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8 January 1998 Edition

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Editor's desk

I think every democrat should welcome the latest convert to the sentiments which drove the Civil Rights Movement. Here, in Wednesday's News Letter, was what Joel Patton, leader of the Spirit of Drumcree group, had to say about the ``undemocratic'' Orange Order:

``Can anyone condone a situation where the four smallest Orange Counties have 12 representatives on Central Committee whilst the biggest Orange County, County Antrim, with more than six times the numerical strength of the combined total of the four smallest is allowed only three representatives?''

I'm sure Joel is old enough to appreciate the delicious irony of what he has written. He must remember the situation in Derry where the City Council wards were divided in such a way that the nationalist majority had 12 seats and the Unionist minority had 16 seats.

Seeing the gerrymanderers gerrymandered is a wonderful sight.

 


The Northern Ireland Office has a publicity budget of millions and, it could fairly be argued, wastes most of it. Take their glossy free magazine, Omnibus, the latest copy of which has reached me.

When I say glossy, I mean glossy. Its pages are thicker than any other magazine I've ever seen - it must cost an absolute fortune - and the writing is pretty thick too. Take this profile of the London Times new Ireland correspondent, Martin Fletcher:

``...he is a quick learner who has rapidly grasped ingredients in our political hotpot and who, after his first 100 days, is drawing out his own version of supper. He brings a refreshing perception of history-in-the-making as the Labour Government makes clear its determination to break through intransigence and create a menu which contains both carrots and cabbage.''

Pretty sad stuff. I'm tempted to say the only cabbages are in the NIO but that would be in bad taste, so I won't.

 


The magazine is filled with articles which show what a ``great wee province'' the Six Counties really is. Take an article by Newry man Rowan Hand, a former Irish Indo journalist and editor of BBC Radio Ulster News. He describes the arrival in Newry Canal of the sailing ship Asgard II. In tones so sentimental you could imagine the tears hitting the typewriter, Rowan tells us: ``That day was the most memorable ever in the life of Newry and Mourne''.

There is more claptrap like that in the error-ridden Omnibus. It is sickly sweet government propaganda but, thank goodness, not very good propaganda.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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