“It is time unionists abandoned the ridiculous old defensive reflex that impels them to reject new ideas on principle.”
With no apparent sense of irony this is how Susan McKay concludes a lightsome article about the NIHRC’s report. No matter that her own diatribe singularly ignores the substance of unionist argument and rather revisits the sneering brand of condescension toward unionism on which Ms. McKay has built her career.
Her opening gambit forms a prolonged attack on Lady Trimble for her ’pompous’ use of the word ’outwith’. Why the use of a legal term, by a woman with a legal background, specifically employed in consideration of a legal document should cause McKay so much angst is not immediately clear.
What is clear, is that the columnist is on surer ground formulating ad hominine attacks than considering whether the NIHRC actually did stick to its remit. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, that is to examine whether there is scope to define rights, supplementary to the European Convention which are necessary due to the particular circumstances pertaining in Northern Ireland.
The unionist argument is that the NIHRC’s recommendations stray far from ’particular circumstances’ including a raft of social and economic matters which are the business of the government of the day. Additionally a bill on this model would seek to apply constitutional alterations, binding future governments to its prescriptions.
In attempting to rebuff this contention McKay ironically goes on to name aspects of the bill which are unproblematic to unionists, including rights which are already protected by the ECHR and its implementation in British law. She chooses to ignore specific provisions about which unionists expressed concern.
It is time Susan McKay abandoned the ridiculous old defensive reflex that impels her to reject unionists’ arguments without reference to their substance.