Friday, 31 May 2019

When is a QUB professor a 'nationalist' professor?

Yesterday I was invited on to the Talkback programme on Radio Ulster to discuss Nicola Sturgeon's call for another independence referendum in Scotland.  

The other person in the studio, apart from the presenter, William Crawley, was Colin Harvey, who is a Professor of Law at Queen's University.

I was introduced as a 'unionist analyst' and Colin was introduced as a Queen's University law professor.

I have no objection at all to being described as a 'unionist analyst' because I am a unionist.  However I did wonder why Colin was not described as a 'nationalist law professor' from Queen's.

I didn't raise the point at the start of the programme but it arose fairly naturally during the discussion in the context of some remarks he made about Scotland and the Irish Republic.  Here's the exchange:

Nelson McCausland: I listened carefully to what was said there by Colin and Colin is indeed an academic but I put in front of it the word nationalist.  He is a nationalist academic, because he is a civic nationalist.  I'm sure you'd agree with that Colin?

Colin Harvey: I have a very clear view about debates about the constitutional future of this island.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

Colin Harvey: I am an academic.

Nelson McCausland: But you are a nationalist.

William Crawley: But you want a border poll.

Colin Harvey: I've put out a rational evidence-based case why that should happen.

William Crawley: Would you campaign?  Would you champion voting for a United Ireland in the context of a border poll?

Colin Harvey: I think ultimately that the best constitutional outcome for the island of Ireland in the longer term is the unification of the island.  

It took some time and a series of questions to get there but eventually Colin Harvey confirmed that he is indeed an Irish nationalist who wants a border poll and would campaign for a United Ireland.

Now Professor Colin Harvey has previously self-identified as a 'nationalist' by signing two 'open letters' sent by 'civic nationalists' to Leo Varadkar and by his association with Think32, which promotes the 'reunification of Ireland'.  He has spoken at their events and written for their blog.

Colin Harvey was keen to say, 'I am an academic' but he is surely a 'nationalist academic'.

Fairness and transparency are values to which the BBC aspires and in the era of the 'academic activist' it is important that listeners and viewers are made aware of the particular position of  academic contributors who are also political activists.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.