I remember Mary McAleese telling me once (of course it was before she became President, Virginia) that partition had in one sense worked, as two separate states had led Irish people into two different takes on the world. If you want to see an example of how right she was, take an anti-sickness tablet, give half-an-hour for it to take effect, then read a column by Brendan O’Connor in the Irish Independent last month.
His article is titled ‘To play senior hurling, Sinn Féin need to grow up’. Yes, I know. This from a man who embarrasses himself and much of the nation each Saturday night as he goes through a sub-Johnny Carson routine that is only buttock-clenching in its teenage awfulness.
O’Connor declares in his column that Sinn Féin want to get into power in the south but they don’t understand the score: “West Belfast and Leinster House are two very different places and we do things differently here”. Condescending? Moi?
He goes on to warn Sinn Féin that “in senior hurling you can’t take your ball and go home anytime someone does a vaguely dirty tackle on you”. Pssst – Brendan. If Sinn Féin had taken the ball and gone home every time they received a two-footed tackle, they’d have gone home decades ago.
After that Brendan tell us that no other party, in particular Fianna Fail, would have got away with kangaroo courts involving Mairia Cahill, the way Sinn Féin did. “Imagine” he asks, “if it [Fianna Fail] had refused, even now , to accept this victim’s truth”. What truth? That Gerry Adams told Maria Cahill victims of sexual abuse sometimes enjoy the experience? That Mairia Cahill was raped repeatedly over a year? Both these things may be true. Or one may be true and the other not. Or neither true. One thing that is in noticeably short supply is evidence. Which is normally required before things become truths.
Brendan rumbles on like that to conclude eventually that Sinn Féin is really all about “sectarianism and tribalism”. From now on, he says , people will link Sinn Féin with Trojan horses and when the party “talks about equality- the poor, the marginalised, people with disabilities – everyone will know it is just cynicism”.
And brace yourself for this final two-sentence paragraph:
“Welcome to politics, Southern-style. Kid gloves and sensitivities should left outside the door”.
Could there be a finer example of the inability of many southern hacks to accept that Sinn Féin is an all-Ireland party, not a northern party? Or a failure to grasp that the more the likes of Brendan come at them with hobnailed-boots analysis, the more Irish people recoil and give the Shinners their vote?
I’ve had second thoughts. It was too simple-minded to attribute all of the blame to partition for the chasm between Brendan’s thinking and the thinking of us nordies. You don’t get to be quite as loutishly abusive as Brendan if you haven’t worked hard at it yourself.
Here’s the article itself. Maybe empty that anti-nausea bottle first: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/brendan-oconnor/to-play-senior-hurling-sinn-fein-needs-to-grow-up-30784955.html