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9 July 1998 Edition

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Television: Extremely orange

Prime Time (RTE1)
Ulster Live (UTV)
Questions and Answers (RTE1)
Tonight With Vincent Browne (Radio1)
Home Ground (BBC2)
Ruby (BBC2)
One couldn't possibly find a more extreme contrast between the orange threat in France and that in Ireland.

While one group of orangemen expose their silky skills and heroics to the world the other Orangemen are keen to expose their ``culture'' of dominance and bigotry.

With the blockade-to-blockade coverage of the crisis, Drumcree has provided alternative entertainment to many outside the north who suffer from a lack of football and a lack of understanding of the real reasons behind the Orangemen's ``right to march'', due to decades of censorship and misinformation.

It is not uncommon to meet Free Staters who talk of the need to ``compromise'' and ``what's the big deal?''

In the absence of compulsory educational ``tours of the north'', the TV has to suffice.

``Friend of unionism'' Ruth Dudley Edwards was busy on Questions and Answers employing the by now familiar unionist tactic of demonisation, castigating Breandan Mac Cionnaith as the ``hardliner who blew up the Royal British Legion hall in Portadown'' and the man ``who needs to step aside'' to save the north.

Edwards conveniently ignores the fact that Mac Cionnaith is an elected councillor. He is also the residents spokesperson, as is Gerard Rice of the Ormeau Rd, who will come under the same criticism at the weekend.

This tactic has been repeatedly used against nationalists as a pretext for assassination (remember Pat Finucane) but Ruth assured us that the ``wholly inoffensive'' Orangemen only wanted to play a few hymns and they ``are desperate not for violence'' despite their repeated presence at blockades, riots and attacks on the RUC.

Ian Paisley Jnr was busy castigating Mac Cionnaith on Tonight With Vincent Browne, and all those ``little republicans'' of the Garvaghy Road.

Meanwhile Jane and Michelle informed Browne that all the nationalists on the Garvaghy were ``outsiders looking for trouble'' and that locals ``have to do what they're told''.

Without sounding sectarian Michael Farrell put his finger on the pulse on Q&A when he stated that ``it's sad that the Protestant population can't reach out to the Catholic population'' and ``it's quite depressing that the only way of expressing their cultural identity is by marching through Catholic areas''.

Rather than the blanket coverage, much of which is of little benefit, the media must pose the following questions:

Why did the RUC allow thousands of Orangemen into Portadown?

Why have they allowed multiple road blockades, some of which are staffed by children?

Why are 13% of the RUC in the Orange Order?

Are the British army in the front line to prevent an RUC mutiny, as happened in 1996?

Meanwhile the residents of Garvaghy Road wait to see if the state will ``betray us yet again''.

One wonders would the Orangemen talk to Rosyln Mitchell (ex David Spry), England's first transexual politician, or would they see her as a republican in drag?

Councillor Mitchell, featured on BBC2's Home Ground, had always wanted to be a woman, but instead went through the usual self denial lifestyle, marrying twice and fathering children, in an attempt to deny his femininity, until his mid-life crisis when the mascara and nail varnish could not be denied and he applied for a sex change.

Unfortunately for him he has to wait a year, during which time he has to prove himself and live as a woman, which can be quite difficult when you still have stubble and a deep voice and youngsters giggle and call you names at the shopping centre.

Mitchell opines that his is a medical condition, only recently acknowledged in Britain and many still find it difficult to accept, among them his fellow Labour Councillors and Women's Section, who still refuse her access to meetings.

The programme follows Mitchell as she tries to break the ice, going step dancing and to council meetings and constituency clinics, all for the first time in her new frock and lipstick.

Unfortunately, many within new Labour are willing to accept Rosy's new look, but one wonders what Martin McGuinness would say if Sammy Wilson turned up to the Assembly in high heels and mascara, or would he respect Sammy's new feminity? On a more serious note, Councillor Mitchell must be commended for her strength in treading this new brave new path in public life and may set a trend for others.

Around The Table With Ruby proved to be a major disappointment, particularly after her in-your-face interviews with Pamela Anderson, OJ Simpson and friends. Tonight's stars included the ageless Joanna Lumley, whose New Avengers bosom provided many childhood fantasies, in between playing hurling and eating twenty five jam sandwiches in the rain.

Boy George (George O Dowd) who could've made a great corner forward if his dad had returned to Tipperary, talked of his desire to be ``a big poof'' and the lack of individuality at school.

Joanna was disappointing and the third guest seemed to be asleep.

Ruby tried to liven up the discussion with talk of silicone implants and ``how much do you like the wobbly bits to move'', which is all a bit cliched, so I switched back to Ronaldo and co.

Finally, if you're turned off by a 0-0 France-Brazil World Cup bore, switch to a cracking Munster Hurling Final between Clare and Waterford.

By Sean O Donaile

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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