Blue Peter controversy rumbles on…

The controversy over the Blue Peter Red Hand controversy rumbles on as Unionists were reported as pushing for a meeting with Blue Peter bosses. East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland was quoted as saying it was “political correctness gone mad”. Well, I suppose someone had to!

  • Beowulf

    You’ll be fascinated to learn that in a response to an email directed at Strathclyde University Press Office, I was told the following:

    “Professor Miller is a recognised expert in the area of media representations of Northern Ireland…”

    So, anyone thinking of sending their children (or indeed themselves) to Strathclyde University may want to reconsider. I hear plumbing is the way to go these days.

  • peteb

    Meanwhile, in the Media Guardian’s feedback page, the professor of sociology breaks cover, now clarifying his complaint as, “The point here is not to suggest that people in Northern Ireland should not be attached to the red hand. Rather the point is that the BBC is required not to favour one side or another.”

    He goes on to interpret BBC producers’ guidelines as part of his argument, “This is why their producers’ guidelines state that while interviewees may refer to Northern Ireland as Ulster our journalists should not use Ulster as a synonym.

    He then argues “The same principle applies to the use of the red hand as a symbol of the six counties known as Northern Ireland.”

    Ermm.. “journalists”?

    But let’s look at the quotes in the original article from Professor David Miller

    Like the swastika the red hand is a symbol that has been misappropriated. It is the symbol of the unionists and is certainly not signed up to by the majority,” he told MediaGuardian.co.uk.

    “Nobody seriously thinks that it is a symbol for Ulster or Northern Ireland.”

    Nobody, Professor?

  • Beowulf

    When he uses the word ‘clarify’, I think he means to use ‘change’. It’s a common mistake.

  • ricardo

    Did anyone see Newsnight last night? (Mon 24th)

    Paxman talked about someone from Belfast, then followed this up with ‘My producer, who is also from Ulster . . . ‘

    So clearly Ulster is an acceptable synonym for Northern Ireland at least some of the time (mostly when Prof Miller isn’t watching)

  • Beowulf

    Don’t let the good professor dazzle you with misdirection. The issue is only this:

    “Like the swastika the red hand is a symbol that has been misappropriated. It is the symbol of the unionists and is certainly not signed up to by the majority,” he told MediaGuardian.co.uk.

  • peteb

    Well, ricardo, as a professor of sociology, obviously his preferred viewing would be Blue Peter rather than Newsnight.

  • Ciarán Irvine

    So clearly Ulster is an acceptable synonym for Northern Ireland

    Nah. Ulster is an acceptable synonym for, well, Ulster. Which includes the north, of course. But Ulster is bigger 🙂

    Saying someone is from Ulster when they are from the Six is of course correct. An organisation based in and drawing its membership from any part of the nine counties of Ulster is entitled to use “Ulster” in its title, logically. But using Ulster to mean only, exclusively, the part of Ireland in the UK (just to try to be neutralish about it) is, well, just plain wrong no matter what way you slice it.

  • Donnie

    Am I the only one in thinking that the most ridiculous thing about this post is that Michael Copeland is pushing for a meeting with Blue Peter bosses?! You’d think he had no problems closer to home to worry about…..

    The longer this storm in a teacup goes on the less dignity is going to be left intact for all parties concerned.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Looks like we have another instance where a unionist politician can’t resist the opportunity for a bit of political capital. Step forward Michael Copeland.

    Although to be fair he does have form when coming to getting himself noticed. During the interface violence at Short Strand Michael and his wife positioned themselves in Cluan Place and started keeping a diary of events that occurred during that awful time.
    Why someone elected to Castlereagh Council bothered to make the journey was never fully explained at the time, Jim Rodgers should have noticed.
    It was shock and awe when Michael declared that all the violence emanated from the Short Strand. Now this flew in the face of all available evidence, but Michael was adamant. Suffice to say Michael was chosen to run as an Assembly candidate for East Belfast and it was all happily ever after, except for poor Jim whose Assembly seat Michael now occupies.

    But I always felt it strange the contents of Michaels diary blamed everything on the Short Stranders. Then recently Hearts and Minds conducted a short profile on Michael that revealed he was an ex UDR man and his wife was an ex member of the RUC and suddenly everything became very clear.

  • peteb

    Ciarán

    As Beowulf said – “Don’t let the good professor dazzle you with misdirection”

  • Beowulf

    Looks like we have another instance of a SF supporter going off topic to point the finger of blame.

  • willowfield

    You could argue that Ulster’s boundaries changed in 1921 …

    Assuming you do not make that argument, though, using Ulster as a synonym for NI is no worse than using Ireland as a synonym for ROI. The latter is far more common and made worse by the fact that the ROI state itself has arrogated the name in its constitution.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I didn’t get a reply from Miller when I emailed him. Perhaps Beowulf could post his full reply from Strathclyde’s PR people?

  • peteb

    BTW, ricardo does raise an interesting point.. and the quotes from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight are, as I recall, accurate.

    So, can we expect to see Professor Miller challenging Mr Paxman on his use of ‘Ulster’? Or will the good professor restrict the focus of his wrath to a children’s TV presenter?

  • Mick Fealty

    Pat, that was shaping up to be a good post, until you played the man at the end. That’s tantamount to saying don’t listen to this man because he’s: ex UDR/ex IRA/insert your own preference.

  • Beowulf

    Belfast Gonzo, I won’t print the whole email here but here’s the relevant section:

    “Whilst Professor Miller’s comments and views are his own, and they do not represent an official statement from the University, the University is a strong defender of the principle of academic freedom and encourages its staff to engage in public debate in areas of their researchexpertise. Professor Miller is a recognised expert in the area of media representations of Northern Ireland, and he felt this was a subject he was equipped to comment on.

    The university notes that the head of Blue Peter has apologised for the inappropriate use of the red hand of Ulster.”

    Director Of Marketing and Communications, University of Strathclyde

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Thanks.

    Shame the good professor couldn’t answer. Maybe he’s on holiday.

    …flying on Red Hand Airlines no doubt!

    ;o)

  • Alan2

    So it is OK to say the “Red Hand of Northern Ireland”? Is that what he is saying?

    The Red Hand is just the same as the Irish Harp, The Scottish Rampant Lion or The Welsh Dragon or indeed the Manx trinacria (Trie Cassyn) -(interestingly “Quoconque jeceris stabit” Whichever way you throw me, I shall stand)

  • peteb

    Ah.. perhaps the quote on this topic so far, from the Media Guardian’s feedback page –

    “The red hand is not a “sectarian” symbol and I consider that any controversy regarding this issue exists only within the mind of an academic who is completely prejudiced and has far too much time on his hands.” – Dr Alan W Truman

  • Belfast Gonzo

    http://flagspot.net/flags/xf-sign.html#bluepeter

    Maybe it’s Zoe that will be seeking a port to weather this storm…!

  • Belfast Gonzo
  • Donnie

    Taxi for Gonzo 🙂

    Apparently she is also seeking an injunction against a neo-nazi website that has a picture of her posted as ‘the perfect Aryan pinup’!

    She’s making quite an impact at Broadcasting House.

  • Alan2

    An interesting little link anbout St Patrick on the Isle Of Man.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Pat

    “Looks like we have another instance where a unionist politician can’t resist the opportunity for a bit of political capital.”

    I don’t think there was any need for the word `unionist’ there.

    Donnie

    “Am I the only one thinking that the most ridiculous thing about this post is that Michael Copeland is pushing for a meeting with Blue Peter bosses?!’’

    Just what I was thinking. I mean ffs. This whole thing is just ridiculous and, to be honest, Copeland’s intervention will only prolong this stupid little spat. I kinda feel sorry for Zoe, though I suppose as a professional broadcaster she showed her inexperience by even creating the possibility that something like this could come up. Not a hanging offence, but when you start going on about “our proud symbol” with a northern Irish accent you’re just asking for trouble.

    But the most interesting thing about all of this has been the way the feelings of the British mainstream towards northern Irish unionists have been betrayed. It has been interesting how such a wide range of media have been so willing to equate even something as uncontroversial as the Lamh Dearg with the worst excesses of loyalism. They don’t even acknowledge a distinction.

    A by-product of Paisley’s electoral triumph perhaps?

  • Alan2

    Here is the story with regards Zoe onthe C18 site.

    Poor Zoe is all I can say.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Mick / Billy P

    fair enough on both counts, but this is such a non issue that it is fair game to try and get a rise from someone to liven up the thread.

  • Alan2
  • George

    “Assuming you do not make that argument, though, using Ulster as a synonym for NI is no worse than using Ireland as a synonym for ROI.”

    Ireland is the official name of the Irish Republic, recognised by all the world’s institutions.

    Ulster has no status other than as its status as one of Ireland’s four provinces, made up of nine counties.

    Macedonia is officially called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM) because of Greek objections.

    If you don’t like the fact that Ireland is called Ireland form a movement or petition your government, like Greece did, and see if you can get them to force Ireland to have the name officially changed.

    If you want to change Northern Ireland to Ulster form a movement or petition your government and see if you can get them to have the name officially changed.

    Otherwise, live with it. What’s wrong with the name Northern Ireland anyway that unionists always want to call their home an ancient Irish province?

    Identity problem? Confusion?

  • Beowulf

    George:

    I’m not confused and I don’t have an identity problem. I never suggested that Northern Ireland was Ulster. The only issue here is the red hand’s acceptance by both communities in Northern Ireland as a symbol that can represent them.

    You and willowfield take your childish, boring, repetitive geography 101 class to some other of the hundred or so inane threads on the subject of names on this site.

  • Alan

    You guys are missing the big picture here.

    I want to know if Prof Miller got his Blue Peter badge or not! If he did . . .

  • Davros

    This may not be the time or Plaice, bit this is all a bit of a cod. Loads of free publicity for all concerned ( squids in ? )…. geddit ? 😉

  • Billy Pilgrim

    George

    “Ireland is the official name of the Irish Republic, recognised by all the world’s institutions.”

    That’s as may be but it’s still incorrect. I guess it’s a hangover from the old articles 2 and 3 – if you’re claiming the whole island as the national territory then there’s no need for a qualifying prefix. It would have made no sense to name the country as anything other than Ireland. However over time I believe the effect has been the opposite, where `Ireland’ is frequently used in everyday conversation to denote the 26. And in truth, when most people talk about Ireland they are instnctively thinking in terms of the 26. It’s only natural that that would be the case.

    I know that there is nothing meant by it. For a long time when I lived in Dublin I made a point of pulling people up on it – being a northerner I am preprogrammed to be unable to just let it go – and without a single exception was met with embarassed and profuse apologies, and the qualifying prefixes tended to be conspicuous thereafter.

    But it was and is painful for a northerner who is proud to be of Ireland and for Ireland to hear the name of the country used to refer exclusively to the Republic.

    So Willow is right. (Can’t believe I just typed that.) Using Ulster for the 6 or Ireland for the 26 are pretty much the same. There are six Irish counties not in the constitution’s “Ireland” and there are three Ulster counties not in unionism’s Ulster.

    “If you don’t like the fact that Ireland is called Ireland form a movement or petition your government and see if you can get them to force Ireland to have the name officially changed.”

    Nah, nobody wants that. But you know what northerners are like, always have to make their point.

    “What’s wrong with the name Northern Ireland anyway that unionists always want to call their home an ancient Irish province?”

    I’m sure some of our unionist brothers and sisters could answer this better than me, but I’d venture that it has something to do with a desire to head off the realities of being in Northern Ireland – and thus in IRELAND – and the attendant danger of being, albeit with a prefix, Irish.

    Also, Ulster sounds less artificial than Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland sounds about as natural an entity as it actually is.

    Davros.

    Holy mackerel. You should be scalloped for that last post.

  • JD

    Given the differing interpretations of the red hand depending on the number of digits, does anyone know if the presenter drew four or five digits?

    Also, if you saw someone with a red hand tattoo, what assumptions would you make about the bearer?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    That he should have gone for a nice tribal tattoo instead.

    Oh wait…

  • James

    “The controversy over the Blue Peter Red Hand controversy rumbles on as Unionists were reported as pushing for a meeting with Blue Peter bosses.”

    The heat generated by any issue in the six counties of Ulster (sic!) is in inverse squared proportion to it’s significance. Those aren’t dreary steeples, they are asymptotes.

    I think it is high time for another rousing discussion on what to call Derry.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    James.

    “The heat generated by any issue in the six counties of Ulster (sic!) is in inverse squared proportion to it’s significance.”

    Correct. We’re pathetic. Children.

  • Alan2

    “I think it is high time for another rousing discussion on what to call Derry”

    Where?
    😉

  • fair_deal

    Funny how the BBC was fully prepared to take tens of thousands of complaints for the Jerry Springer show in the cause of free speech but one complaint from a sociology professor who hasn’t a clue what they are talking about gets a grovelling apology. Where was Zoe’s free speech?

    Pat

    “It was shock and awe when Michael declared that all the violence emanated from the Short Strand. Now this flew in the face of all available evidence, but Michael was adamant”

    First, not particularly relevant to the thread.

    Second, “available evidence” so the shooting that emanated from Short Strand hitting I think four people in Cluan Place was not by republicans? Were you unaware of this incident? Or are you trying to argue a Loyalist gunman infiltrated Short Strand to shoot at Protestants? Or wil you adopt the usual republican tactic and ignore this post?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    fair deal,

    ‘First, not particularly relevant to the thread.’

    of course it is, it emphasises the political opportunism of Michael Copeland, just ask Jim Rodgers.

    ‘Second, “available evidence” so the shooting that emanated from Short Strand hitting I think four people in Cluan Place was not by republicans? Were you unaware of this incident? Or are you trying to argue a Loyalist gunman infiltrated Short Strand to shoot at Protestants? Or wil you adopt the usual republican tactic and ignore this post?’

    The shooting of 5 people in Cluan Place was I believe the work of the IRA. No one is disputing that fact. Most reasonable people believe that interface violence emanates from both sides of the community.
    What i was highlighting was the quite cynical way Copeland latched onto the dispute and blamed ALL the violence on the people from the Short Strand. Interloper Trevor Ringland also parachuted in to spin the same line. A pack of lies that was playing to the baser elements in unionism.

    It is clear you did not understand my earlier post despite it being quite clear and concise.

  • ricardo

    Even Gail Walker is getting stuck in now, from the Tele (25/1)

    hyperlink

    Mick: Hyperlink fixed. You just need to take out the brackets from the template below.

  • Alan

    I have to make an admission – I saw the programme (excuse – kids of 11 and 9 plus cable TV).

    There were two or three red hands suggested for the fusillage of the plane. I think they had 4 fingers – they certainly had a thumb. My poor memory suggests that they were right hands. However . . . they were leaning to the left!!!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Miller’s fatal mistake was to ignore the context of Salmon’s remarks. Did she deliberately set out to offend? I hardly think so.

  • Davros

    Mistake or choice Gonzo ? Some people go out of their way to be offended.

  • Donnie

    She compounded this mistake by choosing a picture of Ireland covered in the Union flag in a competition. I am convinced she just made two innocent gaffes that has incensed some busybody in Scotland who believes she went out of her way to offend people.

  • Davros

    I agree Donnie. The second mistake was very silly for an intelligent home-educated person from NI and could have caused reasonable offence.

  • Two Nations

    Miller is giving a lecture tonight at QUB. Some anti-G8 rant for the SEA guys.

    The talk takes place tonight in the Peter Froggart Centre at 7.30pm.

    Whether it will involve making models of Bush and co. using sticky back plastic and bog rolls is unclear as the poster did not say.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Sure, you can give him a Blue Peter badge instead.

    Here’s how some of Zoe’s more extreme fans viewed events.

  • Butterknife

    I agree with East Belfast’s MLA Michael Copeland and i too demand a private talk with with Zoe! I am not surprised the Prof. watches Blue Peter and not Newsnight;)

  • CorkGuy

    Using the term “Ireland” for the Republic of Ireland is simply shorthand. It’s the same as using America in reference to the United States of America.

    The use of the term Americans to describe Citizens of the United States of America is pretty bad. e.g. Canadians, Mexicans, Puruvians etc are all Americans geographically.

    Also, Europe gets used as short hand for the European Union on a regular basis.

    … what it comes down to is normal usage of language. No one’s going to use a very long phrase where a short one will do.

    As for Ireland, it is the official name of the Republic of Ireland. It just also happens to be the historical and geographical name for the entire Island of Ireland.

  • barney

    The official name for “Ireland” is “Ireland”, surprisingly enough. It is not shorthand for anything.
    See Article 4 of the constitution…

    http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/static/256.pdf