"Events, dear boy, Events"


Wow, what a start to the New Year in Northern Ireland. Everything political seems to be focussing on Robinsongate at the moment and things just seem to be getting more and more difficult.

It has also been interesting to see the explosion of interest in the social media arena. Twitter has been going on non-stop, with @eamonnmallie gaining quite few new followers due to his journalistic work on this issue. He played the suspense well before the story broke at 6pm with Peter's statement and Iris's written statement revealing what came as a bit of a shock to many. Needless to say the Spotlight programme really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

There are also numerous accounts on twitter now referring in parody to the participants of the unfolding drama, some funny, some very satirical, whilst others really flew close to the edge. The same has been happening on Facebook with a number of fan pages being created including We want Kirk McCambley on Celebrity Big Brother (190 members), The Kirk McCambley Appreciation Society (698 members), and Mass trip to the Lock Keeper's Inn to see Big Kirk McCambley (1802 members). Others are aimed at Peter Robinson, either calling for him to resign, or in support of him staying on. It actually feels strange to see people's lives so much gossiped about in a permanent (on t' interweb) way. We always seem morbidly obsessed with other people's downfalls.

Blogs, as per usual, are ten a penny on this issue (se what i did there? a bit of irony never hurt anyone).

This means that this bit of gossip has lasted much longer and reached further than normal because the normal route for this news, print and broadcast media, are no longer in exclusive control of the story.

The story, for me, broke way before 6pm when a few journalists on Facebook indicated what it was all about. Keeping things tight, whilst ensuring people get just enough information to wet appetites is getting more and more difficult. When it was known that Peter had called a press interview the twittersphere, facebook universe and the blogsphere went nuts. We love to fill in the holes in information ourselves.

The whole saga rumbles on now with the 'InterWeb' alight with speculation that Iris is being expelled from the DUP and that she will be resigning from Westminster and the Assembly early this incoming week. I had thought she may just resign from the Assembly and just not stand for Westminster. However, on learning that a Westminster by-election would not be triggered because of the closeness of the General Election, then the resignation speculation is more plausible.

This does leave Peter in a very difficult, vulnerable and lonely position. Whilst some will rally round him, i suspect some will wait and see how things pan out, while others will just simply want him to go so a new leadership team can be put in place before the General Election. All this while Policing and Justice is still rumbling on.

Apparently the Sunday papers will have more in their headlines tomorrow. More events to rock the boat?

In conclusion, i think these revelations are catching on like wildfire because of not only what it is about, but how it is being conveyed by politicos, pundits and the public themselves.

There is a certain level of direct participative democracy at work. The public are engaged and giving their opinions, without a MORI poll in sight.

But as with anything social media connected, people need to be careful in what they do and say. A Newspaper has professional journalists, with access to an editorial control process. Many with access to the social media phenomenon are not professional journalists, or have access to a third party that will say whether or not something can or should be posted.

Oh yes, and a Happy New Year.


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