Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Jude Collins' comments totally out of order

Jude Collins
Jude Collins

Editor's Viewpoint

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long was totally correct in shaming blogger and commentator Jude Collins for his disgraceful comments about her appearance. He drew attention to her weight and speculated that it could be the result of a health problem after she went on a television politics show following her party's annual conference at the weekend.

He was forced to apologise and withdraw the offending paragraph from his commentary after Mrs Long accused him of misogyny and told him he had no right to draw conclusions about her health.

She was supported in Collins' own words by a multitude of people who contacted him to say how obnoxious his comments were. As a man who has courted controversy in his blogs and newspaper and radio commentaries, he could not have failed to recognise his comments were beyond the pale while writing them.

His was the language of a troll rather than that of anyone with an intellectual point to make. His observations on Mrs Long's weight had no relevance to the political discourse she was engaged in.

This newspaper like any other responsible media outlet defends the right of free speech but it must be accompanied by a sense of responsibility rather than a distastefully constructed slur on a woman's appearance. Having made the comment in the first place many will wonder at the sincerity of his apology.

He has form in offending people who have suffered grievously at the hands of terrorists. He queried whether the death of Mary Travers could be called murder because it resulted in a botched IRA attempt to kill her magistrate father, Tom, as they walked home from Mass in Belfast in 1984.

On the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing - the worst atrocity of the Troubles - he was similarly pedantic in claiming those 29 deaths should not be classified as murder because the dissident republicans who planted the bomb got its location wrong in their warning. His logic was that they didn't mean to kill.

He argued in another commentary that Patsy Gillespie, the Londonderry man chained to a lorry bomb and blown to bits by remote control, should have expected to be an IRA target because he worked in an Army base.

None of the backlash to each of the above seems to have instilled any sense of responsibility in him and his comments now have lost all validity.

Belfast Telegraph

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