A flawed understanding of rights

It was interesting to hear the former finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA on the radio yesterday morning.

Tuesday, 14th November 2017, 11:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:47 am
Presseye.com 20th January 2017 Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín " Muilleoir pictured at Stormont on the RHI scandal. Photograph by Presseye/Cameron Hamilton

When asked what he and his party had held out for in negotiations, he rattled off a list of in vogue buzzwords so tedious that any rational listener could only switch off entirely.

In short Mr Ó Muilleoir, far from sounding like any reasonable, competent practitioner of politics has adopted the language of the US liberal arts professor. The term ‘social justice’ got an airing as did the equally tiresome ‘rights-based society’ and ‘equality’.

Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

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But it’s not entirely surprising. Sinn Féin have been working on an understanding of rights that is fundamentally flawed.

In a free society your rights consist of a lack of impediment to your actions. Anything that involves someone having to actively provide you with something is not a right.

This, to varying degrees, has actually been the basis of advancing societies for about a thousand years.

By any reasonable interpretation of rights, the Irish language is adequately catered for in Northern Ireland.

Nobody is standing in your way of learning it, speaking it or being educated in it.

Demanding that someone provides you with a service at a cost to others is not a reasonable demand for rights, it’s a call for coercive, intrusive, all-encompassing retrograde statist domination, regardless of the language it’s dressed up in.

Neil Wilson,

Belfast BT5