Belfast Telegraph

Deluded Jude's whataboutery reaches new levels of absurdity

By Eilis O'Hanlon

There's a familiar pattern to it by now. Jude Collins says something outrageous, because he's Jude Collins. Then, when challenged, he stubbornly refuses to back down. Because he's Jude Collins.

That only makes things worse. But, of course, being Jude Collins, he just keeps on digging, until we remember that, well, it is just Jude Collins and, taking pity, decide to ignore him, the way you do when the man sitting next to you on the bus starts shouting about how the government is putting mind control chemicals in the water supply. Finally, blessed silence returns. Until the next time Jude says something stupid, when we all make the mistake of listening again.

There's always a next time.

Because he's Jude Collins.

The befuddled media commentator's latest flirtation with controversy came when he compared dissident republicans with the Boys' Brigade, on the grounds that members of the Christian youth organisation also walk in formation on certain occasions and call one another "Sergeant" and "Lance Corporal". And, er, that's it.

The Boys' Brigade was less than pleased.


At which point, Jude had two choices - concede that he'd chosen his words unwisely, or go down in flames in line with his divine mission to defend Irish nationalism and republicanism from each and every slight, however justified. Obviously, he chose the latter. He is Jude Collins, after all.

It's possible, at a stretch, to have some sympathy for him. It's one of the perils of being a professional opinionator that you will occasionally go too far and the right to be offensive is an intrinsic part of free speech.

But learning how to respond to criticism is part of the job description, too. That's one skill Jude has never mastered, mainly because he sees everything as a conspiracy against the holy green brotherhood and regards it as his duty, therefore, to defend the indefensible.

Name a children's playground after an IRA hunger striker, only to discover that most people consider that a tad inappropriate? Don't worry, Jude will be along in a moment to say the council has planted trees in memory of the UDR, so what's the difference?

Worried because People Before Profit is taking votes from Sinn Fein? Up pops Jude to have a go at them for not campaigning more strongly against partition, because, if you're Jude Collins, a united Ireland is practically all you ever think about.

He's like some half-baked local superhero. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Whataboutery Man, swooping in to every row with his Little Red Book of Historical Half-Truths.

When Terry Wogan died, he even complained that the late broadcaster hadn't done enough to highlight British misdeeds in Northern Ireland. No, seriously, that's what he said.

This is exactly how the latest row happened. By his own account, Jude was browsing on Twitter when he came across artist Brian John Spencer lamenting a picture of children at a dissident republican parade in Lurgan.

On went the cape and off Jude flew to the fray by tweeting a picture of the Boys' Brigade with the comment: "A bit like this then?"

That's classic Jude Collins. He rarely engages with the substance of an argument - in this case, that children and dissident republicanism is not a healthy mix - and, instead, tosses in some fatuous comparison that misses the point.

Later, he hit Google and came up with some dubious research proving (to his own satisfaction, if nobody else's) that the Boys' Brigade has a quasi-military ethos, while studiously ignoring the most salient difference between it and the dissidents.

Namely, that one of them kills people and the other one doesn't.

So, not "like this" at all, then - and even the "bit" that Jude chose to highlight was by far the least important detail.

Jude Collins may be good for filling a few minutes on Talkback, or The Nolan Show, in a slow news week, but trying to rationalise his increasingly odious remarks is like asking someone with Tourette's Syndrome to explain why they keep blurting out naughty words.

We already know why he does it.

It's because he's Jude Collins.

Belfast Telegraph


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