This review first appeared in the Andersonstown News

As ever, Mark Carruthers stands (why oh why do they have to stand?) clutching a sheaf of notes. “Could Christmas be cancelled?” he asks, and welcomes us to THE VIEW (BBC ONE).

He has as guests Christopher Stalford (DUP) and Owen Tennyson (Alliance). The latter looks young and guileless, the former less young and rictus-faced.

Covid vaccine certificates appear first in order of business: “Your party is all over the place on this one” Mark tells Stalford. citing a range of views, several contradictory, from different DUP people. “Your party is divided!”. “No it’s not” Stalford says. “Of course it is!”  Carruthers says. Then Stalford assumes victim position “If you’d let me finish…” He goes on to say that “different people have different views on these matters”.

The young Tennyson lad concluded things by noting that “the irony will not be lost on anyone, of the DUP arguing for human and civil rights.” Stalford’s rictus grin tightens a few millimetres.

Then Carruthers quoted Bertie Ahern and his by-now famous ‘ghetto’ remark about the ignorance regarding the protocol in some PUL communities.  Stalford says Bertie should apologise. “What if he’s right?” Carruthers asks. “He’s not right” Stalford says.

Why does the DUP keep wanting  people to apologise? Have they themselves ever apologised? For anything?

Gareth Gordon said Bertie’s language was clumsy but deserved closer inspection. He noted that a poll supported  Bertie’s ‘not a clue’ remark. But Gavin Robinson, the DUP representative for the area, has called on Bertie to (all together now) APOLOGISE.

Following that political panto  Mark quizzed Michael Portillo and Prof Diarmaid Ferriter. Portillo said the EU at first claimed nothing in the protocol could be changed, then ‘took pride’ in saying they’d made 60% changes here and 80% changes there. He also noted that the EU were the first to talk about invoking Article 16. But he still thinks the protocol row can be resolved without using Article 16.

What about this official history of the Troubles that’s being proposed? Portillo: “It’s not going to fly.” But. He goes on,  the British government does have a lot of documentation under lock and key. Maybe this is a hint they’ll grant access to them, in an effort to counter the narrative of ‘Sinn Féin/IRA’. Once a Tory minister, always a Tory minister, eh Michael?

Ferriter said many of us saw the British talk of an official history of the Troubles as a diversion from inquiry into events that happened during the Troubles.

Carruthers: “If you got a call saying we’re putting together a panel of eminent historians to write a history of the Troubles, would you say ‘Thanks but no thanks’ or would you say ‘Let’s sit down and talk about it’?”

Ferriter was marvellously unambiguous. “I think I would say ‘Get stuffed!’ “

Our politics needs more stuffing.

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