Oh, those primitive people in Fermanagh/South Tyrone!


So. You enjoying the coverage of the election campaign in Fermanagh/South Tyrone? Thanks to BBC and UTV reports, it’s now clear that Fermanagh/South Tyrone is stuck in the past. Almost daily references, verbal and visual, to the ‘dreary steeples’ and people mindlessly and tribally voting for orange or green. We still haven’t learnt, we’re told,  the things that really matter. Instead it’s tribal politics,  sad and shameful.

But whoa a minute. Are UTV and the BBC (and doubtless our print media as well) saying you’re stuck in the past, sad and shameful if you care about partition and Irish independence? That you’re a mindless member of a tribe if you think we’d be better governing ourselves rather than having our next-door neighbour do it for us? That Sinn Féin concentrate on Irish unity but pay no attention to such matters as a society of equals, where the vulnerable poor are no longer forced to discharge the debt of banks and multi-millionaire developers?

Here – I’ve a suggestion. The next time a TV commentator makes a tribal reference or laments the orange/green division down in darkest Fermanagh/South Tyrone, the TV station should be immediately tsunamied with emails and texts telling them just how insulting such a picture is. And how untrue. Because guess what, guys? The people of Fermanagh/South Tyrone – and a lot of the rest of us –  have learnt how to think about the constitutional question and bread-and-butter issues as well. Incredible, eh? Maybe we’re not as stupid as you think.

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24 Responses to Oh, those primitive people in Fermanagh/South Tyrone!

  1. neill April 7, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    Yes the Ireland of equals we here a lot about that on here a political party that was once believed that terrorism was correct and justified disappeared people allowed people to be sexually abused and was behind smuggling is the same party to lead us into a new Ireland were everybody is equal and the law has to be respected if you don’t mind I will do my best to stifle my laugh

    • Ryan April 7, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

      Neill, Unionism wants to be connected to a Parliament that harboured a VIP paedophile ring for decades (maybe even going back centuries). That paedophile ring not only abused children but theres also accusations it murdered children too to keep them quiet and to protect offenders. And then theres the accusations against Prince Andrew and Lord Mountbatten, British Royalty. And then theres the infamous Kincorra in East Belfast where Unionist politicians and Loyalist paramilitary leaders were involved in the abuse of children. I could go on all day and that’s without touching on the genocides committed by the British Empire.

      Sorry, what were you saying about Sinn Fein, Neill?….

    • Seán McGouran April 8, 2015 at 12:45 am #

      Neill – there’s no need to exhume they Ulster Unionists’ past like that, an army of 90,000+, the threat to rise up against, what they claimed was a legitimate government, then the pogromising and terrorisation of ‘Taigs’ and Labourites. Why don’t we just forget such things?

  2. Michael Goodman April 7, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Hello Neill, Just for clarity are Sinn Féin the only party excluded from participating in the political future here or are there others? Because if they are the only party excluded who do you suggest are morally and ethicaly pure enough for us to support? It surely couldn’t be any of the British parties because to take just one example, Iraq, the Labour Party took the UK into an illegal war based on deliberate lies, the war itself took terrorism to new heights, levels which could only dreamed of by those you condemned as terrorists. One million Iraqi civilians, shot, shelled, napalmed and generally butchered at a conservative estimate. Suspects kidnapped and disappeared, prisoners tortured and sexually abused. And why, so they could rob the Iraqis of their oil. Theres moral and ethical rectitude for you right there. As for the other parties they supported it to a greater or lesser degree and are equally culpable in my view. So as the man said let he who is without sin etc.. By the way I don’t accept the premise of your statement that Sinn Féin were responsible for the actions you cite, I think you had another organization in mind. Just to be clear I am a member of Sinn Féin, I am aware of the history of the Republican movement here in Ireland and I believe that for all their faults and mistakes, republicans are providing the only vision of the future worth working for. But that’s just my opinion.

    • neill April 7, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Yes that is your opinion and that doesn’t annoy me at all.

      However one or two quick points:

      The war in Iraq was democratically voted for by the house of commons who voted for the armed conflict?

      So SF didn’t support violence didn’t turn a blind eye to abuse?

      Come on fella!

      • Michael Goodman April 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

        So let me get this straight, the House of Commons voted for an illegal war based on lies, which killed one million Iraqi civilians and that makes it ok?! And republicans are the one with no morals!
        If your argument is that there is no moral equivalence between Republicans and the Parties in the British Parliament, I think your absolutely right, there is no comparison between the actions of republicans over the past one hundred years and those of the British, Amritsar, 1940’s famine in India or the torture of thousands of Kenyans ring any bells.

        One other quick point your post talks about Sinn Féin doing those things not supporting them. If what you meant was supporting them then try to be clearer, it makes it so much easier.

      • Antonio April 7, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        so mass murder is okay if the British house of commons have a vote on it . Gotcha !

  3. Cal April 7, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Such are the times,I’m afraid. Anyone that doesn’t support Norn Iron FC, believe in integrated education, worship our Rory and fails to describe themself as Northern Irish are all living in the past and holding back progress.

    • Jude Collins April 7, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      That’s a pretty good summary of most of the things that irritate me, Cal. Maith thú!

  4. neill April 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    Cal and Jude they would be right as well move on be bigger men!

    Rory is a good fella and represents Northern Ireland well

    • Jude Collins April 7, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

      A goodfellah? Jeez…I didn’t know the mafia operated in Holywood…

  5. James April 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Neill, as a serious and sentient human being, I used to take your comments on this blog at their face value, very often the polar opposite of my own, but feeling that they were sincerely-held beliefs, and deserving of respect. With your present level of discourse, you are forcing me to have a serious rethink.
    Rather than addressing the subject-matter at hand you seem to delight in taking a scatter-gun approach just for the sake of creating some controversy.
    Sinn Fein are trying their level best to reach out to our fellow Irishmen and women in a spirit of generosity and reconciliation. They are the only ones doing it. You obviously do not believe that Neill and I feel that your upbringing and mindset means you will continue to pine for a past that is gone forever and is never coming back. Change the record Neill, you will not regret it.

  6. neill April 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    James if my opinions are odd you only can imagine how odd your opinions are to me.

    I don’t pine for the past its gone but once again thank you for calling me a serious and sentient human being!

    Just consider this the harm and hurt caused by republicans will take a long time to heal so don’t expect unionists to accept reconciliation straight away and of course the converse is quite true as well this healing will take a long time

    • Jude Collins April 7, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Neill old chap – you’re slipping into a comfortable but deceptive fallacy – that it was republicans wot dun it all. This conveniently omits 50 years of unionist gerrymander and discrimination, the clubbing of civil rights people off the streets, and the loyalist paramilitaries who killed innocent Catholics. If you see the history of this place in those black-and-white terms, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Comfortable, yes; but seriously deceptive.

  7. Tony McPhillips April 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Well Jude, the presentation of anŷ electoral battle here in the sticks! Will always be presented by the establishment media as orange versus green because you see we live in an inherently sectarian statelet, created by the British and sustained by the British. So long as there are fools to assist them in continuing their colonial rule and therefore perpetuate the scourge of sectarianism then so it shall be. The people of fermanagh and Tyrone are certainly not backwoods men or women but in the situation of our sovereignty still being denied, most will take the view that it’s our man or woman in preference to theirs!

  8. Sherdy April 7, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    Today’s blog fits neatly into today’s Talkback programme, with the mention of the Dreary Steeples.
    It seems our honest broker PM David Cameron will introduce Conservative candidates into the NI political elections next month.
    I had thought ‘absentee landlords’ were long past their sell-by date, but it seems 11 of these candidates are to be parachuted in as they could not muster a full complement of local Tories.
    And just by coincidence, because the Tory spokeswoman on the show assured Willie Crawley that there was no pact with the unionists (though she didn’t know enough to answer any other questions), there will be no Tory intervention in FST or North Belfast where unionist success is in doubt.
    So Cameron, surprise, surprise, is nailing his support to unionism to the detriment of Sinn Fein’s chances in these constituencies. Hopefully SF will remember this in any future negotiations.

  9. Patrick Fahy April 7, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    Just like in the body’s recovery from illness, the healing process in a society coming out of conflict requires a fair wind to have any chance of success. In the body recurrence of the illness must be avoided. In a post conflict society, there must be a willingness to forgive and to move forward. The ‘ Neills’of this world claim to want to see an end to conflict. But they don’t want either to accept that there were two valid sides to the conflict, or to see that they have a part to play in the restorative process. They fool themselves into believing that healing of our wounds can proceed while they continue to lambast Sinn Fein and by association the large constituency that supports that party.

  10. GreerToronna April 7, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    I call it the Jimmy Young principle: Just be nice. That’s how I remember him finishing his comedy routine in the 60s and 70s. Disarming yes but useless in the real world. Alas it seems to underpin a lot of the “letsgetalonganess” I read about from the Wee Pravance. The constitutional question is the elephant in the room, but it’s the issue that’s not on the table. It ought to be. It’s impossible to imagine a purposeful and fruitful realignment of peoples and politics in the North without it. Specifically of course, it means a debate about a United Ireland. The UK context has failed to deliver. Business on the whole island can be more profitable if the North refocuses to say Donegal, Cork and Dublin rather that Leeds, Manchester and London. The social safety net can be critiqued and reimagined more productively around the usual tensions of left and right rather than orange and green. I dare say there will be plenty of unionists prepared to side with the marginalized and vulnerable and SF will be susceptible to some of their members more happy to pronounce for corporate interests. The sooner this conversation gets underway the better.

  11. Ryan April 7, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    I understand the hype over Fermanagh/South Tyrone because the seat was won by 1 vote by SF in 2010. Do I believe it be such a close contest this time around? No. The SDLP’s vote will fall by a considerable amount, not only because they are fielding a very weak candidate but because the nationalist population will know that a vote for SDLP is a vote for UUP’s Tom Elliot. The UUP’s choice of candidate was very poor also. Tom Elliott is well known to Nationalists, especially SF voters, as a bigoted, ex UDR man who sees nationalists as “scum”. His photo on UUP election posters around Fermanagh/South Tyrone will have the nationalists out in force to vote for Sinn Fein.

    My prediction is that Sinn Fein will hold the seat in F/ST by over 1,500 votes. You never know, after the election results are read out, we might see Tom Elliott engaged in another “scum of Sinn Fein” rant like he did in the last election. Fermanagh/South Tyrone contest is certainly worth keeping an eye on…..

  12. Antonio April 7, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    It is part of our little local media’s agenda to portray the voting behaviour as mindless people voting for people because they are wearing a green sash or an orange sash. The S.D.L.P fell into this trap when they dismissed talk of a pact with Sinn Fein as ‘sectarian’. It felt like the S.D.L.P were calling nationalists sectarian which is odd as the S.D.L.P designate themselves as nationalist in the Assembly.

    I thought Sinn Fein won that brief debate on electoral pacts on the Nolan show when Kelly pointed out to Alban Maginness that people should vote on our parties’ policies and it clear that Sinn fein and the S.D.L.P should have a mutual interest in preventing Unionist Tories getting into Westminster. In case anybody is unaware the Ulster Unionist party, which has a chance of taking Fermanagh -south Tyrone because the S.D.L.P are scared our local media will call them sectarian, have voted alongside the Conservative party over 90% of the time in the Commons over the last century. The figure for the D.U.P is just over 80%.

    It is obvious to people like us (political anaraks) that the border is still central to voting behaviour. But alas the media want to keep Irish Unity off the agenda and what better way to do that than tell their viewers and readers that people mindlessly vote for people because they are Catholic or Protestant. It is also part of their intention to dissuade Protestants and particularly young, more liberal Protestants that they cannot vote for Sinn Fein or the S.D.L.P because they are sectarian parties and they can vote for the Alliance party because they are the only ‘non-sectarian’ party.

    Also our media keeps banging on about Sinn Fein’s abstention policy. Now Sinn Fein could probably be more vocal in explaining to people why that is their policy because some people do not understand it. Having said that, Gildernew made a good point about the disinterest Westminster has for the North when she highlighted how 8 D.U.P MP’s were considered less worthy of a place on the T.V debate than one Green Party MP. Mark Carruthers should have taken up this point and addressed it to Tom Elliot, Unionist unity candidate but he did not unfortunately. Furthermore, If people understood how little power MP’s in Westminster have they would be horrified. Our media should be challenging those MP’s that attend Westminster on what they have gained for the people in Northern Ireland over the decades, seen as attendance is so important.

  13. Perkin Warbeck April 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    So ‘tribe’ and ‘tribal’ are the favourite reach-for tropes of the scribes in Norneverland who subscribe to that group think tank known as DOPE. The. halting sites of these thinkers are called the broadcasting studios of the BBC and UTV.

    DOPE being, of course, the acronym for those hacks and hackademics who pride themselves on being the Demonisers Of Pearse’s Eireland. And for whom the t for tribe jibe is specifically employed to taunt the great unwashed known as the MOPEs.

    MOPEs being the sort of simian featured folk who dress up in Irish billycock hats, ragged grey freize overcoats, green waistcoats, patched corduroy breeches and battered old yellow top boots on their way to vote and vote often for the Shinners. They may well have the cute Celtic cudgel known as the shillelagh in their six-fingered six-countied hands.

    Who’s counting?

    It is noticeable too that all their vote-casting coinicides, curiously enough, with the lunch time break of those Darwinian denizens who populate the pages of Punch magazine.

    Failte, Esteemed Blogmeister, to United West Britian (UWB) where the border has been abolished by a wholesome trinity of stealth, wealth and a healthy hatred of The Hiberno Thingy.

    For Cliche Sans Frontiers is as robust south of the Black Pig’s Dyke as it is north.

    Take this most touching tribute paid in the Irish Dependent (ID) at the weekend by its foremost Ego (Declan Lynch) to its (gulp) newly deceased Super Ego:

    ‘George Byrne (for it was he !) supported Rangers in Scotland as a measure of his implacable hatred of every conceivable aspect of Irish nationalism.

    It was George who called Gaelic football ‘bogball’ and hurling ‘stickfighting’. And who on one famous occasion told his listeners on radio on the day of an All-Ireland Final that he would be watching the Big Match that day and that he expected Blackburn Rovers to win’.

    As Perkie’s inner undertaker fully realises that more of this tear-jerking tribute from one Bromide Bro to another might expose his loyal reader to gratuitous emotional distress resulting in possible post-traumatic counselling he will thoughtfully guillotine the extract at this point in t.,going forward.

    The poignant subtext of this heart-rending jerking of tears is that it was ‘bogball’ itself which was actually pronounced dead as a coffin nail in ID. It’s an age-old adage of the newspaper business that there is a wrong way and a right way to organise the obituary department. Corrigan strikes again.

    Over in the Irish Dependent’s sister paper across the Liffey waters, The Unionist Times they order things in a different, sniffier way.Instead of flamboyantly mounting the gibbet in the open like Dec the Neck, aka Game for a Scaff, they tend to adopt more of a furtive, go-be-the-wall approach. There, they even get to publish a page in leprechaun every Wednesday (tomorrow/amarach !) under the heading: Treibh.

    Treibh? Geddit? Thought not. It is leprechaun for ‘Tribe’. Geddit it now? Thought you might. Maith an t-amadan.

    The only problem with creating a United West Britain (UWB) is that it lends its adherents to being called an unexpected and unlooked for epithet. Rather than actually impressing the master race on the mainland the most the DOPEs, the most, erm, sophisticated proponets of UWB can expect is the r for rhyming word.


    The fact remains that even the cliche in Cliches Sans Frontiers means the same as any other lazy-bottomed cliche. A cliche being nothing more admirable than a phrase that lives too long under the same roof as its Mother Tongue.

    Time to grow up, move out, chaps, and find a gaff of your own.

    Mind you, this moving business can be fraught with unexpected pitfalls if not pitbull terriers. As Senor Perkie’s inner gringo knows only too well. Inspired by a song written by a lyricist from Norneverland and called ‘South of the Border’ he once found himself finding an apartimento su mismo not unadjacent to Plaza Garibaldi, a musical barrio in Downtown Mexico City.

    The gifted Jimmy Kennedy (for it was he !) had never been south of the relevant border when he penned the lyrics of el cancion which was to become at one stage the most recorded song in the Gringo Land of Tio Sam. Though he was based south of the Black Pig’s Dyke when he famously received a postcard from his madre y su hermana from ‘South of the Border down Mexico Way’.

    The more Senor Perkie becomes exposed to the chirping and clicking of the cockroaches on both sides of the non-existent media border in UWB the more he is transported back to the musical barrio of Plaza Garibali.

    -Thump ! Thump ! Thump !

    Schrodinger, Perkie’s pet but equally pernickety pussycat, who has been quiet of late, thumping the Axminster again with his impatient talisman of a tail, demanding clarification.

    Plaza Garibaldi is where those miracles of mustachioed musicality, the mariachi bands gather to beguile and while the time away for los turisticos, in the hope los gringos will have some dinero to spare-o. for los charros (na buachailli bo o Jallisco) in their sombreros.

    Only problema was Plaza Garibaldi, being only slight larger than an average basketball court, is scarcely commodious enough to accommodate up to twenty competing mariachi bandas as the one time, and even, a simultaneo.

    Rather mournful collateral result: whenever Perkie’s inner cheapo gringo opened his balcony window the better to get a free earful of this most exhilarating of all musical genres, it was to be greeted with a mish mash of la musica magica which conspired to sound, todos los noches, without fail, like a cacophanous hodge podge of ‘La Cucaraca’.

    Not at all unlike the chirping and clicking of the cockroaches of the media both South and North of the Mythical Border of the United West Britain. Who, it is has often been commented upon, go,oddly enough, into the Madagascar hissing cockroach mode whenever the Shinners come up for mench at the bench of public opinion.

    Trust this will clarify things to Schrodinger’s satsifaction. Although, with pussy one never knows.


  14. michael c April 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    As someone who sees Michele as a brilliant candidate and someone “who has a great way with her”, I would not be overly confident this time at all.Emigration has seen hundreds either off the register or not in a position to vote by proxy or post because of the logistics of organising this from places like Australia.

    • Ryan April 7, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      Its true that many have emigrated to Australia but it would be silly to suggest all these people are Sinn Fein voters lol Many of them are young people and young people from both communities. And its a well known fact that young people are more likely NOT to vote than any other age group, so it really wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

      I’m actually more confident now than I would’ve been in 2010. SDLP had a great and well known candidate then and the Unionists put forward a Unionist Unity candidate, which was more attractive to both Unionist parties voters.

      Back in 2010 I would’ve been saying that SF would most certainly lose the seat (Thanks to SDLP) but now in 2015, I’m very confident SF will keep it.

    • boondock April 8, 2015 at 8:49 am #

      Emigration involves the young people who as a general rule cant be bothered to vote anyway. SF can only lose this seat through voter apathy but Unionism by picking Tom Elliot have guaranteed a good nationalist turnout. Michelle to win by at least 1000 votes but likely alot more.