Of all those who devoted themselves to securing peace in the then troubled northern part of Ireland, John Hume, who has died at the age of 83, stands out as one of the greatest advocates of that cause. Even in the darkest days of sectarian bloodshed, he worked tirelessly to bring opponents together, to inch the cause of peace closer. He has passed at a time of great danger to the peace process he helped to foster.
That process is in danger because those who wield most influence in our Government were never truly invested in it in the first place. While John Major, and then Tony Blair, assisted by their opposite numbers in Dublin, urged the Nationalist and Unionist traditions of Northern Ireland to come together in peace, there were always voices out there on the political extremes ready to make capital out of nay-saying.
And that is what makes those peoples’ attempts to pay tribute to Hume’s legacy so sickening in its rank hypocrisy. Those like Michael “Oiky
” Gove, now in a position of power which should worry anyone and everyone who cares about the fabric of our democracy. Gove’s loyalty is deeply ambiguous: is it to crown and country, or is it to Rupert Murdoch?
After Taoiseach Micheál Martin had told “It is impossible to properly express the scale and significance of John Hume’s life. He was one of the towering figures of Irish public life of the last century. His vision and tenacity saved this country. We owe him and his wife Pat so much
”, Gove got out his onion and tried to sound sincere.
“The passing of John Hume is a cause for mourning across these islands. A man of great integrity and wisdom who stood against violence and for peace with courage and steadfastness
”. A man who, whisper it quietly, achieved what he did while Gove cat-called from the stands. Richard Chambers was on hand to remind him.
” he asked, quoting “Mr Gove, a former journalist, wrote a pamphlet in 2000 called Northern Ireland: the Price of Peace in which he compared the [Belfast] Agreement to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s and the condoning of the desires of paedophiles … The Scottish-born Brexit campaigner said the Agreement was a ‘rigged referendum’, a ‘mortal stain’, and ‘a humiliation of our Army, Police and Parliament’
Could the hypocrisy get worse? Sky News ensured it could, by inviting a terrorism apologist on to its paper review, as Otto English observed: “Sky News apparently had Claire Fox on last night to talk about the legacy of John Hume. No mention of the fact that Fox's Revolutionary Communist Party vociferously opposed the Good Friday agreement that is his lasting legacy
”. And cheered on the Brighton and Warrington bombings.
He added “I am no Corbyn supporter at all - but if Sky had invited him on there would have been an unholy row. Brexit people would have had a meltdown about it. But Lady Fox - long term apologist of the IRA whose party opposed the peace treaty goes on and gets a free ride
”.Jezza was on the side of peace. Claire Fox was not.
Thus was John Hume’s legacy ever so slightly diminished by the sickening hypocrisy of our political and media class. And those who provide a platform to spread that hypocrisy
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