It was lack of southern Protestants ‘wot lost it’…

Tongue firmly in cheek, Newton Emerson reckons that Sinn Fein ‘bombed’ simply because there weren’t enough Protestants in the Republic to wind up their supporters… (subs needed)

Newton’s Optic: Sinn Féin has blamed “a serious shortage of Protestants in the 26 counties” for its poor showing in last week’s election.

“Sinn Féin draws its core support from people who can’t be relied on to vote,” explained Dr Pat Answer, Professor of Advanced Shinnerology at Dublin Sunday Business College.

“They might be too drunk or hung-over on election day, or have a court appearance or a meeting with their parole officer.

“They might have injured themselves by climbing through a kitchen window while carrying a wide-screen television. Or they might simply have lost track of the date because they never go to work.

“Whatever the reason, Sinn Féin voters need to be provoked to the polls and there simply aren’t enough Protestants in the Republic to cause the necessary level of antagonism.”

The situation is very different in Northern Ireland, where the daily sight of Protestants cutting their perfect hedges, driving their sensible cars and going to church in elaborate hats wedged tightly onto their pointy little heads ensures that Sinn Féin voters are always angry enough to cast a ballot.

Attempts to widen the party’s southern appeal beyond its traditional sectarian base may only have made matters worse.

“According to our research, many Sinn Féin voters thought that Mary Lou McDonald was a Protestant,” Dr Answer said. “She certainly has that smug look about her. Or at least she certainly did.”

Dublin Sunday Business College has defended the wider sociological methodology behind its research, which overestimated Sinn Féin’s final tally by a statistically acceptable 300 per cent.

“We were right about the number of people dumb enough to vote for Sinn Féin,” Dr Answer said.

“We just forgot that they were lazy as well.”

For party activists the question now is where they go from here.

“Well, we can’t go back up North,” Sinn Féin community outreach negotiator Anne Phoblacht said. “It’s full of Protestants.”

Developing a separate southern strategy could also prove problematic.

“We warned people on the doorsteps to vote for us or the Protestants would get in,” Ms Phoblacht said. “But everyone just laughed because they thought we meant Trevor Sargent.”

The Irish Times understands that senior party figures have already discussed the possibility of bringing more Protestants into the Republic. Martin Ferris has agreed to charter a boat and Aengus Ó Snodaigh has offered the use of a van.

“We’re mainly interested in people from Nigeria,” Ms Phoblacht said. “You can have any Protestants you like as long as they’re black.”

Experts agree that this is Sinn Féin’s only hope for an electoral breakthrough.

“There’s no point being sectarian when there aren’t any Protestants and no point pretending to be non-sectarian when there aren’t any Protestants,” Dr Answer explained.

“There’s also no point talking about equality when you’ve no Protestants to be equal to and no point talking about rights when you can’t claim that Protestants are infringing your rights.

“So really it’s all the Protestants’ fault. No wonder people hate those hedge-cutting freaks.”

But it’s not all bad news for Sinn Féin. The party polled quite well in Border counties due to Northern Ireland’s provocative proximity.

“If there had still been some Protestant farmers in the area we might even have won a few seats,” Ms Phoblacht said.

“What a pity we killed them.”

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  • Wilde Rover

    The Emerald Pimpernel

    You flatter me. Alas, I’m occupied weaving larger tales for future consumption.

    Orange-utan

    You flatter even more. I’m afraid I’m not.

  • Mick Fealty

    briso,

    I was merely questioning your attachment of the word ‘murderous’ to the term satire, nothing more. As for irony, it has been defined as: “the use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning”. It is closely related to the classical literary forms of satire.

    One of its greatest proponents was Oliver Swift, an Irishman of intense sensibility to the hypocrisy he saw about him. Of his most famous satire, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ one critic writes:

    “In its most serious function, satire is a mediator between two perceptions-the unillusioned perception of man as he actually is, and the ideal perception, or vision, of man as he ought ot be,” (Bullitt, 3). Likewise, “misanthropy” can be understood as being the product of one of two world views: 1) The Pure Cynic or Misanthropist has no faith in human nature and has given up on any notion of ideals. This type lies and manipulates as a matter of course and these are the types that tend to run the world. 2) The “Burned” or Disillusioned Idealist’s misanthropy arises out of disappointment in humankind. In many ways, the second type exhibits more bile as he is constantly frustrated by what men do as opposed to what they ought to do. Jonathon Swift is the second type of misanthropist and Gulliver’s Travels is arguably his greatest satiric attempt to “shame men out of their vices” (Ibid., 14) by constantly distinguishing between how man behaves and how he thinks about or justifies his behaviour in a variety of situations. Pride, in particular, is what enables man to “deceive himself into the belief that he is rational and virtuous when, in reality, he has not developed his reason, and his virtue is merely appearance,” (Ibid., 66).

    Swift’s extraordinarily prescient A Modest Proposal ‘argued’ that the answer to Ireland’s population problem was for the rich to eat the babies of the poor was greeted with widespread moral outrage, yet his purpose was to highlight the plight of the poor and the malign (as he saw it) efforts of Landlords to tax them further into poverty. Interestingly, as one of the contributors to that Wikipedia entry notes the irony it contained has often not been recognised by modern readers:

    Even today, readers unacquainted with its reputation as a satirical work often do not immediately realize that Swift was not seriously proposing cannibalism. It is no longer true, as it was in Swift’s time, that any educated reader would be familiar with the satires of Horace and Juvenal, and so recognize that Swift’s essay follows the rules and structure of Latin satires.

    It is a conceit, a caustic device laid out in order to highlight some aspect of life that is otherwise accepted as ‘the way things are’. It has been an inveterate part both of Irish and wider European culture for centuries.

    In short, if you don’t get irony, you don’t get satire.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Oliver sounds likes he’s nearly as good a writer as Jonathan.

  • Dec

    Swift’s extraordinarily prescient A Modest Proposal ‘argued’ that the answer to Ireland’s population problem was for the rich to eat the babies of the poor was greeted with widespread moral outrage, yet his purpose was to highlight the plight of the poor and the malign (as he saw it) efforts of Landlords to tax them further into poverty.

    Aah, I see now! Protestants were the real target of Newton’s satire and not the drunk, hungover criminal SF voterbase.

  • Cahal

    It’s a bit like the emperor’s clothes if you ask me.

    People are afraid to say they don’t find his grammar boy style anti-working class rants funny because they will be accused of:

    (a) not being able to take a good old slaggin
    (b) not having the mental capacity to ‘get’ satire

    Personally, I just find his particular idea of satire unfunny and a bit snobby. He’s no better than somebody who pulls on a boiler suit in the morning.

  • Briso

    Firstly Mick, thanks for taking the time and effort. I appreciate it.

    >I was merely questioning your attachment of the
    >word ‘murderous’ to the term satire, nothing >more.

    I didn’t though. I noted how NE attached it to the targets of his piece, along with drunken, criminal, lazy, unemployed, stupid and some others I’ve left out.

    >As for irony, it has been defined as: “the use
    >of words to express something different from and
    >often opposite to their literal meaning”.

    This is the point, though, isn’t it? Swift’s masterful ‘proposal’ was indeed exactly about expressing the opposite of what he wrote in a subtle, preposterous and horrific way. The reader feels recognition, sympathy, unease, horror, anger and finally, hopefully for the author, enlightenment.

    I would wholeheartedly agree that Swift ‘got’ both irony and satire.

    Now, back to Newt… Is he using words “to express the opposite of their literal meaning”? Unless he is using his ‘caustic’ attack on these have-nots of the Celtic Tiger as a way of leading us subtly over the line into unease, horror and subsequently enlightenment as to their plight, I would contend that HE doesn’t get irony and by extension, if I may be so bold, neither do you.

    His smug, middle-class sneering and smearing of the working-class do not challenge the prevailing wisdom nor move people from comfort into unease. Don’t you see? He couldn’t be farther from Swift if he tried.

  • Ulster McNulty

    “Aah, I see now! Protestants were the real target of Newton’s satire and not the drunk, hungover criminal SF voterbase”

    No, Sinn Fein and NI politics were the real target. His ultimate point is that the sectarian dynamics or the north which put Sinn Fein in business here dont occur in the south – hence their failure. He’s quite correct.

  • Token Dissent

    Cahal – your earlier answer that Emerson only ‘attacks’ working class Prods is nonsense. If you look at the link I attached you might see that middle-class pomp and hyprocrisy is in his radar.

    http://www.portadownnews.com/13Jun05.htm

    or

    http://www.portadownnews.com/16May05.htm

    Also it is utterly wrong to think that attacking the DUP is attacking working class Prods. That Party – as you well know – has a cross-class support.

  • Mick Fealty

    Cahal,

    “People are afraid…”

    Really? What evidence have you of that?

    Briso,

    As I said before, I don’t want to get lumbered with defending Newt’s piece against all comers, just trying to add some useful context.

    TS,

    I meant Jonathan Swift, not Oliver Goldsmith, another lucid Irishman whose name was circulating in the back of my head at the time writing…

  • Mick Fealty

    Briso,

    Sorry, just to add. All of those things you mention are what the writer draws from some of the audience. But, at the time, and to this day, it also provoked a great deal of moral indignation on the part of the supposed ‘victims’ of his joke.

    Although, in the end, this may simply be a matter of individual perception, just look at how much of Newt’s article is couched in the reported speech of the ‘experts’. So far as I can see, it is their attitude that is being lampooned, not the people they are talking about.

  • Reader

    Briso: It’s pretty gentle, no?
    OK then, *you* can have my smug look and pointy head. Since, as you point out elsewhere, you aren’t a SF supporter, you have none of the other labels to offer me in return. Unless you want to borrow some attributes from the shinners?

  • Maggot

    found this with Google

    “Numerous studies from both the United States and Europe have suggested that Protestants consume less alcohol but perceived great problems with the substance. In contrast Roman Catholics consume more alcohol but do not perceived its consumption as problematic. ”

    http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/articles/cathprot.htm

  • Dec

    No, Sinn Fein and NI politics were the real target. His ultimate point is that the sectarian dynamics or the north which put Sinn Fein in business here dont occur in the south – hence their failure.

    Sorry McNulty, don’t buy that. I note his ‘payoff’ about border farmers being shot by the IRA, but it appears he has no qualms about carcituring SF voters as criminals and sectarian. Something Loyalists used to do when murdering them also. I doubt it’s a coincidence this appeared in the Irish Times and not the Irish News.

  • Mojo

    Ah Newt. Still have it in ya to stir it up a bit. The brothers and me thank you, as it’s a bit boring down here just now. We’ll throw some turds at the tourists in your honor.

    Good post, Mick. We’ll throw one in your honor too.

  • páid

    Note ye folk with a sense of humour that Newt wrote in the Irish Times, not ‘The Times’ (who aren’t really interested) – fair play to them for commissioning it.

    IMO (ok with you Cahal? – it’s a blog BTW, opinion goes with the territory) this thread shows that in any reconciliation between North and South, Southerners will have to travel more.

    And loads of them just don’t get that.

  • notmeg

    To those who are accusing Newt of snobbery against the working class; can you not see that the tone of this article is actually ridiculing the middle class unionist attitudes to Sinn Fein and their voters.

    By my reading of this he’s caricaturing the middle-class unionists and their perceptions /caricaturisation of Sinn Fein voters as low life criminals.

    Seems to me that as soon as readers got to “.. too drunk or hung-over on election day, or have a court appearance or a meeting with their parole officer.” they immediately assume this is an attack on Sinn Fein voters. Maybe you could give Newt a little more credit.

    IMO this is an excellent piece parodying the glee within unionism ensuing from Sinn Fein’s electoral failings in the south.

  • slug

    Token Dissent

    Loved those Portadown News you linked.

    Particularly the “Make History History” banner for NI politics.

  • Token Dissent

    Cheers Slug. Portadown News may just be one of this place’s premier cultural achievements!

  • Gum

    [i]Newt’s article is couched in the reported speech of the ‘experts’. So far as I can see, it is their attitude that is being lampooned, not the people they are talking about[/i]

    You really read it that way Mick?

    Any of us could ‘stir things up’, I dont know why Newton is so lauded for what he does. I can take a joke as good as anyone, and fully believe parties need and deserve kicks up the backside, but I see Newton as guilty of the sectarianism he is praised here for ‘lampooning’.

  • Cahal

    Paid

    “IMO (ok with you Cahal? – it’s a blog BTW, opinion goes with the territory)”

    Paid, let ‘er rip. If it wasn’t for opinions, there wouldn’t be a sluggerotoole.

  • Nathan

    Woo hoo, this is the type of article that would make even the most dry-mouthed reader slobber….

  • Mick Fealty

    Gum,

    As I said earlier, it is probably a case of ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’. Whether sectarianism is the subject of the piece or something the author is guilty of is probably in the eye of the beholder. It’s an overused (and abused) term in the context of Northern Ireland, so it would not be my choice of descriptors. But as I have said the reported speakers are the object of the lampoon, not the people ‘they’ are talking about. I’m not sure how that can be described as ‘sectarian’ as such.

  • Norn chick

    Maggot,
    I’m glad you regard the genocidal slaughter of millions as ‘a chuckle’.
    Mr.Hanna,
    I will deal with your sacriligeous comparison between the 1641 rebellion and the depradations suffered through the centuries by Irish Catholics
    which is like comparing a molecule of H2O with the Pacific Ocean.The site you quote details all the mendacious propaganda that has become par for the course with this issue.In an ironic blooper it shows a sketch , presumably intended to represent an image 1641, but which actually refers to victims of the Irish Famine.Follow this link and read and learn.
    http://www.murphyroche.com/About/Irish_Famine.htm
    In 1641 the memory of the depradation of the Earl of Essex during the Nine Years War was still
    fresh among Ulster’s Gaelic population.Shortly after this through the invasion and colonisation of Ulster and ancient Gaelic civilisation was usurped,our sacred Irish soil desecrated, and the native population dispossessed of territory which had been theirs for millenia.The usurpers contained more than their fair share of criminal elements and freeloaders.
    Whe the opportunity arose like with any houseowner with gumption an effort was made to expel a violent and disruptive burglar.
    As well as your list please chew on
    Dolly’s Brae,the 1920’s Belfast pogrom,Bombay Street,Malvern Street,McGurk’s Bar,the Shankill butchers,Dublin/Monaghan,the Miami Showband massacre,Greysteel, Loughlin Island ete,etc.

  • Shore Road Resident

    800 years of British oppression!

  • Southern Observer

    Norn chick,
    You are stuck in a time warp.Get a life.

  • Maggot

    Noraid Chick – the famine was a tragedy. I do laugh at you and your like.

  • slug

    “”We warned people on the doorsteps to vote for us or the Protestants would get in,” Ms Phoblacht said. “But everyone just laughed because they thought we meant Trevor Sargent.” The Irish Times understands that senior party figures have already discussed the possibility of bringing more Protestants into the Republic. Martin Ferris has agreed to charter a boat and Aengus Ó Snodaigh has offered the use of a van.

    Tee hee hee.

  • Gum

    [i]But as I have said the reported speakers are the object of the lampoon, not the people ‘they’ are talking about. I’m not sure how that can be described as ‘sectarian’ as such. [/i]

    We’ll have to agree to disagree Mick – I dont think its the reported speakers that are subject of the ‘joke’, and I am surprised you do.

    Yep, ‘sectarian’ is definately an over-used word, and for that reason I don’t use it often. I do however think it is applicable to Newton’s view of the population that vote for Sinn Fein.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fair enough Gum, I said before I don’t want to lock interpretation down to one view.