National columnist backs UDA

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This blog quite frequently takes a pop at the Belfast Telegraph’s inimitable Gail Walker, but it’s only fair to point out that Norn Iron is far from having a monopoly on daft female columnists. One of these, who annoys my brain on a regular basis, is Carole Malone of the Sunday Mirror.

Carole has a couple of strings to her bow. One is the time-honoured resort of female columnists, which is that chest-beating about crime and immigration is all very well, but there’s no substitute for slagging off female celebrities – Carole’s normal justification is that “this little madam needs taken down a peg”. A particularly frequent tack, and I blame the late Lynda Lee Potter for this, is to give off about their weight. Carole isn’t herself what you would call svelte, but that doesn’t hold her back. The most egregious example in recent years was Carole’s rather creepy stalking of Abi Titmuss, which went on for months on end. Although Abi is a perfectly normal size, Carole would still write on an almost weekly basis about her allegedly fat arse. This is the sort of thing that gives teenage girls eating disorders.

The other profoundly irritating tic of Carole’s is her addiction to the construction “the hell”. As in, “what the hell is going on” or “who the hell does this little madam think she is” or “why the hell don’t these uppity Muslims get the hell back to their own country”. Carole seems to think that sprinkling her column liberally with “the hell”, or sometimes “damn” for variation, cements her status as outspoken and forthright. Personally, it always reminds me of the Myles na gCopaleen Catechism of Cliché.

Anyway, this week Carole writes about the widely publicised tarring and feathering incident in Taughmonagh. Now, I’m not squeamish about the odd bit of mild vigilantism, but Carole is positively enthusiastic:

Not that I’m an advocate of vigilantism, but when I saw the picture of a drug dealer who’d been tarred and feathered on the streets of Belfast, tied to a lamp post and then made to wear a sign that said “I’m a drug dealing scumbag”, it occurred to me that while the whole thing looked a bit primitive, I’m fairly sure the man in question won’t be dealing drugs in the near future.

Moreover, this type of punishment – inflicted by locals because police refused to act – is a damn sight more effective than an Asbo and a few hours’ community service.

This drug dealer now knows that if he continues to put people’s lives at risk with drugs, there ARE consequences.

When was the last time any criminal here in England had that to fear?

Now let’s leave aside the actual argument about whether this is the correct way to go about tackling the drugs problem. What interests me is the difference between a journalist who has to investigate stories, and a columnist who can get money for old rope by slagging off Abi Titmuss every week. It seems Carole’s journalistic instincts are atrophied to the point where she actually takes seriously Frankie Gallagher’s version of events.

Now here’s a pop quiz:

1. The UDA controls the Taughmonagh estate, and has done for decades. Which is more likely: that fine, upstanding citizens would carry out a tarring and feathering in defiance of the UDA, or that the UDA would carry it out and prefer not to admit to doing so in case it loses its £1.2m conflict transformation grant?

2. The UDA is up to its oxters in drug dealing. Which is more likely: that it suddenly develops a conscience about what drugs are doing to the people of Taughmonagh, or that it doesn’t want any competition cutting into its profit margins?

Answers on a postcard to Carole Malone.

10 Comments

  1. Andy Newman said,

    September 3, 2007 at 9:54 am

    The question here of course is why they felt it desirable to tar and feather?

    Over here in Britland, the more typical way of a dominant drug gang dealing with a subordinate rival would be to inform on them to the police.

    Thus removing a rival and buying good will with the police for protecting themselves as an useful source of info, who will be cut some slack.

  2. ejh said,

    September 3, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Did Ms Malone provide any information about what drug dealing the individual had actually been involved in, by the way?

    Incidentally, the last line is insane. Are there no drug dealers in England’s prisons?

    Actually I suppose the real lesson here is don’t read columnists, they are bad for your health.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

    I have no idea what drug dealing, if any, this fellow had been involved in. That was just the legend on the sign hung round his neck.

  4. ejh said,

    September 3, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Indeed. The point being that neither you nor I nor Ms Malone knows that he’d actually done anything or that they’d even got the bloke they were looking for (unless it’s completely unheard of for the UDA, I mean the “community” to get the wrong man). Which makes her use of the term “this drug dealer” as tendentious as the rest of her piece.

  5. Ciarán said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Did you read Roy Garland’s ramblings in today’s Irish News? First, he implies that the Fenians are worse because they shaved a girl’s head for talking to a Brit way back when, then goes off track a bit by reminiscing about the time he could walk up the Falls Road celebrating the Orange Order and the Ulster Covenant (either conveniently ignoring or actually being ignorant of the fact that this was a few year before those uppity táigs starting clamouring about Civil Rights, when the croppies still lay down) and then gets eventually gets back to the Taughmonagh issue by accepting Gallagher’s version without acknowledging it, then saying you can’t blame the UDA because they people in Taughmonagh did it, then saying you can’t blame Taughmonagh because you don’t live there so don’t know what the people were going through!

    Anyway, there is a larger issue here of anti-social behaviour and how to deal with it. (And by anti-social I don’t mean a few kids on a street corner having a drink, I mean the real hoods like the drug dealer above – if he even was a drug dealer.) It’s become perfectly clear that the peelers are still running ten-pound touts in Ballymurphy for instance, and these hoods are given free reign to destroy what was once a fiercely defiant republican community. And not unnaturally there are people there who wouldn’t mind seeing some vigilante justice doled out. It’s brutal, and I believe it’s ineffective, but people remember that there were little drugs in their areas when the IRA was active.

  6. Ciarán said,

    September 3, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    For that last sentence, read “people remember that there were few drugs in their areas when the IRA was active”.

  7. ejh said,

    September 3, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    I am afraid the next time I see the term “free reign” I shall have the offender tarred and feathered. This also applies to anyone who persistently misplaces apostrophes. You have been warned.

  8. Ciarán said,

    September 3, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    What’s wrong with “free reign”? Do you really prefer “free rein” that much? And I hope you’re not accusing me of misplacing apostrophes, as I happen to be well-in with a few people who enjoy regularly tarring and feathering grammar Nazis.

  9. ejh said,

    September 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    No, that part of the warning was for another regular poster here.

  10. September 4, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    […] stuck the boot into Carole Malone, it’s worth pointing out that people much nearer the action have got the Taughmonagh situation […]


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