Two stories from the Irish Times (sub reqd), on Friday and Saturday respectively. The first, David Adams - our enlightened Unionist faux-intellectual doorknob - suggests that the media in the South have not been sufficiently critical of Mary MacAleese (aka El Presidente) when she brings up the pain of her Northern Nationalist upbringing in seeking a point of empathy with the less well off. She probably overstepped the mark when comparing Unionists to Nazis - while there were undoubtedly some similarities, there were a great many things that were unique to Naziism. In any case, the First Lady was pilloried on both sides of the border for that particular pas trop loin. But the instance in question that sent our venerable Mr. Adams into a tizzy was a speech in Scotland where she was addressing some people involved in combatting homelessness, and she again went to the well in search of a personal point of reference, coming up with the time when her family were burned out of their home in Belfast.
Now, there are a series of issues here. First, she can't be prevented from drawing on her personal history to empathise with others, which is what she needs to do in order to do her job. I suspect Mr. Adams would have been equally aghast had she brought up the famine, and how thousands of Irish families were turfed out onto their bare arses, because that was too provocative as well.
Here's the central point - Unionists don't like being reminded about how oppressive and violent and discriminatory and illiberal and racist and snobbish they were in the past. In particular, they don't like being reminded of it by an uppity taigue who managed to escape the appalling conditions that her family was subjected to, rise above it, and be nice to the same people who tried to beat her down.
In the same paper, on the same page, but on a different day, Garrett Fitzgerald blames the IRA for having dampened economic development in the North. Have ranted about this a little over at slugger. Let me go a little further here. There is a time when the establishment says 'can't we just let everything be', and it is wrong to say OK. It is wrong to let everything be, because everything is very much not OK, and the establishment is wrong. Garrett Fitzgerald presents a one dimensional econometric argument that is poorly weighted and deeply imbalanced, and proceeds to infuse the conclusion with personal comment ('I resent', etc.) that has no place.
The man may have had his time, and perhaps that time has passed.