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9 November 2006 Edition

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Media View

Reactionary court jester

The Dublin media trick with the North is two-fold - whenever loyalism's reversion to intractable sectarianism and negativity is so blindingly obvious that it cannot be glossed over, The Irish Times and others slip into hand wringing mode. This is the neutral and 'mature' position of being above it all - the two warring tribes, the obduracy on both sides, the refusal of extreme republicans to roll over and the refusal of loyalists to stop demanding that nationalists roll over.

Being a developed and superior breed of middle class secularists, such Dublin based journalists, born into a state that was created with militarist fire and brimstone, are ever so weary of those Northerners who demand the same levels of democracy.

This position is a little more sophisticated than the usual (and greatly favoured) one whereby all aspects of the stalled peace process are laid at the door of 'hard line' republicanism, 'IRA criminality' (getting harder and harder to find, I'm afraid) or Gerry Adams having a bad hair day.

Cheeky Northern chappie and Irish Times columnist, Newton Emerson, specialises in the first method mentioned above in which, as a liberal unionist, he caricatures both sides with an allegedly wicked wit and scorn for the backwardness of the Northern body politic.

He's an absolute scream. Take his latest offering in which Newt has the Pope and the Queen sharing platforms in the Six Counties together during which Pope Benedict stands in front of the "No" in the slogan "No Pope Here" on a Ballymena wall. The Pope then, according to Newt, "may also visit a local integrated school to warn the Catholic children that they are going straight to hell".

How daring; how iconoclastic. What an hilarious and penetrating synopsis of the Six Counties - Catholics being intimidated, beaten, and killed by loyalists on the one hand and Catholic children being emotionally traumatised by Catholic clerics on the other. Only those with no sense of humour (like your columnist, I'm afraid) could fail to see the link between killing Catholics and Catholic clerics demanding that they retain control of Catholics' education. The man's a comic genius and he's so even handed - isn't he?

Emerson is no insular reactionary, though. He's a fully fledged, global reactionary who also lampoons Castro's Cuba and Palestinian politicians, with the latter depicted by Newt recently as dogmatic zealots and racists in a column that does not, naturally, contain any slights against the Western 'democrats' of Israel.

Newt, like the cartoon darling of Irish Times readers, Martyn Turner, is actually an old fashioned British colonial who uses modern terminology to present the most clich├ęd and tired jokes. A Unionist court jester for modern Ireland who makes the smug liberals in Dublin's establishment feel good about turning their backs on the North. Newt brings a whole new meaning to that old partitionist jibe - Northern trouble maker!

Republicans attack Kevin Myers shock! We're nothing if not original in this newspaper and I thought the editor would like me to say something savage about Myers whose recent book all about himself omitted to mention the only interesting things about Kev - namely, that his old man was an IRA 'terrorist'. However, my instructions are that space is at a premium in An Phoblacht and that there are far more interesting things to comment on than Myers' self regarding tales of his sexual adventures. Hopefully, these boasts about his conquests are a little more truthful than his claims - rubbished by Judge Cory - about Garda collusion in the 1989 killing of RUC officers Breen and Buchanan, among other fairy stories he wrote about the IRA.

Madonna's PR has, for once, failed her and she has highlighted the most recent and obscene form of third world exploitation by western fat cats. Plucking a child from its admittedly desperate circumstances is not going to do much for the millions of other children whose poverty is a direct result of Western mis-rule in the past and continued oppression of those countries by imposed 'free' trade. The latest fashion accessory for Madonna, which also provides her with another in a string of public personas, is a black baby. This is valuable only in the sharp image it provides of the disparity between vulgar wealth and a lifestyle of post-nuclear holocaust proportions for a huge chunk of the planet's population. Stealing their children is not going to alter this.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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