An outbreak of sectarian tit-for-tat on #Twitter?

11 views

Offending people on Twitter seems to be the  new thing. The BelTel is reporting that long-time Slugger blogger, and now occasional Pensive Quill contributor, Mark McGregor has been the subject of a complaint to the PSNI by Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Ross Hussey following comments Mark made on his Twitter account about the European team’s Ryder Cup win and local golfers Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy:

The subsequent celebrations involving the pair prompted the ex-Sinn Fein member to tweet: “There you go. Ulster flag appears. McDowell (MBE), McIlroy (MBE) are as British as 300 years of oppression.”

He added: “Pathetic fe***rs draped in their Ulster standards — McIlroy/McDowell. Dressed more Ulster Prod than a Shankill fishwife. Truly House Taigs.”

Ken Wilkinson*, spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) — who sits on the Antrim Police and Community and Safety Partnership — said he was angry at the online outburst.

“This is an absolute disgrace and I would call on the charity to either disassociate itself with him, or sack him,” Mr Wilkinson said.

*It is worth noting that Ken has also been outspoken in his criticism of Nick Griffin.

The Tele (certainly the on-line version) refers to the fact that he is an ex-member of Sinn Féin in it’s headline and a couple of times in the body of the story and draws attention to the fact that he works for Action for Hearing Loss Northern Ireland from whom it obtained a statement to the effect that:

“Mark’s comments on social media are expressed in a personal capacity and do not represent the views of Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland.”

I’m guessing the Tele aren’t fans of Marks since I doubt many people would have known he worked for Action on Hearing Loss until they published it (and they certainly wouldn’t associate the organisation with him) and as his most recent Twitter account didn’t feature his name. Twitter is a teenage medium used by adults, with all the inherent risks of your stream of conscious being immediately broadcast online. At the same time, it is hard not to wonder if balance is being restored to the Norn Irn bubble by making Mark appear as the tat to Nick Griffin’s tit.

[h/t to Cruimh even though I saw this elsewhere]

, , , , , , ,

  • Canny See It Sur

    Perhaps it is ignorance on behalf of McIlroy and McDowell as to the nature of the flag they were adorned with and it’s connections with loyalism. Perhaps it is also ignorance that they* don’t know it’s not actually the flag of NI.

    *amongst many members that post here and all, I might add.

    However, the greatest ignorance and display of bitter sectarianism has to be awarded to the author of the tweets, McGregor.

    I make no bones about my dislike and disapproval of the use of the Ulster banner to represent Northern Ireland but I do so with no malice towards any member of the public…. media darling or otherwise.

    What annoys me most is that when people get all up in arms about something, which in this case they would be right to do, they actually lose their own argument to begin with by displaying a nasty bitterness. Ken Wilkinson has a right to feel aggrieved but at the end of the day the author of the piece said it best when he said “Twitter is a teenage medium used by adults”.

  • keano10

    Call him what you will, but Mark has got absolutely sod all to do with Sinn Fein. This seems like just another attempt to link by proxy an ill-judged rant to SF.

    At face value it sounds like Mark might have had a few jars on him that night. I also had a few jars on that memorable night as Europe’s recovery landed me a considerable return with my online bookmaker…:)

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    Seems getting “righteously offended” is all the rage these days in the virtual world as are spurious allegations from the likes of Hussey. Ken Wilkinson is angry? Who gives a fe..? “fe***rs” or is it “feckers” as Fr Ted would have said? If Graham or Rory had raised an objection it might have been a different matter, but they haven’t.

    This story is so ridiculous I don’t know where to start and I would be surprised if Mark doesn’t have a good defamation case against the Tele. Or would it be against a certain “journalist” from their Sunday Life stable-mate whom Mark not only exposed on here of sock-puppeting, but more worryingly of also fabricating the story about Dolores Price which has led to the Boston College Tapes fiasco?

    Maybe there’s some innate working-class Fenian bigotry which blinds me to the offence in Mark’s tweets because I find them quite funny – and I say that as a distant relative and fan of Rory. Come on: “Dressed more Ulster Prod than a Shankill fishwife” and “McDowell (MBE), McIlroy (MBE) are as British as 300 years of oppression” are superb. You got to hand it to Mark, the acerbic comment he can get into 140 characters is brilliant.

    Fair play to Mark though, he has the balls to be open about his identity, which the other 99% of us don’t. Unfortunately that’s left him open to attack from all sides, with this latest one approaching his employers particularly underhand.

  • sherdy

    Or do you mean ‘sectarian twits for twats’ on twitter?

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    Trying to draw any sort of equivalence between Mark and Nick Griffin is preposterous.

    Now that’s out of the way, I expected better of him. It’s a childish comment which paints McIlroy and McDowell as traitors. Sure, the “Ulster Banner” is outdated and inappropriate but there isn’t a cross-community alternative. If they had flown a Tricolour they would surely have got it in the neck from the other side. And it may not have been their choice – would it have looked better or worse if they had been presented with the flag only to snub it?

    Mark has unfollowed a lot of people this week (including me) and protected his tweets. It seems the backlash has got too much even for him.

  • John Ó Néill

    Andrew – do you think this would have been on the radar before the Nick Griffin tweet (that is the only linkage I am making between the two)?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Before this becomes the usual sectarian slaggin match can I just say it is rather stupid reporting such matters to the police, no matter if it is Mark McGregor or Nick Griffin, both were stupid mildly offensive comments on the stupid and mildly offensive medium of Twitter, but neither warranted offical action, in fact nothing on twitter ever should on its own.

    I wish Mark well and hope era of online witchhunts would be confined to history soon.

    (btw I have gotten on well with Mark any time we have met whereas Griffin to put it mildly is a waste of space.)

  • Mark

    Storm in a tea cup ! !

    Anyone reading Mark’s contributions on this site over the last couple of years would know that those tweets are mild compared to some of his posts here .

    I tend to agree with John re Nick Griffin’s tweet and the odds being rebalanced …..

  • Reader

    John Ó Néill: Andrew – do you think this would have been on the radar before the Nick Griffin tweet (that is the only linkage I am making between the two)?
    Complaining about one seems to be about as reasonable as complaining about the other.
    By the way, the term “House Taig” is sectarian isn’t it? Surely Mark doesn’t imagine that everyone should select their political identity based on their religious upbringing?

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    John,

    Stuff blows up out of twitter all the time, sometimes seemingly at random. The ostensible story is that someone has complained to the police about a tweet, which is hardly a rare occurrence. It never would have entered my head that there might have been any link between this and Griffin if you hadn’t made a show of pointing out that there probably isn’t.

    So the Tele gives some hastily-researched background on Mark for those people unfamiliar with him (i.e. 99% of their readers). This is bound to include (former) party affiliation, job, etc. There may be a political bias at work but I don’t see any evidence, and lazy journalism seems just as likely an explanation.

  • Dina Shea

    Ulick said: Seems getting “righteously offended” is all the rage these days in the virtual world as are spurious allegations from the likes of Hussey. Ken Wilkinson is angry?

    This post hit all the right points. Well written!

    And I agree with Ulick especially on this point: “a certain “journalist” from their Sunday Life stable-mate whom Mark not only exposed on here ”

    Crux of the matter, really.

  • http://www.thedissenter.co.uk thedissenter

    Not sure Twitter comments merit any attention. If anyone is offended about comments then just block the user, move on, get over it. And no right ‘not to be offended’.

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

    The Tele is struggling with producing any kind of real journalism these days and hence Twitter with “threats” against McClean made by 16 year-old school boys and reporting one of Mark’s specials substitutes for paying the likes of Amanda Poole (annointed “Journalist of the Year” for the talent of haunting Twitter 24/7 as far as I can see) to carry out kind of proper investigative journalism that actually effects some kind of real change.. The fact that kids are expelled from school and folk potentially lose their job for nothing much worse than what I suspect you’d hear from the Tele Hacks down the pub will trouble their hypocritical consciences not one little bit.

    It was a stupid comment by someone who has helped me out (as I’ve previously mentioned on Slugger) irrespective of my political or religious beliefs. But not remotely newsworthy.

  • sonofstrongbow

    ‘Sectarianana Deniers drag thread up Nothing2SeeHere Alley. Reports of messenger being shot.’

  • Alias

    I recall pointing out to Mark McGregor that putting your real name on the Internet isn’t a smart option. He disagreed. Can’t help but wonder if Mr Hussey would have scurried off to the police to report ‘Frank Sinistra’ or somesuch alias over such a trivial matter.

  • John Ó Néill

    Andrew – I was having a dig at two things – one is the local media’s eternal pursuit of ‘sectarian balance’, no matter how inane (and lazy habitual journalism).
    The other is the idea that Twitter should really be taken seriously. A public figure (which I would categorise Griffin as) can be exposed by having their thoughts broadcast where people can evaluate them without a PR machine cleansing them. I am not sure where you draw the line with the police being involved but if he put that in a magazine no-one would have called the cops (there are plenty of journalists who love to get people that offended and sell more papers in the process). If you spend much time on Twitter you expect to see playground stuff being batted around – I don’t think I have ever seen anyone post anything that would genuinely be of interest to the police anywhere (by that token, there are a few on-line discussion forums whose regulars would end up inside pretty quickly).

  • Neil

    By the way, the term “House Taig” is sectarian isn’t it?

    Depends who’s saying what to whom. Say for the sake of argument that there’s an African American individual who litters their tweets with a racial epithet, they would I suspect not get their collar felt. However go onto Fabrice Muamba’s twitter and litter that with the same epithet you get jail time.

  • Red Lion

    The language used by Mark McGregor is offensive, narrow-minded and bigoted, and shows a complete lack of tolerance for somebody with different views from him.

    It should be challenged , and a simple unreserved apology would suffice (not the classic non-apology of ‘sorry if i offended anybody’.)

  • Covenanter

    I knew Mark when he posted online as Eoin Money and whilst I disagreed with his republican views I always found him to be personable, friendly, amusing and willing to listen to unionist views. I also found him to be the least sectarian of the republican posters that I have encountered online, and I think it is out of order that he has been splashed all over the Tele for making comments which were no doubt made in jest. I hope that necks will be roundly wound in.

  • Professor Yattle

    The really quite serious issues raised by this episode are completely obscured on this thread by John O’Neill’s six foot lizard-like media conspiracy theory, constructed on the basis of nothing beyond his own very apparent discomfort at the idea of any republican being sectarian.
    Cause only the other lot are sectarian, like.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I do like a good news story.
    Fly your Ulster Flag with pride boys,it seems to upset themmums :-)

  • DC

    the local media’s eternal pursuit of ‘sectarian balance

    I take it you’d like it to be all one way then? Just focusing on the Billy Hunters and Winston Irvines of this world?

  • Tomas Gorman

    Professor Yattle,

    That’s a completely unnecessary slur.

    On Marks tweets. Big deal. He’s neither an elected official or public figure.

    I’ve heard worse jokes come straight from the lips of Ken Wilkinson.

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    Evidence Tomas?

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    Would that be the same Ken Wilkinson of the PUP/UVF who lent on Tescos to chase 9 year old girls out of its store for wearing GAA tops a few years back?

    Ah it would, yes. It would be the same boy indeed. Some boy to be giving off about this nothingness all right.

    I wish I had bought the Belfast Telegraph today just so I could have asked for my money back after finding this ‘story’ in it.

  • BluesJazz

    Local rag follows nationals (Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand etc) in scraping the ‘journalism’ tweet bucket. Pathetic.

    Not on twitter but gather the (Sir) Jimmy Saville (OBE) gags are plentiful. Fair enough target I suppose.

    And, much as I hate to say it, Ashley Cole was right. (this one time anyway).

  • sonofstrongbow

    Tweet mining is the slightly-more lazy guy’s FOI punt. It manifests the old tabloid v broadsheet debate, where it’s the pseuds who get most exercised about the redtop’s tricksy games and stop their noses to the hypocrisy of the ‘serious’ press’s own game playing.

    Locally we can mix in the ever present sectarian angle where some strive hard to maintain the fiction that sectarianism is the ‘Protestant Disease’.

  • andnowwhat

    SOS

    There are some long time unionist posters who have commented here on the issue. I am deferring to their estimation of the man

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    FYC, I take it you’d have no problem with the kids from the YCV Flute band packing bags to raise money at your local supermarket?

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    DDB,

    There was a time I would have cared, but now thank fuck I have wised up. Now I would just see them as they are – children. Anyone who attacks children and tries to drag them into ‘our’ gutter sectarian squabble needs their head seen to.

  • http://sluggerotoole.com Belfast Gonzo

    Ken Wilkinson has a nerve reporting anyone to the police for being sectarian. Not only has he led protests against the police when they targeted his UVF mates, but he has a number of convictions for being a sectarian dick himself when he led illegal loyalist parades round Antrim like some subnormal pied piper who thought they were a modern day King Billy.

    Like, like, til this, til that, pradastint c’munity etc shite.

  • Reader

    neil: Depends who’s saying what to whom.
    Your analogy only works for “Taig”, not for “House Taig”. Or, if you were actually making an analogy to “Coconut” instead of the obvious “Ni**er”, then the analogy wouldn’t stand up.
    That’s because “Coconut”, “House Taig”, “Lundy”, “Race Traitor” and the like can only ever be used to express racist or sectarian views.
    Whereas I could refer to my homies as Huns without them raising an eyebrow.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Heinz,

    “Fly your Ulster Flag with pride boys,it seems to upset themmums”

    Hate to break it to you but that isn’t the Ulster flag. It’s a defunct flag of a defunct Parliament. It has no significance others than unionist romanticism over the 1922-72 period.

    DDB

    Evidence of what? Kens poor taste in humour? I’ll take it you don’t know him that we’ll then.

    John O’Neill,

    I’m not sure the theory of sectarian parity holds up that well in this case. I’ll say it’s more sour grapes on behalf of a certain journo.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Hate to break it to you Tom,but to all intents and purposes,it IS the Ulster Flag,and as we are talking about the European PGA and the US PGA,who both use it to represent golfers from Northern Ireland,mcgregors comments are not only highly offensive,but extremely sectarian towards our very own,world number 1 golfer !!

    I do find it quite quaint that mcgregors vile outburst is defended here,whilst that well know Beach Boy melody,Sloop John B,causes ape shitery,nay,nigh on hysterics in some quarters ?

    Sure mark was only having a wee laugh.
    It was only a joke.
    It meant no harm.

    Ayeee right.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘ken wilkinson has a nerve reporting anyone’……..

    Bit like the shinner videoing the band in the 12th,huh ?

    No,wait. That shinner,video guy,was performing a public service,highlighting bigotry and sectarianism…….

    Ayee right.

  • John Ó Néill

    Tomas – I’m going to have start to use a comedy font for stuff like this. I’d been waiting for the local press to discover some sectariana on Twitter to close the balance loop on the Griffin tweet since that is how it mindmaps the arc of most stories with a political dimension (which is no conspiracy theory, it simply is and has been editorial policy). It looks like someone got the boot pretty hard in on McGregor as a bonus and are probably calculating that he won’t sue even though, like Griffin, his tweet was only visible to his own followers and didn’t use a hashtag to link it to the event etc (making it ‘public’ in that sense). Libel and Twitter is a greyish area legally. I’d the last three words written first as I knew someone’s PC screen had a ‘find republican sectarian tweet’ stuck to it.

  • DC

    Tomas – I’m going to have start to use a comedy font for stuff like this.

    You could try not blogging about?

  • DC

    *it

  • Tomas Gorman

    Heinz,

    Break this… The “all intents and purposes” phrase means nothing. It could only be related to the intents and purposes of individuals who choose to fly the flag. It has had absolutely no legal recognition since 1972.

    John,

    The balancing theory is not at all improbable. If only we could have an insider to confirm its practice.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Sorry that should read “not all impossible”.

    iPad autocorrect.

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    “Hate to break it to you Tom,but to all intents and purposes,it IS the Ulster Flag,”

    No.

  • sitarman

    The tweet from the Sinn Fein aide IS offensive as it clearly portrays the authors hatred & bigotry. The Ulster Banner itself is THE flag used in sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games, football, golf and other sports where participants represent Northern Ireland. It’s no more a loyalist terrorist flag than the tricolour is a republican terrorist flag.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Sitarman,

    So much wrong.

    Mark is not a Sinn Fein aide.

    The Ulster Banner is used by individuals and orgs due to the romanticism of certain people. It has absolutely no official legal standing. It represents a regressive desire, not much else.

    As per the terrorist straw men…..your answering unmade accusations.

  • Reader

    Tomas Gorman: It has absolutely no official legal standing. It represents a regressive desire, not much else.
    It depends what you mean by “official legal standing”. Do the four provincial flags have official legal standing? And if so, where from?

  • Neil

    It depends what you mean by “official legal standing”.

    Well, official legal standing presumably.

    Do the four provincial flags have official legal standing?

    No. But they have official standing when used officially for Ulster in GAA and rugby. From wiki:

    The Flag of Ulster is a historic banner used to represent Ulster, one of the four provinces of Ireland. It is still used today to represent the province at some sporting events and formed the basis of the Ulster Banner, the flag of the Government of Northern Ireland between 1953 and 1972.

    And:

    The flag is the official flag of the Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association. It is also the official flag of the Ulster Gaelic Football team and the Ulster rugby team.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Ulster

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    It’s a piece of cloth with symbols on it. Some people like to use it to signify that they are from N.I., Ulster even. Others would like to deny those people the use of it. Some comments need to be filed under the ridiculous tag.

  • Tomas Gorman

    No the four provinces flags represent nothing legally. They provinces aren’t administrations and have no constitutional workings.

    The Ulster Banner, HAD legal significance til’ 72. It’s appearance now holds aspirational significance only. Just like the four province flag/s.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Mister Joe,

    Pieces of cloth they may be but what significance they hold is much more complex.

  • Red Lion

    whether any significance flags hold is complex or not, it still doesn’t justify a load of poison like what was tweeted

  • http://andrewg.wordpress.com Andrew Gallagher

    Sigh. I really should have left this thread well alone. Can we have a sense of proportion here?

  • sitarman

    Tomas,
    It has nothing to do with romanticism, the ulster banner is used because it is the ONLY flag that specifically identifies Northern Ireland. It is the official flag of the Northern Ireland commonwealth games team.
    It was ‘Canny See It Sur’ who commented that perhaps Rory & Graeme were ignorant of the flags connection to loyalists. That’s obviously not the significance they attach to it anymore than Padraig sees a connection between the tricolour & the Provos. Obviously though there are people out there who want to see the ulster banner and anyone who dares hold it demonised.

  • Tupper

    “The language used by Mark McGregor is offensive, narrow-minded and bigoted, and shows a complete lack of tolerance for somebody with different views from him.”

    Well said Red Lion.

    It exposes the sectarianism that is inherent within Irish Republicanism. For all the talk about equality, we once again see the bitterness of the Irish nationalist/republican towards people who dare not engage in the tribal solidarity that the Irish nationalist/republican expects from those they consider to be part of their tribe.

    And that is the only crime committed here in the eyes of MM – the 2 golfers have Catholic backgrounds (to some degree) so MM expects them to be Irish nationalists as a result, and to buy in to the old tales of hundreds of years of oppression, and to reject any sign of Britishness and/or Northern Irishness.

    To MM they are traitors of the tribe that he expects them to be part of. We can also see what it is that he is against – he used the word Prods, and complains about the flag. Once again their crime in his view is one of siding with the Protestant Unionist lot against what MM sees as their ‘natural’ tribe – the opposing Catholic Nationalist lot.

    MM describes hinself as an Irish republican and parrots all the usual nonsense about what that stands for, yet here have have his real views on display. And those views say a lot.

  • Tupper

    Tomas:

    You ignore the point that the flag in question is what the world uses to represent Northern Ireland, when a flag is used to represent Northern Ireland.

    During this latest golf season for example that flag was used beside the names of the NI golfers during US TV network broadcasts of golf tournaments.

    Do you really believe that the likes of CBS and NBC are engaging in romanticism or that the flag holds aspirational significance for them? Do you think FIFA and UEFA are engaging in romanticism or that the flag holds aspirational significance for them when the flag is used to represent NI in soccer?

    You’re talking rot. As others have said, it’s nothing to do with the legal status of the flag, and everything to do with reality. It’s simply a flag that IS used to represent Northern Ireland.

    If there’s any romanticism or aspirational significance involved in this issue, it’s by Irish nationalists who never got over the fact that partition happened and that there actually is an entity called Northern Ireland. They still dream of NI disappearing as an entity. Meanwhile CBS, NBC, FIFA, UEFA and most of the rest of the normal world will get on with life and accept the reality that there is a NI, and that it needs to be recognized in some way when that’s required.

  • Tupper

    “The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.”

    There’s your basic problem – a lot of the people who live on the island are not that sort of Irish.

    “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens”

    Unless of course you are seen with a certain flag.

  • BluesJazz

    Mark McGregor and other irish republicans living here in the UK should really adopt the Mozambique flag as it so closely resembles their aspirations.

    The rest of us in Northern Ireland are happy with the Union flag representing the Nation and the Northern Ireland flag (as per FIFA etc) representing the region.
    For those wishing to be pedantic, the Scottish saltire and Welsh dragon have no legal status either.

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    I believe they are talking of little else than this in Syria today.

  • Tupper

    BluesJazz:

    Very well said.

    Despite what the GFA said regarding identity, it’s very clear that a lot of republicans don’t believe in the right of people in NI to identify themselves, and be accepted as, being British.

    MM certainly doesn’t, and he was only too clear in expressing his view that he expects those that he considers to be of his tribe to follow tribal lines on all matters. But that’s Irish Republicanism for you – it’s less concerned with true freedom and more concerned with dictating to people.

  • Tupper

    “I believe they are talking of little else than this in Syria today.”

    FYC:

    Just as they were talking of little else a few weeks ago than those parades going past St Patrick’s Church. :)

    But you have a point. Maybe McGregor should be talking about something really serious, like the situation in Syria, rather than his Irish Republican obsession with open displays of non-hostility towards Northern Ireland and its symbols.

    I wonder if McGregor puts little ROI tricolour stickers on his TV screen every time the flag representing NI appears on his TV screen during golf coverage?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Tupper,

    It exposes the sectarianism that is inherent within Irish Republicanism.

    Mark doesn’t represent a lot of republicans and I am sure he would happily tell you that himself.

    I do not agree with Mark’s take on events, but it is the case that the flag of the Government of Northern Ireland (1922-1972) does not represent me and I find its use partisan and offensive, something akin to flying the flag of the confederacy in the United States – it represents not a region or country, but an old, discredited and corrupt administration which had to be removed, and those who fly it knowing about the history seem to be implying that they wish to see a return to the old ways.

    In the case of Rory McIlroy I think he was simply naive, and I am sure he meant no harm. But people who hail from this corner of the world do have a problem – they have a unique identity and no neutral flag to represent it.

  • DC

    but he has a number of convictions for being a sectarian dick himself when he led illegal loyalist parades round Antrim like some subnormal pied piper who thought they were a modern day King Billy.

    Like, like, til this, til that, pradastint c’munity etc shite.

    Snob.

  • sorrel

    Tryin to leave a reply on the mc gurks book review but there is no reply box …anyone know whats wrong

  • Tomas Gorman

    My point is, it’s used wrongly.

  • Tomas Gorman

    “It exposes the sectarianism that is inherent within Irish Republicanism. For all the talk about equality, we once again see the bitterness of the Irish nationalist/republican towards people who dare not engage in the tribal solidarity that the Irish nationalist/republican expects from those they consider to be part of their tribe.”

    Such depth of understanding.