A failure to communicate?

Last Sunday was the 60th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech but has the peace process produced anything comparable?

Immediately after WWII, many were in denial of the new geo-political realities but Churchill encapsulated it with his speech at Westminster college. Speeches have often summed up a mood or helped people understand complex political issues. For Unionists two 20th century examples would be the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant of 1912 and Harold McCusker’s speech in the Anglo-Irish Agreement debate.

However has any political leader managed a speech to define the period of the peace process? David Trimble’s Nobel speech fell flat. Hume’s instantly forgettable. Ahern has many political skills but speeches isn’t one of them. Blair has delivered a number but none seem to stick in the mind except possibly the seven broken pledges. Although Blair did give the now cringe-worthy “hand of history” sound-byte. Adams and Ervine disappear into process speak. Even Paisley, a man who can command every oratorical device hasn’t delivered anything memorable.

Is this communication gap contributing to the public malaise about political developments?


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