The people have spoken, now get over it!

Brian Feeney takes issue with those commentators still arguing the flaws of the current deal, when the people (‘the bastards’) have spoken…

  • fair_deal

    I don’t know how wise it is for one columnist to start attacking the predictive powers of another columnist.

    On the broader issue od politicial commentary and recent developments, apart from the intriguing angle of Newton Emerson’s column, most of the material around what has happened has been predictable, unimaginative, stereotypical dross.

    The stuff around Paisley’s Ahern meeting yesterday is the latest example of it. Although their bewilderment does highlight journo’s own prejudices and inability to understand much of the Unionist community that they are so stunned by the developments.

  • Token Dissent

    This ‘I told you so’ article by Feeney makes some strong points. It is clear that some of the positions that O’Brien, Myers and Dudley Edwards have ended up taking have been lacking in the ‘reality’ department.

    However I for one am glad that these voices continue to question the virtues of The Process. The unease that characterised reaction to the hand-out given to the UDA, once again highlighed that concerns about the morality of The Process aren’t limitted to bitter old hacks.

    Feeney states – “In all those years it has never occurred to any of these writers that their position has been fundamentally anti-democratic”.

    This statement wrongly implies that from the start The Process has been led by the democratic will of the people. One the strengths of the writing by the awkward squad was their ability to articulate the concerns of the majority population in Northern Ireland, who were sidelined in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the early years of The Process.

    Of course it goes without saying that those committing acts of terrorism were never overly concerned with democratic legitimacy. The (relatively) happy position we have reached now was largely facilitated by reaching compromises with the anti-democratic force of the Provisionals. This was necessary, but nonetheless very hard to swallow for many many people.

    However as Feeney states it is absurd to question what the people have said by voting the way they now have. The desire for devolution and a functioning local democracy was undeniably expressed. Any writer who doesn’t face up to the implications of this new reality should rightly face derision.

    Overall however is Feeney not mis-understanding the role of a critic? Would it not be more of a threat to democratic values if dissenting voices were silenced by a fear of upsetting the Ian and Gerry show? It is not the role of writers/commentators to follow the voice of the people/bastards. For a writer it is not undemocratic to follow the voice of your conscience, and express yourself in a peaceful manner.

  • Token Dissent

    Fair points fair_deal.

    I haven’t read the Newt’s analysis of events yet. Where can it be found?

  • The Dubliner

    “In all those years it has never occurred to any of these writers that their position has been fundamentally anti-democratic, that they have consistently opposed the shifts that have taken place in the north in the last generation as evidenced in every election.” – Brian Feeney

    Brian Feeney clearly doesn’t understand democracy, free speech, the right of the minority to hold opinions, or the concept of opposition.

    In his horrid little world, the verdict of the majority renders null and void all rights of the minority. That man is nothing other than a wannabe fascist and amateur censor.

  • fair_deal


    Follow the link below.

    Newton article

  • Token Dissent

    Cheers FD. I see that Mick has just started a new topic concerning Emerson’s article. Great minds think alike!

  • Dec

    Although their bewilderment does highlight journo’s own prejudices and inability to understand much of the Unionist community that they are so stunned by the developments.

    Leaving the nonsensical ‘we’re so mis-understood’ whine aside, bewilderment at Paisley’s volte-face is not limited to journalists.

  • fair_deal


    Bewilderment and disagreement are not the same thing.

  • JG

    “Great minds think alike! ”

    Fools seldom differ?

  • TD,

    Some good points (as ever), but can we pull the nasty personal stuff? I sometimes feel like I’m running around with a tiny bucket trying to put out a dozen smallish forest fires. It would help if people would voluntarily pull their personal punches!

  • DatzReit

    Much as I agree with what Feeney says in that article, he totally contradicts himself with his description of these columnists views as ‘undemocratic’.

    He seems to be making the oft-repeated mistake made by lots of people who like to trumpet the values and virtues of democracy in suggesting that they only apply to the majority, and that once the majority have (albeit temporarily) satisfied their desires, then all dissenting voices should immediately cease and desist.

  • I Wonder

    Those who dissent and express opposition have ecvery right to express their views.

    Those who do so with language with is intemperate, inflammatory, unreasoned and reflexive and deliberately promote these views in a society where there are known to be violent elements who share those views endanger the very freedom which they cynically manipulate and use.

    But not of course, their own freedom, just the freedom and the lives of those “traitors” who they blame for “betrayal”.

  • Richard Dowling

    So the deal wasn’t scuppered in Ballymena, after all. No wonder the shinners are smiling like cheshire cats.

  • seanzmct

    “what the people of the north wanted” – It is interesting how Feeney and others simply regard as non-persons the large number of people who did not vote for either of the ponderously slow learner parties who now strut the stage.

  • Token Dissent


    Apologises if you feel that I have stepped out of line, but I don’t see how I have. I meant no offence by any of comments. What “nasty personal stuff” do you feel I have engaged in?

  • páid

    Feeney spot on methinks.

    Poor old Kev. He got his way of looking at the world in a Leicester schoolyard, and has never really understood the Paddys.

    Morally inferior, are we.

  • Mick Fealty

    Oh sorry, I meant the Dub. Apologies. And good night!

  • tony encircled a sol

    South Detroitally Challenged academics reckoned that the “prettier” candidate gets two and a half times the votes of the other so obviously ….

  • Diluted Orange

    The pomposity of Brian Feeney seemingly knows no bounds:

    [i]Harris, who was originally vehemently opposed to the Hume-Adams dialogue, has belatedly come to realise that the accommodation between republicans and loyalists that has taken place is what the people of the north have wanted.

    Now, as the parties who will form the executive here amicably allocate the departments a month early and the new ministers prepare to read themselves in, what will Myers, Edwards and O’Brien do as they watch their vitriolic campaigns of nearly 20 years disintegrate in ashes?

    The answer is very simple. They will blame the people who voted for Sinn Féin and the DUP. Obviously the voters know no better than to support these dreadful people who will be running the north. In all those years it has never occurred to any of these writers that their position has been fundamentally anti-democratic, that they have consistently opposed the shifts that have taken place in the north in the last generation as evidenced in every election. [/i]

    So we suddenly have an agreement between loyalists and republicans – not uber-Protestant religious fundamentalists and Irish then?

    Funny how we can’t complain about the workings of ‘democracy’ now that its the 2 extremes of either side that have won the respective battles for supremacy within their own sect.

    Did democracy not speak and send out a clear message when the Good Friday Agreement was voted for? The fact that since that day the British and Irish governments have bent over backwards to accommodate the DUP and Sinn Fein and insure their begrudging participation in the Process up until this point somehow eludes Mr Feeney. Was democracy upheld and respected when the DUP refused to sit in the Assembly post 98? Was democracy upheld when the Assembly had to be suspended because the IRA wouldn’t decommission? Could we have not left Big Gerry and Big Ian behind on these occasions and got on with governing the country instead of having to experience the last 10 years of stagnation and utter frustration until the inevitable came about and the DUP and SF eradicated all threat from their co-religious opponents? Only now is it that we must suddenly bow to the demands of democracy and not complain about it.

    Last week’s events did not constitute a historical event, it was a mere wake up and smell the coffee moment for Paisley and Adams the two villains of the entire Peace Process. John Hume was and remains the real hero of the Peace Process; the only man who was brave enough to stand up and do the ugly things to get the whole thing up and running.

    For my money, whilst his column may be uncomfortable reading for some, Newton Emerson’s assertion that the emergence of a plastic ‘working class’ has facilitated the rise of the DUP and SF, hits the nail on the head. Some people can’t handle the truth it seems. NI is full of wannabes, who like to continually moan about how tough life is, make out how they are somehow oppressed and this will excuse their right wing political thinking. Yet this fake ghetto mentality isn’t reflected in the facts: in world terms NI is a very affluent place, the sulking begrudgery, on the most part isn’t justified. People should be smart enough and/or educated enough than to be seduced by the tribal semantics of SF and DUP and instead be more focussed on economic progression but they aren’t. Most people seem to want to continue to wrap themselves up in a Union Jack or a Tricolour, as if constitutional issues, not jobs, schools and hospitals, are the most important factors in their lives.

    As I’ve said before the people will get the government they deserve and maybe someday soon the electorate will realise what they’ve voted for. SF and DUP aren’t parties whose philosophies and rhetoric were ever designed for government, their mutual existence depends on an opposition to something – e.g. the ‘dirty’ road to Dublin or British rule in Ireland. We’re in for a lot of trouble when these guys try to use their brains for something practical, such as encouraging jobs to come to NI, instead of creating snazzy new soundbites to drum up support for their respective parties by honing in on voters’ tribal sensibilities.