Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

McGuinness – “Step Back and Bite the Bullet”

Wed 21 September 2011, 1:55pm

I hesitate before posting but I think it adds something:
McKittrick in the Independent (Yesterday I know…)….

Another IRA victim who has been impressed with Mr McGuinness is Mark Eakin, a Protestant whose eight- year-old sister was one of nine people killed in IRA car-bomb attacks near Londonderry in 1972. Mr Eakin has spoken several times with Mr McGuinness and said yesterday he thought the Sinn Fein leader would make a good head of state.
He added: “You have to look at the broader picture – is it a bad thing for him to be the Irish President? I don’t think so. He now wants to have a good Ireland. I think everybody has got to step back and bite the bullet.”

And the leading article: Another big step forward:

It is his new status that has emboldened Sinn Fein to put him forward in the south. The sight of him standing for President stirs painful emotions for many. Yet at a deeper level it is another positive step in republicanism’s long journey away from its violent history, away from the gun and into politics.

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Comments (16)

  1. Thank you for this Dewi. The interesting thing about Victims is that they dont all speak with the voice that those who are genuinely interested in them……or using them for political ends……..want them to have.

    I was watching RTE News the other night and noticed that Mary Davies (the Special Olympics person) was much more at ease with the crowds going to Croke Park tan candidates Michael D Higgins and “nearly candidate” David Norris.
    It struck me that Martin McGuinness would have been at ease there.

    I make no bones about the fact that Id happily vote for McGuinness. Paradoxically and even hypocritically I dont think that I want him to win.
    The role of the President can be dismissed as “ceremonial” but I think “totemic” is more accurate..it says something about how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen.
    Certainly Martin McGuinness meeting and greeting the Armagh and Kerry teams at next years All-Ireland is hardly a problem. Or meeting and greeting the visiting football teams from Argentina or Estonia or wherever……but a Rugby International might be a bit problematic…….the English or Samoan fans might be ok but those rugby types from Ballymena, Belfast Harlequins, Lansdowne and Clontarf…….might not be his people.

    Ultimately the Presidents role is one of unifying…….and I dont think McGuinness can do that.
    What he can do……is put not just the North…….but people currently outside the political system “on the map”. I suspect Sinn Féins future worries the political/journalistic elite rather more than Sinn Féins past.

    To that end, I might speculate that SF knows that winning the Election poses a lot (too many?) difficulties and the better (or equal) option is to scare the Political/Journalistic elite stupid…itself enjoyable.

    What do you think?
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  2. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    Fitzy, there are lots of interesting things going on in this essentially meaningless election, the one practical reason I don”t want SF to win is a southern politician will probably not venture up North as often as Mary did, on the other hand removing the puppet master from Stormont should weaken the SinnDup coalition to an extent, not enough to threaten “the process” but enough to allow a bit more friction and less control.
    Seeing Marty make the compromises necessary for the office should also be fun, in particular can he keep out of party politics? it will be hard for him to give up control, but one wrong step could undermine him very quickly.
    As a Unionist I generally don’t care that much, is amusing but also is a gift of a chance see the traditional enemy squirm, win or lose its ok with me, its the almost win that prob does SF most benefit!

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  3. Dewi (profile) says:

    It’s the “Bite the Bullet” phrase that stood out starkly to me..
    Etymology from Wiki:
    “To “bite the bullet” is to endure a painful or otherwise unpleasant situation that is seen as unavoidable. The phrase was first recorded by Rudyard Kipling in his 1891 novel The Light that Failed. It is often stated that it is derived historically from the practice of having a patient clench a bullet in his or her teeth as a way to cope with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure without anesthetic, though evidence for biting a bullet (rather than a leather strap) during surgery is sparse. It may also have evolved from the British empire expression “to bite the cartridge”, which dates to the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In this version of the etymology, the idea of tolerating necessary hardship refers to the British wish that the sepoys would ignore any small presence of animal fat in their paper cartridges.”

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  4. Its a “heads they win tails they dont lose” situation.
    The interesting thing will be the management of expectations.
    Picking figures at random…….SF have 10% of the vote in February. The very least they can expect is 15% and probably would not be happy with anything less than 20%.
    Its in their interest to present the result as better than they thought.

    Likewise SFs opponents and its interesting that journalists seem more animated about the fact that McGuinness is in the race than any of his the other candidates….. who seem remarkably calm and not indulging in hyperbole…..well they have an interest in “talking up Sinn Féin” perhaps talking about a victory or 30%………then they can claim that SFs (say) 22% is disappointing.

    I am prepared to be entertained by the hyperbole and the hysteria.

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  5. nah Dewi…I think we say things and sometimes just unwittingly hit the nail on the head.
    Before I sent the first comment that I made here…..I had typed the phrase that “McGuinness was firing a shot (no pun intended) across the bows of the Establishment”. Then I just thought it was inappropriate.
    When Mr Eakin was interviewed and used “bite the bullet” he didnt have the luxury of thinking twice.

    The key thing is that our Peace Process can be so embedded that Mr Eakin can say that. Traditionally we believe that its the Men of Violence who cant “move on”.
    Increasingly its so called Men of Peace who cant move on………because the Peace isnt the one they wanted.
    Sour Grapes basically.

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  6. Billy Pilgrim (profile) says:

    FJH

    Sorry, but that’s just ridiculous.

    Armagh have no chance of reaching next year’s All Ireland. (I regret to say.)

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  7. Well my original choices were Antrim & Kilkenny in the Hurling but I didnt want to put a jinx on the Saffrons. And I am under orders never to say a good word about Tyrone or Down.

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  8. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    FJH, shall we say anything under 15% or lower than 3rd place is a humiliation? 15-20% and 3rd place is a neutral result. 20-30% and second place would be an excellent result, even if techinically they still lose it is a major boost. If he wins it will be a massive boost, but with the risk of being a pyrrhic victory longer term.
    Remembering the party vote is 10% I will say that the nuetral option is most likely.

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  9. Oh I wouldnt want to speculate about figures….except of course on my own Blog where I can edit my posts to make it look like I was right all along.

    Clearly he is not a neutral figure and his enemies will consider anything less than a victory of PDR Korean proportions to be a massive failure.
    I suspect the columns and blogs are already written in draft form and the “send button” just needs to be pressed.

    It is one of those occasions when more fun can be had watching the contest than actually participating in it. Some people have worked up a lot of sweat already.

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  10. sherdy (profile) says:

    FJH is pretty close to the mark over the media attempts at MMG’s character assassination. Before his entry into the presidential race it was a totally lacklustre affair.
    Then, manna from heaven, Marty stands up and every journalistic hopeful in the country sees the opportunity to grab a headline, a scoop or even a career-enhancing story. The likelihood of upsetting victims in the process means nothing to these hounds following a scent, nor does the stability of the peace process.
    By all means go after a good story, but for God’s sake get your minds out of the gutter.

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  11. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    sherdy, there is the possibility that Marty standing for President is what is upsetting the Victims, not the press.

    As with FJH I’m enjoying watching the show, much in the same way I would like to enjoy the SDLP fight, but it is rather boring so far.

    Of course the real story is the economy stupid, which has got side tracked in the south slightly.

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  12. Cynic2 (profile) says:

    What a pity so many never had the choice to ‘bite’ the bullet as it was fired from behind into their heads.

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  13. sherdy (profile) says:

    Rocky, are you aware of any journos contacting the victims for their opinions? I can safely answer: ‘No’.

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  14. AGlassOfHine (profile) black spot says:

    How dare those nasty journalists upset the DFM’s victims. Don’t they know they might destabilise the whole peace process ?
    For shame.

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  15. Dewi (profile) says:

    “Rocky, are you aware of any journos contacting the victims for their opinions? I can safely answer: ‘No’.”

    Hmm McKittrick?

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  16. Johnny Boy (profile) says:

    I have no problem with him running, he has the right, but the people of Ireland also have the right to judge him on all of his record, and the media have the right to probe him on it. Just because he’s shook hands with a couple of American presidents it doesn’t wipe the slate clean.

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