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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The English Tories, The Ulster Unionists and the Dublin “Intelligentsia”

Some personal friends and comrades have written separately to ask me to publicise a demonstration against the recent outrageous NAMA bail out of the banks. The demo is due to take place on Tuesday the 11th of May. I am more than happy to make my very small contribution to publicising this event but I cannot understand why senior Irish Times journalist Fintan Ó Toole has been billed as the main speaker. I explain this below.

The Enough is Enough demonstration is being organised by the Right to Work Campaign, which presumably is a Socialist Workers Party initiative, but it seems to have attracted a wider support base, from the “Unite” trade union and various left wing Teachtaí Dála (MPs) and should be applauded for that.

Sometimes a smaller and more focused group on the left can get things moving in a way larger groups cannot seem to even contemplate. The great pity is that the left can never get beyond the stage of marching together and push on to create a truly radical Popular Front based on what people need rather than what political parties need.

The Dublin demonstration has been arranged for Tuesday the 11th of May and, if I understand this correctly, people have been asked to assemble at the Gardens of Remembrance in Parnell Square at 1930 before marching to Dáil Éireann. Cic Saor readers can read more about the event here:

I fully support the idea of a “no more bailouts” protest. There really is a sense of palpable anger abroad at the sheer neck of the politicians and bankers who have weighted the odds so much in their favour - effectively asking the less well off to pay for the greed and avarice of the upper classes now that an economic slump is upon us. In urging everyone, who can to take part in the protest, I will now explain my antipathy towards Fintan O’Toole.

Fintan O’Toole – Lest we forget

Many Cic Saor readers will be aware that the Conservative party in the UK, led by David Cameron, entered into a pact with “our” Ulster Unionists for the general election which took place in Britain and in the North of Ireland yesterday. They will also be aware that unionists (whose primary allegiance is not to the British parliament but rather to the British monarch) have always maintained an openly right wing political agenda – no to gay rights, no to “pushy” women, no to an excess of democracy – in fact NO to everything – especially No To Fenians.

In more recent times, of course, when open displays of racism came to be frowned upon, the latter slogan was transformed to No To Visible Fenians- they were fine as long as they stayed in their overcrowded houses and didn’t start waving that damn Irish tricolour.

The above is, perhaps historically, understandable, given that unionists started off life in Ireland as a privileged elite that was planted in Ireland to defend the interests of the English Crown, but what is astounding is that a large number of "intellectuals" and middle class left wingers in Ireland, who would have come from a Nationalist or Catholic background, sided with these pro British ultra conservatives in the North.

In common with a large number of middle class intellectuals in Dublin, Fintan O'Toole is a perfect example of this phenomenon because throughout his reporting of the Troubles he very often acted as an apologist for unionism.

This may come as a surprise to some readers, so let us remind ourselves of exactly how Fintan O’Toole sided with the bible thumpers and Ulster Says Permanently No brigade by looking at one of his opinion pieces from 2001. This was entitled “Wooing of the IRA is grotesque” and was published in the Irish Times (our “paper of record”) on the 8th of August 2001. The article can be read at the link below and is an important historical document because it records the feelings of a weak kneed political class in Ireland, which backed the wrong side:

In the above article, O'Toole basically complains that poor Ian Paisley’s (at that time) anti peace process DUP was not being courted by the Irish or British governments because it had never engaged in violence. Yes, one of our “greatest living Irish intellectuals” made this comment. Here is the proof:

“The DUP's problem, in other words, is not that it has had an ambiguous relationship with violence, but that its violence has been merely verbal.”

Elsewhere in the article O'Toole opines that Ian Paisley never had a "private" army. The inference being that Gerry Adams did and it was for this reason that the Brits listened to Adams.

Members of the DUP's Ulster Reistance - including a youthful Peter Robinson

Now in making the statement that the DUP’s violence was “merely verbal”, O’Toole cannot be unaware of the DUP’s links to various pro British paramilitary death squads down through the years, so he is being economical with the truth.

Never mind then, that the unionists founded their Protestant state after refusing to accept the democratic wish of the whole Irish people as expressed in the election of 1918; never mind about Ian Paisley’s Ulster Protestant Volunteers (the evangelical wing of the UVF); never mind Paisley’s Ulster Resistance with their berets and military standards; or the fact that DUP members helped to run guns and bombs into Ireland from South Africa. O’Toole will not let matters of historical fact get in the way of his argument.

The Dublin 4 set - a finer class of dilettante

Fintan O Toole has been at the forefront of a political and intellectual class (centred around the Dublin petit bourgeoisie) that claimed to be radical and yet did nothing. Nothing about institutionalised sectarianism, nothing about collusion, nothing about a finely tuned system of oppression aimed with great deliberation at the weakest section of Irish society – Northern Catholics.

In fact it was worse than nothing because, to cover its shame at its own paralysis, this Dublin 4 set aped their unionist betters by using terms like “feral”, “tribal”, “fascist” to describe northern nationalists who had the temerity to upstage them by fighting back with whatever came to hand. Out of the bleak housing estates of West Belfast and Derry, out of the boglands and sparse uplands of South Armagh and Tyrone the people of no property came to take on the Empire. O’Toole calls it a “private army”, knowing full well that this is not the case. Then the British go and expose the cant in his argument by treating with the very political movement he had continually portrayed as being trogolydyte. How could the British do that to poor Fintan! Did they, the fools, not see how the Dublin intelligentsia had bent over backwards to support the status quo?

The Provos insisted that the status quo was not an option and the British agreed. That is what history will record.

Thus the article by O’Toole quoted here expresses the worst nightmare of the paralysed Irish left wing intellectual who sided with the colonial power, because by acknowledging the mandate of Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA at the negotiating table, the English realm exposed O’Toole and the rest of Dublin’s quivering classes as the political jellyfish that they are.

The organisers of next week’s Enough is Enough demonstration might reply to my criticism of O’Toole and his Sticky/West Brit constituency by pointing to his exposés of corruption within Fianna Fáil and the related banking scandal. However, my response to that would be that the greatest political and economic scandal on this island (as James Connolly predicted) has been enforced partition, and no amount of books by O’Toole about Fianna Fáil and the banks will remove the fact that both he, and the newspaper for which he writes, has been a willing advocate of anti democratic forces in Ireland, viz - Ulster Unionism

Thus, the inclusion of O'Toole as a speaker on the Enough is Enough platform is in my view a mistake on the part of the organisers.

Paul Larkin
Baile Átha Cliath
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Title: The English Tories, The Ulster Unionists and the Dublin “Intelligentsia”
Date posted: 07 May '10 - 13:47
Filed under: General
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