Sunday 25 February 2018

Illuminating tale of two politicians

Both Iris Robinson and Brian Lenihan are battling illness, but our attitude to them is markedly different, says Carol Hunt

TWO politicians. Both seriously ill. They suffer having their personal tragedies ruthlessly exposed on television. But while one TV station is excoriated for intruding into a person's private life, the other is lauded. While one ill person receives support and consolation, the other is pilloried and ridiculed. While one is allowed to continue working as long as they feel physically able, the other is informed in no uncertain terms that their political career is over.

What's the difference? Is it just down to the fact that one is an extremely likeable character and the other not so popular? That one is male and the other is female? Or is it because one is suffering from a physical disease and the other a mental one? Whichever it is, and I suspect it may be a combination of all the above, it's a damning indictment on all of us to be so ignorantly and blatantly biased -- to be downright cruel -- in our dealings with people who are severely ill.

When I heard that the much-heralded BBC Spotlight programme about Iris Robinson was to be screened, I made the popcorn, poured a glass of wine and settled down to be gloriously entertained. What I watched was an expose about a woman who was, without a doubt, seriously ill and I felt deep guilt at having been momentarily entertained by her difficulties.

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