Normally, I can take it. We all can. You get used to having a Belfast City Hall that’s got Irish memorabilia the way a haystack has a needle, with the needle being the odd Irish stained glass window and the haystack the dour figure of Queen Victoria and the many generals and noblemen outside. You get used to the celebration of British militarism every November and of Orange supremacy every Spring, Summer and Autumn. You get used to media which talks about the Province, calls Derry by a name they know four-fifths of its citizens never use, and a weather forecast map that amputates the rest of Ireland and shows how the border can be seen from space.
But yesterday was at another level. In one of the phone-in shows that dominate Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh in terms of air time and money paid to the presenters, the guts of an hour was given over to parsing and analyzing Mary Lou McDonald’s words when she said she didn’t see anyone in the PSNI who’d make a suitable replacement for the present Chief Constable. Did she say none of them were up to leading a decent police service? Did Gerry Kelly say anyone could apply for the job or anyone would do for the job? On and on and round the weary houses thetalk went. The ensuing message was that Mary Lou would do well to hold her tongue.
When the role of Garda Commissioner was handed to Drew Harris OBE, he of the RUC/PSNI, who worked closely with British intelligence over a period of years – did our media then raise the question of what Commissioner Harris might know of various killings during the Troubles, including the deaths of 33 people and an unborn child in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings? Was the question of his loyalty to his former employers let alone MI5 raised and discussed? Mary Lou McDonald TD expressed a view which is supported by recent PSNI amnesia; Drew Harris OBE calmly accepted his new job in the south and a lot of sleeping dogs were left to snooze and snuffle.
This morning, The Irish Times offers an article titled ‘Why we should stop worrying and learn to love Brexit’. There’s a meaty paragraph which speaks of how Brexit in any form “will actually further increase the fundamental political, economic, social and cultural differences that have long existed between southern and Northern Ireland….For Ireland [meaning the Republic of Ireland], Brexit should be welcomed as formalizing partition, not ending it.”
With such energetic friends, I’m not sure unionist politicians need a PR department.