Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Northern Irish insults, cont'd

Perhaps it was to be expected that as the gunfire went down, the verbal fire would go up. We posted yesterday about Ian Paisley's personal attack on the Irish Foreign Minister's appearance, and today comes a strange story in the London Times detailing transcripts of phone calls between Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and senior British officials. How these transcripts were made and how they came into the public domain is leading to some legal fallout today, but no-one disputes their authenticity. The conversations reveal what many Irish people would have guessed: that London officials and politicians don't especially like the Unionists and have much better personal rapport with the nationalist side. Now of course London has frequently blundered in its attempts to build better relations with the nationalist community in NI, but there tends to be a clear vibe that they find the antics of Unionist politicians anachronistic and distasteful, which works to the benefit of the well-polished Sinn Feiners.

Check out this portion of a 1999 conversation between McGuinness (MG) and Blair's top aide, Jonathan Powell (JP)

MG: "They're [unionists] not interested in the Ireland Ministerial Council and like, all you have to do is listen to William Thompson [unionist MP] last night on BBC Two."
JP: "Agh, he's an ass."
MG: "Ah, well it doesn't matter. He might be an ass but there are a lot of other asses around him like Willie Ross . . . "(interrupted by JP).
JP: (laughing)"Quite a lot."
MG: "Jeffrey Donaldson, Roy Beggs, Clifford Forsyth, Rev Martin Smyth [senior unionist politicians]. . ."(interrupted again by JP).
MG: "Please don't repeat all the names."

By the standards of Paisley, this is all quite mild. But we've like to have heard their word for Paisley himself.

No comments: