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16 August 2007 Edition

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Media View

Distortions, betrayals and hype

It is a pity that Susan McKay sought to distort the March for Truth last weekend in a most contradictory Irish Times article. McKay blamed the British and Irish Governments for reneging on commitments to investigate past violence while condemning Sinn Féin for trying to do just that.
McKay is a journalist who deserves to be taken seriously as she does not normally follow the Dublin establishment line that the IRA is the same as the UDA/UVF and that the British state was some sort of benign referee. But the reality is that IRA actions were acknowledged by republicans and that IRA members had to face the full consequences of its campaign, which often included death, incarceration and the destruction of their lives in innumerable ways. However, British Army violence was often farmed out to covert groups, namely its own ‘special forces’ and loyalist murder gangs. British soldiers were protected from the consequences of their actions and their paymasters in the British Intelligence community and government carried out their dirty war while simultaneously masquerading as peaceful arbiters.
More and more evidence of the direction of unionist paramilitaries by the British emerges with each passing year, a lot of it supplied by British agents falling out with each other, government agencies and even journalists. It was deliberate loyalist policy – stated several times – to target Catholic non-combatants as a means to pressurise the nationalist community to isolate the IRA. Was this British policy also? The answer is obvious.
Republicans do not oppose or fear a truth process that is independent of the British state and to which all of the parties to the conflict could sign up for. The IRA has acknowledged its actions during the conflict. But does the British Government accept all that was done by its forces?
This question is the reason why there is such resistance to the demand for truth and the reason for the facile equation – made by McKay – between Willie Frazer and the March for Truth.
McKay’s article ended with a statement that Garret Fitgerald’s column was absent due to his holidays. Perhaps McKay was fearful that a more considered treatment of her chosen subject would provide too obvious a contrast with Fitzgerald who could himself have quite a lot to fear from a truth commission that investigated collusion between the Special Branch and the British Army, not to mention their torture and framing of republican prisoners.

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Time was when John Waters took the side of the little people against the establishment and exposed the hypocrisy of what he termed ‘Dublin 4’ and its contempt for ‘ordinary’ Irish people, including Irish nationalism. However, Waters has become a gullible victim of the very ideology he once despised and dissected with such perception. He has become so alienated by the pseudo liberalism and culture of his employers at the Irish Times, as well as their set in the older establishment that he actually believes they represent some sort of left wing formation.
Instead of adopting a radical position against this old, anti-Fianna Fáil wing of the establishment, he has fled to the far right, believing it to be the real alternative. The Sunday Independent and Eoghan Harris, his latest ideological allies, attack the Irish Times and RTÉ because they are jealous and want to replace that wing of the establishment, not because they are fundamentally different to it. On all the main issues of the day, these ostensibly different political forces are at one with each other as in the need for lower wages, attacks on the public services, the need to combat republicanism and support for Western imperialism – including Irish participation in its global incursions. The occasional difference in emphasis does not alter these fundamentals but Waters really believes that he is now somehow more radical than his paymasters.
The old John Waters would have been horrified at the suggestion that he would one day support the unionist rantings of Harris or US militarists in the Middle East. It is a genuine cause for regret that a one time champion of the kind of decent people who have been battered and abused by the state – as in the Shell to Sea campaign – has turned his back on them. This is now described by Waters, Harris and their fans as being intellectually flexible and being able to change their minds. Sorry, John, but you have actually changed sides.

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Sports journalism seems to be no exception to the ascendancy of marketing executives over objective reporting.
The Dublin-based media is in a frenzy recently over the glamour of the Dublin-Kerry tradition. Your curmudgeonly columnist admits to some confusion about this ‘tradition’. It couldn’t possibly be an All-Ireland football tradition as Kerry have walloped the Dubs in the five or so matches in which they last met and apart from two matches 30 years ago, have not lost to Dublin since the 1930s. Apparently, this rare ould tradition is based on two matches played in 1976 and 1977, they being the only two occasions that Dublin have won in nearly ten meetings in the last seven decades.
Naturally, one of these games is regarded ‘by everybody’ (Dubliners, that is) as being the ‘best ever game of football’ – 1966 Wembley has nothing on 1977 Croker. It would be nice to think that this prejudice is confined to the mainstream media....
It is indeed about time that Dublin won one of these encounters, but if they do, it will certainly not be part of the traditional run of things.
Given that the football facts do not fit the phrase, perhaps the Dublin-Kerry tradition that the provincial Dublin media refers to is the Civil War. If so, certain people in the Kingdom have been looking for a replay for quite some time.
 

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