Sep 1 1999

Minority Rule in Northern Ireland

Press and politicians let rejectionists set debate

Sinn Fein prisoner Bobby Sands (Photo: Elise Montgomery)

Establishment media claim to believe in democracy or “majority rule.” Not in Northern Ireland, it seems. There, a minority of conservatives has been able to stymie progress and practically scuttle an international agreement and a popular vote, because politicians and the press permit an intransigent few to misrepresent the facts and call the shots. A year ago last May, voters in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic approved the so-called “Good Friday agreement.” The agreement, long in coming, had been drafted by politicians who represented just about every constituency with a stake in Anglo-Irish peace. In the North, voters […]

May 1 1990

Northern Ireland From London’s Perspective

Belfast mural (photo: Ardfern/Wikimedia)

In October 1988, British Home Secretary Douglas Hurd announced a ban on broadcasting statements by members or appar­ent sympathizers of eleven political and paramilitary organizations (three of them legal). “This is not censorship,” Hurd announced. Affected journalists tried to adapt to the new conditions. Some news reports in Britain and Ireland now declare that stories have been affected by govern­ment restrictions. Silent images of for­bidden speakers appear with their words subtitled or dubbed in by an announcer. But as East German writer Christa Wolf once said, the government censor you can escape; it’s the censor in your head you have […]