Jude Collins

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Jim seizes the high ground

There are few things more enjoyable than a man or woman in full moral-outrage flow.  Jim Wells was flowing very well in the Stormont debating chamber the other day and I must say it was a tour de force.

Jim was making it clear that non, il ne regrette rien.  If any muddle-headed nationalists or republicans were waiting for him to apologise for his remarks, they’d be waiting a long, long, LONG time. The remarks Jim was referring to were when he, behaving in what Minister Carál Ní Chuilín described as an aggressive, venomous and threatening manner, and referring to the Minister’s   adviser Mary McArdle, said to her “You needn’t think you are going to bring that murderer to South Down”. In another incident, Jim passed Mary McArdle in a corridor in Stormont and said to her “There’s the murderer herself”.  In the light of the incidents, the committee on standards and privileges proposed to bar Jim from Stormont for  a week. But the motion was defeated. Jim stays.

Why was I cheered up by these matters? Several reasons. It brings into the open what people are thinking - in this case, what unionist politicians, particularly Jim, think of people like Mary McArdle who were formerly IRA members. It brings into the open what people think of themselves: in denouncing the actions of Ms McArdle, Jim clearly was claiming higher moral ground for himself. Finally, it brings into the open the attempts of unionist politicians to instate their version of the history of the past forty years as the official history. I’m cheered by that because it’s always comforting to see what people are really up to.

Unfortunately there’s a down side as well, and that is that what people are up to may prevail as accepted wisdom and fact. Let’s consider the three I’ve listed.

Even if we were to accept Jim’s judgement of Ms McArdle as a murderer, why just her? Why doesn’t Jim stop Gerry Kelly, Martin McGuinness and any number of other former IRA people and tell them they’re murderers as well? He might even stop former members of the UDR or the British Army or the RUC and upbraid them. But he doesn’t. Jim’s wrath is confined to one woman.

Clearly, in denouncing her, Jim believes himself to be morally superior. I’m assuming (perhaps I’m wrong) that if he were asked his religious affiliation, Jim would reply without hesitation “Christian”. But doesn’t the founder of Christianity say somewhere “Judge not that you may not be judged”? And didn’t he forgive sinners again and again? And urge his followers to do likewise?

But maybe Jim’s history-writing is the most important part of his display of wrath. If Jim and those who think like him can promote as official the view that the IRA were a murderous gang and the cause of all the deaths of the Troubles, then that will mean...Well, that Jim’ s side was right. That they had God on their side. With the devil, presumably, on the side of those who opposed him.  Not that Jim’s the only one to take this tack. Quite a number of those who would describe themselves as nationalists take the same tack, only without Jim‘s thundering anger.

Post-script. It could be that Jim chose his moral-wrath target because he knew he’d have a fair number of nationalists lining up beside him as well as unionists. When I was sufficiently reckless to suggest that Mary Travers, in whose death  Mary McArdle  has been implicated, was killed by the IRA but not murdered,  I received more, well yes, venomous responses from people than for pretty well anything I’ve blogged in the past few years. No doubt Jim had that kind of venomous back-up in mind when he targeted Mary McArdle.  I've also noticed that, since that blog, my appearances on Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh's Thought for the Day, once regular, have petered into non-existence. Coincidence? Mmm. Let me think about that one.

Still, you have to admit: the Stormont outburst was as fine a display of off-the-leash moral indignation as we’re likely to get this side of Christmas.  Go raibh cead maith agat, Jim - thanks loads. 


  1. Another shameful effort to legitimise Provisional IRA murders, Jude.

    It might make you feel clever, but murder is wrong and it's not particularly controversial to say that or to consider those who didn't murder to exist on higher moral ground than those who did.

  2. Yes, the real crime here is that you were dropped by the BBC.

  3. To above poster ...also Anonymous (no relation):

    Are you a total pacifist, 110% no situation where violence can be justified, even by, say a sovereign government..?

    If not, then the context of every killing/murder is always and will forever be up for debate. The UDR man pulling a trigger is no more morally superior than the IRA man, because he had shiny badge on his beret...

  4. Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember hearing you on Sunday Sequence with William Crawley and on occasions contributing to the Nolan show.Has Thought for the Day a higher status than other programmes?Im not clear iwhat remuneration is due from the B B C for these various slots.

  5. Ok Jude as a nationalist and Republican I can honestly say your thoughts on the Mary Travers murder are appalling. There was no excuse for this attack no matter how you try and dress it up. It was a revenge attack for a murder prosecution, forgetting for one moment to attack a judge is bad enough but to then murder his daughter(not kill as that implies it was some accident or that she was hit in crossfire with legitimate targets ie other people with guns, no that didnt happen it was cold blooded murder) AND attempt to assasinate his wife in a CATHOLIC church car park no less pretty much sums up the type of people we are dealing with here. Its not as if these ''heroes'' attacked some security force types they picked a soft target and their cold blooded actions quite frankly are a disgrace to the human race. So even though I think Jim Wells is a useless bigot I can understand why he was a little bit upset when he saw McArdle wondering around Stormont on a nice salary.
    You can refer to other murdering politicians or the RUC or the Army all you like it doesnt take anything away from the horror of this incident.

  6. I don't get your Mary Travers point Jude.

    I agree with most of what you write, hence one of the reasons I read you is because you often articulate my own nationalist & republican notions better than I would myself.

    This may be a flawed analogy but it might be like a unionist reading Alex Kane & thinking this is good reasonable stuff, making my unionist thoughts better than I could myself,and then being shocked if he were to suggest that some loyalist atrocity wasn't murder.