First up, it’s clear that Malcolm has had issues with Slugger O’Toole (or, to be more precise with Pete Baker thereof). But, then, if you invite people to be offended, what d’ye expect? Take that as your starting point, and all that follows here is sour grapes.
Second, Malcolm has a personal interest here. There is at least a strong possibility he may be rusticated from Norf Lunnen to the County Armagh for extended periods over the next while.
Third, the antecedent, eponymous Slugger O’Toole has been part of Malcolm’s experience since a pasty-faced freshman at TCD, on his walk back to a cold-water flat in Ballsbridge, encountered the Ronnie Drew Ballad Group at O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row.
Now consider this:
0 – 0 – 1 – 0 – 0 – 8 -37 – 0 – 2 – 4 – 0 – 18 – 17 – 3 – 9 -2 – 7 – 16 – 16 – 1 – 0 – 5 – 0 – 9
Those are the number of comments each the last two dozen posts have received (and that’s back to Monday morning — admittedly those numbers were collected before Malcolm was summoned to fodder). What’s more eighteen of those posts have been made by Mick Fealty, the onlie true begetter, himself.
The biggie there (37 comments since Wednesday, 22 February, at 1:29pm) is on the thread Many Catholics are questioning whether they necessarily have to be nationalist… Now there’s a matter open to dispute and definition. It might even say something of what, sadly, enthuses and engages Six Counties types. Or is the main focus for Sluggerdom.
Again, anticipating the usual, let it be understood Malcolm is an aficionado of Slugger O’Toole; and has offered hundreds of posts (some good, some … inebriated) over many years. Only a couple have run foul of the editorial process, such as it is.
Slugger has been, in so many ways, the most open, most available, least prejudiced, least partisan, least partial cyber-forum in Northern Ireland. It should, it ought, it must continue.
Apart from anything else, Mick Fealty has committed time and energy, sweat and blood to this platform. Nor is he the only one.
Clearly something has gone awry.
It could be that we are in an inter-election dip; and that temperatures and involvement will rise in due course.
It could be that the whole Northern Ireland thing is presently outside that famous “marching season”.
It could be that everyone is so content with the dispensation given us, there is little reason for discontent or dispute.
Certainly it is self-evident that the previous poison and vituperation has quietened — which is to be celebrated.
It could be that Slugger‘s Pale is too much the golf-club and garden-centre belt around Belfast (actually, these days, it stretches the length of the M1 to Dungannon). The north-west, though, still gets short shrift.
Or, it could be that Slugger‘s moment has come … and gone.
One reason might be, putting aside the excellent Brian Walker and occasional forays from one or two others, Slugger has become very, very limited in its range of topics. Even irrelevant. It once headlined itself as a place for politics and culture. Define “culture” (it seemed to be football and rugby). And compare and contrast (as they always say) politics.ie.
Malcolm very, very much hopes for a second coming, a coalition of the willing, a gathering of the All-sorts:
There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone,
There was Johnny McGurk who was scared stiff of work,
And a chap from Westmeath named Malone.
There was Slugger O’Toole who was drunk as a fool,
And fighting Bill Tracy from Dover,
And yer man Mick McCann, from the banks of the Ban
Was the skipper on the Irish Rover.