Friday, March 23, 2007


Lights, camera, now time for action...

I found tonights edition of Let's Talk on BBC NI very interesting. For those of you who missed the show it might appear online at some point, if the BBC bother to update their site that is.

The panellists were Jim Wells of the DUP, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin and, surprisingly, Pat Rabbitte of Labour (that's a bit strange, no?)

The main topics discussed were devolution obviously, Gordon Brown's financial package for the North, the pay-off, er I mean project funding given to the UPRG, and also the new movie coming out which will chronicle the life of DUP leader Ian Paisley (ooh when's it out?!)

I decided to rate the four of them on how I thought they did...

Jim Wells of the DUP - Ugh what a boring, uncharismatic, whiney little man. Look up 'lackey' in the dictionary and you'll see this guy's face staring back at you. He stated he wanted to see the North's rate of corporation tax lowered to 12.5%, which is the same rate as that of the Republic, and when it was pointed out to him by host Mark Carruthers that this would essentially mean an all-island rate of tax and that this was an example of all-island co-operation working, he pretty much threw a strop. It was hilariously childish. The last time I saw a grown man get that worked up was when I accused a friend of mine of liking a lady with more facial hair than he had. Sorry Jim, 2/5 for you.

Naomi Long - Well, it's not very difficult for Alliance members on these types of shows to come across like the voice of sanity. Think of the typical discussions as akin to a garden of old weeds that tangle you up and choke the life out of you if you go near them. Better off staying on the fence then aren't you? I thought Ms Long did OK. She didn't bowl me over or anything. 3/5.

Conor Murphy - This guy tends to come across like a cool and competent guy whenever I see him, if a little flat at the same time. Decent enough performance but nothing that would leave a lasting impression. I liked his response to the question on how Gordon Brown would do as British Prime Minister - "I look forward to the day when it becomes irrelevant who the Prime Minister is on the neighbouring island". I look forward to that day too. 3/5.

Pat Rabbitte - I like Pat Rabbitte, especially since he gave me an interview on my site a few months back. Even so, I disagree strongly with him on the UDA funding issue and was disappointed he didn't condemn the matter like everyone else. His view that the money will be closely monitored by the British government seems like wishful thinking at best. Not Pat's best performance I'm afraid. 2/5.

What struck me most about the show was how much the playing field has changed for both Sinn Féin and the DUP. It doesn't seem that long ago that Sinn Féin were the ones feeling the contempt from various sections of the media and public. The Northern Bank raid, the continued influence of the Provisional IRA, the OTR legislation, policing etc. I remember how people would roll their eyes and sigh as they gave their thoughts on why progress wasn't being made. Now the DUP are in that very position. There is a strong sense of exasperation amongst the public. They are the largest party in the North but the support for devolution is stronger than the support for their party.

Overall the programme was pretty run-of-the-mill but I found the audience's attitude towards the DUP very encouraging. As one unionist gentleman remarked, people are sick and tired of the constant fudge.

On a final note, the last question of the evening asked what the new movie based on Ian Paisley should be called. Here's my suggestion...

It's called "Shriek" and it will star Ian Paisley as an ogre who must rescue Princess Philomena (Fiona sounds too Irish) from the clutches of those nasty Republicans intent on bringing down the monarchy. Donkey will be played by Reg Empey, or, failing that, Steve Staunton.


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