Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The Guardian's Henry McDonald founders on the rocks of liberal Unionism

A couple of days ago, Henry McDonald did a brilliant article about the victims of clerical and school related child abuse who are natives of my parish in Gaoth Dobhair. At last, this author said, Henry has jettisoned his blatant pro Unionist bias and has started concentrating on what he is expected to do as the Guardian's Ireland correspondent - provide us with the very best of informed and balanced comment about what's happening in the whole island of Ireland (this is the Guardian after all - a newspaper that's in my family for three generations).

Henry McDonald, I thought, had turned a new reporting leaf, but I thought too soon.

For with the democratic decision by Belfast City Councillors last night to restrict the flying of the British flag outside City Hall to certain days of the year, and the resultant protests from Unionists, McDonald has reverted to blinkered type.

With a time stamp of - Tuesday 4 December 2012 16.56 GMT - McDonald filed an article today about a serious death threat to one of the liberal Unionists in the Alliance Party (young Alliance Councillor Laura McNamee) - see here

Ms McNamee lives alone in East Belfast (where the liberal Alliance Party has emerged as as serious political threat to mainstream Unionists). Councillor McNamee has been forced to flee from her home with no prospect of returning before Christmas.

The Alliance Party sided with the Irish/Catholic side of the house in Belfast City Hall last night by agreeing that, in the new political dispensation, flying the British flag all the time amounted to a divisive and provocative act, which also risked breaching the equality rules of the Good Friday Agreement. Predictably, the Guardian's Ireland correspondent does not mention the fact that Sinn Féin's policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly also received a death threat today. But we have got so used to the Guardian airbrushing Sinn Féin from Irish political life (except to continually remind us that the party supported armed struggle) that we are inured to this omission. Nor does this Guardian even mention the Good Friday Agreement and its statutory equality provisions in this article.

But ironically the Guardian's reporting of the threats to the tiny Alliance Party, (a party clearly made up of liberal Unionists who stick to their principles - not unlike most Guardian readers in England) demonstrates in an even starker fashion how poor and distorted its coverage of Irish affairs has become under Henry McDonald's tenure as Ireland correspondent.

In the aftermath of last night's, seemingly orchestrated, riots by loyalists who had mustered in numbers of up towards a thousand, it emerged that leaflets had been distributed in Pro British areas of East Belfast calling on them to do so. Who was responsible for those leaflets? Well the Guardian was not going to tell us because it doesn’t mention them. Why is this? A Facebook campaign is mentioned but not the allegation that it was the mainstream Unionist parties that may have been behind both this and the leaflets. Why doesn’t Henry McDonald quote the leader of the Alliance Party, David Ford, who placed the blame, not only on the young loyalists who went to Belfast City Hall "spoiling for a fight", but more fundamentally on the leadership of mainstream Unionism? For the benefit of Guardian readers who will have missed this vital context, here is what David Ford said:

"DUP and UUP politicians fomented this protest, with both leaflets and the use of social media. They called people on to the streets. They must have known, from experience as recent as this summer, that violence was almost inevitable. They cannot avoid their responsibility."

Now what does the Guardian do? Does it go to these mainstream politicians and ask are they responsible for the riots, the injuries and death threats? Not at all. Henry McDonald suggests that the threats come from - "a new extremist loyalist faction". But he doesnt go to David Ford or the Alliance Party to check this as we all expect. No, the Guardian goes to Unionist dinosaur Reg Empey instead and omits to ask him any tough questions about who incited the mob in the first place. (I mean no disrespect to Reg Empey as a person when referring to him as a dinosaur. I mean he is politically extinct in terms of day to day Northern Irish politics). Lord Empey, to give him his English title, is described and quoted thus in the Guardian:

"Lord Empey, a former Ulster Unionist minister, in a previous power-sharing executive described the Alliance as "a delivery system for the advancement of Sinn Féin's anti-British strategy". The UUP peer added: "David Ford [the Alliance leader] described the vote last night as a victory for the Alliance party. Heaven help us if Mr Ford considers the removal of the Union flag as a victory! Not even Sinn Féin has gone that far."

Did we get that everybody? The Alliance Party is doing Sinn Fein's work for it and the allegedly liberal Guardian facilitates an attack on David Ford (whose party colleagues are under death threats) without any counterbalancing quote from Mr Ford who may have wished to point out that Reg Empey's party had far more serious questions to answer than his Alliance party did.

No quotes from Sinn Féin, one of the largest and currently most successful parties in Ireland; no quotes from the leader of the Alliance Party and no suggestion that the mainstream "respectable" Unionist parties may have fomented this riot and its potentially lethal aftermath - we fervently hope not. The Alliance leader (who is also the Justice minister for the Stormont Assembly) is scathing on his own website about the Unionist leaders who get such an easy ride from the Guardian:

"Such violence should be condemned by all civic and community leaders. Sadly, given the role of their two parties, any such condemnation from Peter Robinson or Mike Nesbitt would amount to nothing more than rank hypocrisy.">

Cic Saor readers will note that David Ford makes no mention of Reg Empey, not just because he is an irrelevance but because, unlike the Guardian seemingly, David Ford goes to the top and the possible heart of the problem.

What is going on at the Guardian? Does anyone with an editorial function actually read Henry McDonald's copy? Or more bluntly, if the Guardian is going to tarnish its reputation with such utterly bad journalism that it cant be bothered to check - why have an Ireland correspondent at all?

@Paul Larkin
Carraic, Gaoth Dobhair
Mí na Nollag 2012
No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: The Guardian's Henry McDonald founders on the rocks of liberal Unionism
Date posted: 04 Dec '12 - 23:33
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » De Silva – Sinn Féin leader Alex Maskey also targeted – Spook Good Friday Agreement Hoax further exposed.
Previous entry:  « 14 thousand genuine visits to this site in November 2012 - Why?

Baile - Home