10 things British journalists covering Ireland need to know (Part 2)
Hey guys. It's me again.
I'm sorry to say that I haven't noticed much of an improvement in your reporting on Ireland and Irish issues since your disastrous coverage when we repealed the Eighth Amendment.
At the time, I stayed patient, and provided you guys with a list of 10 rules to adhere to before reporting on your closest neighbour.
Granted, things have gotten a little bit better. Slowly but surely, more of you seem to be able to pronounce the word Taoiseach. You were all pleasantly unsurprised when it turned out that most of us didn't want to see Pope Francis.
And don't get me wrong. Plenty of British journalists do a great job of skewering the Brexiteers. But I'm not really talking about columnists. I'm talking about the headline writers. Sure, when Irish people see a headline like "Arlene Foster says Good Friday Agreement isn't sacrosanct," we know to dismiss it for the nonsense it is.
But when British readers that... they think: "Oh, is it not? That's handy!"
So here's a lot of ground to make up. I mean, we've only really been people in your eyes for like... 70 years? Less? So you've still got a lot to learn from us. And your politicians are not doing you any favours. So let's have another lesson.
Tip #1: No, you can't buy pints for pounds in Dublin
As soon as I heard former Brexit Secretary David Davis say that you can buy pints in Dublin using pounds to a journalist who didn't correct him... I knew that my work wasn't finished.
This isn't true. This isn't how it works. This isn't how currency works. Seriously. Go into any local English establishment and try to pay with a currency that's not your own. It won't work. And that principle applies... literally everywhere.
From this side of the Irish Sea, statements like this often seem like a very deliberate ploy to make Ireland and Great Britain seem like they would be easy to meld. As if you guys can just subsume us again. But in the case of David Davis, he might genuinely just be ignorant enough that he actually doesn't know how currency works. It would by no means shock me.
Tip #2: The Good Friday Agreement actually is kind of sacrosanct
Leader of the DUP Arlene Foster seems prepared to sell Northern Ireland down the river. Every move she makes pushes Northern Ireland moderates further towards the bosom of the Republic. She has been a force behind a hard border or No Deal, even though Northern Ireland voted to remain.
Her statements recently — that the Good Friday Agreement isn't sacrosanct — should surprise nobody. The remarkably successful peace deal which curtailed decades of bloodshed in the north was opposed by the DUP when it was signed. Despite the years of relative peace have followed it, it seems their attitude has not changed.
Sacrosanct is a very DUP word to use, but the simple fact is that the deal is copper-fastened, and would probably require a referendum in the Republic in order to change it. So good luck with that.
Tip #3: Arlene Foster does not speak on behalf of anyone
While we're on the subject of Ms. Foster, there's something else I should point out. Arlene Foster is the leader of the DUP, the party that currently props up Theresa May's government. This means that she has more power in Westminster than she does on her own soil.
Foster's DUP has failed to form an Assembly in the North for almost two years now, since January 2017, meaning that she is NOT the First Minister of Northern Ireland. When Foster purports to speak on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, she does so under false pretences. She leads no government, and her party received 29% of the vote at the last election in 2017. The DUP won exactly one seat more than Sinn Féin in that election.
Arlene Foster only speaks with authority because she knows you lot don't know any better than to correct her. Now you know.
Belfast City Council voted tonight for a people’s vote to stop Brexit. This is the largest elected body in Northern Ireland in the absence of the Asseembly & speaks for Northern Ireland at large
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) October 1, 2018
Tip #4: Solutions like 'Blockchain' are just going to make us angry
You got us into this mess, and we really have no intention of learning what the blockchain is in order to help you out of it. It would be an awful lot easier for us all if you'd just stay in the customs union and single market. And when I say "us all", I also mean you guys.
As for 'blockchain', Phillip Hammond suggested it at this weekend's Tory national conference and we just want you to know that it's never going to fly here.
Tip #5: Same deal with bridges
Look, if you want to build a bridge, be our guest, but we're not going to take care of it. We're not going to pay for it. We're not going take it for walks. That bridge will be your responsibility.
Tip #6: We will NOT be following you off the plank
Labour MP Kate Hoey suggested in the past week that Ireland might soon follow the United Kingdom into its lonely abyss.
Despite ups and downs, Ireland has largely benefited from the EU, and as the consummate emigrants we are, we like the idea of working and studying and retiring in the 27 other EU countries without too many constraints. What can we say? We like holidays.
The point is that Kate Hoey, a staunch Brexiteer, is either lying, or clueless, or both.
Who knows? Maybe Republic of Ireland may choose in the future to leave too https://t.co/NLpPmz2PiP
— Kate Hoey (@KateHoeyMP) October 1, 2018
In all seriousness, all reports show that Ireland's EU membership has overwhelming domestic support. Any English politician who speculates that Ireland could soon leave the EU may as well be telling you that there's also a chance that we'll decide to give all our ports back to Britain too.
Tip #7: We care a lot about what Brexit means for Ireland, because we are Ireland
Didn't think we had to write this one down but okay, here it goes. There appears to be the idea that by not going along with whatever you want, that the rest of the EU is being intransigent.
Here's the thing. When you voted to LEAVE the EU, we stopped needing to take you into account. You have relinquished your claim. We can sleep with whomever we want. But most importantly, we don't have to make decisions that benefit you more than they benefit us. And we never will again. And neither will our 26 Euro-mates. And you brought that on yourself.
Tip #8: Our Presidential election doesn't reeeeally matter (at least not in the way you think)
Around this time last year Iain Duncan Smith suggested that Ireland was mired in a period of political instability because we'd soon be having a presidential election.
Don't get me wrong, some of these guys running for the office are, well, they are what they are, but they're actually powerless to enact any change if they do get elected. I mean, Peter Casey might whack a few golfballs your way but beside that he can't actually do anything. He'll be busy driving himself around anyway.
Tip #9: Very few of your politicians know anything at all about Ireland
Taken all together, the previous 18 rules should actually tell you one thing: that you cannot trust your own politicians, no matter how senior, when they talk about Ireland.
I understand that this makes your job all the harder. It can't be easy to fact-check everything that comes out of every government official's mouth. Maybe there are times when you feel like you can trust them — like how best to destroy a restaurant with your mates while in your secret university club — but you cannot trust them on Ireland. Take it from us. They haven't got a clue.
Tip #10: This is awkward, but we all know that you guys have made a balls of this
This is probably the most awkward part. I know you guys have to pretend like everything is normal over there and that you have some kind of handle of things. But... we know. We've been paying attention, and it's been apparent to us for a while that you guys have totally screwed this up from top to bottom.