Telling it like it is… with authority

I really like this piece from Alan McBride from yesterday’s Sunday Life

There are so many people, myself included, who feel they have a right to pontificate on the whys and wherefores of Northern Ireland. Alan McBride is in a completely different category. Having lost his wife and father in law in the Shankill bombing, he has set out changing the world he lives in. Although he would be happy enough with ‘one small step’, he has the courage to speak out and ask for the politicians to take good big leaps.

He writes:
In my opinion this argument from the DUP is wearing a wee bit thin. If the Agreement has not delivered the kind of society envisaged, that is not necessarily the fault of the UUP. Of course they made mistakes, but when apportioning blame the DUP should look a little closer to home. Is it not the case that the DUP (as always) took the cowardly way out? Rather than get around the table and negotiate the strongest possible deal for unionism, they ran away, preferring to stand outside the process and undermine it at every turn.
They have become masters at this kind of political manoeuvring and it seems to be paying dividends for them electorally.
But what have they delivered? In spite of an election manifesto promising a stronger type of unionism and an end of concessions to Sinn Fein/IRA, the DUP have delivered nothing.
Rather than providing the unionist people with progressive, forward-thinking leadership, they have yet to demonstrate that they have anything relevant to offer.
It’s easy to sound tough and principled when you don’t actually have responsibility for governing a divided country.

He makes the same point that is now starting to sound like the Northern Ireland themesong. Indeed who needs a national anthem when we can all sing “We elected you now come and lead us”

  • Pete Baker

    One point I’d make, missfitz, is that you do have a right to pontificate on the whys and wherefores – We all do.. as equally as anyone else.

    Our different personal circumstances may give those pontifications different context.. but that does not make them any more, or less, valid.

  • Miss Fitz

    I certainly feels that it gives the comments a resonance that other viewpoints do not have.

    Through my work, I have learned humility in the face of the trauma and experiences that other people have experienced.

    While I accept my right to have an opinion, it is not seasoned or tempered by the depth of experience and tragedy that Alan’s do.

    So, to be truthful, I would always yield more weight for the comments of someone like Alan who has turned his personal tragedy into a life force for good and positive action.

  • Pete Baker

    The resonance is in how you respond to the comments, missfitz.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the experience of the person making those comments gives the comments context – hence the resonance.

    But those comments have to stand or fall on their own merit.. they do not, and should not, be granted higher validity or importance simply because of who is making them – it’s the same rule of thumb as ‘ball not man’ on Slugger.

  • Pete Baker

    Sorry, missfitz

    That should have read –

    “.. they should not be granted higher validity or importance simply because of who is making them”

  • bertie


    I totally agree.

  • Miss Fitz

    Well, to get back to what I was saying in the post, my point was that Alan McBride has gone on from his personal tragedy to make a difference.

    I understand what you are saying, that tragedy doesnt confer authority neccesarily, but on the other hand, I havent suffered, I havent lost, and while I hold that my opinions are good and valid, they certainly lack that authority of not only having lost but having made tremendous efforts to bring about change.

  • Pete Baker

    Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that, missfitz.

    That experience, and even the efforts that follow it up, do not by itself confer authority.. it only provides context.

    Look at it this way.. there are plenty of relatives of victims of murder who call for, and campaign for, the return of the death penalty.. does that mean their campaigns have an added authority also?

    Getting involved in the debate is to be admired, but the debate remains the same.

    No-one should be granted an automatic position of authority solely because of the context of their involvement.. because we’d all end up granting that authority to those whose comments we already agree with.

  • unionist

    Totally agree with Alan McBride’s comments.

    Totally spot on.