I was on ‘Sunday Sequence’ this morning with former Presbyterian Moderator John Dunlop, who accused me of being sectarian. At least I think he did. It was after I’d been asked my take on the on-going (ever-going?) Sinn Fein-DUP talks. I said that many nationalists/Catholics were more than dismayed that the DUP should have chosen by way of fig-leaf/parachute the right of the Orange Order, an anti-Catholic organisation, to march where it wasn’t wanted. Mr Dunlop said (I think) that to say the Orange Order was sectarian was a sectarian remark in itself. Mmm. That sounds a bit like ‘1984’ to me, where the Ministry of Truth is the propaganda centre for the government (or the modern-day tendency to call your war planners The Department of Defence). It’s also a pretty good example of blaming the victim: ‘What, you’re saying I’m a bully because I came into your house and slapped you around? Well ask yourself what kind of person are you? The truth is, by accusing me of bullying, you show you’re a bully yourself’. No, I don’t understand it either.
What is it, I wonder, about radio (and more so TV) discussions, that they mustn’t go on for longer than ten minutes? It must be the entertainment element of broadcasting dominating the information or education. We hadn’t begun to explore the question of the DUP- SF talks, partnership, the Orange Order, parades, the Irish Language Act, and several other issues when the time was up (starting and finishing, I noticed, with John Dunlop. Equal time?). Maybe listeners or viewers would find it hard to take, but I do think that any attempt to explore such issues in even remotely-thoughtful mode requires time – an hour would leave a little bit of room for complexity.