Monday, 31 January 2011

News Letter Best of the Web

Last week I stood in for the inimitable Geoff McGimpsey and reviewed the blogs for the News Letter.  Here's what I picked out.

It’s the time of the year when native Scots, Ulster Scots and wannabe Scots alike munch haggis, recite verse and indulge in a wee dram or two, in tribute to Rabbie Burns.  The poet wrote “whisky and freedom gang the ‘gither”, but The Dabbler blog isn’t prepared to take anything for granted.

It poses the burning question “what would Rabbie drink?”, if he were able to drop by on one of his eponymous suppers.  “As a working class lad from Scotland, today’s answer is probably vodka”, Ian Buxton speculates, ignoring the more obvious tipple - Buckfast tonic wine.

Ian Parsley is more interested in Burns supper nibbles, or “an thaim as taaks the Braid”.  Even where I’m from, that’s a river running through Ballymena, rather than fodder for the toaster.  Which adds piquancy to Parsley’s query, “where are these ‘Ulster Scots’ speakers?”.

He’s also concerned about the Republic’s “political meltdown” or as @williamcrawley prefers to term it “Cowengate” (geddit?).  Fianna Fail is enduring a tough time but it’s still a massive institution south of the border.  Ian employs a football analogy, “in the way that FC Barcelona is ’more than a club’, Fianna Fail is ’more than a party’”.  Ole!

Speaking of football, the issue of sexism in the sport, exemplified this week by Sky Sports’ presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray, is exercising many bloggers.  Gray was sacked following comments about a female assistant referee and other unsavoury revelations.

Yourfriendinthenorth reckons it was a fair cop.  “Sacking was the only option”.  And the irony behind the incident?  “Torres’ goal was onside.  Good call lineswoman!”.

Tenacious bloggers Dilettante and O’Neill are less impressed with Owen Paterson‘s responsiveness.  They wrote to the Secretary of State  three weeks ago and , to date, have received no reply.  Consequently they’ve turned their original correspondence into an open letter, which appeared on several websites over the course of the week, including Slugger O’Toole.

It’s a simple query really.  What’s going to happen to the Northern Ireland Conservative party?  “In recent weeks there has been some confusion about the future of the party”, they claim, “if you were able to clarify that position, we would pass it on to our readership”.  Over to you Mr Paterson.

While the Secretary of State’s silence is an issue for the blogs, no-one would accuse Jim Allister of similar reticence.  In fact some would say that he and his party are allotted more column inches than their electoral strength strictly deserves.

Former Westminster candidate David Vance disagrees.  On his blog, A Tangled Web, he takes the local media to task for its failure to cover TUV press releases.

“I suppose that is one way to control our electoral prospects - the Soviets knew that if you control the message, you control the results”.  Never let it be said that the News Letter is determined to strangle your party’s prospects David - here’s one more mention!

Another aspiring politico is in a better mood after Ulster’s advance to the quarter finals of rugby’s Heineken Cup.  Rodney McCune, the UUP Assembly candidate for East Antrim, celebrates the team’s achievement, but he can’t resist a political sting in the tale.

“With a Humphreys at ten, Ulster can achieve anything.  In Contrast an Executive lead by Sinn Fein and the DUP seems destined to achieve nothing”.  Maybe Peter Robinson should think about promoting William Humphrey MLA to ministerial duties?

Rodney’s not the only one taking an online pop at the DUP this week.  @JohnODowdMLA accuses the party of considering free school meals a “hairy fairy idea”.   Now I’m sure the DUP doesn’t actually want to abolish free school meals, but its true that its representatives haven’t always been keen on “hairy fairies”!  

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