Talking politics with a politician – imagine that!


I’ve just listened to yesterday’s interview of Martin McGuinness by Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio. Blimey.  Nothing succeeds like success. Two years ago, Martin was having well-cued victims jumping in front of cameras and calling him a liar, lissome blonde ladies (OK – only one) demanding to know when he last went to confession. Just two years ago. Now Martin appears on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show and he’s interviewed like any other politician. There’s a mixture of hard questions and soft questions but always political questions – and not ALL dealing with his IRA membership. Refreshing isn’t the word for it.

To which some would say “That means it’s worked”. The some in question are those who believe  McGuinness entered the Irish presidential race as a way of drawing the toxins out of the relationship between Sinn Féin and the southern media. Put another way, McGuinness would be the lightning-rod that would allow all the antipathy to the Shinners to be vented, leaving the way clear for other Sinn Féin candidates in the future.

They may be right. Certainly most politicians do most things with an eye to how it will pay off politically. My own guess is that he entered the presidential race to assess what level of support Sinn Féin had in the south and maybe even where.  That kind of information is pretty helpful when you’re running candidates in a local or  European election. Certainly Sinn Féin have now recommenced what some refer to as their ‘march’ or even their ‘inexorable march’ in the polls. Their vote slipped slightly in the north but not significantly (except you’re me, in which case you lose £50 to Trócaire because Martina Anderson’s vote dipped ever so slightly – damn and blast).  In the south they’ve had what Martin McGuinness told Marian was a ‘water-shed election’.  I’m not sure what a water-shed is but it’s certainly true that, having run three successful European candidates (and a fourth in the north), and having doubled their number of councillors in the south, an appalling vista has opened up for other southern political parties. Sinn Féin is now a major player south of the border and its politicians are being responded to as politicians. At last.

A few weeks ago, Gerry Adams gave a  press conference after release from prison which was masterly.  McGuinness in the Finucane interview sounded equally sure-footed and dignified. Which explains why their stuck-needle critics have begun to sound a touch hysterical.

10 Responses to Talking politics with a politician – imagine that!

  1. William Fay June 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    “A few weeks ago, Gerry Adams gave a press conference after release from prison which was masterly. ” Jude, do you actually give any consideration as to how that sounds? As I stated before, when you are finished paying homage to GA and Sinn Fein, maybe you would give some small regard to other viewpoints. GA was arrested on suspicion of committing very serious offences. All of the Sinn Fein hierarchy are tainted, and the accusations and suspicions are not just going to go away overnight. I know I will be challenged with the usual accusations of being stuck in the past, but the reality is, Sinn Fein can’t have their cake and eat it. If they demand the various enquiries over alleged state violence, the skeletons in their own cupboards are going to keep reappearing.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      I try to consider what I write, William. Sometimes manage it, sometimes don’t. I think I’ve managed it this time. ‘Homage’ – mmm. Nice word. French, I believe. I simply passed a judgement on GA’s performance in that press conference and I think you’ll find most commentators agreed it was a very impressive performance. ‘Give some small regard to other viewpoints’ – does that mean you want me to argue against my own views? Well now. I’m not sure I could perform that trick. I think the key word in your second sentence is ‘on suspicion’. You’d consider anyone suspected as tainted then? Mmm for the third time. No, I don’t accuse you of being stuck in the past – the past is a serious place and a lot could be done to help us live with it. SF and the SDLP accepted the Haass recommendations on dealing with the past – in fact I gathered all parties accepted it – only then unionism didn’t like the parading bit and pulled the plug. As to your last sentence, I completely agree: if the state is prepared to come clean on its past activity (are you optimistic they will?), then SF and everyone else should do likewise. It’s nice we can agree on something.
      PS I suspect you’ll reject this, William, but I actually do value your comments on this site. You’re clearly a man of strong opinions and you’re articulate. And prepared to swim against the current, which isn’t always easy. All I ask is that you – and everyone else, including myself – deals with the facts.

  2. paddykool June 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    William :
    On this one I think Jude called it spot on. Adams and McGuinness are constantly performing in another universe in comparison to their rivals…Whether or not you actually agree with their policies, they are more able in front of a camera than any of their opposition north or South.

    Take a look at the Pastor McConnell debacle just one more time .Take a deep breath and ask yourself how far out of kilter can one man get. Robinson opened his mouth , supported this lunacy and disgraced himself.He may as well have dropped his pants in public .He did as much damage to his office .When did McGuinness or Adams ever do anything like it .
    They’ve shucked off the violent years, unlike their ultra-unionist contemporaries who seem to be recycling them. Racism appears to be happening on loyalism’s watch.
    Unionism supports loyalism, right.?

    They’ll never get over the fact that the big bad republicans actually became more house-trained than themselves.Adams and McGuinness have constantly reached out to the unionist community , only to be rebuffed at every turn. It’s not as if Paisley , Robinson and the the whole of unionism have clean hands and haven’t broken the laws or encouraged violence, threatened to close power stations or simply aided and abetted Paisley in insulting the religion of their neighbours. My mum and dad were those neighbours who were being insulted .

    . It’s not as if there isn’t an anti,catholic, anti muslim, anti gay , anti feminism, possibly anti culture itself , agenda running through their ethos like the writing on a stick of sea-side rock. My nephew and his partner are gay and are two of the most charitable people that any society except ours would be proud to have on their team.
    Paisley and by extension anyone with any association to the strange individual insulted them constantly .Peter Robinson and his wife also insulted them….and by extension anyone of their supporting followers. I could go on and on .
    Take a look William .I wish it wasn’t like that and that there was no bigotry , but there is , and look where it’s coming from ..Take a look William..Who is performing in a charitable, socially concious way here. who is making enemies hand over fist on a daily basis? who is performing in a way which will improve the lot of everyone in society and not just one narrow minded section of it ?

  3. RJC June 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    “A few weeks ago, Gerry Adams gave a press conference after release from prison which was masterly.”

    I didn’t take this sentence to be unequivocally supportive of, or paying homage to GA and SF. Rather, I read it as an unbiased opinion on the ability of a certain politician to deliver a masterful speech and press conference. Whatever your political hue, there can be no doubt that Gerry’s press conference that day was hugely successful. The ballots alone are a testament to this.

    If I may be critical of Mr McGuinness for a moment, I thought he seemed a little rattled when giving his speech in front of the Gerry mural on the Falls Road a few weeks back. Understandably so given the circumstances, although I think his speech that day was still successful in so far as helping to quell any potential dissident activity in the wake of the political incarceration of Mr Adams.

    Loathe as some may be to admit it, both Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness can now arguably be said to be peacemakers. If only the same could be said of our hopefully soon to be erstwhile First Minister.

    William – if I could echo Jude’s comments re valuing your comments on this site. No debate is worthwhile if everybody is arguing from the same position. There is a poster over in BangorDub’s parish, an Orangeman who goes by the name of ‘carrickally’ who engages with other posters in a courteous, friendly and knowledgeable fashion. Clearly an Orangeman surrounded by (digital) Republicans is going to find himself up against it but his comments on that site are welcomed by all. As I would hope yours are here.

  4. RJC June 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Should we need evidence of the damage caused by the ignorant outbursts of others

    In any other Western democracy, Peter Robinson would be gone by now. That he is not is a chilling indictment of what a sick, warped little place this corner of Ireland can so often be.

  5. Iolar June 1, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    It was intriguing to listen to other broadcasts in relation to the evisceration of the Labour Party desperately seeking to return to its core values. Now there is food for thought. In a similar vein, it is reported that Fianna Fáil is going from chaos to shambles to open civil war with Mary Hanafin. This did not present Ms Hanafin venting her spleen on the current Sinn Féin mandate. I do hope that a certain broadcaster takes note of the biggest mandate in the country. The diplomatic, courteous delivery of Mr McGuinness was in stark contrast to Mr Robinson’s recent views of Islam. The former represents political leadership, the latter, political confusion.

  6. neill June 2, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Isnt it great to hear that Republicans are great people the most warm hearted generous people in the world bar of course to the thousands of people they killed in Northern Irelandnd the reason why most unionist despise and clearly spurn the leadership of sinn fein is because the leadership of that movement is dishonest sure the leader cant even admit he was in the IRA if he cant be honest about his past how can you trust his sincerity in the future?

  7. paddykool June 2, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Neill :
    I have to say I know damn little about the details and minutiae of the past machinations of Adams, McGuinness, Robinson, Paisley, McCrea, Dodds and all the rest. Just like most of us we get it from the media or the occasional real-life encounter, such as Paisley and his aggressive followers on the streets, Adams carrying a coffin or McCrea shaking Billy wright’s hand…all that old stuff.

    . Non of these people on either side, are sainted.We were talking about how well they can perform on the media and whether they were any good at their jobs. Remember?

  8. michael c June 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Jude, SF actually TREBELLED its number of councillors in the south.

    • Jude Collins June 3, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Oops.Mea culpa, Miichael. I stand corrected.