The rioting in Northern Ireland by groups fundamentally believing in the holy meaning of the Union and traumatised by the death of the Duke, has excited the Herald writer’s imagination.
The pictures editor has let him down this time. That quiet, wet, mundane border looks too damp to light. Now, four men, a tabard and a big dug, that could kick off!
MacGlashan, sorry, Macwhirter, opens with:
There has never been a direct read across from the troubles in the province to Scotland. But Northern Ireland is only 12 miles away, and closer culturally and politically than we’d like to think. If nothing else, recent disturbances underline the importance of there being a clear border policy if and when Scotland leaves the United Kingdom for the European Union. At least, a better policy than the spatchcocked and unworkable deal struck between Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker in 2019.
‘Read across?’ ‘Road across?’
Strangely both could make sense.
‘Spatchcocked?’ I like that bit. Had to look it up. Not nice.
Anyhow, back to the story. As soon as I saw it, I thought, that looks familiar and checked my archives to find ‘Neil Mackay!’
It’s the same thesis. It’s the same answer as in January 2020. At minimal effort, here it is again. Just replace one Mac with the other:
From Neil Mackay in the Herald today (Who are these unnamed dark forces above?)
From Lord Robertson in 2014
From Professor Tom Devine in 2018
Neil Mackay may be ‘Scotland’s Columnist of the Year’ but he’s feck all use as an investigative reporter. Does ‘columnist just mean ‘blether?’ This is pathetic clickbait to make us anxious and cling to the Union but based on only a tiny number of street thugs, his own memories of life in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday Agreement and the notion planted in his head by Lord George Robertson, of ‘Dark Forces.’
Robertson’s warnings were soon dismissed as guff aimed at panicking the electorate in the run-up to the Referendum. Though former Secretary General at NATO, Robertson had no evidence to offer. Mackay has only this melodramatic literary guff:
Now, though, something is stirring in the darkest recesses of Scotland’s soul and it’s ugly. At the weekend, we had yet another display of sectarian hatred imported from my country and played out on the streets of Glasgow. There were arrests and a police officer was injured after a Republican march and a Loyalist counter-demonstration clashed.
Read that opening sentence again. Can you believe it? It’s not just guff in terms of being utter fantasy its also terrible writing. Even Dan Brown might reject it as being ‘too much.’ If Mackay wanted to tell us something true, he might have had a look at evidence from official statistics and/or from a respected academic researcher like, say, Professor Sir Thomas Martin Devine OBE FRSE FBA. Here’s Devine in the Mackay’s host, the Herald, in 2018:
‘SECTARIANISM is in decline and claims of widespread anti-Catholicism in Scotland are “unhelpfully alarmist”, according to the country’s leading intellectual, Professor Sir Tom Devine. The University of Edinburgh historian claims there is little chance of coming up against religious prejudice in 2018, apart from at Old Firm matches, and accused politicians and church leaders of “brazenly spreading fear” and reinforcing “victimhood” among Catholics.’
Might Devine have based his words on empirical evidence? Well, yes. Who’d have thought it? Is that how you get to be a prof? Here is some official evidence from 2015 (latest):
‘In contrast to the strong perceptions of sectarianism in Scotland, there is evidence to show that personal experiences of it are relatively uncommon in terms of harassment, discrimination and criminal victimisation. Over recent years the SCJS has reported relatively low levels of sectarian crime. In 2008/09 1% of crimes were thought to be motivated by sectarianism, falling to 0.5% in 2009/10. In 2010/11 it was 1% while in 2012/13 (the most recently available figure) it was again 1%. Religious hate-crime accounted for around 10% of all hate crime charges in Scotland in 2013-14 (racial hate-crime accounted for 69%) and is at its lowest level since 2009-10.’
My father-in-law was a Catholic from Donegal who met me for the first-time only months after Bloody Sunday. Once he knew I would treat him with respect, he did the same for me. My father was a committed Presbyterian, hostile to the Vatican but friends with several Catholics. At 68, I have no memory of ever directly witnessing even sectarian verbal insults far less violence though an Orange Walk did wake me up once.