Criticism is valid, and necessary, in a democracy

In the Sunday Independent, Ruth Dudley Edwards provides a ‘weary correction’ to Brian Feeney’s assertion that “all her heroes have failed or failed her” – “Trimble, whom I admire for his courage and decency, did not let me down; the Orange Order was no more a hero to me than Ballinamallard Knitting Circle; and I’ve been denouncing Paisley as a bigot and a wrecker for all my journalistic career.” – before making an important point about elections.. and, indeed, journalism.

I’m in favour of a deal rather than no deal, though I’m gloomy about the prospects of success for a power-splitting arrangement between religious and political bigots which institutionalises sectarianism. But what I enjoyed was Feeney’s nerve in implying that to be critical of the way people vote is to be anti-democratic. This from the man who wrote last year that: “To advertise their political dementia to the world, unionists have repeatedly voted for a man regarded as a ranting buffoon to be their tribal leader.” Quite, Brian. If you had added that “to advertise their moral dementia, nationalists have repeatedly voted for a hypocrite known to be a terrorist leader to be theirs”, we’d be in complete agreement for once.