Politics and a sex trial have put us in the spotlight

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

These days life seems to be full of momentous events. President Trump with Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron may be ganging up to do battle against Assad, Putin and Iran over that chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta; former American President Bill Clinton was here this week trying to tell Ulster folk just how wonderful it was and how fortunate we were to have the Good Friday Agreement; then came Mary Lou McDonald wanting to ``build a united Ireland which can be a home to Arlene Foster’’. Honestly you couldn’t make it up.

The rest of us I suspect were trying to dodge the torrential rain, walk the dog, ensure there were enough chips in the fridge for the tea and, in my case, getting my ancient car ready for its MOT.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University in Belfast

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President Bill Clinton at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University in Belfast

In fact it’s quite nice to have monotonous activities to occupy us while all those so-called experts are trying to change our political mindset.

In truth I wasn’t that keen to tune into the celebrations in Belfast for the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement as I simply cannot have Tony Blair at any price - a failed politician who led the UK into one war then laid the groundwork to protect republican terrorists from long prison terms here, in fact ensuring they got ‘comfort’ letters to that effect.

What he and his cohorts agreed 20 years ago left misery, anguish and heartache for those who realised they would probably never get justice while this Agreement stands. Peace in their lifetime? Hardly.

Meanwhile Mary Lou claims she carries the `responsibility not only of protecting the GFA, but more importantly to fully realising its potential’.

She makes herself sound very important. I’m a regular traveller to the South of Ireland and honestly I can see only indifference for Mary Lou and her party. I’m always conscious of the half century of misery the South suffered when they chose to extricate themselves from British rule. It became a really cold house for Protestants many of whom fled the country.

Mary Lou writes in the Belfast Telegraph this week of how change is upon us. She writes of ‘rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people’ with sundry other promises she wouldn’t have a hope of establishing given that uniting Ireland could one day be as destabilising and difficult as it was during the break-up in the 1920s.

That is not to say it won’t happen one day but I’m certain it can’t be attempted until this generation which has suffered so much passes on. Let the Republicans have their dreams. They must understand however that their murderous attempts at uniting Ireland were hardly going to succeed at the point of a gun. Arlene Foster, with good reason, believes a united Ireland would probably mean she would have to leave the country. I’ve done my own unscientific research on the subject and there is more support for Arlene’s view than you might think.

Before the political bandwagon and all the dignitaries arrived this week, there was the momentous aftermath of the trial of rugby players Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Blane McIlroy with Rory Harrison, an extremely unsavoury trial which filled the public gallery this last facility making a nonsense of privacy for the woman involved or indeed the acquitted. In my professional career I have covered magistrates’ courts, county courts and Crown Courts and have never witnessed such a spectacle. The public’s appetite for a sex scandal clearly is undimmed. Had these ghouls no work to go too? What came after the acquittal of all four was even more mesmerising as the people clearly didn’t like the verdict venting their fury on Facebook. In another move, over 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for the players’ reinstatement. You couldn’t make it up.

And speaking of Facebook, wasn’t it interesting to see its owner Mark Zuckerberg having to face senators’ questioning on Capitol Hill over the privacy of social media users’ data? I have only ever seen him striding the globe dressed in a teeshirt – very clever people of billionaire status don’t need to dress up obviously – so it’s good to know he can still afford a suit even if he did look uncomfortable in it. Another momentous moment this week I’ll say.