8 February 2007 Edition
Media View By John O'Brien
Paul Williams — a nasty piece of work
You have to feel sorry for The Sunday Independent. If the decision on policing was hard for many republicans, spare a thought for the Sindo bigots who were faced with the appalling vista of having to point the finger of blame at the DUP.
Well, it just proved too much for them. Last Sunday’s issue of the gutter rag was true to form in carrying a front page attack on Sinn Féin. Delegates at the ard-fheis were accused of being - wait for it - Provos!
Apparently, it’s true. Brazenly the leadership of Sinn Féin claimed that the decision represented a step on the way to a united Ireland because it had the potential to break the political logjam and strip away the last excuses from the diehard rejectionist unionists and their fellow travellers in the South.
Spitting bile in all directions was, of course, Brendan O’Connor, fresh from perfecting a scowl of abuse on the RTÉ You’re a Star! programme, where he is given full licence to bully and sneer at the unfortunates who want a chance to breakthrough in the entertainment business.
Beetle-browed O’Connor spat out that “Gerry carried it by a huge majority and rapture was unconfined and everyone, including Bertie, was able to turn and stick it to the unionists and the Brits and tell them that we have our house in order and now it was all up to them.”
None of this apparently was to Brendan’s liking, and he stridently demanded that “Gerry change his spots” and don the sackcloth and ashes demanded by Ian Paisley in his more recalcitrant mode.
Retired history professor, John A. Murphy, was even more outraged. Writing inside the Sindo, he bellowed that the “shiny new Shinners” are “keeping the rebel heart burning.”
Have these Shinners no shame, you may ask. They actually believe that a united Ireland (incidentally the stated objective of all the political parties represented in the Dáil) should be advocated and worked for.
“In tone and tenor, the language of the debates, on platform and in hall, was unreconstructed Provoism. No olive branches were held out to unionism,” he complained.
Nowhere, of course, in the whole paper was there any analysis of the actual role played by the RUC, of the atrocities and human rights abuses it perpetrated on a regular and systemic basis. Nowhere was there any explanation of why ordinary republican and nationalist communities would be deeply suspicious of those who had oppressed and suppressed them.
Instead, the Sindo expressed outrage that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness demanded that the police had to win the trust of the people.
Truly, it can be said of them that they are more unionist than the unionists themselves.
That opinion poll published at the beginning of the week was good news for The Irish Times. The official organ of Southern unionism has been having a hard time of it of late, with the despised Fianna Fáil looking increasingly certain of staying in power with whatever partner.
The Times has nearly burst a gusset in its anxiety that Labour should do the decent (and responsible) thing by steering clear of the latterday satans and standing solidly behind the Blueshirts.
So they grabbed the figures in this week’s poll - which showed combined support for Fine Gael and Labour actually dropping - and proclaimed that the Rainbow was not back on track for potential electoral victory.
Actually, the opinion poll showed no such thing, because the drop in support for the Government did not go to the Rainbow, but to the Greens and Sinn Féin.
The Times managed to speak positively about the Greens (in the hope that when the time comes they too will do the decent and responsible thing and put Fine Gael into power), but the rise in Sinn Féin support was glossed over by a passing reference to the positive impact of that ard fheis which caused so much distress to the Sunday Independent.
It seems that there are some facts so unpalatable that the ‘paper of record’ cannot record them. You have to feel for them, you know.
One crowd, though, that it’s impossible to feel for is the Sunday World and its resident anti-republican ‘crime’ writer (fiction not fact), Paul Williams.
Williams always manages to plumb the depths with vituperation and abuse, mixed with dishonesty and prejudice, but last Sunday’s offering must be the pits.
Whatever your views about the tragic killing of John ‘Frog’ Ward by Pádraig Nally, nothing can excuse the hounding of Ward’s wife by Williams and the Sunday World. Last November Ward’s widow remarried - a fact ‘exclusively’ revealed in the World though it’s hard to see that her personal life is anybody’s business - and this week Williams gleefully reported that the refugee (nod, nod, wink, wink: Black man) had split from his partner even though she is expecting a child.
Gratuitously Williams reported that this is her twelfth child, and sneeringly he referred to her throughout as “the grieving widow”.
What a nasty piece of work he really is, but the headline on the story must surely be the most digusting seen in any Irish paper in a long time. ‘Sprog Ward’ the paper screamed, a headline redolent with abuse, prejudice, hatred, belittling and inherent inhumanity.
Where’s the press council when we need it?