Contrary to opinion, I am politically consistent
Last Wednesday, I travelled with some trepidation to take part in a panel discussion "West Belfast Talks Back" as part of Feile an Phobail, the biggest cultural festival in Europe. Not that I was worried about the Provos. As a guest of Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison, I was safer in West Belfast than in Dun Laoghaire.
The real risk was being charmed stupid by the committee. No, my real worry was wondering how a West Belfast audience would react to someone who described the community as delinquent for failing to show decent public respect when the remains of Jean McConville were brought home. And if you want an accurate account of what happened at the meeting you should check out Gerry Moriarty's concise report for Thursday's Irish Times.
But in this column I want to confine myself to what happened at the start of the meeting, when chairperson Martina Purdie innocently introduced me with a supplied potted biography which seemed to have been Googled from Phoenix. The bio made a big deal about my alleged lack of political consistency. For the benefit of a generation of green journalists who believe everything they Google, let me take a 40-year trip down memory lane as I did in West Belfast to see whether the lack of consistency charge stands up.