despite some tension between the two politicians.
    In last week’s Impartial Reporter Mr. Elliott branded Robinson’s unionist unity plea as just ‘big words’. DUP Deputy Nigel Dodds criticised the UUP leader’s “childish outburst” and then during a television interview Mr. Robinson described Mr. Elliott’s comments as “bizarre”.
    “The meeting was OK but obviously I have concerns. We talked about trying to have a better working coalition in the Executive because we need to work better together if it’s going to produce results. There was no real outcome apart from an agreement that, again, he would look at the workings of the Executive and try to make it a better all-party working Executive and more inclusive.
    “Again, whether or not that happens remains to be seen. He did get all the Ministerial representatives together last Friday, which is the first time that’s happened in years. That’s only a very, very early start. I wouldn’t say I feel reassured, I feel he took on board what I said but my problem is whether or not there’s any action. There has been a number of meetings with him since January of this year, and you think there’s going to be progress but there never is,” said Mr. Elliott.
    It’s been a rough week for Tom Elliott following the resignations of UUP members, Trevor Ringland and Paula Bradshaw.
    “Clearly I am disappointed but this is the political world we are in and these things happen. Although obviously I would have preferred if those people had not have left,” he said.