This is worth sharing more widely. It’s Henry Patterson talking in a Young Unionist debate about truth recovery. His main point is that Unionists should not back off in talking about the past, or leave the historical narrative in the hands of Sinn Fein. Then he notes the vulnerability of Sinn Fein in these circumstances:
You can’t hand these narratives over.
One of Sinn Fein’s weakness, although it is seen as its strength by our media class in Northern Ireland, is their super discipline. In that it means they shrink at the head, they rot at the head intellectually.
You just have hear any of them asked questions s that they don’t have a ready answer to. I think the best illustration of that was Mike Nesbitt was on with Declan Kearney who is chairperson about this outreach strategy and Kearney can’t move off his script.
All the lower levels they just re-iterate the party line. So it should be easy to contest.
However he later points out that there is no real contest at the moment. It is up to those people who are concerned about these issues to get the line out as effectively as Sinn Fein does: “The media can be criticised, but I know myself that there are individuals who are open to new stories, but you have to give it to them”.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty