| 6.6°C Belfast

Living in Belfast altered my political stance, says Lionel Shriver


Politics: Lionel Shriver says support for the IRA didn’t make sense to her

Politics: Lionel Shriver says support for the IRA didn’t make sense to her


Politics: Lionel Shriver says support for the IRA didn’t make sense to her

Writer Lionel Shriver has revealed that her time living in Northern Ireland resulted in her becoming alienated from left wing politics and the liberal elite.

In a Quillette podcast with journalist Toby Young, the award-winning American author of We Need to Talk About Kevin - who called Belfast home for 12 years during the Troubles - said the pro-IRA position adopted by many on the left prompted her to denounce it.

"I probably broke with the conventional liberal left when I was living in Belfast," she said.

Lionel said it "never made sense" to her that there was support among liberals in both the United States and the UK for Irish republican terrorism. She added: "It was illogical. They (the IRA) were thugs. They were illiberal. They were murderers. Why are you supporting that? Living there it was not abstract, people were killed, pointlessly.

"And there were all these would-be virtuous people supporting them and it didn't make sense. I was alienated. So I've never felt the same about the left since."

She agreed with Young that describing the current political climate as authoritarianism versus libertarianism was more appropriate than using the traditional axis of left versus right.

"I've always been suspicious of these directional terms because they are not lining up with the values with which they are meant to be associated with," explained Lionel.

The author, who regularly contributes to The Spectator, outlined her estrangement from the left as she hit out at the mainstream media - along with the left - for ignoring dissenting scientific views on lockdowns.

"I think that getting around the inconvenient fact that lockdowns hugely punish those who have few resources, the left tends to talk about the fact that these people are victims of 'the virus'.

"The virus is cruelly punishing these people unduly. But that's not what is punishing them. It's not really a matter of disease... it's because of having the economy squashed.

"The punishment is coming from the cure, not from a disease."

She argued that "something has gone wrong" in journalism, insisting it a profession which now attracts activists.

Lionel also insisted that she feared that lockdowns will be the method of choice by governments to deal with future pandemics, lamenting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to impose tiers of restrictions in England as evidence of the "error of repeating a mistake".

"This cannot be allowed to be instilled as what we do when we have a contagion... and I'm worried that we're not going to get a sense of perspective on this for many years," she insisted.

"We can't take that long, and just wait for the judgment of history.

"Twenty years from now, we'll look back on this and think: 'What on earth were they thinking?'"

Belfast Telegraph