Issue 4-2022 small

17 April 1997 Edition

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Editor's desk

Elections bring out the worst in some people. Take Denis Haughey, the SDLP candidate in mid-Ulster. When told by an Observer reporter that some Sinn Féin canvassers had clipboards, he said with ``a sharp and dismissive look'': ``Half these people can't fucking write''. It's a remark typical of certain sections of the middle-class SDLP who seem to hold working class people in contempt. His remark has, I'm told, been dismissed by Sinn Féin canvassers. After all, when the time comes, there won't be much writing to be done, just a neat X against Martin McGuinness's name.

Meanwhile SDLP canvassers in some areas have been telling little porkies. They have been getting a lot of questions on the doorstep about why they weren't willing to form a pact with Sinn Féin. ``Oh, we were willing,'' they reply, ``but Sinn Féin wouldn't play ball''. An answer which is completely opposite to the truth, which of course it has to be if they are to escape from the doors without a good telling-off.

Just to put them right, here's a link to our front page of 20 February which headlined Mitchel McLaughlin's call for a pact which ``could transform the political landscape in the Six Counties,'' he said.

It was one of many offers, all rejected by the SDLP, most notably by Joe Hendron.


Another little gem of a front page is this one from the Unionist News Letter of Tuesday of this week. It referred to the situation in the Limestone Road area when loyalist mobs forced nationalists from their homes. But according to Councillor David Browne, most of those who left were families who deliberately moved into the interface area, knowing that trouble would erupt, they would be forced to flee and thus ``get on the priority list right away and leapfrog up the housing ladder.''

It's a nice little twist which absolves the loyalists and at the same time paints the nationalists as shifty good-for-nothings.

As I said, elections bring out the worst in people, including Councillor Browne and the News Letter.


Dolly the Sheep made cloning history earlier this year but the British general election produced cloned chickens. First the Tories wheeled out the chicken to taunt Tony Blair over his reluctance to have a TV debate with Major. Then the Daily Mirror set loose their man in yellow feathers to accuse the Tories of running a headless chicken campaign (seen here squaring up to the Tory's chief press officer - and managing to knock off his glasses). Who but the Progressive Democrats could import this English idiocy into Ireland? They sent five people in chicken suits to the Labour conference in Limerick and the `Spring Chicken' (get it?) featured on the front of their election newssheet PD News.

Even more bizarrely the PD News happily reproduced a jibe about them in the Sunday World which described them as the Wimbledon of Irish politics with Michael McDowell as Vinnie Jones.

Surely they have got things a bit mixed up. Wimbledon and Vinnie Jones have both tried to be Irish while the PDs are trying to be British.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1