News Letter cuts Sinn Fein quote…

READING the News Letter this morning, I was surprised to see an article (not online, as usual) in which Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty was quoted as saying: “Sinn Fein will not countenance changes to the Agreement.” I was taken aback, as this would have blown apart my analysis the other day, which argued that SF were less likely to die in a ditch over every jot and tittle in the Agreement, whereas the SDLP had simply ruled out any changes at all.

However, the quote from Doherty was incomplete, as it turns out. It actually read: “Sinn Fein will not countenance changes to the Agreement which are aimed at diluting the power sharing and all-Ireland provisions and providing a basis for the return to unionist rule.”

That is an absolutely crucial difference.

Any unionist observer reading that News Letter article could have been forgiven for thinking SF had subtly retreated from its former position, and was now unprepared to see any improvements to the Agreement whatsoever.

Since the media is one space for Sinn Fein and the DUP to have a form of dialogue, the use of language is critical. The qualifiers in the full quote illustrate just how dangerously misleading the News Letter article was.

I’m sure it was unintentional… it looks like a sub-editor has ‘cut from the bottom’ to get the story to fit.

  • Warm Storage

    The same thing must’ve happened to Pat’s quote of a few years back, where he said something along the lines of “Not a bullet will be handed over.”

    Pesky subs obviously cut from “until” onwards…

  • peteb

    “I’m sure it was unintentional” Gonzo?

    Yeah, I’m sure it was too.

  • Warm Storage

    Hey, to say that is to give sub-editors too much credit, Pete… 🙂

  • Keith M

    Taken in tandem with yesterday’s statement by Bertie Ahern that the DUP were not looking for any FUNDAMENTAL changes to the Belfast Agreement I think I now see a trend. The Irish government and SF (though I suspect not yet the largely irelevant SDLP) have now to refine what they see as the Agreement. They are prepared to accept that as long as the DUP are prepared to work a power sharing executive and cross border bodies then how these work is up for grabs. In return the DUP is coming up with language about cross–border arrangements being practical rather than politically motivated, selling the once unsaleable to their constituency.

    This allows the pro-Agreement parties the fig-leaf of using the term “review” to describe a widespread re-negotiation of the agreement and the DUP to get the accountability that is necessary.

    I was amazeed at how the Irish media reported yesterday’s meeting betweeen the Irish government and the DUP. It is as if the were bending over backwards to portray the DUP demands as reasonable and something that could be sold to nationalists (which is far more used to coalition governments that actually work).

    I think I’m not alone in finding the media savvy DUP a little unnerving.

  • peteb

    It’s only crediting them with a political agenda, WS.

  • Warm Storage

    Just managed to get my hands on a copy of the offending article. Gonzo, you’re being too kind. That doesn’t look like a case of a quote being redacted for reasons of space or because [politically motivated News Letter sub gets his red pen on Warm Storage’s post]