How to ignore the core

Our reluctance to cut to the chase, to go to the core of a problem, is striking. It’s like forming a judgement on an individual on the basis of  his/her shoes, hair, nose size, rather than look at his/her actions or manner of living.

An example: the Orange Order. Leo Varadkar visited the Orange Order in Belfast recently and commented on the importance of their culture. The significance of the meeting was commented on in the media, how historic it was, how respectful.Nobody seemed interested in asking the core question: is the Orange Order a beneficent or malevolent force in Irish society?

Across the pond, the G8 has been meeting. It’s really the G7, since they’ve excluded Russia, and may soon be the G6, if the US goes its merry way. Trump is refusing to be part of their joint communiqué at the end and is slapping tariffs on steel, something that’s upsetting Canada and European countries.Trump says he’s doing that because the world can’t go on treating the US as their piggy bank. Oddly, leaders of the G7 and commentators generally don’t look at Trump’s claim  that it’s being exploited by other countries. Maybe there’s no analysis of his claim because the journalists don’t understand what’s going on. If that’s the case, maybe they should make way for journalists who do.

The same applies to the Brexit argument. The Brexiteers say freedom from the EU will allow the UK to enjoy sovereignty again and forge all sorts of exciting trade deals with the newly-emerging superpowers. Remainers say it’s daft to ignore a market of 500 million on your doorstep. Nobody that I’ve come across has buckled down and examined the truth of claims from either camp. Since all our financial futures depend on Brexit, it’s a pretty important issue that should have been explained to the public clearly and honestly months ago.

It’s the same with talk of a border poll. We know that the British Secretary of State is the only one who can call such a poll, when she believes there is an appetite for constitutional change. Journalists have scurried after every possible distraction rather than confront the core question: what are your criteria, Karen, for calling such a poll? How will you know when there are sufficient numbers for a border poll to be won? And wouldn’t unionists go bananas if you did call one? Wouldn’t they shout “Bias!”   on the grounds that British weight has been placed behind the drive for Irish unity?

And if that clause sounds unlikely – Britain calling for a united Ireland – that’s because it is unlikely. In addition to which, no one has pointed out how Peter Robinson’s daft “generation poll”, where every generation (is that twenty-five years or what?) there would be a border poll. Hello, Peter – have you read the Good Friday Agreement? There’s nothing in that about a generation passing before the calling of a new poll. It actually says there should be  a seven-year gap.

If we’re unprepared to address the core of our problems, how can we possibly hope to solve them?

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