Northern Ireland in the news.

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It is precisely because events like this one are still happening today that I wince whenever I hear someone claim anything along the lines of ‘peace has been brought to Northern Ireland’.

Just because terrorists are no longer able to carry out major campaigns of violence in mainland Britain, it does not mean that politics in Ulster have been pacified. Sometimes I feel as if our London-centric mainstream media forgets this. 

There are still significant numbers of people there who believe they are justified in engaging in political violence when the democratic process does not go their way. It sadly looks like incidents such as the one that occurred earlier today will remain fairly routine for the forseeable future.

The revelations about Iris Robinson, however, have been far from routine.

Last week the gay-bashing, evangelical Christian MP and wife of Northern Ireland’s first minister revealed that she had been battling depression and would be retiring from politics. It then emerged that she had attempted suicide and had had an affair. Soon enough, we were all reading in amazement that Iris Robinson (60) had been playing away from home with a 19 year old. And now it seems like dodgy finances were involved and Mr. Robinson has some uncomfortable questions to answer.

I agree completely with Peter Tatchell on the Robinson revelations:

“I’m sorry for the pain that Iris Robinson has suffered but she’s a hypocrite. Even now, despite her own adultery, she expresses no regret for her harsh, judgemental moralising against gay people. She is sad and two-faced.

It is terrible that Iris Robinson has been driven to attempted suicide and a mental breakdown. I feel very sorry for her. But it is a great pity that this painful experience has not softened her heart towards the suffering of lesbians and gay men.

Even now, she expresses no regret for her harsh, judgemental moralising against gay people. Iris seems as unforgiving as ever. She’s still unrepentant about her homophobia.”

More than most parts of the UK, Northern Ireland is a place where religious fanatics have a strong presence in politics. It’s inevitable that incredible examples of hypocrisy amongst the most powerful and high-profile God-botherers will come to light now and again.

This all reminds me of similar stories from the US, such as when it came out that staunch racial segregationist Strom Thurmond in fact had a black daughter. Or when it was discovered that fundamentalist conservative preacher Ted Haggard had been playing around with male prostitutes and crystal meth.  

Ok, maybe not quite as extreme an example of hypocrisy (Robinson’s lover was a bloke rather than a lady, after all), but still getting there.

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6 Responses to “Northern Ireland in the news.”

  1. Dave Semple Says:

    Interesting non-sequitur, from the continuing violence of Northern Ireland to antics of one of the politicians.

    It’s a strange thing, however, to say that the politics of our own little Lebanon hasn’t been pacified in the same week that one of the largest Loyalist terrorist organisations completes its decommissioning process.

    If the London media regard Northern Ireland as relatively peaceable, it’s because these days it is. The peacewalls have largely been dismantled. The British army is no longer on the streets. The steel ring around Belfast city centre is long since gone. It is peaceful.

    The actions of a few extremists, or the riots around the Twelfth, are little different from the odd terrorist attack on the mainland, football or race riots or the other violent events that go on in England. And we shouldn’t be dwelling on the violence of England, because by and large this fine and green land is at peace.

  2. captainjako Says:

    The targetting of police officers for assassination is something that does not happen on the mainland.

    Thoughts on whether Mr. Robinson will be able to keep his job?

  3. Jimmy Glesga Says:

    This could be the oldest story in history. Young man gives old woman a meat injection. Old woman falls in love. Young man moves on. Woman is scorned. The money involved is hardly a lot for them. Strange how a bit of shagging can turn into a scandal. But that is life. The old story about one bang and the Cabinet falls apart is still relevant.

  4. captainjako Says:

    I suspect young man is getting more than he bargained for! Everyone in the country knows about him ‘doing the dirty’ with someone 40 years his senior who describes him as being her ideal son. Freaky. And now there are lots of Facebook groups devoted to him!

  5. Dave Semple Says:

    To be fair Jako, it’s not something that happens regularly in Northern Ireland anymore, is it? So when people say “Peace has been brought to Northern Ireland”, that change in tenor and frequency of violence is what they’re legitimately referring to.

    I’ll say Robinson will keep his job. There’s no one amongst the front rank to supplant him with DUP-wide appeal. Though for sheer horrified curiosity’s sake, I’d like to see what a Northern Ireland run by ‘First Minister’ Sammy Wilson would look like.

  6. captainjako Says:

    Yes, of course a lot of progress has been made in reducing the violence, but I sometimes feel that claims of establishing “peace” give a misleading impression about the situation in Northern Ireland. I haven’t been over there for a few years so I bow to your greater knowledge. But qualitatively and quantitatively the political violence in Northern Ireland is still distinct from the rest of the UK.

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