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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

Guardian diarist Simon Hoggart’s “liberal” version of Bloody Sunday

The Guardian's Simon Hoggart - We are not worthy ...

Guardian diarist Simon Hoggart is a clever chap. Or at least he is clever, and actually quite funny, when he sticks to writing about what middle class English scribblers seem to excel at – jokes about bodily functions, lewd innuendo and verbal faux pas. You know transvestism and all that – chortle, tee hee as Simon Hoggart goes all Billy Bunter and Beano! on us. He is a one man Carry On team for middle class Guardian readers - their thinking man’s Les Dawson. And that’s fine as far as it goes. A bit of froth and public school gossip after a hard week can be quite entertaining.

However when Hoggart gets into political spoutery he begins to wobble and his Home Counties fangs begin to appear. Then, and it goes almost without saying, any mention of Ireland invariably sees his liberal mask slipping altogether, to lay bare a colonialist of the worse sort. Give me an unapologetic bigot any day, rather than a wheedling diarist who patronizes us with displays of his allegedly superior knowledge about Ireland (see below) rather than having the courage to admit that he bears a feral animosity towards the Irish and their cohorts.

Let us look dear readers at this feral ill will in more detail.

Paul Mackintosh Foot, writer, journalist and champion of the oppressed.

As many of you will know, the late Paul Foot was not only the finest investigative journalist of his generation, he was also a great friend of the Irish. Foot was close to death when he insisted on writing a promotional paragraph for my book A Very British Jihad. Not because he agreed entirely with my thesis that plain anti Irish and anti Catholic bigotry lay at the heart of the collusion story, but because he recognized it as an important work. There could be no higher accolade for a writer than a recommendation from Paul Foot, and if I never write another book again, I feel that a dying Paul Foot confirmed my place in the literary pantheon. Or at least our own revolutionary Aosdána.

Paul Foot died on July 18th 2004, but look at how Simon Hoggart treated Paul Foot in the days directly after his death and Paul not cold in his grave –

Simon Hoggart's Guardian diary - Saturday 24 July 2004

Like everyone who knew him, I thought Paul Foot was terrific. He was always very kind and helpful to me. I did have doubts, though, about the way he pursued anyone who disagreed with him - not agents of the repressive capitalist state, but other investigative reporters who just happened to take a different view.

Readers can read the full article here:

So within two sentences, Hoggart is dissing Foot’s name and he then goes on at some length to quote Panorama reporter John Ware who joins in the kicking game. Why? Because Paul Foot was brave enough to champion the cause of British Intelligence whistle blower Colin Wallace when the rest of the world, including John Ware, was denouncing him as a fake. Foot’s position on Wallace, of course, was finally vindicated. Indeed his destruction of John Ware (and David McKittrick’s) campaign against Wallace in the late 1980s was widely described at the time as “wholly devastating”. In 1990, the British government admitted that Wallace was indeed involved in a dirty tricks campaign called Clockwork Orange – Mrs Thatcher herself issued a Downing Street communique, which apologized to Wallace (and to parliament) for the disinformation that had occurred. Wallace, they were admitting, was at the heart of British Intelligence operations in Ireland.

So Wallace and Foot were vindicated in 1990 but here in 2004 we have Hoggart not only speaking ill of a recently deceased Paul Foot but also trying to rewrite history in favour of the establishment. There is a pattern here.

Now why do I mention this now in the early days of 2012?

Because Hoggart has played the same card yet again. This time over Bloody Sunday, where he not only once more casts a shadow on the graves of the dead but also seeks to return the narrative to a pro colonial and discredited agenda. He then rounds this off by giving incomplete and therefore potentially misleading information about a state sponsored killer gang who almost succeeded in wiping out Bernadette McAliskey and her family. All this in the name of “sifting the evidence” about Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972. Deary me.

The indisputable facts about Bloody Sunday are set out very well in Wikipedia.
Here –

viz: which 26 unarmed civil-rights protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers of the British Army. Thirteen males, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after, while the death of another man four-and-a-half months later was attributed to the injuries he received on that day. Two protesters were also injured when they were run down by army vehicles. Five of those wounded were shot in the back. The incident occurred during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march; the soldiers involved were members of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (1 Para).

Bloody Sunday - Derry. Photograph Gilles Perres

Now once again, and as most of us know, the British government has finally put its hands up over Bloody Sunday, has said that the actions of its troops were wrong and that all of the people killed and wounded were unarmed non combatants. This is also an effective admission that there had been a huge cover up over the killings.

The British government made its apology in 2010 but in praising a new book that has supposedly sifted through the evidence of the monumental Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Simon Hoggart now wants to question what he calls the Bloody Sunday “narrative”:

Here is Simon Hoggart’s version through the prism of the book he praises:

What emerges is that the tale was a great deal more murky and complicated than anyone is prepared to concede or believe. For one thing, there were many Republican gunmen roving around the place, shooting enough to convince some soldiers they were under sustained fire.

The whole article can be read here -

In other words, as far as Simon Hoggart is concerned, the British apology (delivered by Prime Minister David Cameron himself) is merely a sop to the victims families because, the truth is that the soldiers were justified in firing at unarmed civilians with their backs turned (they were running away) because these soldiers believed that they were under "sustained fire".

Never mind all the evidence that states that this “under fire” myth is precisely that. Never mind the British state’s own rejection of this myth. Never mind the well documented fact that the same units from the same parachute regiment of the British Army had shot dead and wounded scores of innocent and unarmed people in Ballymurphy, West Belfast just six months prior to Bloody Sunday. No, Simon Hoggart wants to (woundingly) refute all this. Why? Because of course when he’s not being Les Dawson and a poor man’s Barry Cryer, he rushes to his closet and dons his Colonel Blimp suit so as to sally boldly forth to rewrite the “narrative” of the Irish War from his sketch column redoubt.

In this latest contribution, he even contrives, in a narrative leap, to bowdlerize the real events surrounding the attempted assassination in 1981 of Bernadette McAliskey and her family at her home in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. Hoggart piously informs us that her life was saved by a Parachute Regiment soldier. He connects this murder bid on McAliskey with Bloody Sunday ten years previously just in case you didn’t get his message in his preceding paragraph that the Paras were more or less OK guys and that we should back off. Where did he get his script for this rubbish and how did it pass unnoticed through the Guardian's editorial process?

Bernadette McAliskey nee Devlin campaigning on the streets of Derry

Now in that same spirit of the forensic “sifting of evidence, but once again including the things Hoggart either chooses to omit, or declines to research properly, let us just observe that the Para soldier who, it is true, saved Bernadette McAliskey’s life was part of the same unit that had encircled her house BEFORE the loyalist gunmen arrived and that the killer gang sent to Bernadette’s door was directed by UFF supremo John McMichael a key “asset” for British Intelligence in the war against the Irish. Given that the elite soldiers surrounding Bernadette's house did nothing when the state directed gunmen arrived at her house, the inevitable conclusion is that they were there to mop up once the loyalist killers had done their dirty work - the traditional role of pro British killer gangs in Ireland.

My advice to Simon Hoggart is to stick to custard pies, literary festivals and ancient Goon Show jokes and may his literary limbs whither if they ever set foot on Irish issues again.

@Paul Larkin
Baile Átha Cliath 2012
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Title: Guardian diarist Simon Hoggart’s “liberal” version of Bloody Sunday
Date posted: 26 Jan '12 - 13:14
Filed under: General
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