Faux pas of the month?

I missed this one at the time, but Newton Emerson didn’t. At some point on last Monday’s Radio Four’s Today programme Mitchel McLaughlin was,

…asked to explain exactly what Sinn Féin had achieved for its supporters, media-disaster Mitchel spluttered for a moment before blurting out: “The degree of uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the unionist community!” Oops.

  • smcgiff

    “The degree of uncertainty and the lack of confidence in the unionist community!”

    Mmmm, did I think that or say it out loud?

  • Garibaldy

    Not that PSF and its supporters are locked in a sectarian framework or anything. After all Gerry said that he didn’t want a united Ireland to be a coldhouse for unionists. Unfortunately, this quote from McLaughlin is the authentic voice of PSF, where politics is about getting one over on unionists (or less polite works for protestants more likely).

  • Yokel

    Which loyalist got shot in North Belfast?

  • Harry

    It’s not about getting one over on unionists; it’s about providing the space where unionism will expose itself for what it really is – vicious and supremacist – with the inevitable collapse into sectarian violence that will follow. This time though the entire island will become involved, no-one will be able to isolate northern nationalists as they traditionally done.

  • CS Parnell

    Shows the old truciteer understands rightly why people vote for the Sinners. People voted against violence before so they voted SDLP. When the violence stopped they voted SDLP again because that party had delivered. When, between them, the Shinners and DUP/UUP ultras ignored the agreement people decided to vote for the get-it-right-themuns parties – namely the DUP and Sinn Fein.

    Sinn Fein gets votes to stick up two fingers at the Orangies. Even extremely well off Catholics are buying into the Shinner “men of no property” routine and claiming things like SDLP councillors only help Prods.

    It’s a shameful thing, but it won’t last for ever.

  • Garibaldy


    if PSF strategy is to provoke a sectarian maelstrom, then why decommission? More to keep politics online sectarian lines to ensure their vote continues to grow.


    Not so much men of no property anymore I don’t think. More sort of we’ve got money and influence now, and we’re going to throw that weight around. PSF’s base is the same now as Thatcher’s was, the ladder climbing petit bourgeoisie. As I once heard it, ‘Champagne Sinn Fein’

  • Harry

    CS Parnell says: “Even extremely well off Catholics are …claiming things like SDLP councillors only help Prods”

    Garibaldy says: “if PSF strategy is to provoke a sectarian maelstrom…”

    Both of those comments tell a lot more about the mentality of the people making them than they do about the subject matter they purport to provide insight into. They are both profoundly sectarian views. And Garibaldy, why do you think that doing nothing equates with ‘provoking a sectarian maelstrom’? Where exactly is the provocation of which you speak?

    On the point about Sinn Fein having support from ‘loadsamoney’ white van man, it’s true that SF have emerged from the ghetto and learned what it is to have something to lose – a position which the middle-class SDLP have always had and one which has brought SF closer to the SDLP position. Having children has also no doubt softened many a warrior and made them more amenable to compromise.

  • Garibaldy

    Harry, my sectarian maelstrom remark was summarising what you said here:

    “It’s not about getting one over on unionists; it’s about providing the space where unionism will expose itself for what it really is – vicious and supremacist – with the inevitable collapse into sectarian violence that will follow. This time though the entire island will become involved, no-one will be able to isolate northern nationalists as they traditionally done.”

    I was saying that I didn’t believe that the Provos are hoping for an inevitable collapse into sectarian violence, which is what it seems to me you are saying their strategy is in the quote above. My opinion is they don’t want violence any more, but they do want to continue a divided society to keep their votes up.

    If I’ve misunderstood you’re position above, please explain it.

  • Harry

    the operative word was ‘provoke’ for which you had no justification and which revealed the substructure of your thought.

  • lib2016

    It would seem that unionists still haven’t learnt anything about political reality, despite the ‘slips’ by McAleese and Father Reid, and earler by Mallon in his celebrated remark about ‘slow learners’.

    The more dedicated a nationalist is to peaceful democratic means the more they detest unionism and its methods. In the long run the SDLP would have demanded a higher price from unionism.

  • Keith M

    Ah Mitchel, Mitchel, he’s always good for a laugh. Remind me, how big a majority was he forecasting in Foyle last year?

    lib2016 “and earler by Mallon in his celebrated remark about ‘slow learners’.”. Celebrated only by anti Belfast Agreement people I think. It was the worst case of creating a hostage to fortune that I’ve ever seen and only served to act like a concrete block around the feet of the agreement as it slipped under the waterline.

  • lib2016

    Keith M,

    The Agreement is in fine shape and good hands. Unionism however……….!

  • Peking

    “This time though the entire island will become involved, no-one will be able to isolate northern nationalists as they traditionally done.”

    Yeah, I can buy that one okay as the sectarian PSF strategy.
    Stripped of it’s packing, it’s talking about wiping out the Prods or at least hammering them into submission.

  • Garibaldy


    provoke was a turn of phrase. The bit from you I quoted suggested that their policy was to “play for”, to use a football phrase, the inevitable collapse. It still boils down to a sectarian strategy, not one that would be endorsed by Tone or the men of 1916.

  • lib2016


    Wiping out their enemies or at least hammering them into submission were the strategies which failed unionism. Why would one wish to imitate strategies which have been seen to fail?

    Ever since Lemass’s handshake in the Sixties most republicans have argued that he showed the way forward. It may have taken time but very few republicans now doubt that the political way will work.

  • Keith M

    lib2016 : There are none so blind as those that do not see, but here’s a little white stick for you.

    Functioning N.I. assembly : no
    Functioning cross-border bodies : no
    Full and complete decommissioning : no
    A police service supported by all : no

    want me to go on?

  • Harry

    It’s amusing that people refer to republican’s doing nothing as a ‘sectarian strategy’. I mean, really, what more needs to be said?

  • aquifer

    So now that Sinn Fein’s destabilisation strategy is out in the open, will the Unionists wise up and get a plan to go into government without depending on a cessation by the ‘RA?

    Never Never Never.

    Little wonder the Brits prefer side deals with Sinn Fein PIRA, when the Unionists are obsessed with destabilising the destabilisers, a trick they will never pull off. So long as the Unionists act the dancing Monkey, the Brits are happy to pay the sectarian SF Organ Grinder.

  • Garibaldy

    Doing nothing is a lot different than seeking to represent only ‘catholics/nationalists/republicans’ which is a sectarian strategy. As in their whole aim is to represent only one section of the Irish people.

  • Harry

    So, after 50 years of being guilty of being ‘disloyal’, followed by 35 years of being ‘murderers’, nationalists are now guilty of the terrible crime of being ‘inert’!
    Truly a case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’.

  • Garibaldy


    To cut a long story short, anyone who seeks to represent or who votes for those who seek to represent only catholics or protestants is guilty of pursuing a sectarian strategy. Which makes about 85% plus of the electorate.

  • Harry

    Irish nationalists don’t care what religion anyone is garibaldy, as I’ve said before. They are interested in self-government, an irish republic and the withdrawal of british interference in this island. The truth is that that would create a country much better for all, including protestants and would allow a more healthy relationship with britain instead of the poisoned one we now currently ‘enjoy’.

    Also it was a little inaccurate of me to refer to nationalism as ‘inert’ at present, considering that nationalists are making every effort to come to agreement with all over the way forward. Still, ‘disloyal’, ‘murderers’ & ‘inert’ seemed like a nifty threesome.

  • Garibaldy


    unfortunately, experience shows that the main political parties here certainly do care about religion, so i guess we’ll just have to agree to differ

  • Overhere

    Loved the one about Paul Berry

  • Harry

    I myself am quite antagonistic to the catholic church, who I believe have been a disaster for the south and who have interfered in the emotional and political lives of people on this island in a negative way for a very long time, also prior to partition. I believe that partition polarised the entire island along religious lines, creating a protestant state in the north and a catholic state in the south. Partition and the polticial conservatism it engendered north and south – a conservatism which was thought necessary in order to resist challenge to the Treaty – created a poisoned extremist context within which extremists were able to masquerade as the mainstream and those who were mainstream were villified for being extremists. For example in the south all those of a liberal mind, all those who were artistic, challenging and independent-minded were hounded into submission or emigration. 3 million people left the south as a result of the lack of economic opportunites available and also because of the lack of a decent disco and a bit of sex, which they chose to seek elsewhere. The same ossifying effects caused by partition could be seen in the north.
    The result? 80 years of depression and repression, right across the island.

    I also have a great deal of respect for protestantism, specifically for its respect for freedom of conscience and respect for individual rights and dignity. As I said before I have learned a lot from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, who come from the protestant tradition.

    Yet I am an Irish nationalist. You will find that many irish nationalists have a much greater level of scepticism towards the catholic church and its influence than unionists seem to have towards ideas of ‘the protestant people’, which i frequently hear from politicians in the north and which seems an odd way of thinking to me, almost meaningless. I consider the british state and the catholic church to be both foreign colonising powers. It is ireland and its possibilities that i think are worth striving for, not bishops with hidden children and self-serving british strategists seeking to implement america’s strategic plan for the eastern atlantic seaboard.