Without as much as a red face the BBC announced it was “troubled” by technical gremlins in its attempts to show Scotland how well Scotland’s First Minister was received by the Irish Government in her two-day visit to the Republic.
The ‘gremlin’ in question will have been a call from a Downing Street official to MI6 to pull the plug. It’s the same process that saw the highly successful Outlander drama series blocked from UK transmission. “We dare not get the natives restless.”
Don’t kill news, just delay it
Will a BBC employee break ranks and admit government interference? It can happen, has happened in the past, when Special Branch demanded documentary tapes of a spy satellite be handed over to them, a documentary recorded by a BBC Scotland team. (After a token skirmish, they were handed over.) With the internet able to get reports of events to people almost as they are in progress, quicker than newspapers or television, why bother strangling news?
The intention is not to block it entirely, but to delay it so that when an ‘approved’ edited version is shown it appears old, stale news. Its impact is thereby diminished.
Readers might like to do as I do, stop listening to ‘Call Kaye’ on BBC Radio Scotland – it only induces heart palpitations – with its never-ending array of extremist right-wing bigots, hot under the collar SNP supporters hoping common sense wins the day, and a line of terribly English-speaking experts leaving listeners with the impression Scotland has none of its own.
Tune into Irish Radio.
Tune into RTE 1 or 2. RTE 1 has the most news and discussion on current affairs.
The Irish take a quite different line on Scottish affairs from the British mainstream media, a healthier perspective of human rights and aspirations. The quality of daily discussion is of a high order, the Irish being born to speak in Joycean grammatical paragraphs, peppered with some of the wittiest digs you’ll hear this side of the Irish Sea.
One wry observation, every Irish newspaper is devoted to the good governance and promotion of the Republic of Ireland, unlike Scotland’s newspapers that are devoted to keeping it subservient to Westminster’s agenda and interests. Scottish editions of right-wing newspapers found alternative news for their front page.
Oor Nicola’s speech
Sturgeon’s speech to the Seanad was wide ranging. She highlighted the historic, cultural, and economic links between Ireland and Scotland, both countries’ approach to asylum and refugees, and the controversial alcohol legislation and minimum unit pricing, which has been the subject of legal action in Scotland. She said that Scotland’s experiences in Europe had not been identical to Ireland.
Unsurprisingly, our good old British Special Branch controlled BBC kept the triumphant event and its nasty truth at bay from Scotland’s population. So, here are some quotations from Irish eyes and ears, with a video of her speech at the end of the essay, plus another of the Irish senators good wishes and questions to her.
The Irish Times
“There was a very touching end to Nicola Sturgeon’s morale-boosting Seanad visit. Star struck Senators fell over each other as they battled to take selfies with their famous visitor. Luckily for the frantic Senators, Sturgeon was very gracious.
Members of the Upper House didn’t stand on dignity when the Scottish first minister was leaving the chamber. As soon as she neared the exit, Senators – who stood and applauded as she passed by – began to stampede. As pressure built up from behind, the diminutive politician and her group were shot through the door like champagne corks.
In an anteroom, the politicians swarmed around their guest trying to position their phones while simultaneously elbowing colleagues out of the way. Earlier, there had been a lot of talk of gender equality and the importance of encouraging women to come into politics. It didn’t cut much ice when Sturgeon – a celebrity – arrived on the scene.
The women didn’t get a look in as the men employed vicious blocking moves around their prize. Then the Sinn Féin group moved in on her. It was all slightly mortifying. But Nicola seemed to enjoy it. Then, when the lads got their photographs they waited outside at the stairs, as if to form a guard of honour.
“Would you look at all of them, fan-girling like that,” sneered one of the lads, peering at the throng of women happily assailing their heroine. You wouldn’t catch us behaving like that, was the implication.”
“Scotland will unequivocally support an open border for Ireland in the wake of Brexit, its first minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Seanad. Ms Sturgeon, the first foreign serving head of government to address the Upper House, said the Scottish government knew and understood how vitally important it was for Ireland to maintain an open border.
Sturgeon, highlighting the challenges of the vote to leave the EU, said that if the path the UK took “turns out to be deeply damaging” to Scottish interests, its people retained an option to vote for independence. She added, Scotland will unequivocally support an open border for Ireland in the wake of Brexit.
“I accept there is a mandate for UK government to take England and Wales out of the EU but I don’t accept that there is a mandate to take any part of the UK out of the single market especially when we consider the economic consequences of such a step. To guard against very real possibility that the UK does decide to leave not just the EU but also the single market, we are exploring options that would respect the vote in Scotland and allow us to retain the benefits of the single market, not of course, instead of free trade across the United Kingdom but in addition to it.”
The Irish Examiner
“There were heaps of praise for Scotland first minister. Giddy senators gave Ms Sturgeon sustained rounds of applause, an unusual sight in the sleepy chamber. The event began with Ms Sturgeon sitting listening to the humbled senators talk about the bonds between the two nations; challenges over Brexit, and their admiration for Scotland.
She spoke about the special and “unbreakable” bonds between the Irish and the Scottish. Both share a 1,000 years of history, and there are cultural and historic links between the two. Senators faced the Cathaoirleach’s bell more than a few times for speaking over time – praise and expression of support went on and on.
Scottish reporters in the press gallery said they were “amazed” to see senators fall over themselves to pledge allegiance to Scotland’s progress, a “sister-Celt nation”.
Fianna Fáils Mark Daly said “The SNP’s nationalism is not corrosive.” The same party’s Catherine Ardagh said “Nicola Sturgeon is a role model for women politicians. Half of Ms Sturgeon’s government are women”, a point not lost on our own government chief whip, Regina Doherty.”
Denis O’Donovan noted that there is “Only 20 miles of water between our two countries”. “We are Celts with everything in common”, declared Fine Gael’s deputy leader James Reilly. The general feeling was that despite rumblings to the contrary, and a Britain greatly divided over European association, there will be no new referendum on leaving Europe.
Ms Sturgeon said she was touched by the warm expressions of affection for Scotland’s aspirations. “I will draw great strength from it in the years ahead.””
Nicola Sturgeon addresses the Irish Seanad
Irish Senators address Nicola Sturgeon