How not to talk and how to be suggestive

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Picture by Joe Cashin                       Picture by Northern Ireland Executive

Two quick references to convince you (as if you needed it) that politics is a dirty business which uses words as weapons.

This morning on RTÉ Radio One, Leo Varadkar was being quizzed about the Fennelly report. That’s the one that looks at, among other things, whether Enda Kenny acted illegally by firing the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan. The report found Enda had not acted illegally, since he hadn’t fired the Garda Commissioner. Instead, what he’d done was send A Man. This Man was Brian Purcell, and Purcell didn’t like the idea of making the visit at all at all. In fact he told the people involved that being sent to lean on Callinan was wrong. It didn’t matter. He went. And Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan called it a day. So you see – Enda was innocent all the time. Tell a Garda Commissioner  he was fired? I wouldn’t dream of such a thing. Mind you, I might send A Man to have a word with him. You could hardly have a better example of not using a word – ‘resign’ – and yet getting the same effect.

The other example of word-dancing was from Arlene Foster on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster this morning. She was asked if she thought Martin McGuinness wasn’t telling the truth when he said the IRA had quit the stage. Arlene said she preferred to believe the word of the Chief Constable who said they hadn’t. (Actually he didn’t say that ach sin sceal eile.) What about Mr McGuinness’s statement? “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” And then Arlene went on to talk repeatedly about Martin McGuinness and “the organisation” he belongs to. Not the political party, you note: the organisation. So just like Enda Kenny didn’t visit the Garda Commissioner and tell him to get his coat and hat, Arlene didn’t say that Martin McGuinness was a liar and a top man in the IRA.  Much better to do a little dance and quote Mandy Rice-Davies and talk about organisations. Wink-nudge, we all know the real score. Martin McGuinness isn’t really into politics or leading a political party. In fact, there might even be a hint that Sinn Féin isn’t a political party at all, which would explain why Arlene and her fellow-party members haven’t given them so much as the time of day for nearly twenty years. Something for which they’re unlikely to lose too many votes.

Ah yes. Choose your non-words and words well, and you’ll get the job done in a way that leaves no trace.

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17 Responses to How not to talk and how to be suggestive

  1. john Patton September 2, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    Exquisite examples of how Politics works far too frequently. You and I may construe and decode the semantics but the guy on the bus assimilates only the headline

    • Jude Collins September 2, 2015 at 10:09 am #

      Too true, John. And the guy in the Merc in many instances.

  2. Jim Neeson September 2, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    It is indeed heartening that the Nolan Show interviewed that Sterling political pundit Johnny Adair this morning. He appears to side with SF that the IRA Organisation has gone away!!!
    Makes my day to know that information and that Mr Adair can indeed string a few words together

  3. giordanobruno September 2, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Of course the choice of words “has left the stage” is very deliberate too.
    As Ed Moloney, (who Jude of course does not read)I think, said “they may have left the stage but not the theatre.”
    Nor was the word disband used at the time they ‘put away the guns’.
    Choose your words well indeed!

    • Jude Collins September 2, 2015 at 10:01 am #

      Point taken, gio. I would not exclude any political party. I know some would – I wouldn’t.

  4. Sherdy September 2, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    Jude, Sinn Fein always seem to be defending their position from attacks coming from all directions. Surely they are missing a trick.
    It is time they used attack as a more effective defence – but how would they do that?
    Simple, the DUP’s Achilles heel is the filthy lucre which seems to follow them around.
    Sinn Fein should be more assertive about the Nama investigation by the Serious Crime Agency.
    DUP members have been far too close to the deal, giving a strong impression of sticky fingers being involved.
    Sammy Wilson and Simon Hamilton have been involved in ‘negotiations’, as has Peter Robinson and his son who is not even supposedly involved in politics, and they were having Nama meetings without the knowledge or presence of Martin McGuinness who should have been equally involved with Robinson.
    And there is Mick Wallace’s Dail statement that a DUP member was in line to receive a £5mn bung, also the involvement of DUP cronies Ian Coulter and Frank Cushnahan. Surely they would not have been involved for purely altruistic reasons.
    Then we have Nelson McCausland batting for Red Sky, a front name for [EDITED], and then his meetings with DUP grandees Turkington Windows about HE contracts, but claiming he thought he was talking to the Glass and Glazing Federation (in Turkingtons’ offices), and we are expected to believe there were no financial considerations.
    Sinn Fein should demand these matters be cleared up before they can start to trust the DUP, and have them as equal importance to any matters the DUP (oh, and did I forget the UUP?) feel are significant.

    • Jude Collins September 2, 2015 at 10:19 am #

      I agree with a lot of what you say – but that Red Sky is a front for [EDITED] – not sure about that. What evidence have you? I do think SF should be more assertive but it does seem they’ve gone the suffer-in-silence route, on the grounds presumably that it takes to two to have a barney. But then there are some in the DUP could conduct a fist-fight in an empty room…

      • paddykool September 2, 2015 at 11:53 am #

        I believe Sinn fein haven’t been assertive enough …nor have the SDLP for that matter. There have been plenty of holes in the unionist sails that have been ignored . I think Sinn Fein has invested so much of their power in a political future and a growth in their party that they have been prepared to swallow hard at every slight …just to keep the show on the road.I’m sure that on many occasions they could have closed the shop .Take the Red Sky stonewalling exercise for just one. That was an instance where trust could have simply broken down. Take Peter’s letter from Florida when he simply reneged on a deal with his partner in government.I don’t have to mention the business with the flag leaflets and Alliance or their obvious cuddling up to some leery loyalist reps.

        Take this NAMA thing….. Any one of those could have torn any political deal asunder.Created walk outs and huffery..

        .As you say , Jude , I don’t see any actual evidence of UDA involvement in Red Sky but i do see cronyism or at worst money -under- the -counter deals or favouritism.That’s what it looks like and that is nearly worse than para-military involement .. I certainly wouldn’t trust the transparent shiftyness of Mr Brimstone and his non-answers..the stonewalling……never mind the man whose skin he is protecting.Then there’s the whole idea of even sharing a room with people who support racism and the treatment dished out to language -lovers or gay people…and not forgetting the mad Creationists…How is anyone expected to share air with people as crass as that? sinn Fein hardly blinked an eye.I’m afraid I’d be foaming at the mouth!

        Sinn Fein could have collapsed the whole thing on any one of those counts but they had reason not to. Unionism has its own reasons for collapsing this thing .The most obvious one is for the UUP is to steal a bunch of DUP voters at a possible future election .The other thing is to hopefully damage Sinn Fein both north and south…the vague hope being that southern voters will be frightened off if they believe the IRA is in government {they mightn’t read the small print} ..and for northern voters being so pissed-ff with the idea that Sinn Fein will never be able to make headway in government and they might choose to either vote for the SDLP, thus weakening Sinn Fein or possibly even start up more violence in their frustration and give both the UUP and the DUP the real evidence they really need to say “See…I told you so!”

      • giordanobruno September 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

        That seems a pretty serious allegation to let stand. Dodgy contracts are one thing but ties to a murderous gang like [EDITED] is something else. I hope none of those Red Sky directors are litigious for your sake.
        Would I get away with naming a business as a front for the IRA (if they still existed)?
        I doubt it.

        • Jude Collins September 3, 2015 at 7:49 am #

          I think you have a point, gio. I’ll have a further word with the person who wrote it. I’ve no wish to spend my dwindling years in the slammer…

    • Jude Collins September 3, 2015 at 7:51 am #

      Sherdy – in response to gio’s comment on this, and my own initial misgivings, I think you’ll either have to put some evidence behind the Red Sky-UDA remark or I’ll have to take it down. Sorry.

  5. Iolar September 2, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    I dare say the words from a ‘security consultant’ based in Scotland will not be music to the ears of Mr Robinson et al. Mr Cameron is obviously not impressed with serial walk-outs from the Haass talks, Stormont or the logic of a suspension of the Legislative Assembly designed to facilitate more talks. Mr Dodds wishes to have elected members ejected from the Assembly, telling us “it will not be business as usual” on the hill. The productivity in the theatre of the absurd is none too impressive to date.

    I dare say the PSNI may wish to have words with the ‘security consultant’ in Scotland in order to prepare a fresh assessment concerning the extent of extortion that is apparently prevalent in this part of the world. I dare say that individuals with trained legal minds may hark back to a time when ‘evidence’ determined judicial procedures.

    The mood music between Ms Villiers and Mr Flanagan appears to be more pleasing in the corridors of power. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words is perhaps appropriate, according to the composer, the music expresses thoughts too definite to put into words.

  6. Séamus Ó Néill September 2, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    In total agreement with Sherdy, from 1921 until 1969 we were completely voiceless…..both the old Labour and Nationalist parties were neutered and anything they did say was completely ignored. Today we are on an equal footing with competent , articulate spokespersons…20 years of ineffectual endeavouring to reach out to boneheaded Unionism is more than enough……bring it to them ,there is more than enough ammunition to sink an armada , no holes barred ,dish the dirt …..for too long it’s been one way traffic , I’m sick to the back teeth of their whinging ,sneering innuendos ….put the boot in !

  7. Perkin Warbeck September 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Nino Rota who, erm, wrote the evocative theme music for The Godfather, Esteemed Blogmeister, must have been best pleased with the English translation of the lyricist: ‘Speak softly, love’.

    Different folks, different spokemen, of course, even within the same motion picture.

    For, on the other hand, Francis Ford Coppola, the director, opted to make the signature scene of the fillum speak loudly, with a scream.That was the scene, of course, which featured ‘cloigeann an chapaill’ / a horse’s head in the bed.

    A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. Whatever you neigh, neigh nothing.

    .Nearer home, in the Free Southern Stateen, rather than in the United States, What happened to Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan when he got a midnight knock on the door, and a call from one of the Twelve Apostles ironically rang a bell..Being straight from the handbook of urban persuasion, the author of which was blueshirt poster boy, Micheal Collins.

    Call it ‘Cuirt an Mhean OIche’ / The Midnight Call. A handbook which is annually commemorated in the County Clare by the merry men and the merry women of the leprechaun wing of The Unionist Times.

    Sack or sweetheart deal?

    Whatever, just to mention that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was once a member of the surveillance team called ‘Tango’ which mounted a 24/7 surveillance on Martin Cahill, who shared the same military title of General with Michael Collins. Fat lot of good it did either, you may say.

    Note the sudden preponderance of MC’s in this brief narrative? Dia idir sinn agus gach olc / God between us an all harm but better call a halt at this stage or else one might even get around to namechecking the Michael Corleone of PIRA himself.

    Speaking of which shadowy organisation of gunaway men, the go-to expert on this topic which just refuses to depart, you know, Charlie ‘Je suis Charles’ Flanagan MP, .definitively opined yesterday that ‘nobody believes that the IRA has gone away’.

    Which makes the Foreign Minister of the FSS not just the go-to expert on the Cosa Nostra of Nationalism but – gasp – on EVERYBODY. And not only that but what they believe. This is surely a heavy burden to bear, keeping tabs, like.

    Signs off. Since taking office, the poor chap has visibly aged exponetically and in the public eye, too. Looks 58, going on 159. Could do with some irony tablets, perhaps.

    Yesterday he was due to welcome his fellow Tory MP, Teresa Villiers, the Secretary of the Unfree Northern Stateen (UNS – as in ‘dem uns’ ) to Liffeyside. Perkie’s inner horologist knows this because on reading of her hectic schedule he was left breathless, or indeed, Breathless (see below).

    Belfast in the morning, Dublin in d’afternoon and London in the evening. Which made him wonder was Under Stressy Tessy compelled to keep at least three timepieces about her comely person?

    Truth to tell, while the build up to this momentous visit was little short of immense the (gulp) post mortem was a great let down. For such was the paucity that one is not even sure if she actually managed to squeeze the fair city where the girls are so pretty into her overloaded itinerary.

    Alas, The Midnight Call on Callinan and the Pointing of Fingers at Fingleton might well have squeezed the newsworthiness out of it in a pincer movement of priority stories in the purchased press.

    More’s the pity, for it could have afforded the manipulated media an all too rare glimpse of, say, Flanagan and Villiers strolling down Kildare Street, for instance. To pause briefly in a Mullaghmore type gesture of reconciliation at Lincoln Place. That’s where two female pedestrians were blasted into Kingdom Come by undercover forces of the Crown(alleged) in 1974.

    Then, step in step, if not arms in arms, the Diplomatic Duo might have strolled in a show of solidarity and as a testimony to the maturing relationships between these two islands sort of thingy, along Nassau Street, left into Grafton Street, and finally, right into (gulp) Clarendon Street RC church.

    For a few moments of reconciliatory reflection, McAleesey and low, like, Bearing in mind that the Honourable Member for Chipping Barnet (which is every bit as Norneverland as Crossmaglen istself) is a direct descendant of (gasp) the 1st Earl of Clarendon heself.

    To conclude with a ceist / question: is this the only distinguished ancestor dude of the Royal Nuncio in Norneverland? One suspects not. Indeed, the more he reflects upon the genealogical aspects of the matter, the more Perkie’s inner horologist is convinced that Bessy’s Dressy Tessy, i.e. Theresa the Unnecessary is related to (gasp) the Rachmaninoff of Rock ‘n Roll.

    For, when ole Jerry Lee Lewis (for it is he !) was learning his trade as a pianer man in the honky tonks of Ferriday, Louisiana tis many a sweaty night he found his long right arm festooned with the wrist watches (usually three) of punters otherwise engaged. (The good ole boys in question might have differences to settle with other good ole boys incautious enough to give the gals not engaged to them, the glad eye).

    An excellent way to learn the rudiments of timing, it must be averred. Besides having a hit with the record ‘Breathless’ Jerry Lee, unlike Michael Fingleton (see above) was entitled to be known by more than just the moniker ‘Fingers’.

    He could, after all, play,say, The Derry Air better with his derriere than most ivory ticklers could with their digits.

    But what convinced Perkie of their probable consangnuinity was the pronunciation of Villiers as Villers (the i is silent as p in a swimming pool). This was evidenced in a deferential interview on RTE with Under Stressy Tessy by one who has become quite the go-to expert on pronunciations of late: Sonya/Aine Lawlor.

    A Question of Time.

    From Belfast Town time of 16 and 90
    To Dublin where the q’s aren’t pointy
    Dear Ms.Theresa Villiers
    Gotta be kin to the Killer’s
    To London and a civilised g. of Chianti.

  8. blackmountain September 2, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    Kenny made Callinan an offer he couldn’t refuse; Robinson made Cameron an offer that he couldn’t understand.

    • ben madigan September 2, 2015 at 8:52 pm #

      Nice one Black Mountain

  9. Ryan September 3, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    In my view, Politics is an exact science. Everyone knows the basic rule of a good politician is to never give a straight answer to a question unless its guaranteed to be good for them or their party. Words are weapons, there’s no doubt about that and more care is needed using them than using a physical weapon. On a similar topic, I’ve long been a believer that the Pen is mightier than the Sword. I’ve also held the view that Irish Unity will come along through the Pen and not the Sword, yes the Sword has played a part in getting where we are today but the Pen will seal the deal and finish partition once and for all. The Key to a United Ireland doesn’t lay in Ireland or Britain, it has always lay in the USA.

    After reading through a few comments on this forum from contributors, I agree with a lot of them, especially in reference to Sinn Fein not being assertive enough when it comes to DUP/UUP, who are always very quick to bash SF whenever the opportunity arises. I think SF doesn’t do that because they want Stormont to stay afloat and engaging in such playground behaviour that the DUP/UUP engage in isn’t helpful. SF is trying to change its image, it wants to be seen, North and South, as a party who can be in the driving seat of government on both sides of the border and that is a key objective for the Shinners. Engaging in tit for tat with the DUP/UUP will just make them look bad, they certainly don’t want the DUP/UUP’s image.

    When it comes to the Unionist extremists in the DUP (and the UUP, where their numbers are growing) I’ve always been of the opinion that nationalists shouldn’t react to them, let them do/say whatever they like, they are only damaging themselves and even the Union itself. Some Unionists are their own worst enemy. Sit back and let them ruin themselves and ruin the Union while they’re at it because that’s one of the main reasons why partition and the statelet of Northern Ireland has been unworkable and a complete failure: because of political Unionism and its supporters.