I see where my old stable-mate and fellow-baldy at the VO, Brian Feeney, is getting cross with Gerry Adams. Very cross. He says Gerry spoke to an audience in Co Derry and he misled them. Apparently he told them that Owen Paterson had dismissed the possibility of a border poll; Brian says the Good Friday Agreement says Paterson can’t do that and so it was misleading for Gerry to say that he had – Pay attention at the back there, please! – dismissed it. Brian is even crosser with Gerry because he says Gerry left West Belfast as impoverished as he found it several decades ago. And there’s more: Gerry’s not being specific enough about what kind of united Ireland he and Sinn Féin want.
Brian’s a good columnist – unlike quite a few, he’s readable – but with the ‘he left it as he found it’ charge against the Sinn Féin president, he’s beginning to sound like one of these school-league-table zealots: School X is useless, it doesn’t get half as many A*s as School Y. Never mind what School X has to cope with in terms of poverty, neglect and grammar-school-cream-off in the first place. The truth is, our MPs carry zero political clout at Westminster. All of them. Has Derry, represented by John Hume for decades, or Ballymena, represented by Ian Paisley for decades, been a boom town over the years? Attend Westminster, abstain from Westminster – it doesn’t matter a monkey’s, Britain does what she pleases. So yes, West Belfast is a hard-pressed area, just like lots of other places. Been to North Belfast recently, Brian? Or West Tyrone?
As to the “What kind of united Ireland?” charge: I thought that’s what we were all supposed to be working towards together- the nationalist people in the north, the unionist people in the north and the mixed bag of people in the south? Coming up with an agreed Ireland, not going on solo runs and telling others how it should be. Brian cites admiringly the New Ireland Forum which came up with its “blueprint for a united Ireland” thirty years ago. Right. And that’s made terrific progress, hasn’t it?
But hey – ain’t nothing like a bit of Shinner-bashing to get the blood surging among a certain class of readers. Some newspapers depend on it for their circulation.
Two blogs criticizing Dr Feeney in the one week!Its sad when old colleagues fall out!Brian may have his faults but at least he is willing to bash all parties including Sinn Fein.When did we last see anything even mildly critical of the Shinners in your blogs?Of course Brian is writing for a larger audience in the Irish News and while his readers may not always agree with him,they would respect his relative even-handedness.
Brian is writing for a newspaper with a certain political agenda – ie anything that would criticise SF will get prominence – there aint anything even-handed about that. Everyone, political commentors included write through their own political slant as for example historians do. Jude I believe gives a republican analysis of subjects and if that compares favourably to the SF view of things so be it. As he said – Shinner-bashing – Some newspapers depend on it for their circulation!
Sparta.I would doubt whether the Irish News depends on Shinner bashing for its circulation.I would suggest that the quality of its sports coverage,especially G A A is an important factor.Would you say that a newspaper with Jim Gibney as a weekly columnist has a anti-Sinn Fein agenda?Brian Feeney can be just as scathing if not more so about his former party the S D L P.Most of the Unionist parties have at some time felt the lash of his column.You may remember a newspaper[Daily Ireland] that had a clear pro Sinn Fein bias and which included Jude as one of its columnists.How long did it last?It is arguable that the Irish News is more of a broad church and this is why its circulation figures remain consistent.
Anon, sure, I would agree with that point re circulation but it does not change the fact that the Irish News is and always has been, since I have been about, a pro SDLP paper. They even go so far to attempt to sow division within republican communities by giving the dissident organisations and anyone critical of SF prominence and widespread coverage despite them being of miniscule representation within nationalist communities. Jude takes a stand and says where his politics are, Brian Feeney sits on the fence and gets his kudos from condemning all and sundry and takes this as his modus operandi – its the easy way out. As regards a weekly column from J Gibney – what does that prove. The Andersonstown News group use to carry columnists with close ties to UVF/UDA. By the way when I lift the IN in work (would only buy on a saturday)the sport pages is my first port of call – is very good.
Sparta.As the demise of Daily Ireland showed,a paper with a narrow political slant will inevitably run aground.It appears that even the wider Sinn Fein electorate werent buying it.It is probably true that the Irish News in the past was a pro S D L paper when that party was dominant.At the moment, I suspect it is accurate to say it reflects a more “pan- nationalist” view taking into account S F electoral success.As I read it the weekly column from Jim Gibney is an out and out party political polemic for Sinn Fein.This hardly is indicative of S D L P bias.Sinn Fein at the moment are quite electorally confident.The party or its apologists should not fear constructive criticism.Their sin doctors are more than capable of rebuttal.Finally for a person who allegedly no longer reads the Irish News,Jude seems well informed on Brian Feeneys columns.Perhaps he has a sneaky read now and then!