It always struck me as odd how certain parts are determined as being one side orthe other in this part of the world. Therefore I am delighted that Bangor is playing host again to the Co Down Fleadh 2013. Last year it was confined to 2 pubs and a parish hall. It was a fantastic success. This year it has expanded to 6 pubs, a parish hall and there is a large banner as you enter the town welcoming all. That, my friends, is truly a whole new world.
I’ll be attending a few of the events and so will a few serious trad players including Sharon Shannon. I would encourage unionists also to attend, perhaps to witness that although our songs may be sad, even patriotic, they are not sectarian.
Tá fáilte roimh gach anseo
Strangely enough the Belfast Telegraph hasn’t run a headline on this. I’m sure most readers of this blog are aware of how assiduous the Bel Tel, not to mention some other blogs, are regarding their trumpeting of, as FJH would phrase it, “letsgetalongerism”. It is striking when compared with the 2011 census results how attitudes appear to have changed.
Apparently we’re now at 38% with a more Irish than British bias versus 39% more British than Irish. 6% are Neither and the magic 1% couldn’t give a monkeys!
I’m still waiting for Slugger or the Bel Tel to post an article on this amazing turnaround over the course of a year or to analyse the reasons as to why this may have happened. Perhaps we should start the discussion here?
Here’s the link to the data: http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2012/Political_Attitudes/IRBRIT.html
|Irish not British||24|
|More Irish than British||14|
|Equally Irish and British||17|
|More British than Irish||16|
|British not Irish||23|
|Other description (please specify)||6|
Guest post by Sammy McNally:
A complaint about the BBC Northern Ireland program ‘The Twelfth’ has been rejected by the BBC Trust (which operates independently from the BBC) on the grounds that although the annual Orange Order parade was ‘controversial’ it was not ‘highly controversial’ – and not a ‘major matter’. The complainant had argued that the BBC had broken its own guidelines on dealing with controversial subjects when covering last year’s 12th July parade in Belfast.
(Full judgement here) http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2013/apr.pdf
Had the Trust determined that the parade was either ‘highly controversial’ or a ‘major matter’ then the long running (50 years) outside broadcast programme would have been in breach of the much more stringent requirements on impartiality – and the tone of the programme, which the complainant described as ‘promotional’ would have required revision.
It is an interesting decision by the Trust – who took the view that the spectacle of the parade in the centre of Belfast should be evaluated separately from incidents involving the controversy surrounding the marchers either on their way to or on their way back from the city centre.
In relation to the‘Ardoyne feeder parade’ the Trust found that – “although there was concern at the time about the return of the North Belfast feeder parade, the editorial focus of the programme was clearly the cultural and festive aspects of the parade itself as it passed through the very centre of Belfast.”
Similarly, in relation to the sectarian tune playing outside St Patricks Church the Trust took the view that the focus of program was the city centre and the controversy surrounding this incident was therefore not a significant factor in their decision.
The Trust also cited audience expectation in explaining its decision.
“given the long-standing nature of the programme, the audience would have had clear expectations about what the programme would cover, and the approach taken was consistent with that taken in previous years. “
What is (arguably) disconcerting about this decision by the Editorial Standard Committee of the BBC Trust is that BBC program makers can apparently sidestep the stringent requirements for impartiality by concentrating on those aspects of an event which are not‘highly controversial’ and sidestep the requirements for ‘signposting’controversial subjects on the basis that the audience are aware of the program content because it had been broadcast previously in a ‘similar format’.
It is difficult not to believe that the Trust might have taken a somewhat different line if a parade in London – which was viewed as sectarian/racist by about half the citizens of the city, required the presence of hundreds of riot police, which led to a serious deterioration in community and political relations over the following months because of a sectarian/racist incident, which went through areas where it was not welcome and where the parade organisers had been ambivalent about upholding the law – had been given similar promotional treatment by BBC London.
In fairness to BBC Northern Ireland, they have made it clear that “detailed discussion was taking place at a senior level about the nature of the coverage in 2013” and it will be interesting to see if the programme, shortly returning to our screens, provides what might fairly be described as a fuller and a more rounded view of the nature of the parade and its implications for public order and community relations.
In the ‘background’ details supplied as part of its judgement the BBC Trust notes that “In recent years, the Orange Order, with support from Belfast City Council, has sought to rebrand the day as “Orangefest”, an event for the whole community” and in fairness also to the Orange Order they have striven to move away from the more offensive trappings and associations of the parade.
…but the Orange Order are still some considerable distance away from convincing many people (and perhaps a majority of the citizens of Belfast) that they could ever stage an inclusive event devoid of triumphalism and sectrainism – given the political and religious objectives of the organisation – but it is to be hoped (if not now expected) that BBC Northern Ireland would reflect that particular reality in its program coverage.
Is this a defining moment for the SDLP?
And by extension nationalist politics.
Over the past week we have witnessed a very public internal wrangle within the SDLP regarding the SPAD bill. Well respected old hands of the party, Brid Rodgers and Seamus Mallon have weighed in big style. This has weakened the hand of the leadership, namely big Al. It has also changed the power dynamic within the party. Note the silence of the likes of Conal McDevitt.
Sinn Fein have turned this into an internal nationalist debate about a heirarchy of victims and the essence of the Good Friday Agreement. Make no mistake this is about nationalist votes, hearts and minds. A fight, a very real fight, is going on within nationalism which touches upon raw issues.
At the heart of it is the definition of the word victim.
In my view this is a moment of truth which will define the direction nationalist politics may take going forward. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the SDLP have made an unholy mess of this. Sinn Fein are capitalising on that mess and will benefit as a result electorally. Our memories are long and our capacity for forgiveness is not renowned.
I’m going to start rolling out some figures over the next few weeks. To start with I am looking here at the Top and Bottom 3 most Catholic areas and doing a direct comparison with the age profiles of those LGD’s. I have also included Belfast and the whole of NI figures for comparison.
The correllations are startling. The age profiles in the least catholic areas are much older than the average while the reverse is also true. The three most catholic constituencies are also the youngest.
|Top 3 Catholic Pop||0-17||18- 44||45 – 100|
|Newry and Mourne||79.37||26.71||37.80||35.49|
|Bottom 3 Catholic Pop|
It may be argued that the 0-17 age group are tomorrows voters, the 45+ cohort are the most active voters currently and the 18 to 44 group is the one having the most babies! As may be seen above, and I know it is a snapshot, it is the majority Catholic areas which are clearly growing in population and have a much younger age profile. That trend is likely to accellerate in the years ahead as there is a clear bias in the child bearing category.
The only question in my mind is the effects of emigration, immigration and political indifference in the years ahead
Being Irish I have a pretty good idea of the notion of victimhood.
We are all victims at some point in our lives. All of us. Whether it is at the hands of a tyrannical teacher, a parent or guardian, a tyrannical employer or a power drunken overpromoted boss. It could be an ex spouse or it could be a wronged lover. Or it could be a government. My contention is that it happens to us all and the only thing that allows it go unchallenged is the isolation of the victim.
That is why trade unionism is a good idea, admittedly the only branch of Unionism I agree with.
What I am saying here is that victimhood is a matter of context and degree and interpretation.
It is a commonly accepted principle that bad law is formed when it is drafted on the basis of individual cases. That is what has happened regarding the SPAD legislation. Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the bill, the reasons for the SDLP supporting it are deeply flawed. Two former (currently unelected) heavyweight members swung the internal argument, that is fine on an internal level but it is no way to make law.
When will politicians in this part of the world start to take a wider view?
We had the embarrassing sight of IPJ on question time last week called out for what he clearly was. A bigot. It took an English Moslem to do that.
Basil the Mac tweeted me tonight that his party is launching next week, thursday at 7pm. I’m not likely to support it as it is unlikely to support my own views but I think he may do serious damage to the remnants of the UUP and threaten the DUP in certain parts.
We live in interesting times
I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for a while. Forgive me. I have spreadsheet overload and some family “issues” to sort.
I have noticed that a new “Welcome to Northern Ireland” sign has gone up on the M1/ A1 at Newry in the past week. Given my own family connections to the area I’m curious as to how long it will last. The whole idea of these signs is, of course, a matter of unionist ministers trying to re-establish the idea of a “border”. A border that has become all but invisible in recent years, at least in physical terms.
Anyhow, the sign is large and substantial and has a camera positioned right beside it. Knowing the area quite well I am sure the challenge, and challenge it will be perceived as, will be accepted. Over to you:
(UPDATE 13 JUNE 2013: The sign has been seriously defaced. The 1 Month,ers have it!)
Pint. A fabulous creamy, properly poured, delicious pint is €3.40. That’s better than Bangor. Best Chowder I’ve had in a long time with gorgeous soda bread, proper butter and fantastic service. Pure heaven.
Some points about the Census.
Immigration is a major factor for the first time in the North. 11% of the population now was born outside the six counties including me. A lot of these “immigrants” (I know, I use the word tongue firmly in cheek) are having babies, mostly in Dungannon and the odd place called “Craigavon” as well as Belfast. On identity, a lot of people seem to have recorded themselves as having multiple boxes to tick. 10% of people, that’s 180,000, ticked more than 1 box. There is a definite reluctance on the part of, mostly younger, people, to define themselves along the traditional lines. Things are changing rapidly and there is no longer any single demographic group in any kind of a majority.
As I sip my pint and savour the crabmeat, leeks, salmon, cod and prawns in the beautiful creamy garlicky sauce I am thinking that the electoral mix is being stirred north of the border.
Perhaps new thinking is required in the political kitchen?
My head is spinning with the sheer volume of figures released this week. I have spent the best part of 30 hours crunching numbers and generating graphs. My apologies for not coming up with a faster analysis but like most of us I have to try to balance things with family and work.
I am fascinated with some of the figures. Here’s one of my tables to get your teeth into:
|Students (Not working)||17,710||11,598||517||3,371|
|Home/ Family based||29,759||25,078||772||2,789|
The Retired figures naturally reflect the older age profile of unionist inclined voters but the other figures are revealing about how nationalists are over represented among the unemployed, the sick and the indigent students. I’ll not start on the students. Please bear with me over the next few days as I will be in Sligo with Mrs Bangordub for her birthday.
There is a huge amount of data to go through including analysing the effects of immigration, emigration, religious disaffection and political indifference. Not to mention preferred outcomes to the “constitutional question” and national identity.
I can’t do it all in a few days and there is enough to keep us going for months here so patience is appreciated.
Regarding the national question I am aware that some here will comment on the northern Ireland designation of some from a nationalist background. I’ll leave this post with the words of someone who experienced a similar thing in times past.
I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.