The recent riots in Belfast, or minor street disturbances to be precise, are the direct result of a spineless media consensus, fed by cynical politicians, that Brexit would create circumstances which would re-ignite the Troubles, unless they were counteracted.
Here is the story the bulk of the media would not write:
The fulcrum of the Troubles was Belfast, especially the Catholic ghettos of Short Strand in east Belfast, the lower Falls, Ballymurphy, Andersonstown in the west, and, in north Belfast, Ardoyne. Now it is pretty hard to imagine how ordinary folk in these areas, relieved that the daily violence which scarred their lives for so many years had gone, would get so exercised over (mostly foreign) lorry drivers for huge multinationals being pestered by having to fill forms at or near the Border, many miles away, would throw their hands up in the air and declare in gruff, angry voices, ‘time to get pikes down from the thatch again’!
But that was precisely argument that southern political leaders like Leo Varadkar took to Brussels and Strasbourg and persuaded the well-fed bureaucrats that instead of a so-called ‘hard Border’, the protection of the precious peace process was better served by positioning it somewhere out in the Irish Sea.
And so was born the most extraordinary piece of nonsense since Lewis Carrolls’ allegedly LSD induced fantasy ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
The international and domestic media gobbled up this nonsense with breathtaking eagerness. I forget how many interviews I gave to foreign journalists at the time, arguing that what caused the Troubles, what drove ordinary, normal people into a viciously violent outfit like the Provos was something much more intimate than a ‘hard’ Border many miles from their homes. It was the daily experience of state violence, meted out by soldiers who spoke in foreign accents and sided with their longtime enemies that did that.
I don’t want to exaggerate the number of calls I got but I do remember how they went. Would a hard border re-ignite the violence, came the first question: ‘I don’t think so’, came my reply, the disappointment at the other end almost tangible. Only one reporter showed interest as I explained why, a Norwegian if my memory serves, but even so he buried my reply deep in his copy.
That was the only reporter who gave space to these thoughts. The rest ran away and filed stories that were indistinguishable from their colleagues and thus gave the most foolproof defence against incompetence and cowardice: “Well everyone else was filing the same!’ And so they retained their handsome salaries and expenses.
The result is that Varadkar and his like-minded colleagues got their way, with a Border that, theoretically, is on the same longitude as the Isle of Man. All to solve a problem that never existed except in the cynical minds of the Irish government of the day, the idiots in Downing Street and the likeminded fools in Brussels and Strasbourg. So together, they solved a non-existent problem only to create a real one.
And still the stupid, cynical, incompetent and unprincipled media can’t, or won’t, get the story right.