Friday, 19 February 2010

Old prejudices re-emerge on left as 'Irish Unity' conference rolls into London.

Sinn Fein’s ‘Irish Unity’ world tour has reached our nation’s capital: London. A venue which has more relevance to Northern Ireland politics than the United States of America, though hardly replete with the people who must be persuaded of the merits of a united Ireland, if it is to ever to become a reality.

Although the conference is as irrelevant as ever, it does offer a neat guide to Republicans’ fellow travellers in the United Kingdom. Despite fitful interest in politics in Northern Ireland, the Guardian has decided to offer blanket coverage.

Is the newspaper an unofficial sponsor of this event? I see that regular contributor, husband of the paper’s deputy editor and former republican prisoner, Ronan Bennett, is taking part. Certainly it’s unusual to find so much comment about Northern Ireland appearing at CIF all at once.

Martin McGuinness rolls out his stock platitudes, Margaret Ward, a regular Sinn Féin mouthpiece, does her bit and Paul Bew’s dissenting opinion is adorned with the headline ‘Roadblocks to Irish unity’.

Bew’s article is the one Guardian piece worth reading, and yes, we are the roadblocks Union fans!

Then there is the venue for this talking shop. Friends are reunited at the TUC. And there’s plenty of Labour involvement. Diane Abbott MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and, of course, veteran Provo sympathiser, Red Ken Livingstone.

It just goes to prove that whilst the ‘troops out’ fervour might have diminished, all the predictable opinions still exist exactly where you would expect to find them.

These people can talk all they like, but it is sad to see a national newspaper, which purports to cover a plurality of opinion, giving this event such disproportionate coverage. It echoes the bad old days, when even the most liberal unionist or constitutional agnostic, found the Guardian's partiality on Northern Ireland hard to stomach.

1 comment:

O'Neill said...

I'm sure Paul Bew will contribute a fine, well-argued and logical piece and I'm also sure the arguments within will be ignored by the vast majority of the audience whose opinions on Irish "Unity" are not open to reason or logic.

In the unlikely event that I'd ever be invited to such an occasion, I think I'd give a polite "No thanks"; what's the point in a Unionist addressing such a gathering- there are most certainly very few open minds to be shifted and in all honesty, you've only been invited to bolster SF's self-proclaimed non-sectarian credentials amongst the unthinking Left.

Paul Bew should have just written the CIF piece and left it at that.