I’m not quite sure why I resisted viewing Katie Hannon Upfront on RTÉ for so long. Perhaps it was because Katie H had been around for some time and wasn’t the fresh face I expected to succeed The Claire Byrne Show. It may have been because its format was almost identical to Byrne’s : a panel of guests/experts, a small studio audience which fired questions and made comments – I’m not sure what the reason was. But I’m a convert. I’ve watched it three times now and while you’ll hear a lot of bullshit, it’s frequently informative bullshit.
Like a couple of nights ago. The topic was the war in Ukraine, and whether there should be a peace conference called to stop the carnage. In the audience were a number of young Ukrainian women, who spoke passionately and movingly about the brutality that had been inflicted on Ukrainians young and old by the Russians. On the panel was left-wing MEP Clare Daly, who spoke passionately of the need to end the death-dealing by both sides.
The discussion taught us much about the South’s awareness of the North as it did about the war in Ukraine. The young Ukrainian women, voices thick with emotion, wanted to know how Irish people would feel if their country was invaded and brutal violence inflicted on the people. It was impossible to negotiate with the Russians until they removed themselves from Ukraine. Heads around the studio nodded vigorously.
Clare Daly urged both sides to sit down and negotiate so that the slaughter of tens of thousands of young Ukrainians and Russians could be ended. She agreed that the Russians had been the aggressor and rejected claims she was inviting Putin to invade any country he wanted. She also – and this is the part where she said what no one else in the studio would say – that Ireland for centuries had been subject to invasion from its near neighbour, had been brutalised and killed by this aggressor, and that it was only when we found a way to end the killing in the North through peace talks that the violence was ended. The Ukraine-Russia conflict would eventually end in peace talks, so with lives at stake, the sooner the better.
Daly’s contribution highlighted the doublethink of successive Dublin governments and the South’s media. In terms of the North, they cited heart-breaking stories of loss and urged all combatants to get round the table. In terms of Ukraine, their faces grew red with passion as they spoke of the need to resist the Russian invasion and supply the gallant Ukrainian people with the weapons to effectively do so.
It’s the old story once again: killing other people is a horrible act and should be set aside and differences worked out, ways of living alongside each other found. In the case of Ukraine, though, killing other people was the only way you’d convince them that they did not have the right to be in a neighbouring country and brutalizing the population.
Sometimes I think that some Southerners actually suffer from a mental black hole when it comes to the North: killing was, is and always will be wrong. When it comes to Ukraine, killing Russians is completely right and we should hasten to provide arms and expertise to those who are engaged in this violence.
DoublethinkL the ability to hold two contradictory notions simultaneously with no sense of irony.
This has always been a bone of contention for me, the issue of principles. Many people think the use of violence is wrong when they see it imposed on their community but are very accepting of violence when it is used in their name!