Jude Collins

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Stand clear: quality Irish journalism at work

You might say they're warming up for taking on a post-O'Reilly Indo,  but today's Irish Times had an article bludgeoning the Lord Mayor of Belfast,  the TD for Louth and the Deputy First Minister at Stormont. The fact that all three happen to be Shinners might lead you to think that the writer had something against Sinn Féin but not necessarily so. He may just be following the mainstream media consensus in Ireland.  Because as I'm sure you've noticed, op-ed pieces north and south either avoid the topic of Shinners or use the occasion to sink the boot into the Shinners. If you take a contrary view, I  have a crisp £10 note for the first person who can show me an article from either of the two main newspapers in the south or from any of the three main papers in the north, written over the last six months, which is  positive in its tone about Sinn Féin. And that wasn't written by a Shinner. All submissions by this time tomorrow, please.

Anyway, back to today's article in the Paper of Record.  The Lord Mayor of Belfast is criticised for bowing out a week early and not meeting QE2 should she come to the north,  the TD for Louth, aka Gerry Adams, is criticised for referring to the cuts in the south as "Thatcherite," and the Deputy First Minister, aka Martin McGuinness, is mocked for considering shaking hands with QE2 should she grace our shores with her hard-working presence.

Oh dear. Where do you begin? The possibility that the young Mayor of Belfast has a right NOT to shake QE2's hand isn't given an instant's consideration. The possibility that his bowing out a week early is a plus, leaving the field clear for those who won't wash their hand for a week after shaking the royal appendage - that's dismissed as hogwash. The Lord Mayor has done a Bad Thing.

Gerry Adams has done a  Bad Thing too by talking about the cuts in the south being Thatcherite. He should have said neo-liberal, apparently, because Thatcherite is so twentieth-century. Me, I'm not so sure. Ask yourself this: which of the two terms - Thatcherite or neo-liberal -  conjures up the clearer image of full-throttle capitalism and the devil take the hindmost? I think we can safely rest with that dear lady who began her Downing Street residency by quoting a prayer of St Francis  about healing and harmony.

Martin McGuinness hasn't done a Bad Thing, but he's sort of thinking  a Bad Thing. He's hanging back and being vague about wringing the royal hand, as if  he might "spontaneously combust when his republican flesh brushes the royal sleeve."

So the Mayor is criticised for not doing the handshake with the royal digits, the Deputy Minister is criticised even though he's said he may well do the hand thing, and Adams is criticised because he thinks the term "Thatcherite" might have some resonance with the Irish people.

 We can only hope the 21% of the people in the south who expressed a favourable view on Sinn Féin in the recent poll will now see the error of their ways and write a letter to the Times  telling them the inspiration they are and how sorry they are for saying Yes about those Bad People.


  1. I suppose Jim Gibney in the Irish News doesn't count as presumably he is a paid up Shinner! What about Liam Clarkes articles on Martin Mc Guinness in today's Belfast Telegraph ? At least with all your followers,you're doing your bit to rectify the imbalance in coverage !

  2. Anon 8:18 - I assume you can read - so see above re Jim Gibney. Now Liam Clarke writing an article with a consistently positive tone about Martin McGuinness - that I would like to see. Send me a copy/link and who knows? You may be in luck. Although I'm finding it hard to visualise...

  3. PS - So you concede there's an imbalance? Good. Honesty is the beginning of wisdom

  4. Jude
    Two questions.
    Do you support Sinn Fein?
    Do you believe the IRA campaign was justified?
    Honesty is the beginning of wisdom.

  5. Gio - two very silly questions, to come from a person of your intelligence.

    Do I support Sinn Féin? Well I'll let you take a chance and answer that one yourself. I certainly am supportive of the idea of a re-united Ireland - a divided one has brought little but bloodshed, bigotry and brown envelopes.

    Do I believe the IRA campaign was justified? I'm not sure where that question comes out of in terms of my blogs. I don't think I say very much about an organisation that dissolved some fifteen years ago. But if you mean do I believe in the right of self-determination of small nations, yes I do. Do I think it's understandable that people resist with violence when they have violence imposed on them - yes, I think that's very understandable. It's more than I would have the courage to do but I understand it completely. I think violence is an awful and a primitive mode of behaviour that reduces our humanity, but it's clear to me that virtually every government in the world thinks violence is justified and even heroic, otherwise they wouldn't have armies and medals for those armies. For example, the British people by and large think the British army in Afghanistan is doing a heroic job of work, even though they're in someone else's country and killing the people who were born and live there.

  6. Gio,I hope you get a straight answer but don't hold you breath!

  7. Anon 8:10 - I don't know if you consider my answer above straight or not, but I've just had a better idea. Why don't we re-ignite the questioning of the IRA about whether their ceasefire was permanent or not? Remember how truly productive that was? Just like asking people to say they're sorry they were involved in a violent conflict. I mean, to quote B Fawlty, what is the point? Alternatively, we might try discussing the future and what it should be...Or is that too sensible?

  8. Btw (and after this I'm taking a comment holiday) - I've been truly overwhelmed by the number of pro-republican op-eds that have flowed in, in response to my £10 offer. As you can see, I've listed them all in a special blog. Long, isn't it?

  9. Gio,dont think we got a straight answer;what do you think?

  10. Jude
    Silly questions maybe. But straight ones,hoping in vain for straight answers.
    I notice neither question got a direct answer.

  11. The daily papers, north and south, have taken a fairly cool view of the response of the parties of government to the financial crisis, which does not seem unreasonable. In Belfast, it is hard to remember recent articles which have been positive about any of the groups which sit in the Executive. Most of the criticism in print has been directed against the way the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists have handled their considerable internal problems. It is difficult to see how all this represents an imbalance against Sinn Fein, but it clearly depends on your point of view.

  12. Anon 9:36
    He is a bit slippery, old Jude the obscure.
    That's his right I suppose.
    It was worth a try.

  13. Gio,it's his blog spot so I suppose he has territorial rights.To be fair he doesn't censor opinions that are at variance with his own,no matter how misguided we think they may be.