Ok, this is the third and last one of these posts (I promise!) but I draw to your attention to the BBC’s Northern Ireland site today and a posting entitled “Northern Ireland’s Big Picture.” And what, you may ask, does this reveal? Why it’s a smiling image of the President of the Republic of Ireland Mary McAleese on what is one of her numerous cross-border sallies. As part of advancing the territorial claim to Northern Ireland, McAleese will turn up at the opening of a letter if it generates favourable publicity. She has of course no constitutional position in Northern Ireland as we already have a Head of State in the shape of Her Majesty the Queen but the BBC appears to believe that tree-planting visits to primary schools by the roving McAleese is part of some “Big Picture.” I’ll say it is – it’s all part of their big picture to soften up the people of Northern Ireland into believing they are not quite British.

Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to THE BIG PICTURE.

  1. john trenchard says:

    “For example, Irish citizens were entitled to vote in UK elections long before we joined the EU.”

    John Reith | 07.04.08 – 9:06 am

    and vice versa.

    the ONLY place where British citizens will be allowed to vote on the Lisbon Treaty, will be ex-pats residing in the Irish Republic.

    ironic, eh?


  2. john trenchard says:

    ” John Reith | 07.04.08 – 2:08 pm ”

    John – theres a simpler explanation. As part of the peace agreement, nationalists living in N.I. can claim Irish citizenship, including getting an Irish passport, yet remain in N.I. and pay British taxes – once of which is of course the BBC’s license fee.

    so you have to represent those people, as they are after all contributing to the license free.

    secondly, and i need to confirm this, the rules on reporting changed for both south and north. Nowadays in the south there is a heck of a LOT more reporting on the North. And vice versa. As far as I can recollect, part of the agreement was for the media both north and south to become vastly less insular.

    i suppose there is a valid reason behind this – for the media to help with breaking down age-old sectarianism.


  3. David Vance says:

    John Trenchant,

    I am delighted that Mary McAleese is President of the Republic of Ireland, it must be very nice for her. Please do not put words into my mouth.


  4. Sarah Jane says:

    john trenchard thank you for that explanation, which seems perfectly reasonable.

    I am not sure DV will agree, but such is compromise.


  5. john trenchard says:

    “Please do not put words into my mouth.”

    i was merely pointing out something that you did not mention in your original post – that President MacAleese is actually from the North.

    maybe she just likes going back home every once and while.

    in any case, your arguments are a moot point – there are way bigger fish to fry with the Lisbon Treaty.


  6. john trenchard says:

    ” Sarah Jane | 07.04.08 – 10:02 pm |”

    not getting you BBC types off the hook yet Sarah Jane – what the BBC did with the Real IRA recently was an utter and total disgrace.

    People both north and south are still waiting for an apology.


  7. Matt says:


    “You’re talking crap”

    And you call me juvenile!

    Sticks and stones!


  8. Sarah Jane says:

    I wouldn’t expect any less john – but while DV is still new to this it’s nice that older hands are prepared to help out as he works out the quantity/quality balance.


  9. Shotgun says:

    Remember that there are two sides to this story.
    I know that Unionists argue that they have always been in the right and that “the Troubles” were none of their making.
    The illegality has been on both sides.
    As for sharing power with a foreign country – tough! Let the ballot box prevail, unless you want Gerrymandering to return.


    Well I don’t remember picking bits of bodies up and putting them in bin bags, multiple times, from Loyalist bombs. That isn’t to mention the dozens of incidents that were nearly always inspired by Republicans.

    Granted, the Loyalist gangs could be as bad when it came to criminal activity, in the main, but they were really children compared to scum like Macguiness. I interviewed him once or twice and stopped him a few times coming through Middletown, and he was a meek little lamb full of the yes sir no sirs, and always nearly cried if you gave him a hard time. But he was typical of most of his type; hard and staunch in the face of a man tied and bound ready for a good beating, chair leg through the thigh or bullet to the back of the head.

    South is foreign, North is British, simple as that, and you should dstart to accept that. You cry and whine like a bitch, or Macguiness, about the democratic process…but remind us how many times a referendum has resulted in NI not wanting to be part of the South?


  10. Matt says:


    I am neither crying nor whining.

    Move on!


  11. john trenchard says:

    ” Shotgun | 07.04.08 – 10:32 pm ”

    “Granted, the Loyalist gangs could be as bad when it came to criminal activity, in the main, but they were really children compared to scum like Macguiness”

    oh right, okay… mere children.. right. never heard of the Shankill Butchers so?

    my god. the level of historical knowledge about that sorry conflict is breathtaking.

    i’d love it you went personally up to Johnny Adair, and said to him , to his face that he was being a “child”…

    jesus wept..


  12. john trenchard says:

    for the record – i agree that McGuiness is scum. but there’s a lot of scum on the Unionist side as well.

    THAT is why we have a peace agreement.

    and anyway , it matters not a jot nowadays anyway – our masters reside in Brussels. in case you havent noticed yet.


  13. john trenchard says:

    “South is foreign, North is British,” Shotgun | 07.04.08 – 10:32 pm ”

    to be honest with you – after spending a lot of time on holiday in southern ireland, there are a lot of southern irish who agree with you.

    but with the proviso of building a big trench and tugging the entire province to somewhere northerly away from the south…


  14. David Vance says:

    John T,

    I think you make some fair points however Martin McGuinness is a self-confessed senior IRA commander who recently expressed his regret that he did not kill every British soldier in Londonderry back in 1972. He did not reveal how many he did kill however. I am no fan of the Unionist political class but I do not believe any are self-confessed terrorists. There IS a difference. McGuinness should be at the end of a noose, not at thr top of the political tree.


  15. Lance says:

    David Vance: I’ll say it is – it’s all part of their big picture to soften up the people of Northern Ireland into believing they are not quite British.
    David, I’ve told you before that in England, and indeed GB, people commonly do not make any distinction between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To them, either place is referred to simply as “Ireland”, and people from either place are referred to simply as “Irish” or “the Irish”. Don’t you remember when Mandelson was made SoS for Northern Ireland, he stood up in front of the media talking about his appointment as SoS for “Ireland” -before quickly realising his mistake and correcting himself. That is par for the course.

    Now, whether this is the result of ignorance, arrogance or plain laziness is moot. Whatever, it is a disposition and a mindset shared by the BBC.

    I see why it annoys you and why you might think the BBC must have a political agenda / reason for doing this. It may well have, in addition to the mindset that I have mentioned.

    It is simply wrong for the BBC to lump all and any news from the Republic under the heading of N Ireland news. It is wrong not only because it may get up the noses of some Northern Irish people as it fails to observe the distinction (I accept that news from the Republic will be of interest to some NI people) but because it is a category mistake and it also fails to observe proprieties vis-a vis the Republic, which does not belong to the UK, let alone come under a heading of NI. The BBC really ought not to act in such an ignorant and / or high-handed manner towards either place. It should not be beyond the wit of the BBC to put a heading on the website “News from the Republic of Ireland”. So one would think. But then again…half the people in England seem to think the Republic is in the UK! The other half has a vague notion that it might not be but couldn’t swear to its status with sufficient certainty to settle an argument in a pub!! The poor dears at the BBC probably can’t figure it all out.


  16. Lance says:

    JR: No. It’s simply a recognition that – despite what you say • Ireland is not regarded in UK law as simply ‘another foreign country’ or like ‘any other EU state’.

    There is a special relationship between the two countries enshrined in treaties, agreements and law.

    So in view of propinquity, special status & relationship, historic and recent ties and all, on the day the Taoiseach announced his sudden and shocking resignation, I seem to recall the top items on the BBC news were some celeb gossip / scandal story and something or other going on somewhere in Africa…it was quite a long way down before they deigned to refer to the news from the Republic. Why would that be? I wonder…

    By the way, you do recall the earlier meanings of “United Kingdom”, don’t you -seeing your reference to “immigration”? Oh, and GB citizens could also (pre-EEC) migrate freely to the Republic of Ireland and vote in elections there. And still can.


  17. David Vance says:


    Thanks for that contribution, I agree.


  18. Hugh says:

    john trenchard: “…the rules on reporting changed for both south and north.”

    What rules exactly? Rules that force journalists in both jurisdictions to fail to distinguish between the countries. That strikes me as a bit unlikely.

    I don’t see many arguing that news from the South shouldn’t be covered – nor even that it should be covered more than the country’s significance would suggest, given the ties between it and the UK. We’re just suggesting that it should be categorised correctly.


  19. Joel says:

    I shall not be posting again until Hillhunt is reinstated.

    Do ban someone because they disagree with you is wrong David.


  20. David Vance says:


    I have explained WHY Hillhunt was banned – and if you seek to follow him into obscurity that’s your call. Free the Hillhunt One? No.


  21. TPO says:

    I shall not be posting again until Hillhunt is reinstated.
    Joel | Homepage | 08.04.08 – 9:31 am |

    But you did post again:


  22. Joe (The Netherlands) says:


    Could I also point out that the BBC is also a disgrace when it comes to reporting on Belgium, over the last year Belgium has suffered from a political nightmare.

    The Flemish (Dutch part) and the Wallonia (French part) are turning further and further away from each other, this is due to the economical and rising nationalism of the Flemish part of Belgium…..well it is if you read Mark Mardells Europe blog.

    In reality the Flemish who are the majority of Belgians no longer wish to be under-represented in the Belgium government, whilst the French speaking part want more of the Flemish tax money, reading Mardells blog you would think that the Flemish are the bad guys and the Wallonias the good ones.

    75% of Flemish people want independence, unfortunatly the EU and the BBC think that the precendent set in Kosovo is not applicable for the Flemish people.

    Also can I point out to a previous poster that EVERYONE in mainland Europe knows that Ireland and Northern Ireland are not the same country.


  23. David Preiser (USA) says:


    You’re right. Nobody is bothering to report the details of what’s going on in Belgium. Hell, most people don’t even know about the realities of two countries pretending to be one. The last bit of news that got past the borders to the rest of the world was that they still hadn’t formed a government after six months.

    Other than that everyone is ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. Can’t let any details interfere with that sort of “One Europe, One Dream” mentality, can we? I mean, Brussels is the font of EU regulations, so the Belgians must be first in line to unite under one banner, right?. Maybe the BBC doesn’t want to scare the peasants with thoughts of instability.


  24. Lance says:

    Also can I point out to a previous poster that EVERYONE in mainland Europe knows that Ireland and Northern Ireland are not the same country.
    Joe (The Netherlands) | 08.04.08 – 6:42 pm |

    This made me laugh:

    “I work for a company in Chippenham that employs people in its Customer Relations department who have entered addresses in Dublin, Northern Ireland, and Belfast, Eire.”

    As did this:

    “My friend is a manager in a call centre. She told me the other night that one of her staff thought France was in the UK.”

    I dread to think how many don’t know where Belgium is.


  25. Joe (The Netherlands) says:


    Perhaps the reason that ALL people in Europe know that Northern Ireland and Ireland are two countries is that unlike the Labour government in England the rest of Europe believes in Education and not just media soundbites, if Ed Ball had tried to justify his 70 children in a classroom is fine in the Netherlands, people would have thought he had come straight from the local coffee shops!.

    However, thanks for the funny example !!.

    David Preiser,

    You are 100% correct with your analysis.


  26. Bryan says:

    But you did post again:…6930490/ #393229
    TPO | 08.04.08 – 6:12 pm

    Yes, I saw that as well. Joel wanted to make sure that his noble gesture would be noticed.

    There’s a powerful incongruity in someone who insists that the BBC is never biased standing firm on a matter of principle.


  27. Hugh says:

    Joe (The Netherlands): “ALL people in Europe know that Northern Ireland and Ireland are two countries”

    Really? Are you sure? When the National Geographic surveyed 18-24 year olds on their knowledge of geography, the French scored 61%. That’s well above the British with 50% but it’s hardly mind-blowing. Asked to identify 12 countries in Europe from a map, the French youths averaged 6.3. And outside Europe, let’s not consider all those US readers.

    In any case, I’m not sure whether this was the point you were making, but the result of the BBC’s policy is that if readers do know that Ireland is not part of the UK, they will naturally look for Irish stories in the Europe section, and fail to find them. If they don’t, they will be none the wiser after their visit to the BBC.

    Inform, educate and entertain: does having to guess where your Irish story is going to end up filed count as the latter?


  28. BaggieJonathan says:


    You will recall I advised you to watch out for the door hitting your backside on the way out.

    Clearly you ignored that advice and so in pain returned.

    Take more care this time as you leave.



  29. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Matt, you are the one who needs to grow up. –Irish– politicians can do whatever –Irish– people allow them to do in –Ireland–. Perhaps you are one of those terrible ‘grown-up’ people who don’t realise that this country is NOT Ireland. Well, I suppose you’ll understand it when you reach the fifth form.


  30. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    More drivel from Reith:
    “Your own resentment of • and hostility to • the Irish Republic, its President and even its news is simply not shared by most people in the UK” — and you know this because you saw it in your little crystal balls?
    We have treaties with many countries, so your idiotic comment about treaties is irrelevant.


  31. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “We all know Norn Iron will soon be a part of the Republic” – another idiot with crystal balls.