First Anniversary Reflections
Deaglán de Bréadún
It nearly slipped past. Today is the first anniversary of this blog. As it happens, a young graduate student has interviewed both of us separately on the experience.
Aargh, no, not another referendum campaign (Photograph by Matt Kavanagh)
And an experience it has been. I am trying to remember what I thought it would be like and why I wanted to do it in the first place. The technical side was a bit of a mystery – and remains so to some extent!
I was initially surprised at how aggressive some comments and responses were. Someone pointed out that it was like nice, ordinary people getting behind the wheel of a car. They suddenly take on a new persona. Yet it seems to me that the comments have become more polite in recent months.
On a more positive note, many of the comments make you think and force you to re-examine and justify long-held positions and assumptions.
Perhaps the main value of a blog like this is that it can convey the atmosphere, feel, texture and colour of events in a way that a standard news report would not normally do.
There’s an informality about blogging that would never wash in print. There’s also an immediacy in terms of response that is quite stimulating.
That first post, way back on 8 July 2008, conveyed some of the things middle-level Fianna Fáil people in particular were saying about the prospects of a second referendum on Lisbon. Clearly they were very reluctant to face into another vote on the Treaty.
But looking back on it now, it was inevitable. Today, in fact, the date of the new referendum was announced – October 2nd, as we all expected. And Micheál Martin launched a second White Paper on the Treaty.
When I put it to the Minister that his opponents on this issue felt the White Paper and other aspects of the Government’s Information Campaign constituted propaganda rather than neutral fact, he responded that there was no advocacy involved. In other words, the Government isn’t calling for a Yes vote in its information material.
The referendum won’t really get going until early September, when the holidays are over and the schools are back. Without Declan Ganley of Libertas it may be a rather dull contest. Sinn Féin is indicating that it will again campaign against the Treaty but one wonders how much resources they will put into it. The last referendum didn’t have much spinoff for the party in the European and local elections.
I put it to a colleague that, with the current balance of forces, for the Yes side to lose would be the equivalent of Antrim beating Kilkenny at hurling (or Kilkenny beating Antrim at Gaelic Football).
I covered the two Nice referendums and goodness knows how many on abortion and divorce, way back when. They were never dull and, who knows, this one might generate a bit of excitement yet.