A Letter to Timothy

Thanks to Pat McLarnon for bring this piece from the always excellent Eoghan Harris to my attention. Given his kind words about Slugger it is the least we could do.

  • Henry94

    Jenny McCartney has a similar piece in todays Telegraph. Are they trying to destroy the guys chances altogether.

    Neither can understand why nationalists are voting Sinn Fein. Others can’t understand the appeal of the DUP.

    My theory is that both parties are being manouvered by their voters into a position where they have to do a deal.

    The monument to the SDLP and the UUP will be two parties which are just like them. Just like British voters want Tory policies but not the Tories and southernvoters want a Fianna Fail government implementing PD policies northen voters want Sinn Fein as the SDLP and the DUP as the UUP.

    Why? So the deal will work without being undermined by the greener/oranger party. Voters are not delinquent as Harris appears to believe. They are cold-eyed and clinical. They will get what they want.

  • Alan McDonald

    Henry94,

    An honest and heart-felt thank you from this American for your explanation of what the voters are doing. I hope you are right. I have been trying to understand the rejection of the centrist parties ever since the last Assembly election.

  • aquifer

    The assumption being that the gravitational pull of real power will pull them together and drag them off the political hooks they hang themselves off so publicly.

    Here’s hoping

    Or would we better hope for a new secretary of state with less patience.

  • middle-class taig

    “as if anger made their actions right”

    Eoghan would do well to reflect on this pious, pompous platitude when he’s talking about northern nationalists in these disgraceful terms, giving succour in doing so to the very prejudice and bigotry which ghettoises West Belfast and stigmatises its people to this day.

    And to tell us that we would “act on good authority” by voting for the UUP, one of the leading members of which once described sectarian murders of catholics as maybe being “useful”….

    Keep taking the tablets Eoghan. Or perhaps we’d all be better off if he refused medication.

    As he obviously joins us from time to time, perhaps Eoghan could explain why he thinks Dr Kennedy only stands in West Belfast when punishment beatings are by no means limited to that constituency. And can he also assure us that when Dr Kennedy does turn his magnifying glass to pastures bloodier, perhaps oranger, Eoghan will be on hand to make sure he gets similarly fawning coverage.

    Let’s hope Eoghan’s readers contribute a reasonable amount. How much is the deposit these days?

  • Ringo

    Henry94 –

    nicely put.

    All those former UUP and SDLP voters who are now swelling the ranks of the DUP and SF can’t all have started frothing at the mouth and turned into old skool loyalists and republicans.

    Ironically things and folks appear from a distance to be more settled than in the good old days when the SDLP and the UUP held sway – which would lead me to believe that the electorate certainly is more moderate than before. And if that’s the case then it is only a matter of time before the parties getting the bulk of their votes reflect this.

    If SF and the DUP want to prosper in the medium term the price they will pay is the masses of new voters turning their parties into the very things the despise about the UUP and the SDLP.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    MCT,

    It seemed to me implicit that he was urging support for the UUP from moderate nationalists where they were competing with the DUP. It may even be implicit (and perhaps ought to have been made explicit) that DUP voters were similarly accused of delinquency.

    As for the remark complained off, are youy suggesting there is a moral equivalence between describing sectarian murder in those terms and actively participating in them?

  • Henry94

    It seemed to me implicit that he was urging support for the UUP from moderate nationalists where they were competing with the DUP.

    It’s hard to see what’s the benefit for moderate nationalists in saving the UUP. If the DUP strategy is to wipe out the UUP before making a deal why should we wait another four years when it can happen now.

    Where there are two competing unionist parties they force each other to the extremes.

    With two parties (SF, DUP) effectively run on democratic centralist lines we can have a deal which will stick (no pun intended).

  • Henry94

    Who is the moderate in this case?

    “I would not under any circumstance support an executive with Sinn Fein, I think their criminality and their deceit and their duplicity is not tolerable in a democratic society,”

    Burnside

    “Criminality is part of Sinn Fein’s very nature,” he said. “Republican violence has got to cease, but they won’t do it because it is their lever. There is no way I will be sharing power with them while that continues.”

    McCrea

    I think nationalists would be better of with a McCrea doing wht Paisley tells him than Burnside trying to wreck a deal.

    In South Belfast the SDLP can take the seat. In Upper Bann Sinn Fein have an outside chance on a split Unionist vote. In any case getting rid of Trimble would clarify the post-election situation.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Henry 94, I think the flaw in your argument is that the extremes are being rewarded. No political party in NI is ever displaced from the centre. This hardly encourages compromise.

    Your point about spotting the moderate in S. Antrim is well made, nevertheless it’s hard to conceive of a a more “delinquent” unionist candidate then the loathsome McCrea.

  • Henry94

    Jimmy

    No political party in NI is ever displaced from the centre.

    Correct. That is why Paisley and Adams have to go to such lengths to protect their right flanks. If I am wrong and they still can’t do a deal then we will at least know that no deal is possible and move on.

    it’s hard to conceive of a a more “delinquent” unionist candidate then the loathsome McCrea

    I can only think of one who comes close. Burnside. But it would be better if McCrea won. Burnside is capable of leading opposition to a deal. McCrea is not. In this case democracy is best served by a win for the less capable canditate.

  • middle-class taig

    Jimmy

    “As for the remark complained off, are youy suggesting there is a moral equivalence between describing sectarian murder in those terms and actively participating in them?”

    Read the article again – he wasn’t venting about murder. He was slabbering about people ringing a phone in. Harris’ stock-in-trade is anger. Articles of this kind add to the marginalisation and vulnerability of republican communities. He’s too busy with his anger to see that.

    “always excellent” indeed – you should have said “always parroting the line I want to hear”

  • slackjaw

    MCT

    Articles of this kind add to the marginalisation and vulnerability of republican communities.

    How?

  • fatbuster

    Why don’t people in Ballymena trot out this ‘demonisation’ crap whenever Paisley gets a media monstering? Or do they, and it’s just that at least we have the wit not to listen to it from that particular quarter?
    Voting for ultra-nationalistic parties is considered despicable when it happens in Austria, Holland, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium… but not here. What makes us so special?

  • middle-class taig

    slackjaw

    Because they create the impression of communities collectively scheming and plotting attacks on their neighbours, disaffected from and not contributing to society at large, politically unthinking and irredeemably sectarian.

    None of those things are true. They are entirely unreflective of the level of political engagement, community-sector activity, artistic endeavour and genuine hard-working, tax-paying good citizenship coming out of those areas.

    Articles of this nature make it easier for sectarian elements in our society to justify attacks against those areas, deny them funding and dissuade investment.

    fatbuster

    There’s no history of regular sectarian attack against the majority community in Ballymena, nor is there, to the best of my knowledge, any long-standing argument that unionist areas of Ballymena are denied funding or miss out on investment. Ballymena is not marginalised or vulnerable. Nationalist areas throughout the east of the six counties are.

    What makes voting for fascists in Austria, Holland, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, etc despicable is the range of policies which they espouse which tend to (and are probably intended to) add to the marginalisation and vulnerability of immigrant communities, ethnic minorities, asylum seekers, communities harbouring a separatist ideology, (often also homosexuals, gypsies, muslims) etc.

    From a policy perspective, what does SF share with any of the “ultra-nationalistic” parties you mention? I would suggest nothing whatsoever. The DUP may share a thing or two with them, as may the PDs, but not SF. I think you need to do a bit of thinking before tarring certain parties with that particular brush.

  • fatbuster

    If you can’t see that SF are an ultra-nationalist party very much in the classic mould then you’re as blind as a bat. Incidentally, if SF are so ‘good on the ground’ (as we hear endlessly from everyone) then why is West Belfast still so ‘deprived’ after 20 years under the beard? It rains money all over the place, including the Shankill, and it’s just one big miserable shit-hole. Have its political overlords no responsibility for this whatsoever? Or is it all just ‘demonisation’ of ‘the community’ by ‘anti-‘ critics?

  • hoots

    Large areas of East Belfast are also turning into a ‘shithole'(your words) ,Does this make the DUP’s Peter Robinson responsible for the continuing decline of huge parts of his constituency

  • fatbuster

    Yes. The refusal of the unionist establishment in East Belfast to stand up to the UDA (and apparently also the willingness of both sides to get into bed with the UDA) is directly responsible for a great deal of misery currently being inflicted on people in East Belfast.

    So, like, what’s your point? Would it be anything close “But…themmuns!” Pathetic whataboutery.

  • slackjaw

    MCT

    Thanks for your reply. I still don’t get it, though.

    Because they create the impression of communities collectively scheming and plotting attacks on their neighbours, disaffected from and not contributing to society at large, politically unthinking and irredeemably sectarian.

    Really? From my reading of this particular, he focuses solely on the implications of voting for Sinn Fein.

    They are entirely unreflective of the level of political engagement, community-sector activity, artistic endeavour and genuine hard-working, tax-paying good citizenship coming out of those areas.

    Undoubtedly true, but if, as is the case here, the focus is solely on the implications of voting for Sinn Fein, why would he need to refer to any of the above?

    Articles of this nature make it easier for sectarian elements in our society to justify attacks against those areas, deny them funding and dissuade investment.

    But even non-sectarian elements in our society have an issue with what they see as people voting for the IRA. Surely he is entitled to give an opinion on the matter?

    Eoghan Harris has been writing articles like this for the last ten years at least. How many Sunday Times and Sunday Independent readers do you think have felt compelled to go out and perpetrate sectarian attacks on republicans as a result? It is far more likely that those inclined to perpetrate sectarian attacks had lurid tales of furtive encounters with sports masseurs for their Sunday reading.

    As for the withdrawal of funding or investment, I hardly think the opinions of Eoghan Harris (or anyone else at the Sindo for that matter) really come into it. On the other hand, the activities of the organisation he attacks (the IRA) most certainly do.

  • slackjaw

    Sorry should read:

    ‘From my reading of this particular piece..’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Fatbuster

    “If you can’t see that SF are an ultra-nationalist party very much in the classic mould then you’re as blind as a bat.”

    That isn’t any kind of answer. MCT raises a very good point – that Sinn Fein have policies on immigration, minorities, social exclusion and so on that couldn’t be further removed from the ultra-nationalist parties you refer to. He asks in what way Sinn Fein are “ultra-nationalist” and you didn’t answer him.

    What do you have in mind, in terms of policies?

    (I think I know the answer to my own question. Sinn Fein are `nationalists’, right? Okay, that’s `nationalist’ in the very narrow, specific and unique sense of the word as it is used in Northern Ireland – but let’s not get bogged down in details. So Sinn Fein are `nationalists’. They are more hardline than the SDLP, so now they are `hardline nationalists’. No, better yet, they are `ultra nationalists’. Now, where else are there `ultra nationalists’? Oh yeah: in some parts of Europe, `ultra nationalist’ is code for fascist.

    So Sinn Fein, being `ultra nationalists’, are in fact fascists. They are exactly the same as the BNP, Freedom, the List and so on. No, better yet: they’re like the Nazis. After al, weren’t they ultra nationalists too?

    That’ll do for me. Happy days. We can now rest easy in our moral certitude that the party we disagree with is basically the latest incarnation of the antiChrist.

    There’s absolutely no need to dwell on the fact that Sinn Fein are diametrically opposed in most matters of policy from all the above parties, with whom they have been grouped.

    Sure they’re all a bunch of bastards aren’t they? After that, it’s just detail.

    Or perhaps Fatbuster, at the second attempt you could offer a more enlightening reply to MCT’s fair question?

  • donald

    fatbuster

    you failed to mention the stranglehold which the UVF have over working class areas in east belfast,drugs,moneylenders,thuggery,beatings etc…

  • fatbuster

    Ho hum. SF is an ultra-nationalist party because it espouses a concept of ‘Irishness’ against which it judges people to be more or less Irish. So yes this particular ultra-nationalist party ‘allows’ Irish people to be gay, black and poor – but it doesn’t allow them to have a parallel British identity in any way, shape or form or indeed to be ‘un-Irish’ in quite specific ways – like calling the cops in West Belfast, for example.
    Otherwise, it orders them out of ‘the area’.

    A meaningless statement from Barbara de Bruin about “gender proofing” does not cancel out a chilling statement from Barbara de Bruin that the victim of a multiple rape attack in West Belfast should not involve the police in the case, to take one particularly memorable example.

    Sinn Fein is an ultra-nationalist party because it perceives itself, alone, to embody ‘the nation’ in ways it goes on to define and impose by force. Wilfully ignoring the implications of this, let alone knowingly apologising for it, really is as disgusting as Eoghan Harris said. However, I would accept that voting for it can often be merely the preserve of idiots.

  • fatbuster

    Oh yes, thanks for adding the UVF to your whataboutery list. I had assumed it was uncessecery to list every malefactor on this supposedly grown-up site but apparently not.
    So as you’re aware that the UUP-DUP-UDA-UVF nexus is destroying working class areas, what makes you think the SF-IRA nexus is good for them?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    MCT,

    I think it is you who have misread the article. HArris excoriates those who plan, as he puts it, to vote for the IRA. The reference to the phone-in refers merely to those who take offence at this characterisation. The idea that the community is endangered not by paramilitaries but by opinion pieces critical of them in the Sunday Independent really is too silly for words.

  • fatbuster

    It’s also to Shinner for words.
    Once again I mark MCT as a party hack. This ex-SDLP voter guise is just laughable.

  • A.U.

    Ball not man please fatbuster.

  • fatbuster

    The man is the ball in this instance AU.
    MCT claims to be a recent convert to SF yet has a knowledge of and passion for every detail of the party line that simply beggars belief.
    What is the circulation of the Sindo in the north? 5000? Less? How many SF voters are even aware of its columnist profile?
    This obsessions with the Sindo is not just a purely party obsession but in particular a press office obsession. I’m calling him out.

    Not in my book it isn’t. OK to express scepticism, but if you start harassing him or her, I’ll start removing your posts. A.U.

  • fatbuster

    No harrassment on my part intended – I just don’t find his persona credible, and given that MCT bases much of what he writes on that persona it is difficult to respond to his posts without the credibility of his persona being an issue.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Fatbuster

    “Ho hum. SF is an ultra-nationalist party because it espouses a concept of ‘Irishness’ against which it judges people to be more or less Irish.”

    Go on. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, but this is a bald assertion, not an argument. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say – if you can take this point forward.

    “but it doesn’t allow them to have a parallel British identity in any way, shape or form…”

    Go on.

    “Sinn Fein is an ultra-nationalist party because it perceives itself, alone, to embody ‘the nation’ in ways it goes on to define and impose by force.”

    I don’t really think Sinn Fein think they embody the nation. Perhaps in the past they did – back when no-one but a few cranks voted for them – but these days?

    “Wilfully ignoring the implications of this, let alone knowingly apologising for it, really is as disgusting as Eoghan Harris said.”

    Your mind appears to be closed to the many less dystopian reasons why SF are such a fast-growing party. Are you really so satisfied that you have a greater understanding than the hundreds of thousands who vote SF? Are you so willing to write off all those people? Have you no curiosity?

    “However, I would accept that voting for it can often be merely the preserve of idiots.”

    A revealing comment – cheap and nasty.

    It’s to hate that many people all at once.

  • A.U

    Labelling a poster a “party hack” is pejorative and thus harassment. You made your point that you think he/she might not be an ex-sdlp voter. I suggest you leave it there.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Meant to say:

    It’s wicked to hate that many people all at once.

  • middle-class taig

    “If you can’t see that SF are an ultra-nationalist party very much in the classic mould then you’re as blind as a bat.”

    Briilliantly argued, if I may say so.

    “Incidentally, if SF are so ‘good on the ground’ (as we hear endlessly from everyone) then why is West Belfast still so ‘deprived’ after 20 years under the beard?”

    Because they don’t control investment. The NIO has a major role, but the private sector is the main determinant. Harris doesn’t help by putting the private sector off.

    “It rains money all over the place, including the Shankill, and it’s just one big miserable shit-hole.”

    Charming. You’ve obviously never been in either.

    “Have its political overlords no responsibility for this whatsoever?”

    Of course they do, but they’re not miracle workers. It would be nice if former socialists didn’t cut the legs from under them and allow them to try to improve the lot of this overwhelmingly working-class area (including the Shankill).

    “SF is an ultra-nationalist party because it espouses a concept of ‘Irishness’ against which it judges people to be more or less Irish.”

    No it doesn’t. If it did, there’s no way in hell I’d consider voting for it.

    “it doesn’t allow [Irish people] to have a parallel British identity in any way, shape or form or indeed to be ‘un-Irish'”

    Yes it does. In signing the GFA, SF recognised “the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose”. For crying out loud, Martin Meehan was recently all over the news going to visit a relative’s grave at the Somme.

    How is “calling the cops in West Belfast” a manifestation of British identity? I honestly don’t know anything about the multiple rape attack you refer to. Were I a party hack, I might.

    “Sinn Fein is an ultra-nationalist party because it perceives itself, alone, to embody ‘the nation'”

    No it doesn’t.

    “in ways it goes on to define and impose by force”

    What ways?

    “voting for it can often be merely the preserve of idiots.”

    Two thirds of nationalists are idiots? Nice.

    Billy Pilgrim

    Thanks for the “support”. You’ve picked me up on a number of occasions when I’ve been a bit loose, and it’s nice to see it works both ways.

    AU

    Thank you, but don’t worry. This thing about me being a SF party hack is too laughable for words. If I was a SF member, I’d post in my own name. The more they say it the more everyone can see I’m winning the argument.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    MCT

    “Thanks for the “support”. You’ve picked me up on a number of occasions when I’ve been a bit loose, and it’s nice to see it works both ways.”

    No problem mate.

  • Chris Gaskin

    Better be carefull MCT

    you move from a “pary hack” to a paid spy and informer for the monolith, anti-christ, mark of the beast Sinn Féin very quickly 😉

  • Chris Gaskin

    Should read “party hack”

  • middle-class taig

    CG

    ahem, you said “paid” spy

    can we discuss figures?

  • Chris Gaskin

    “ahem, you said “paid” spy

    can we discuss figures?”

    LOL

    Thankfully Sinn Féin don’t pay/ask/send people to monitor sites but a few of our sdlp brethren are still not convinced 😉

  • middle-class taig

    chickenfatbuster?

    Please don’t goad him/her MCT. It’s asking for trouble A.U.

  • Davros

    C’mon Chris – you were outed as a Unionist apologist LOL