Monday, 4 July 2011

Ian McCrea: Provocative comments & the results.

I need to start by saying that the arson attack on Ian McCrea's car at his family home was, and remains, completely unjustified. Violence in response to words rarely is. Though it is important to note that whilst the act itself was unjustified, it is foolish and irresponsible to pretend that the attack was not as a direct consequence of Mr McCrea's remarks and as such, there is an element of responsibility that needs to be examined.

When Mr McCrea tweeted his desire to see his county's GAA teams beaten so as not to have to suffer the celebrations of GAA supporters in his constituency he either knew full well his comments would be hugely offensive to Nationalists or he lacks the intelligence a position such as has demands. 

In an ideal democracy, the freedom to say what you like, particular for our elected representatives is paramount to it's success. Unfortunately we are far from that. We are still in a post conflict state (for some of course, there is nothing 'post' about it) as the DUP & Sinn Fein are keen to point out when questioned over the way we operate government. It goes to follow that when making any public comments, our representatives have a duty to consider the consequences that may arise from them. 

That is not to say that Mr McCrea should keep his opinions to himself - on the contrary - if he has something he feels needs to be said then it should be said. What Mr McCrea should do however, is to frame his opinions in such a way that they do not unnecessarily (the key word) give an excuse for violence to those looking for one. As unfair on Mr McCrea as that may sound, that is the reality of being a political representative in a country that still suffers from institutionalised sectarianism and faces current and very real threats from internal terrorism. 

There were undoubtedly better ways to articulate his argument. Indeed, he tried to clarify his point (that he was worried about the financial cost to the public purse) so he himself was immediately aware that his initial comments were inadequate and thus unsatisfactory.

We have a Peace, of sorts. It is the responsibility of our politicians to keep that peace and in this instance, Mr McCrea failed and failed miserably.

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