Peter’s red herring

The Assembly the other day was a fine place for an irony-collector to be. Anxious to get off the hook of his U-turn over the Long Kesh/Maze peace centre, Peter Robinson produced from his pocket a very red herring …What’s that, Virginia? Was he ashamed of his U-turn? No, no, no. Jim Allister was attacking him, not for his U-turn, but because a U-turn was ever necessary. He was chiding Robinson for ever having been in favour of a peace centre. 
That was the first irony.  The second irony was that Robinson’s red herring consisted of the charge that Jim Allister had ‘done business’ with republicans. Eh? Yes indeed, Robinson alleged – he’d been somehow involved in a will which had meant he was doing business with republicans. To wit, he’d been involved in selling them land. Pot calling the kettle black and all that. How did Jim Allister respond? He denounced the charge as a scurrilous untruth. In short, he agreed with Robinson – to do business and especially to sell land to republicans would be a shameful act. And he hadn’t done it.
The irony wasn’t over. The BBC filled in the background for viewers by explaining that in some border areas, the sale of land from Protestants to Catholics is a contentious issue. No, Virginia, there’s no point in your swooning. That’s what they said. Without once bursting out laughing. 
When my father in the 1930s bought the farm on which I was raised – and it was miles away from the border – he had to get a decent Protestant neighbour to put in his bid for him. Had it been known that a Catholic wanted to buy the farm which was owned at the time by a Protestant family, he wouldn’t have had a chance. I used to think this was one of those family myths that gained credence by the telling. Only then I found when I mentioned it to other Catholics, as often as not they had a similar tale to tell. In other words, the BBC was telling its viewers something a considerable number of them knew already. And had known for decades.

Agreeing to a peace centre seen as a retrograde step; ‘Doing business’ with republicans seen as a shameful act, especially if land is involved; the BBC discovering that this kind of thing has been going on for decades. Does irony come any thicker and faster?

15 Responses to Peter’s red herring

  1. speccy September 25, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    We all knew it was an issue- the horror is that it still is…

  2. John Patton September 25, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    The genesis of our name is somewhat ambiguous and my father was assumed to be from the ‘right side’ when he bought his first house in the Waterside area of Derry. It was a done deal before my canny father revealed to a shocked vendor that his loan was being furnished by the Oak Leaf Building Society, whose directors, management and members were almost exclusively from ‘the other side’.

  3. Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    What’s it going to be like when a Republican is First Minister of our benighted statelet?

  4. giordanobruno September 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Desperate stuff from our politicians lately, especially this from Robinson.
    Perhaps if he had referred to ‘physical force republicans’ he might have been able to justify his remarks. It would be acceptable to boycott trading with someone who sought to justify what you personally consider to be atrocities, as people boycott goods from Israel say. I wouldn’t knowingly buy my groceries from someone who thought the Shankhill Butchers were heroes.

    • Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      good job that Robinson has always be unequivocally opposed to “physical force loyalists” …..

    • giordanobruno September 26, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Yes fair point, though Clontibert was a long time ago. These days he makes the standard condemnation when asked.
      My point is really that he must be rattled to let his guard down and make such a boorish remark. Rattled or badly advised, or both.

  5. Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Imagine Cameron lambasting a UKIP MP for selling land to Muslims from the despatch box in Westminster ! The DUP front row we’re loving it, completely oblivious to their bigotry. It was sickening.SF need to pull the plug.

    I’ve let my electoral registration lapse as I’ve no intention whatsoever of helping to keep this joke on the hill on wheels.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      I can sort of empathise with your feelings about stormont but if you pull the plug as you say then what next?

  6. Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Just disgraceful.

  7. Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    My grandfather faced the exact same issue when buying the family farm also in the 1930s, different county though. Had to get a Protestant solicitor to put his bid in. The family selling tried to renege on the deal once they realised he was a fen… er, catholic, but couldn’t. I know for a fact it has been a sore point for some of our local orange brethren to this day and they would snap the land back up in a heart beat if they could, as it was very much an original “planter” farm.

  8. Anonymous September 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    have a look at “No Pope Here – never,ever,ever ” on for some background information on how the system worked.

  9. Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    Robinson’s comments are unworthy of a First Minister and just goes to show the difference in mentality between the DUP and Sinn Fein people.If a Sinn Fein rep ever criticised an SDLP rep for doing business with a Protestant there would have been howls of outrage and justifiably so even within his own constituency with calls of off with his head probably ending the political career of the miscreant but the DUP people think their discriminatory behaviour is normal and acceptable,they don’t seem to know what all the fuss is about and this is the party trying to attract the Catholic Unionist vote even though apparently they wouldn’t want them as neighbours.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      “but the DUP people think their discriminatory behaviour is normal and acceptable,” not just that but admirable and commendable and probably compulsory.

  10. Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Cromwell kept meticulous records of every parish/townland in Ireland which can now be seen online.The records show the original landowners before the colonisation/plantation of Ulster.If there was any justice the British should be liable for reparations in the same way the Canadian government paid the First Nations people billions of dollars and returned some of the Crown lands to the various tribes.The Planter farms as we call them were all stolen from native Irish families .

  11. Anonymous September 26, 2013 at 1:43 am #

    Cromwells maps of expropriated lands in Ireland..