On 2 July, an article ran in the Sunday Times which was, simply, a lie. In a desperate attempt to block the construction of a road which has already been agreed democratically and accepted legally, environmentalists placed an article suggesting the Conservative-DUP deal meant a road was to be built through “Heaney Country”. This is utter nonsense.
Firstly, the deal has nothing to do with the A6 road at that location whatsoever. Construction of that road was agreed democratically in 2007, funded democratically from 2015, and confirmed legally earlier this year. The deal came after construction started, based on decisions by Executive Ministers, and had and has absolutely nothing to do with the UK Government. The whole premise of the article was false – based on a lie by environmentalists.
Secondly, separately from the Deal, there is an appeal against the legal decision allowing construction to proceed which is, publicly at least, about wildlife (whooper swans, specifically). Yet the article was about “Heaney Country”, an issue irrelevant to that appeal which has long sense been dealt with. So the article had not even attempted to deal with any of the actual current issues.
Thirdly, the Deal may or may not have an impact on the potential construction of an expressway from Derry to Dungiven, which also happens to be part of the A6 but 40 miles to the west of “Heaney Country”. Did no one check this?
Add this to the ludicrous level of coverage being given to a Green candidate mounting a “legal challenge” to the Conservative-DUP deal (to the outcome of a democratic election, in other words), and we see how some environmentalists are in fact fundamentally opposed to representative democracy. If coverage must be given to them, it should be to challenge them on that basic point. Fundamentally, democracy requires us to accept decisions we don’t like. Loyalists were (rightly) mocked for refusing to accept the outcome of a democratic vote in Council in 2012. Why are environmentalists not challenged, and indeed even mocked, on the same basis?
This type of article (and the broad refusal to apply the same basic democratic rules to everyone) gives journalism an appalling name – it is shoddy beyond belief. Most of all, however, it confirms absolutely that “fake news” is by no means confined to the alt-right. Here are environmentalists delivering fakery in a big way, being deliberately deceptive. In fact, as “fake news” goes, this was as fake as I have ever seen. It should be challenged, not promoted.