As I sometimes do, I’ve started the day on the wrong foot: I read the Irish Times editorial.
It wrings its hands over the Good Friday Agreement (naturally it refers to it as ‘the Belfast Agreement). It then blames everybody – Sinn Féin, the DUP, the British government, the Dublin government. It quotes the wise words of Peter Robinson, who said last week “We can’t allow all that has been built up over the past years to be lost”.
Right. That’d be the same Peter Robinson who made an agreement, dug the first sod of the development at the Long Kesh site; then from the safety of the US sent a letter saying he had mis-spoken and mis-dug, there was going to be no shrine to terrorism at The Maze. This’d be the same Peter Robinson that was to meet with Martin McGuinness, who travelled from Derry to Stormont and found himself sitting twiddling his thumbs. No Peter.
The Irish Times’s assumption of the mantle we-criticise -everyone -therefore -we –are- fair is in fact wrapping itself in a duvet of laziness. Sinn Féin wasn’t the party that launched and maintained a scheme that has been dogged with charges of corruption as well as costing the public hundreds of millions of pounds. Sinn Féin isn’t the party that pulled the Gaeltacht bursary for poorer children and then wished all a Happy Christmas. Sinn Féin isn’t the party that simply refuses to assent to what is written into the St Andrews Agreement: an Irish Language Act. And Sinn Féin isn’t the party that signed up to all sorts of things, including a Bill of Rights, and then calmly ignores its commitments. In fact that’s Peter Robinson.
No party, including Sinn Féin, is free of blemish or blame. But when the scales are so obviously weighted on the side of unionist arrogance and bad faith, writing I-beat-all-my-children-therefore-I-am-fair editorials is a sad cop-out from a newspaper that sees itself as the voice of thinking Ireland.