Guilt by association and shock-horror


I once was refused an interview by a man. Not a unique experience for me, but the reason given was: the potential interviewee didn’t like my father. My father was dead at this time, as were a number of his brothers, whom the man didn’t like either. So no interview. At the time I was wide-eyed with confusion. Why was this man blaming me for the actions of my now-dead relatives?  It flew in the face of reason.

Now I’m older and wiser, I see it’s not an uncommon stance. For example, if your wife is a Catholic, you can’t join the Orange Order. No, sorry – it doesn’t matter how many Catholic churches you’ve urinated against, you still can’t become an Orangeman. Because of your wife. And now, bringing us bang up to date, I read in this morning’s Belfast Telegraph  that a woman called Tina McKenzie is being required to sign a non-violence declaration before she can attend an event for parties involved in the European and local elections next month. Tina is standing for NI21; the reason she’s being asked to declare in writing her commitment to non-violence is that her father, Harry Fitzsimmons, was involved in an IRA bombing in 1971. That was shortly before Tina was born. See what they did there? They had guilt seep not just from one person to another but from one person into the womb and then into the embryo that was Tina. The sins of the father will be visited on the child, even if that child was -4 months of age at the time.

Since it defies reason, it’s sort of hard to grasp the thinking behind this insistence. The best guess I can make is that the people objecting to a Catholic-wifed applicant to the Orange Order or the not-signed-on-dotted-line candidate have a holier-than-thou view of others. By rejecting people, or submitting them to a written test of character,  they’re essentially saying “We’re decent people but you need to prove to us that you are decent. Until you do so we’ll assume otherwise”.

Is this arrogant? You betcha. Is this stupid? Very. Is this hypocritical? I should say so. Take a final example.  Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are (again) being accused of telling lies about their IRA past. Leave aside what I’d consider the fairly important fact that they’ve never made any secret of their support for the IRA. The people interrogating them want to know: are they telling lies? Well, either they are or they aren’t. If they aren’t, then accusing them is a waste of time. If they are…why, then that means, shockingly, they are. Haven’t they read their catechism? I have, years ago. Q: Is it ever permissible to tell a lie? A: No, for no reason or motive can excuse a lie. That’s why I personally have gone through life never telling a lie. About anything. To anyone. Ever. And I expect you’re the same. If either of us was up in court for something and our lawyer urged us to plead not guilty,  if we’d done whatever it was, we’d look the judge in the eye and declare “Guilty as charged!”.  Because no reason or motive, etc.

The thing to keep in mind, you see,  is, those accusing Messrs Adams and McGuinness have never lied themselves.  So they peer down from a higher moral plane. And from this up-above place they are shocked  to the core of their souls  at the thought that these two  politicians might have told a lie. Might. Or might not.  Because, as they’ll tell you themselves, they have never told a lie. Not once. Ever. Regardless of motive or reason. In or out of court.

Yes, Virginia, I know there’s an election coming up. What’s that got to do with it?

14 Responses to Guilt by association and shock-horror

  1. RJC April 24, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    I for one count myself lucky to have moved to a place where I now have the moral guardians of the DUP/OO/UUP to keep me in check. Don’t know how I ever survived without them.

  2. paddykool April 24, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Jude :

    There’s me thinking all along that all politicians were whiter than driven snow!!!….the very requisite for the job!! Tony never fibbed about weapons of massed destruction , Clinton never inhaled nor had sex with that nice Monica, Peter never had any truck with paramilitaries, Big Ian turned the other cheek just like Jesus….he’d never by tempted by anything so base as a Lordship…..

    …by the way , never ever eat the yellow snow!

  3. Seán Connor April 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    I’ve noticed the stronger SF get the more things come out regarding “Gerry ordered me to bomb such and such” – I personally don’t believe Gerry was in the IRA though. An agenda has formed coming up to elections, Southern media is blatantly obvious in their bias against SF. Is it to do with money? Probably. Though only so many ways that Gerry can say no to the same question that’s been asked for many years, people should learn to move on when no evidence has ever been found.

  4. Iolar April 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    Nostalgia is not what it used to be. As recently as today, B.B.C. commentators are at their work, discussing the “good U.V.F.”, in days gone by and the “not so good U.V.F.” loitering with intent to ‘celebrate’ gun running in Larne? Meanwhile racist attacks take place ad nauseum. Many in the chattering classes in the country also wax lyrically about the ‘Good Old IRA’. The reality is that political unionism has had the opportunity to demonstrate government based on fairness, equality and through the impartial administration of justice in the north of Ireland, yet failed to do so. ‘The evil that men do lives after them…’ Many men and women have ended up in prison as a result of rhetoric from a variety of politicians. Is there not something dysfunctional about referring to ‘brigadiers’ in paramilitary organisations instead of examining the social, political, cultural and economic circumstances that perpetuate sectarian government?

  5. paul April 24, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    .Lots of stuff being thrown at the SF wall in hopesthat some of it sticks as elections loom near. Every day there seems to be a new allegation that is taken at face value as true by the DUP taliban. I read this column faithfully and tend to comment fairly often. My comments are predictable and I will continue that trend today.

    DUP, TUV are the ultimate in hypocrites. they know no shame. They have a one eyed ( jaundiced eye at that IMHO) view of the conflict. Anyone that does not consume and spew the DUP line is insulted and/or threatened. Read todays Newtownabbey Times , wher e a DUP councilor calls the Alliance party “a united Ireland party” and “scum”. Deafening silence from FF, FG and Labour on this. One has to wonder the reaction, if SF has expressed a similar comment. I don’t agree with all that SF has done, but I think I know dirty electioneering tactics when I see them. While I’m at it , i seem to constasntly read of people being takin in for questioning, held and then released w/ out charge by the PSNI. Doesn’t this go by another name? What was that word, Inter????

  6. ANOTHER JUDE April 24, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    Has Peter Robinson signed a form apologising for his attack at Clontibret? Not Peter`s father, Peter himself. You know, 1986 and all that. The incident never gets a mention on what is laughingly referred to as the media here, have any Free State government ever brought the subject up over the years? We won`t even go into his dodgy links with Loyalist gunmen.

  7. giordanobruno April 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Another Jude
    The Clontibret affair is often wheeled out at times like this though it clearly did not compare to the activities of the IRA in which Gerry Adams is implicated.
    But imagine if Peter Robinson tried now to deny he had ever been in Clontibret, or had no recollection of those events. How we would laugh.

  8. Chris April 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    What’s the story here Jude, is she alone being asked to sign this nonsense form or is every candidate, surely if she is singled out it must violate her human rights??

  9. ben madigan April 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    more fool her for signing – if she has.
    if she has no self-respect, how will voters respect her?
    if she is elected can they really expect her to stand up for her constituents?
    Ambition is a demanding/demeaning master – just like the Unionists

  10. paddykool April 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Gio :The fact that guys like Wee Jeffrey was in the UDR for example, was seen by most nationalists that he had joined a neat little private army that because of circumstances of birth was only open to one side of the community. That was the bottom line .As far as they were concerned it was a nice little part time earner for him that legitimised him carrying arms that were to be used only for his and his particular community’s own narrow ends. That was how it actually panned out for many of his armed companions….much the same for most prison officers come to think of it.

    Years ago I worked with guys who still carried pistols from their duty on the previous night on the checkpoints.They’d fall asleep in the changing room and sometimes that old pistol would slip with a clatter to the floor…..

    These kind of guys were earning around the clock. No nationalist would consider it …thinking it somehow unclean and even greedy. The fact is it was a private army for one side of the community. That is how it was judged……legal or illegal ….it didn’t make much odds…

    Who can forget those UDR adverts on television….”Join us and catch some terrorists…”…..whatever they happened to be….?

    • giordanobruno April 25, 2014 at 5:53 am #

      I don’t doubt your experiences.Many people shared your view of the UDR.
      It is not relevant to the issue of Gerry and Martin, unless Donaldson denied having been in the UDR.
      Jude is now telling us that only someone without sin can dare to question our leaders. All I see is deflection and whataboutery on this.
      I expect a comment about Blair and WMD to appear at any moment.

  11. paddykool April 25, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    Gio :
    Yep …I think I mentioned Tony first thing in the second comment. I must admit I wrote that last piece, late last night , ably fuelled by a nice bottle of red…not bad in the circumstances!..My point is that politicians have to be vague with the truth . It’s part of the job description in my experience throughout the years….and that’s all of them…not whataboutery. I expect them all to tack to any favourable wind that comes along and otherwise lie through their teeth until we tire of the latest faux pas..

    I’d never condone any violence, by the way. That includes all the deaths and destruction. I can understand retaliation in the case of homes being invaded, people being battered off the streets and sometimes shot and people from only one community being interned. without any legal redress. To turn the other cheek in those circumstances is a tough call.
    I know why some of those republicans opposed what they saw as an attack on them alone by people representing the state and I can see why they responded in kind..Those guys like Jeffrey who joined the UDR knew exactly what they were getting into.and which side of a divided community they had chosen to arm themselves for .It has very dubious legitimacy in those circumstances and being well paid could be construed as mercenary too. …
    That was never going to be seen as balanced , thoughtful thinking by anyone.

    For a guy like Jeffrey or Ken Maginnis then to pontificate about morality sounds a bit suspect . These guys were armed and dangerous and were buddying up with rabble rousers like Ian Paisley who was seen by anyone with a brain as a demagogue in a long line of demagogues including the likes of that other ranter Hitler.Remember , Ian was rewarded with one of the highest honours that Britain can bestow. You wouldn’t have conjured that one up, watching him rallying the bullyboys with blackthorn sticks on the streets of Armagh back in the day.

    There are precious few politicians who do not tell lies to the public or finally to themselves…
    I’ve no doubt that Gerry and Marty saw themselves as fighting on the right side of an unbalanced conflict where they had to use cunning and wits against a much better supplied adversary . They saw themselves much like the blacks in South Africa or the pre- Civil Rights black Americans in Alabama. It wasn’t simply about living conditions either .Much the same way the blacks in America worked the “chitlin” circuit or drank from “black only” water fountains, nationalists in Northern Ireland were felt to be on the outside of when ti all kicked off they were seen as outlaws.Why else would they be arrested en masse and locked in prison ships?

    Give someone like John Hume his due, he never carried arms or flirted with neo- fascist groups like many on the unionist side did…In the end that all should all be consigned to a past that has long gone… Jeffrey’s not out on the roads stopping motorists and Marty and Gerry are too busy to organise any bombings.

    .We’re talking about politicians who are now in government on both “sides”….

    • giordanobruno April 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

      The devil’s buttermilk is it? You are better off without it.
      I have to say it is sad if we cannot raise any more than a shrug when our leaders are caught in a lie.And these are pretty serious lies.
      If Gerry is lying about being in the IRA, well what did he do when in it? The McConville family might like to know.
      If Martin is lying about when he left, then he lied to the Saville enquiry. Is that ok?
      If Jeffrey Donaldson is found to be lying about his activities in the UDR will we all, including Jude, just smile sadly and move on? I doubt it.

  12. pointis April 25, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Surely it would be impossible to sign a non violence agreement and take an oath of allegianceto the Queen.