Saturday, 2 February 2013
Fearless and original journalism
I see the VO today is maintaining its usual creakingly-high standards of even-handedness . On p 18 Patrick Murphy lays into Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin, and on p 19 Newton Emerson lays into, um, Sinn Féin and several others. It’s what we media people call balance.
Murphy has a truly enquiring mind: he asks sixteen questions in the course of his article. Questions like “Was Sinn Féin apologising on behalf of the PIRA?” and “Since the PIRA no longer exists, who made the decision to apologise?” and “When was PIRA’s war downgraded to a mere conflict?” Gerry Adams gets hammered for daring to apologise for the death of Garda Jerry McCabe : “An apology for some deaths suggests that all other deaths were justified”. Now there’s an interesting inference to draw. If I’m late for an appointment and apologise for my tardiness, it suggests I don’t give a damn about any other occasion on which I may have been late. Mmm. A bit later he admits that “if Sinn Féin had not apologised it would still have been criticised” which pretty well sums the matter up, wouldn’t you say? I have this Animal-Farm-type memory of a time when republicans were urged to turn from violence, express regret and commit themselves to democratic politics. Now that they’ve done so, they’re accused by the likes of Murphy of being “politically expedient”. Hey ho. Damned if you don’t and damned if you do.
But the heart of Murphy’s onslaught is given in big black type in the middle, in case you’d miss it in the body of the article: “Despite the undoubted bravery of some PIRA actions, and the criminal brutality of most of them [ I wonder what criteria he uses to distinguish one kind from another?], it was a futile escapade which betrayed the civil rights movement, handed the political initiative to the British government, institutionalised sectarianism and abandoned the concept of the Irish nation”.
Yes, I can see that. Clearly if someone’s taking a different path from you they must be betraying you. And of course the setting up of the Assembly was a British initiative and Sinn Féin were to blame for that. And yes, Martin McGuinness and his mates have been acting in a very sectarian way up on the hill and we haven’t heard a peep out of them or Gerry Adams about an Irish nation, a border poll - not even a half-peep. I don’t know how they can look at themselves in the mirror of a morning. But at least we’ve now had their actions laid bare and explained by this adept analysis. The abandoned nation owes a debt. Thank you very much, Mr Murphy.
And Newton Emerson on p 19? The first half of his piece simply bursts with witticisms, even if they are a bit soggy. The second half? Probably more of the same but I’m afraid by then I’d nodded off. I do hope Mr Emerson doesn’t come looking for an apology.