I have a confession to make. I was one of those listeners who made the Nolan show the biggest show in the country and I’ll hazard a guess if you’re reading this you did too. I hate to admit it now but I can look back and see how I helped make the big man a big hit in NI. In the past I listened most mornings particularly after I knew that a big story was coming. I’d shout at the radio and laugh at some of the inane ideas and beliefs being bandied about. And even though I disagreed with them, like a guilty pleasure I kept listening. I also have to say that when Stephen tackles a story without the naysayers he does it well and should be proud of it.
However over the past few years I began to see a pattern developing. Instead of furthering a constructive discussion where points of view were backed up with facts and rational views we began to hear voices from those with extreme views and they were becoming more prevalent and even the norm.
On LGBGT issues we had Jim Alister , Norman from Bangor and Mrs White being allowed to spout dangerous and insulting comments around the subject of homosexuality. David McNarry with his scare tactics about the ILA and Brexit. Edwina Curry pretending to be an expert on everything. Jude Collins pertaining to speak on behalf of the Nationalist/ Catholic community. Jamie Bryson ranting about just about anything that went against a liberal point of view. And in the middle Stephen setting them against each other by adding fuel to the fire with incendiary comments.
Now I don’t listen to his show on Radio 5 but I understand it is dignified and completely different in tone. Is that because the audience across the water wouldn’t switch on if it was a similar format to the NI programme?
I’m open to views from anyone who does not direct hate or intolerance to any other section of our community. I’m a liberal, I believe in live and let live if it’s not hurting anyone and I believe we need to act in a responsible manner in putting out extremist views in our fragile society. So until the show changes and starts to help the community moving forward I will not be listening to or watching Stephen Nolan.
In the light of comments on my blog
‘It’s well past time to move on’
the majority of which were favourable one comment made me think. The writer accused me of being idealistic.
What is an idealist? : someone who believes that very good things can be achieved, often when this does not seem possible…
It made me think. Was he /she right?
What I want to achieve is to leave the past behind where it belongs. It is gone, can’t be retrieved, what is done can’t be undone. We should have learned from it of course but many haven’t. We need to compensate the victims and then plan for the future. We are where we are and the present and future is what we need to concentrate on.
My ideal future is a non-sectarian society where religion is a personal matter; where we live and let live; recognising that others views are to be respected; where nationalism and loyalism and those who are neither can co -exist without sniping and harbouring suspicion of the either side; recognising each other’s aspirations and using legitimate arguments to persuade voters. And where we stop harping back to the past.
But how to get there? Looking at the current situation I see both main parties stuck in a quicksand, sinking deeper and deeper. Every taunt, every jibe and they sink a bit further. The smaller parties are on the edge and aren’t influential enough to reach the sinking parties. But then an election will come along and lo and behold voters arrive and give the two main parties a helping hand. Tribal politics wins out again.
What if we allowed the two main parties to sink and voted for those who want to live side by side and practice real politics? But hold on! The problem then is that in NI there is no way that some voters will opt for a party that doesn’t have a view on the union and so the stalemate continues.
Our only hope is that the younger generation will opt for non- sectarian politics. But then my generation had high hopes for that also. Would this mean a United Ireland or a revamped Northern Ireland secure in its own identity.? I don’t know. Personally I see myself as Northern Irish and am happy that Northern Ireland remain as part of the United Kingdom.
I don’t know what is going to happen but realise it won’t happen in my lifetime but maybe my grandchildren and the next generation will help to break this vicious cycle and the past will be just what it is the past. So, yes, I am idealistic but there’s no harm in hoping.
I realise I could have written this 20 years ago, even 10 years ago as nothing much has changed.
I am almost 69. If I am lucky I may have a few years still to go. Since I was 20 my life has been lived with the spectre of the ‘troubles ‘ hovering over me. The troubles have defined my country, my life and those of my children. I do not want them to define the lives of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have mourned with those who have lost loved ones, I have grieved for their loss. I have condemned each atrocity and hoped it would be the last. I have sat up until the wee small hours to ensure my children got home safely, listening to the hourly news in case another bomb had gone off in town. I have stood on the Ormeau Road on internment day while the city was erupting around me. I’ve lain in bed listening to the sound of gunfire and the sound of petrol bombs hitting their targets. I’ve worked in areas of Northern Ireland where it was a relief for my family to know I was home safe at the end of the day.
I’ve had enough. I no longer want to think about it. I’m sorry for those who have lost love ones. I too have lost love ones, albeit not by a terrorist hand. But loss is loss no matter how it happens. I remember them but I don’t allow their loss to dictate how I live my life. The chances of catching those who committed these horrendous crimes are rapidly diminishing. Meanwhile relatives and friends are allowing their lives to be defined waiting for justice. Well I don’t want to grieve anymore, I want to put the troubles behind me. I want to get on with my life without listening to the rhetoric that has made up our news over the last few days. I would imagine to the younger generation we might as well be referring to the atrocities of the two world wars for all this means to them. We are not allowing our young people to move on, so instead of moving on they are moving out and crossing the water. Most of them will never return.
Life is very short. You look in the mirror or you look at your grandchild and you think how did I get here so quickly. It seems like yesterday…………I would appeal to those involved in politics and those who can influence them to draw a line under the past. Both sides have been guilty of atrocities. Go back into the assembly. No red lines. Get back in. Sort out our day -to -day problems. Deal with Same Sex Marriage and ILA when you sort out health, education and compensation for those victims waiting all these years. Time is short for those on waiting lists who may die while waiting for surgery.
I know some won’t agree with my thoughts on this but you know something you get to an age where it doesn’t matter what others think. I have no intention of offending anyone. I would say to those relatives and friends of the victims, don’t let the terrorists define your life anymore. They have already taken away most of your quality of life. Live and enjoy what is left of it. I imagine your relatives would want you to be happy. Grieving has to end at some stage. Remembering a loved one doesn’t.
It was Sunday morning. The grandkids and the dog had been staying with me for almost a week but were now returned to their rightful owners. I was enjoying the peace and quiet. And then I heard it. Someone was opening the patio doors downstairs. You can tell even from upstairs that someone had slid the doors across and didn’t seem to be too worried about being heard.
Shall I lie here or get up and confront him I thought to myself. Just lie there I thought, hopefully he’ll go away. But no, suddenly there was a sound that seemed to echo up the chimney behind my headboard. It was a loud raking sound accompanied by the sound of steel upon steel. After a few minutes it stopped and I heard the cloakroom door open. I knew it was the cloakroom door because the original handle dating back to 1929 is still there and there is a distinctive noise when it opens. I heard the rustling of plastic bags. There is, by the way, an endless supply of plastic bags in our house cause I end up buying at least two every time I shop.
The door closed again and by this time I was becoming agitated but still didn’t want a confrontation. The clanging of dishes and pots and pans followed. The dishwasher was being emptied. Suddenly I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, the door opened, banging the side of the wardrobe, per usual. Well did you enjoy your ly-in? said the hubby, setting a cup of tea, a croissant and my morning tablets on the bedside table. Didn’t want to wake you, but I’ve cleaned out the fire and emptied the dishwasher while you we’re sleeping and nipped out earlier for the croissants. Great for some having a lie in, he said. You can guess what I was thinking but I said nothing.
I returned to Stormont on Tuesday evening to attend an event in aid of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Two years ago I attended the same event with my friend Olive Buckley. On that occasion Olive spoke bravely about her diagnosis of Pancreatic cancer and reinforced her attitude to dealing with it, which showed her inner strength and determination. Sadly Olive passed away in September last year and until she passed away she remained upbeat and was still dealing with issues connected to Unite for whom she had been a strong advocate.
It was encouraging to see that although Stormont is no longer a working entity a number of MLAs showed their support by turning up.
Nichola Mallon opened proceedings with the sad news that a former teacher Mrs O’Sullivan had passed away on Tuesday due to pancreatic cancer.
Mark Taylor spoke about the advances in treatments some being pioneered by the University of Ulster and Professor John Callan. Very encouraging.
We also heard Ivan McMinn talk about how it has been six years since his diagnosis but because of an early diagnosis and thanks to the expert care from Mark Taylor, he is fit and well and looking forward to the future.
Mark Taylor also acknowledged the presence of Olive Buckley’s partner Gary and how Olive’s contribution on Talkback had helped raise awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer. She also asked that Abraxane be made available in NI and this has now happened.
We miss Olive very much and hope that in the future the outcome for others will be more positive.
Thanks to Pancreatic Cancer UK for hosting the event
For more information and symptoms
Classic pancreatic cancer symptoms can include:
Painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine, itching).
Weight loss which is significant and unexplained.
Abdominal pain or discomfort which is new-onset and significant.