Jude Collins

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Nice Alex goes a bit nuclear

Alex Kane is a nice man. He was an adviser to the Ulster Unionist Party, which either took his advice and tanked or didn’t take his advice and tanked. He also appears regularly on BBC’s ‘Hearts and Minds’, which means he’s a republican-free zone, because that’s what you need to be if you’re going to do the commentary bit on ‘Hearts and Minds’. But in his latest piece in The News Letter, nice Alex has gone a bit, um, nuclear.

The source of his radioactivity is Gerry Adams’s recent seven-point agenda towards Irish reunification. I thought myself that list was an inoffensive enough document: work for consensus on unity, encourage all non-unionists to be persuaders for Irish unity, try and show at least some unionists how their self-interest lies in a united Ireland, challenge the status-quoers, push the Irish government into working for unity,  push the British government into becoming persuaders for unity,  draw on the Irish diaspora for support in the unity work.

Not exactly rape and pillage stuff, surely? Uh-uh. To Alex it’s “big, fat, lie-based, cynical, utter twaddle and congenital lying”. What’s more, Martin McGuinness, when he addresses his supporters, is engaging in “tired old rhetoric” to “a bunch of shroud-wavers” who are “increasingly doolally”.  You get the feeling that maybe Alex is upset about something?

Your feeling is correct. Alex is very upset at the notion that there might be a place in a united Ireland for the unionist section of the Irish population.  That’s because “a united Ireland represents the death-knell for unionism”.  Well yes, assuming that unionists have only one political idea in their heads – the union.  And of course, pursuing the same argument, Alex would have to say that a united Ireland would represent the death-knell for republicanism – what reason for existing would a united-Ireland party have if there were a united Ireland?  My guess is republicans would tell you they are concerned for more than just a united country – they want a country that respects all its citizens and deals in the currency of justice, not bankers’ bonuses and brown envelopes.

Alex, on the other hand, gives unionists no credit beyond their British-link plank. What’s more,  “their social/cultural/historical values will be wiped away in a united Ireland”.  Eh? Who told you that, Alex? And what was Ian Paisley doing down at the Boyne site a few years back? And are those Orangemen marching in Rossnowlagh every year some sort of mirage? 

No seriously, Alex, it’s OK. Sit down and take deep breaths and say “Ohhhhmmm”. I know you’re convinced that “the [Republican] language may have become softer, but it’s just as loaded and deadly as the bombs and bullets it now replaces”.  But honest, it’s not. I’d much  prefer to be insulted than shot. Anyway, it is a teensy bit unfair, wouldn’t you say, to damn people when they’re engaged in violence and damn them just as much when they’re not?

Relax, Alex. Think calm blue water, glinting sunlight, Spring flowers. Before you know it, Mike Nesbitt will be knocking on your door and saying “Here, Alex, you wouldn’t give us a bit of advice, would you?” And then you’ll feel much, much better.


  1. Excellent read, Jude. There are interesting times ahead.

    1. I was interested in your terse comment about "the commentary bit on Hearts and Minds".Would you not consider the likes of Liam Clarke,Fionnola O Connor or Newton Emerson sufficiently independent in their outlook.They may criticize Republicans but all the other parties also get their fair share as well.Is it your case that the crumbs from the B B C table are not being allocated in a equal manner?

  2. "Terse"? Throwaway, I'd have said, Anon 3:40. I'm sure the people you mention are all fine, strong, thoughtful journalists. But they must have some political viewpoint, mustn't they? And which one would you say is republican? Keeping in mind that near half the population of the north vote for a republican party, it seems odd. It's not so much the allocation of crumbs as the airing of viewpoints.

    1. Couldn't agree with you more re Hearts & Minds Jude. Their choice of people for this slott says more about the BBC but then should we be surprised? Just don't call it an impartial programme/station.

  3. Are we not reading too much into this commentary slot ?After all it is a short section of the Hearts and Minds programme.As far as I am aware,Sinn Fein seem to get their fair share of interviews in the rest of the half-hour.Maybe Jude should complain to the powers that be in Ormeau Avenue!

  4. Jude's right. Alex Kane is an extreme unionist and I haven't seen extreme nationalist get the op ed spot

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