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RTE: and their obsession with Norn Iron.

Several months ago the main news on RTE radio carried an item about a man who'd been severely beaten by a group of men in some hellhole estate.

The fact that such an assault would be deemed newsworthy enough to make it as far as a main bulletin was odd enough but what compounded the skewed news values displayed in Montrose even further was the fact that this assault had taken place on the outskirts of Belfast.

What, are there not enough drunken, beatings taking place in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Tralee and practically every other town in Ireland without RTE having to go to another country? RTE's obsession with treating Northern Ireland as if it was part of the same country probably goes back to the days when the station was a nest of Stickies and subtle (not to mention frequently none-too-subtle) strategies were employed to push Republican agendas on the public.

However, since the Good Friday Agreement and the people of the Republic voting to drop the constitutional claim on the Six Counties the illusion that matters in Newry and beyond are of interest to Irish citizens is one which RTE seems disinclined to shed. After all, we rarely hear Montrose's newsreaders telling us about relatively trivial incidents in Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham yet we're somehow supposed to care about the most dysfunctional part of the United Kingdom.

And it's not as if this is a two-way street. Gangland assassinations in Dublin or drug-related shootings in Limerick don't even warrant a mention on UTV or BBC Norn Iron bulletins yet some former IRA heavies knock the crap out of someone on a Belfast or Derry estate and it's meant to be newsworthy in this state -- what a joke. Hell, even the weather forecasts on Nordie telly barely acknowledge the country on their borders but they don't mention any towns or cities by name and a couple of decades ago they didn't even show the Republic at all, leaving Northern Ireland to look like a wee island floating all by itself; which wasn't a bad idea come to think of it. I can understand RTE's personnel wanting to keep their Northern office open from the jobs point of view, and that's all well and good, but I just wish they'd stop trying to justify their existence by having trivial incidents from that godforsaken corner of the UK shoehorned into news programmes aimed at this country.