If a good dose of sectarian bile is what you’re missing in your life, then Brian Feeney’s weekly Irish News column is a godsend. It is puzzlement to me that a reasonably good newspaper persists in publishing his hate-filled rants. Perhaps they do so out of amusement value. Perhaps people are entertained by the vein bulging derision Feeney heaps on unionists week on week. Those of us with more discretion will feel that Feeney epitomises a type of institutionalised bigotry that already gains far too much exposure in Northern Ireland. That joke isn’t funny anymore.
Feeney turns his attentions towards the Maze stadium debate and concludes that anyone who might prefer a national sports stadium to be in Belfast, does so only out of unionist bigotry. It’s not so much this contention that makes Feeney’s piece so offensive, because his entire output consists of making unfounded and sweeping allegations against unionism, but the abusive language which he then persists in putting into the mouths of those who oppose the Maze. He distils the entire argument against the Maze, which has involved supporters and politicians interested in all three sports, into the following phrase “Unionists want what they call a ‘national’ stadium, though of what nation they can’t say, but more importantly one that they own. They can’t own one if they have to share it with fenians prancing about in it”.
Brian Feeney hasn’t really been following the debate over the Maze stadium, has he? He does not understand that the principle of sharing a facility between the three sports has been accepted by all sides, but that the issue is location. Certainly this has fomented arguments that separate accommodation can be found, but at no stage has there been any substantial attempt to argue that GAA cannot be accommodated at a shared stadium in Belfast if one was forthcoming. Sharing a stadium with GAA is not an issue for football supporters, neither is it an issue for rugby supporters and I seriously doubt it is an issue for the vast majority of unionists. For all three groups (and for those who belong to two or more of those categroies), as well as a substantial number of GAA supporters, building a white elephant in the middle of nowhere, which will not provide a good atmosphere for any sport is an issue.
More to the point, how dare Feeney project casually such bigotry on unionists, without any evidence and in such emotive terms? The rest of his article, if you can bear to read it, is an attempt to imply that that whole area of arts and culture is anathema to unionists. Yes, he is trotting out that lazy, fallacious cliché! This is bigotry of a very basic and obvious character. Every time you think there is no place lower for Feeney to crawl, he prostrates himself on his belly and slithers to a new low.