It is the standard playbook. DUP Minister does something she knows will annoy Nationalists; she acts on innocent; and the media report it for all it is worth.
It is lazy politics. But actually it is also lazy reporting. The media suggested two weeks ago that there was “controversy” about the renaming of a boat no one knew existed and no one has ever heard of. There wasn’t, for the simple reason no one was aware of it – until the media decided to create it.
What would have been the harm in simply not reporting the Agriculture Minister’s little stunt? It was in no one’s interest; it made no difference materially to anyone; it has no impact on key services such as health, education and infrastructure.
What the media should have reported was that this was a pathetic diversionary stunt from a Minister of Agriculture whose party’s stance has taken the agriculture sector in Northern Ireland to the brink of armageddon. What the media should have reported was that, should the UK proceed to leave the EU, there is no precedent for any non-EU country having tariff-free access to the Single Market for agricultural products (even Norway, which has tariff-free access for just about everything else, does not have it for agriculture). What the media should have reported is that, should Article 50 be triggered around Easter and the UK exit the EU by the next European Elections, Northern Irish farmers and fishermen will not be able to sell their products (without new trade barriers) anywhere except Great Britain – a consequence of a position the Agriculture Minister advocated.
Now there is a story – and one which will have a material impact on tens of thousands of people!
Any chance it could be reported?