Three questions about Dr Alasdair

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Question 1: Was Alasdair right to say what he said?

Yes and no. He was right in terms of content: a blindfolded sightless man on a galloping stallion could tell inside five seconds that the great majority of unionist politicians detest having to share power with nationalist and especially republicans. And Alasdair isn’t the first to have have pointed that out. There may be all sorts of good or not good reasons for them so feeling, but yes, they definitely would prefer not to have a taig about the place.

The No part comes in terms of Alasdair’s delivery. For one thing, it seemed obvious that he didn’t expect his words to be recorded. Had they merely appeared in print it wouldn’t have been so bad, but there’s something about the spoken word, and particularly the spoken word coming from Alasdair’s mouth, that makes it sound ham-fisted and coarse. So he was wrong to articulate his thoughts as he did.

He was also wrong to say that “Sinn Féin can’t tell the truth”. He may decide that Gerry Adams, probably for legal reasons, isn’t telling the truth; but the added bit about “Martin McGuinness can’t tell the truth about this and he can’t tell the truth about that “ – silly and vague and ignorant.

Question 2: Was the unionist reaction to Alasdair’s words appropriate?

Hardly. Gregory Campbell said that the DUP couldn’t be a sectarian party because when there was flooding in South Belfast after his election, he went to McDonnell and helped (not emptying buckets but you know – helping). He then went on to say that the DUP couldn’t be sectarian because the vote for the SDLP had gone down (No, Virginia, I don’t get that one either). And finally (all in the same interview ) he said that Catholics were voting for the DUP (oh really?) so how would they vote for a sectarian party? An appalling mishmash of blustering.

Then Arlene Foster weighed in and said that Alasdair really should apologise to the DUP for using such language AND he should apologise to the Catholic population for using such a word. Cool your jets, Arlene. I don’t know of a single Catholic who felt offended by Alasdair’s use of the word “fenian”. And yes, it is similar to the word “nigger”: for other people to use it of black people is insulting, for black people themselves to use it is fine. Got that OK, Arlene? Stop worrying about us. Worry about yourselves.


Question 3: Will Alasdair’s outburst help him and/or the SDLP?

Again, yes and no. No in that his remarks are very much in tone with his “Jeez, fellahs, them lights are blindin’ me!” remark when he first became leader. They must make SDLP members want to put him in the boot of a car and start again. But Yes, they will be helpful to the SDLP. That’s because even the most servile of them (hello Fearghal) must now see that the SDLP is going nowhere fast with this man. And since there’s an election on the horizon, there’s a good chance that Colum Eastwood will replace the luckless doctor. Which won’t of course reverse the SDLP’s decline; but it might slow it. We all must learn to be grateful for small mercies.


24 Responses to Three questions about Dr Alasdair

  1. billy September 26, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    not only dont they want a taig about the place some want them removed permanent,as seen with some adult scrawling kat.[kill all taigs] on a childs forehead as an advert,as for allister what did we do to deserve a new sdlp office.

  2. TheHist September 26, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    Spot on Jude – Personally i think it’s inconceivable that a change in leadership will make a difference to the SDLP – I know little of Colum Eastwood but I’m assuming his nomination is being supported due to his youth, for the party to try and reach out to “floating” or younger voters! I’ve often used the anology that the SDLP are in a “critical condition”, on a life support machine. With every election, it’s condition is worsening – at some stage the life support machine will be switched off and their survival will diminish.

    I totally agree with what McDonnell said in relation to the DUP. Prof Jon Tonge did an academic study last year with the DUP and 75% of DUP respondents stated they would oppose a relative marrying a Catholic – I mean, this reeks of blatant sectarianism! Even less DUP members, 66% agree that homosexuality was wrong – so their Christian values diminish when it comes to direct hatred of Catholics!

    This allied with Gregory Campbell’s daily bigoted rants – his previous rants on the Irish language and culture that Catholics predominantly embrace! Yesterday on Talkback he couldn’t even bring himself to accepting a visit to the North from the Pope – stating it would be “divisive”! How pathetic! The Queen, a divisive figure in the eyes of some, has visited both the North and South without any issue whatsoever! In fact, acts of “reconciliation” were even on the agenda! That word political unionism don’t understand!

    I recall the comment of UUP leader James Molyneaux, after the PIRA declared a ceasefire in 1994 “This (the ceasefire) is the worst thing that has ever happened to us.” Modernising it, the GFA agreement, albeit unsupported by the DUP, was a disaster for them as this notion of “sharing power” was totally against their principles – SF bringing the republican movement along a political process and accepting police was another disaster for the DUP as SF has led the foundation for any sharing of power – the ground work was done in line with unionist demands – the DUP never expected the republican movement to come thus far – this was the worse thing to happen to them!

    In this instance I totally agree with Martin McGuinness when he stated “Nationalists want to share power, Unionists share power because they have too.” The old Unionist dominance of the past may have long passed, but in the minds of many Unionists, they would enthusiastically and without hesitation, embrace any notion of return to same!

  3. Bridget Cairns September 26, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    Pity he didn’t say that 1st comment years ago when it might have meant something, Too, too late to speak truth for SDLP.

    • jessica September 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      Ever since their trip down the post nationalist path, they have totally lost touch with their nationalist roots.

      This comment was half hearted, and even the standard point scoring attack on sinn fein was wishy washy.

      His refusal to step aside is going to divide the party.

      I liked Conal Devitt but since his departure, there is no mojo left in this party.

  4. ANOTHER JUDE September 26, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    I listened to Gregory Campbell on Talkback and I was amazed at the sheer rubbish he was spouting, a man who exudes Loyalism and anti Catholic/Irish hatred, a man who year after year stands proudly at the twelfth bonfire, watching the tricolours and posters burning, what sheer nonsense. He couldn`t admit he would be against a Papal visit to the north, (surely Pope Francis wouldn`t be that desperate for a trip?) he wriggled around like the sectarian little man he is and always will be. If I had a pound for every time the word` Fenian` was used at any gathering Campbell has been at, I would be a very wealthy man.

  5. Sherdy September 26, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    Alasdair’s delivery – the problem with it is that the Mad Doctor doesn’t speak, he venomously spits the words out.
    On his ‘Sinn Fein can’t tell the truth’. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t.
    But for him to throw out allegations of others’ veracity is maybe taking a brass neck to the extreme.
    If different reports on Twitter and elsewhere on matters about which we cannot at the moment legally speak do prove to have credibility, he should be somewhat more circumspect about throwing out allegations.
    Was it just pure coincidence that his latest outburst comes on the very day that Colm (or is it Colum) Eastwood’s name has been put forward for a leadership contest?
    Misfortune or serendipidy – take your pick!

    • Jude Collins September 26, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

      You’re right. Sherdy – it’s Colum. I shall redress (so to speak).

  6. Séamus Ó Néill September 26, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    What is wrong with these people ,is a full lobotomy a prerequisite to being a member of the DUP ?. No i’m not offended by the term “Fenian” ,a warrior, but I am offended by being referred to me as a rogue or renegade when someone is in “Gatekeeper” mode. I am offended ,deeply, by someone denegrading my language and using phrases like “curry my yoghurt” I am offended when we strenuously try to make peace with our neighbours and they constantly spit in our faces, I am offended by adults constantly using childish pranks and tossing their toys out of of the proverbial pram. Enough is more than enough !!

    • billy September 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

      you would have been more offended if that dup member had of had his way to build incinerators for the taigs,oh and throw their priests in as well,ole george seawright he was a nice chap.they hate taigs simples.

  7. neill September 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Strangely no mention of the fact that SF cant tell the truth I would say that is equally valid as the Dup not wishing to share power.

    • Jude Collins September 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

      You can’t have read my blog if you say that, neill

      • neill September 27, 2015 at 12:54 am #

        I meant the posters Jude

    • Ryan September 26, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

      I’m assuming your referring to the Chief Constables accusations Neill. As Jude has repeatedly asked over the past few months on that topic: Where is the evidence? If Unionists are so sure the PIRA are behind those murders in East Belfast then show the proof? When that question is asked Unionism suddenly goes quiet but that doesn’t stop them trying to make political capital for their own selfish reasons. When Loyalists murder, shoot, deal drugs, etc political Unionism isn’t too bothered, they aren’t demanding panels be set up to investigate Loyalist crimes and such crimes doesn’t stop them from sharing platforms with the UVF/UDA or sitting down with them. Such double standards don’t go unnoticed.

      Sinn Fein has asked the same question to the CC: Where is the evidence that the PIRA were behind the murders? No one is able to show any evidence.

      • neill September 27, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

        The strange thing is that many people on this blog believe that Peter Robinson is guilty of corruption with no firm evidence at all and yet the very same people believe the Chief Constable is lying when he gives his comments out on the IRA`s involvement in the murder of McGuigan with very firm evidence why would that be so?

  8. Ryan September 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m not the biggest fan of the Mad Doctor but he’s 100% correct on this one.

    I honestly did have a hearty laugh when I took a look at Gregory Campbell’s facebook last night. Wow, if you were a foreigner visiting and you knew nothing about politics here you would think the DUP were very popular amongst Catholics judging by Gregory’s remarks. I didn’t know it was because of Catholics that Gregory gets elected? I didn’t know either that the DUP has a Catholic following? Wow. Either its time for Gregory, in his own words, to get his relatives to “show Journalists the door” because age is creeping up on him or the man is absolutely deluded. Just a matter of time before the DUP proclaim that all Catholics want to stay in the Union…..oh wait….

    The facts, as usual when it comes to the DUP, say very different. Very, very, VERY few Catholics vote for the UUP never mind the DUP. More Protestants vote nationalist than Catholics vote unionist, the SDLP gets most of these protestant votes. When it comes to the Union the only thing backing up Catholics wanting to stay in the Union is surveys/polls done by the Belfast Telegraph and The Newsletter, who are hardly bastions of neutrality. The only way of learning the outcome of a border poll is to, obviously, have a border poll. Some Unionists don’t like the fact the last border poll was held in the early 1970’s and it was, err…, boycotted by the Catholic community. No mention either that 99% of Catholics who vote repeatedly vote Sinn Fein/SDLP every election.

    There’s no doubt about it, the DUP is a sectarian party and so is the UUP too, remember it was the UUP that ran a sectarian, anti-Catholic state for decades and suppressed equality and civil rights. You just have to look at the founder of the DUP and his anti-Catholic activities that stretched back decades. Has the DUP ever apologized for that? Has the DUP’s Arlene Foster apologized for her “Keep them’uns (Catholics) out” remark when it came to Nationalist/Catholic ministers?

    The problem with the DUP/UUP is they cant handle the truth, so they engage in self delusion. Gregory Campbell cant bring himself to even acknowledge that there was gerrymandering and discrimination against the “Catholics” that vote him into Westminster…

    • neill September 27, 2015 at 12:56 am #

      If the DUP/UUP are sectarian then obviously the SDLP/SF must be sectarian or is only unionists that can be sectarian?

      • jessica September 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

        We can only judge people on their actions.

        Unionist culture is steeped in sectarianism, i.e. orange order which is profoundly sectarian.

        Sectarianism should be called out from all quarters but that does pose a greater problem for unionism who have the task of removing sectarianism from the culture they were brought up with.

        That means stop burning the irish flag on bonefires
        marching through areas draped in regalia with the aim of causing offense, just to show you can get away with it
        stop playing sectarian tunes outside places of worship
        stop mocking the irish language
        stop making derisory comments against other religious groupings and people
        etc… etc….

        Do you consider the above actions sectarian neill?

        • neill September 27, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

          Jessica get your own stable cleaned out before you criticise others.

          Still unionism isn’t lead by some own who ignored child abuse or a party that tried to cover up rapes and of course how can I forget day to day corruption like fuel laundering that happens in South Armagh which Sf seem to make no comment on but of course you are right Jessica that Republican are so much morally superior to us poor unionists…..

          • jessica September 27, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

            There are criminals in all walks of life.
            I am sure we can agree there is no place for criminality from any quarter.

            Let focus on the non criminal elements.

            I never commented on the drug dealing and punishment attacks from loyalist paramilitaries as that is not part of unionist culture. The same is true with republicanism. I abhor all of the criminal acts you refer to. It is time the PSNI stopped protecting them to keep their moles in place and put an end to it once and for all.

            The leadership within unionism are openly sectarian, and that is a big difference,

          • paul September 28, 2015 at 11:57 am #

            Neill, surely you read about Kincora? Lots of unionist involvement there. William McGrath was cozy with Unionism. No side is blameless

  9. Perkin Warbeck September 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    One nearly knocked over all one’s Post-its, Esteemed Blogmeister, on reading where (a) The Florid Fenian used the F-word and (b) the acting F-Minister Arlene F called upon him to apologise for using the F-word. To presumably, the Fenians.

    Words, God love them, sure where would we be without them.? At all, at all. Or even on the Bikini Atoll itself. (Which, come to think of it…..).

    Words is like women, Joxer: lost without them, and lost for them. Both simultaneously AND at the same time.

    The vibrancy of any language,it is said, lies in its ability to lie. And to lie convincingly. On that premise, the German Queen’s English is perhaps nowhere more vibrant than down here in the Free Southern Stateen at this moment in time, going f.

    Where words mean one thing and sometimes another, depending of course of the lie of the land. Here be a little list. Call it, if you will, Morphy’s Law List.

    1, Take, fr’instance, the Dail. While indeed it is still there to be taken, not least, in vain.. More often than not these days one is more liable to hear, ahem, during public discourse, The Irish Parliament.

    Alan Shatter, MP, by way of an example, used it even as he was hightailing it from studio to studio yesterday, or rather staggering. Bearing as he was, manfully, and all by his heroic own on his diminutive self, the weight of insult contained in the (gasp) sneaky Teutonic come-on: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’.

    Oddly enough, over in Jerusalem, things linguistic are ordered a deal differently. It would be of interest to hear, say, Alan Shatter, MP getting his posh Protestant school accent around ‘The Israeli Parliament’ while in the vicinity of the Knesset. Or, even, knot.

    Of course, what’s sauce for the gander is not necessarily sauce for the goose-stepper in the FSS. When it was put to the same Alan Shatter,MP. which way he had voted – confidently or not – during the week on Dame Enda Average, the PM whom he had fallen foul of, the beleagured MP put his Y-word up front: Yom Kippur.

    Seems like he never turns up in The Irish Parliament on Yom Kippur. Oh, that’s alright then. Immediate softening of hard-edged reporter’s tough-guy question.

    Curiously, when one of the Paddy Stinks and Mickey Mudds turned up one Ash Wednesday, however, many half-moons ago,unashamed and he to be brandishing his charcoaly cross on his forehead, he was all but laughed out of The Irish Parliament. Indeed, Bertie Ahern, MP (for it was he !) is still the butt of many a guffaw in the uber-tolerant FSS.

    2. Redact. This is a super-sub editor’s word which has been called off the bench in the current kerfuffle over the AMF phrase. And is currently making a big impression on its debut in the public discourse. Though why ‘delete’ or, in the case of the much persecuted Alan Shatter, MP, why ‘blue pencil’ was not called upon, is just another instance of the vibrancy (see above).

    2. Conversation.Indeed, the use of the verb ‘discourse’ has been all but redacted.

    Colm O’Gorman, the non-shrinking violet vox poppy mouthpiece of rights, not least the human right to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness, is the great this instance. Due to the frequency of his appearances on the media, both manipulated and manipulative, he is the one most credited with diffusing the use of the c-word ahead of the d-word, whether it be discourse, debate of donnybrook itself.

    Civilised: the lighted candle with the strand of barbed wire around it,.

    There may be one problem with regard to the traffic-flow of this word,however. For ‘Conversation Street’ in the DOBlin media just happens to be a, (gulp) one way street. To the extent that one just can rather all too easily anticipate who is going to turn up next on the cobbles to, say, audition of the role of the recently departed Deirdreeee Barlow.

    Why, it could even be a carload of Barlow-wannabes, packed with hunky guys, and each of them with that croaky cigarette voice, that glass of red wine to their raspberry-red lipsticky mouths,, those mascara eyes behind those glasses. You just always seem to know.

    3. ‘The Shoulders’ Song’ (nee ‘The Soldier’s Song’) aka, the new national tantrum.

    4. The Roman Catholic Church (nee The Catholic Church). Norneverland must take a bow here, as it was the RIP who popularised this. Before the Rev Ian revved up and effed off to that great imponderable, The Great Out Yonder.

    Now, if the late, grating Big Fella lent a certain piquancy to his pronunciation of the R-word, this was only in the halfpenny place beside the silent-collection job RTE does of it. Not least when there is a R in the reporter’s name.

    Like yesterday, like. While the US of A were making an unholy hullabaloo about the Roaming Roman it fell to the courageous and lonely lot of the mosquito-sized microphones of moral authority in RTE to play the Papal Party Pooper.

    R for Richard Crowley it was who did the honours. When he facilitated a fine fellow name of Fr. (not a C of I father) Doyle from the US of A to drag the crime which the RC Church has emphatically cornered, if not utterly monopolised, screaming and yelling,via a Transatlantic link, to the studio: Child Abuse.

    What Perkie’s inner non-judgmental wireless listener was most impressed with was the cool and classic professionalism of the broadcaster affectionately known as Crowley the Growler. Although he had a million reasons to up the growl count instead he opted to keep the legendary Crowley Growl at its normal level. Re-spect.

    For the one million reasons would have to do with the million smakeroos which RTE were compelled to pay as a result of their ‘Mission to Prey’ Prime Time programme in Africa in 2011. Re-spect redux.

    (This is the same RTE , btw, which has taken to calling ministers of the soi-disant Church of Ireland, erm, Fr. As in the Living Word this very week: Fr. Patrick Burke, Castecomber. There’s days down here South of the Black Sow’s Dyke where one doesn’t truly know whether one ought to dig with the left foot,or with the right foot. Best, perhaps,just leave the digging to the hacks, entirely).

    5. Methody (nee Methodist College, Belfast). Once again, it falls to the lot of yet another native of Norneverland to take the kudos for popularising on Liffeyside that versh of the august educational establishment on Laganside: step forward, another shrinking violet: George Hamilton. (no, not that one).

    George Hamilton (the broadcaster – aren’t they both? – no, the one who presents the Hamilton Scores on Lyric FM. the one who scarcely lets a score go, well, unscored without giving his Alma Mater a mench).

    We are blessed down here to be privy to his phrase making skill-sets: only this very morning he immortalised the prolific composer, Franz Josef Haydn as being (erm) ‘the Robbie Keane of classical music’.

    Sporty chap, our George.

    -Thump ! Thump ! Thump !

    That would be Diogenes, Perkie’s pet dog cynically thumping his impatient tail on the parquet flooring, demanding a move on.

    To, perhaps, the (gulp) Child Abuse scandal which recently broke in the Methodist Church of the UK, involving (gasp) at least 2,000 cases since 1950.

    Are, one wonders, Prime Time primed to direct their fearless mikes and cams in the direction of the UK which is a deal closer than, say, either, the US of A or even Africa. Geographically, at least: psychologically, might be a tad more problematical.

    Shhh ! Say no more, Seymour.

    Pourquoi ? / Why ? / Cen fath ?

    (See 3 above).

  10. jessica September 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    I wouldn’t worry about it Séamus.

    Letting them run stormont is like letting a lemming drive the schoolbus.

    Like it or not, they are just reflective of the community they represent. So lets just be grateful it isn’t our lot behaving like that.

  11. michael c September 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    I heard Dolores Kelly on the news yesterday morning.She was less than supportive of her leader’s comments.