Alt Amháin - Single Article


airgead  glas  oráiste  corcra  buí  liath

Please email your comments to:

All fair comments, criticisms and praise will be posted!

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

Fintan O’Toole’s real problem with Martin McGuinness

Fintan O'Toole - Pangs of regret?

Many Cic Saor readers may be unaware that Fintan O'Toole hung up the phone in a hissy fit whilst taking part in BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show this morning. The debate was about Martin McGuinness's bid for the Irish presidency and of course , Fintan wanted to rebroadcast the message he gave in the Irish Times a few days before, stating that McGuinness was not fit for high office because he had been involved in what could be seen as war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
O’Toole’s article can be read here

Incredibly, in this morning's radio debate, O’Toole tried to argue that electing former IRB commander and post Treaty IRA leader Eamon De Valera as President was different because “Dev” never killed anyone! Dear Dear Fintan.

I’m Manchester Irish so I didn’t receive the benefits of O'Toole's kind of home based education but I clearly remember Miss Broderick telling me with a gleam in her eye that Dev helped with the gun running at Howth and led the resistance at Boland's Mill. He then of course helped to plunge the country into a vicious civil war.

Northern journalist Jude Collins was the other main speaker on the Nolan show and he has written a brilliant analysis of O'Toole's performance – “Fintan: a man of high principles and quick exits”.
This can be read here –

In fact the Irish based internet is awash with criticism of O'Toole at the minute but from the stuff I have read so far, all the bloggers and writers are missing a fundamental point about people like Fintan O'Toole. It may all boil down to guilty conscience.

Who did the intellectuals of this country back right throughout the Troubles? Was it the oppressed Catholics - a people whom the British government have now officially described as having been second class citizens in a one party state?

No, our intellectuals sided with the oppressors - the Unionists, whose voting record in the House of Commons brought tears of joy to the eyes of dictatorships the world over. In fact Fintan himself is on record as saying that the DUP never killed anyone, they never had a private army and that their violence was only verbal - Fintan actually said this and I have highlighted it before but given that the Irish Times archive now requires an outrageously high fee for access, I have placed O'Toole's article on the naughty but benign DUP below this article. (see below - "Wooing of the IRA is grotesque" – Fintan O’Toole - Tue 08 Aug 2001)

So one of the finest minds in Ireland, who in other regards, say as a drama or literary critic, is nonpareil, is telling us that De Valera never killed anybody even though he ran guns and launched a civil war and neither did the DUP who only spoke violence and didn’t have an army called "Ulster Resistance" or before that the "Ulster Protestant Volunteers".

Let me tell you, dear readers, how this metaphorical partial blindness is brought about, because I have met this syndrome many times in my life as a sailor, railway man, anti Nazi activist, journalist and writer. It happens in people who stare at the brutal reality of oppression and then do nothing, or worst then nothing because they effectively side with the oppressors and opt to demonize those who fight back by calling them fascists, gangsters, troglodyte gunmen and so on ad nauseam. O'Toole uses the term "fascistic" below to describe Sinn Féin and the IRA.

To be absolutely fair to Fintan O'Toole, he would argue that he did protest against anti catholic sectarianism and tried to bolster the middle ground but the fact is that there was no middle ground in the North and in any place where “the centre cannot hold” a side has to be taken. It is a fact that O’Toole supported the Workers Party position that clearly favoured partition and Unionism rather than militant irredentist republicanism.

Then, years down the line, the oppressor falls as all oppressors must fall and those who stood idly by must ask one simple question of themselves – Why did I fail to act?

The southern Irish media’s desperate scramble to keep McGuinness out is all about the terror felt at possibly having to admit that Sinn Féin and the IRA's cause was a just one. The extreme irony for Fintan O'Toole is that the British have already made that leap and so, incredibly, have the DUP. Only the guardians of our collective media intellect refuse to face that truth.

@Paul Larkin
Baile Átha Cliath
Mí Meán Fómhair 2011

(Fintan O'Toole's apologia for the fundamentalist DUP)

Wooing of the IRA is grotesque

Tue, Aug 07, 2001

In the Westminster elections last June, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party got a similar share of the popular vote. In terms of the mandate each possesses, the two parties are virtually equal. In terms of the place they occupy on the political spectrum, each can claim to be the hard edge of one side of the sectarian divide.
Yet Sinn Fein is seen as crucial to the peace process while the DUP is almost ignored. Everyone wants to know what Sinn Fein thinks of the peace package put forward by the Irish and British governments. Except for journalists going through the motions of gathering quotes, no one really gives a damn what the DUP thinks. Why?
One answer is that Sinn Fein is more politically astute than the DUP. In shaping the political agenda the former is proactive, the latter reactive. Another answer, of course, is that Sinn Fein is pro-agreement and the DUP anti-agreement, therefore placing one within the bounds of the new British-Irish consensus and the other beyond them. As far as they go, these are accurate answers. They are also subtly evasive. The issue they avoid is the obvious one. Sinn Fein is inextricably linked to a private army. The DUP, for all its scurrilous silences and venomous ambiguities, is not.
Ian Paisley's influence on events over the last 40 years has been almost entirely malign? He has constructed and sustained a sectarian mind-set that is one of the conditions of the conflict. His apocalyptic language has poisoned the atmosphere? Neither has he ever addressed the murderous intimidation of the Catholic community with even a minimally adequate sense of urgency.
Yet the unsettling reality of the current political situation is that if Paisley had followed through on the implications of his rhetoric, he would now be an object of tender consideration on the part of two sovereign governments? If he had a private army behind him, if DUP annual conference s had gone into private session to hear from men in balaclavas, if the party newsletter had carried columns of "war news" extolling the deeds of bombers and snipers, we would all now be waiting to hear his considered views on proposals from two democratic States? 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.
This is the grotesque situation in which we find ourselves? The very success of the strategy of wooing the so-called republican movement into democratic politics has created a new kind of distortion? In this supposed era of openness, accountability and transparency, the clear democratic wishes of the peoples North and South depend on the whims of a secret, unelected, unaccountable cabal known as the army council of the IRA. Democracy has bent over backwards so far that it is in imminent danger of disappearing up its own behind.

The respect accorded to this cabal is such that the image implied in much commentary is a gathering of sages like the council of Jedi knights in a Star Wars film. It is conveniently forgotten that these are people who continue to claim two rights that most sovereign governments have repudiated under international law: the right to torture their subjects and the right to send their own citizens into exile.
A recent report by University of Ulster academics Prof Colin Knox and Dr Rachel Monaghan found that "punishment" beatings and shootings had increased both in frequency and in viciousness since the Provisional IRA and loyalist ceasefires of 1994, and that expulsions of individuals from the North by the paramilitaries were also rising. The authors accused the British government of turning a blind eye to these attacks.

Behind the innocuous phrase "punishment beating" is a systematic torture campaign aimed not merely at petty criminals but at anyone seen as a threat to paramilitary control of certain areas? A recent interview in The Irish Times with Dr Richard Nicholas of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast gives a flavour of the damage done: shattered bones, nerves so badly damaged that permanent paralysis results, major blood vessels so badly affected that a limb has to be amputated.

Even where guns are not used, the results can be just as bad? Beatings with sticks embedded with nails or the dropping of breeze-blocks on hands and feet do devastating harm? The young man Dr Nicholas treated, who had been nailed to the floor before he was beaten with baseball bats, would probably have regarded a good clean shooting as a favour? Any government using these practices would be regarded as an international pariah. But an army council that continues to sanction them expects praise, respect and an effective veto over the political process.

This is the price that Irish democracy has had to pay for peace.So far, in spite of everything, it has been right to hold our noses and pay up. But how long can the patience, goodwill and generosity of the democratic system be turned back on itself before that system has to reassert its own basic values? Giving time and space for the Republican movement to wean itself away from the fascistic thrills of militarism is one thing. Following it slavishly as it dangles a few guns in front of our noses is quite another. If democracy loses its self-respect, it will certainly not be respected by those who have so long held it in contempt.

The Irish Times
No comments yet:


Comments must be approved before being published.

Meta Information:

Title: Fintan O’Toole’s real problem with Martin McGuinness
Date posted: 21 Sep '11 - 22:04
Filed under: General
Next entry:  » The Irish Times removes my comment on Eoghan Harris
Previous entry:  « The Guardian continues its “battle” with Sinn Féin

Baile - Home