“Women who manage to sound cooler than the men they face in public confrontations…”

Interesting perspective in today’s Irish Times from Fionnuala O’Connor on how Margaret Ritchie’s Ministerial colleagues have been unable to keep her from effectively communicating her position, (even if they have effectively stalled her from action).

Robinson was at pains to emphasise that his objections to Ritchie’s decision owed nothing to sympathy for the UDA but were entirely to do with the way she took her decision.

But his initial magisterial “I am very disappointed in Margaret Ritchie” gave way to the old instincts. She was not entitled to “tout around” outside the executive for legal advice which would bolster her case, he told a radio interviewer.

In a society still feeling its way towards civility in politics, language matters. This early in the game, it sets teeth on edge when a senior DUP figure uses such an ugly description of a Catholic woman colleague, whatever the merits of her decision-making. Sympathies initially went towards Ritchie in Stormont, though she risked losing that first advantage by beginning to sound less than calm.

Bullying is a DUP characteristic. It was worth identifying as the tactic she faced, maybe better left without the personal testimony of “I will not be bullied”.

In the predominantly male world of Northern politics, women who manage to sound cooler than the men they face in public confrontations make the most impact.

Clearly the deadline fell before the Deputy First Minister’s own contribution: “I think Margaret needs to stop losing the run of herself.”

  • BOM

    I think this is a case of the DUP and Sinn fein being jealous of Margarets profile as a Minister as well as her succes to date.

    Arguably the best Minister.

    Martin Mc Guinness constantly uses this type of language and this just goes to prove how sexist he is and how he is trying to make Ms Ritchie sound like a nonsensical weeman!

    Keep going Margaret – the public more than support you!

  • Derry

    I’m very disappointed in Martin joining in on the attack on Magaret Ritchie.

  • Rapunsel

    I see quite a large dose of sexism in all of this in how dare this woman get involved in a big boys game.

    I’m a member of a different party but live in her constituency

    They are underestimating her , look at her actions compared to Catriona Ruane’s non intervention in the class room assistant dispute.

    Good spectator sport this but the individuals involved must be under a terrible personal strain.

  • Nevin

    Mick, has the Minister’s statement been linked to the Slugger debate? I may have missed it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Yep. Right at the beginning and repeated in the CIF piece… Time for a ‘GUBU side panel’ with links to all the relevant key information?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    “I see quite a large dose of sexism in all of this in how dare this woman get involved in a big boys game. ”

    I remember seeing footage of Nigel Dodds shouting at, I think, Monica McWilliams in the Assembly and making some sexist remark. I was quite shocked to be honest. That is why it wouldn’t surprise me if there was an element of sexism involved here.

  • tweedledee

    Mick,

    Clearly the deadline fell before the Deputy First Minister’s own contribution: “I think Margaret needs to stop losing the run of herself.”

    Unfortunately she did a bit over the minutes. She could have handled that issue and the interview much better. ‘Tis easy once you know how. A bit of training on how to rise above and dust off irrelevancies in order to remain focussed wouldn’t go amiss.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    “A bit of training on how to rise above and dust off irrelevancies in order to remain focussed wouldn’t go amiss.”

    She did do that though.

  • tweedledee

    Alas, she didn’t. She made an issue of the minutes and started talking about briefings against her ranging from the DUP, SF, British Government, Civil Service, to the American Government. It made her look like a mad conspiracy theorist.

  • Nevin

    Thanks, Mick.

  • Rapunsel

    Not sure that it did Tweedledee. From what I heard this evening from the Reg Empey interview what we appear to have is the cabinet secretary or other note takers trying to make sense of a discussion where people were talking over one another. ( his ad hoc discussion)( is it not a bit surprising that he was asked to go home and get his notes? doesn’t inspire confidence in the minutes from either the minute taker’s perspective or the other ministers) It seems that the chair of the meeting did not summarise what was agreed in order that there was clarity and collective responsibility ( and I’m surmising here) and thus officials were left to construct minutes and action points from that hardly surprising that in such a scenario such a person would be influenced by the prevailing mood amongst the two governments et al. Doesn’t even necessarily require a conspiracy theory at all just accommodating the power as one has always done( would it not be the case that the cabinet secretary reports directly to the FM and DFM in order to prepare for executive meetings?

  • Comrade Stalin

    McGuinness’ patronizing comment oozes with sexism. The one positive aspect about this is that we can now see the true colours of the people who are running this place.

    I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t the UUP and SDLP pull out of the executive and join Alliance and the other independents in opposition. d’Hondt can be re-run to allow the DUP and SF to take up the rest of the seats.

    By remaining on the executive, the UUP and SDLP are providing the DUP-SF coalition a sheen of credibility while simultaneously exposing themselves to be used as target practice.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tweedledee:

    Alas, she didn’t. She made an issue of the minutes and started talking about briefings against her ranging from the DUP, SF, British Government, Civil Service, to the American Government. It made her look like a mad conspiracy theorist.

    The thing is, the conspiracy is credible. Leave out the DUP and SF, and you’ve got the British government. It’s quite reasonable to assume there are people in the NIO who will be embarassed about having their decisions overturned.

    There have been plenty of occasions in the past where the British have used their relationship with the Americans to get them to intervene in matters here.

    Personally I think the Americans should be told to get stuffed, they wouldn’t like us phoning up their government to suggest what they should do.

  • The Dubliner

    Comrade Stalin, it’s very embarrassing in big ways for a lot of people.

    The Americans, in the form of their Special Envoy, have been actively encouraging the financial support of a terrorist organisation, the UDA, while simultaneously engaged in a ‘War on Terror.’ If the UDA is seen as unreformed by the policy of legitimising of UDA godfathers, then the Americans have no cover story to explain why they supported an extremely vicious terrorist organisation with a long history of murdering innocent people.

    Likewise, the President of the Republic of Ireland has to explain why she is socialising with a convicted extortionist at Áras an Uachtaráin and using her office to lend respectability to criminal mafia in the north who specialise in selling women’s vaginas to punters for private profit, selling drugs to teenagers, and extorting money from struggling businesses in the north. What will happen to her social life now that she can no longer continue to invite criminals to Áras an Uachtaráinwithout being seen to be doing so in direct contravention of Ms Ritchie and the public who support her?

    Peter Hain and David Hanson also have to explain their embarrassing mistake, and the two main political parties in the north, PSF and the DUP, also have to explain why they failed to oppose the attempt to make pimps, murderers, and drug dealers important and powerful members of the community that they have plagued for so long.

    Wouldn’t it have been so much better for all of the supporters of terrorists, for the puppets and their puppeteers, if Margaret Ritchie didn’t rock the boat on this issue? All they can do now if try to make Ms Ritchie look in the wrong and hope the issue will go away.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Insightful and profound points, Dubliner…

  • Outsider

    Not wanting to sound sexist but I have been in several positions where women in the workplace have abused their power simply to put their male counterparts down. I don’t always think that women make good leaders or even handle power well they can be too emotional and at times petty and are prone to making irrational decisions.

    I do believe however that Ritchie has done well in this situation and has my full support.

  • The Dubliner

    “Not wanting to sound sexist…”

    I think it’s too late for that. 😉

    (Makes no mention of Nobel Prize winners)

  • Outsider

    PSF and the DUP, also have to explain why they failed to oppose the attempt to make pimps, murderers, and drug dealers important and powerful members of the community that they have plagued for so long.

    It would be a little rich of Sinn Fein to attempt to condemn this, they and the IRA have had plenty of hand outs in the past that were equally disgusting.

  • builesuibhne

    The shinners cannot afford for Ritchie being seen as a successful minister as this would weaken Ruane’s position in the now delayed race for the South Down Westminister seat