A note to mainstream and independent television producers in Northern Ireland - here is an example of how a programme on the value, positivity and power of a minority language can be made that provides access to all and a sensible use of celebrity to broaden the audience. Congrats to BBC Scotland.
Friday, 10 June 2011
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
The appointment of Mary McArdle, a member of the PIRA murder gang that murdered Mary Travers (and attempted to kill her mother and father), has raised a number of issues which are already being discussed around the unsuitability of the appointment, a review of the process of appointment already underway and the predictable Stalinist line from Sinn Fein where keeping the old comrades sweet takes its usual high priority over basic political sense. However, there are three side issues that have not been particularly touched on.
First, there is media treatment of victims. The three families of victims have managed to gain and maintain significant media attention for their particular cases. These are the McCartney family, Raymond McCord and now the Travers family. Beyond the persistence of the families and articulacy in the media there is a consistency in their experience. Namely that the perpetrators and victims were drawn from the same nominal community. Is this consistency a coincidence or does the media draw a conscious or unconscious distinction between murders within and murders between the communities here?
Second, is the easy ride that the SDLP have been given on the issue. They have been vocal in their support for the Travers family. However, this is the SDLP that supported the release of terrorists early from prison. This is the SDLP, as IJP points out, that backed an IRA bomber being appointed a Mayor within days of objecting to McArdle's appointment. This is the SDLP that refuses to support reform to the definition of an victim. Ponder this for a moment if the police had shot the armed McArdle in the follow-up operation rather than arrested her then the SDLP position is that Mary McCardle and Mary Travers would have the exact same status of victimhood.
Third, some have been surprised by the reaction to this appointment. They shouldn't. The selective nature of the examination of our past so far was going to cause a build-up of anger which would attach itself to a particualr issue. However something more significant could be happening. The decisions of dubious morality that are taken to end a conflict are not always validated by time. Hence, the lack of furore about Leo Green's appointment but the anger about Mary McArdle's. Sometimes past decisions are rejected by those who come after because the recognise the dangers they hold for a better society. Perhaps Northern Ireland will prove to be one of those places.