Sinn Fein – language and reality

I picked up two weeks ago on the use of the term “the north”, used since then in a Department of Agriculture press statement about exporting pork “from the north to China” and, worse still, in a Department of Culture pack concerning funding applications for soccer stadiums (open, apparently, to any club based in “the North of Ireland” – phrasing which is legally dubious).

It pays to have a look through some of the older statements too. We are told, for example, that Sinn Fein wants “an end to religious discrimination” in schools – when in fact it wants admissions criteria changed in the Republic of Ireland. That, in itself, would not “end religious discrimination”, which is a feature of schools there and in Northern Ireland (a lengthy newspaper article at the time went into the ostracism felt by non-Catholic pupils of Catholic schools, even if they have been admitted).

Of course, the ultimate current example would be “Austerity is the cost of the Union”. This is not so much linguistically misleading as an outright lie. It is true that the current spending proposals contain a marginal year-on-year reduction in real terms by 2020 – so being within the UK will result in “austerity”. However, the alternatives are even worse. Public spending in Northern Ireland will still be around 17% higher than it would have been, had the UK Government adopted the same “austerity” (public spending reductions) as the Irish Government did; and public spending per head in Northern Ireland will still be much higher than in any other jurisdiction in the UK and Ireland. The alternative in the 1998 Agreement is a “United Ireland” (leaving the UK and unifying with the Republic of Ireland), which obviously (as the Irish Government has already admitted) would render the current level of public spending in Northern Ireland impossible. It would be possible to argue that “High public spending limiting economic growth is the cost of the Union” or that “Very limited austerity as against significant austerity is the advantage of the Union”, but not what Sinn Fein argues…

Language is, as ever, all important – and often deliberately misleading…

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One thought on “Sinn Fein – language and reality

  1. Playing word search and number games is the Sheldon Cooper answer to politics NI

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