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18 December 2008 Edition

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Fifth Column

Dido sings The Men Behind the Wire

WHEN David Mellor was made Culture Minister in Britain he was nicknamed ‘Minister for Fun’ but there’s little danger of DUP Culture Minister Gregory Campbell being called that. Now Greg the Grinch has lashed out at singer-songwriter Dido for including lyrics on her new album from the 1970s anti-internment ballad, The Men Behind the Wire.
The Daily Mail (the one at English Head Office, not its Irish colonial outpost) has led the charge, accusing Dido, who has Irish roots through her late father, of singing an “IRA rebel song” on the track Let’s Do the Things We Normally Do. The number is about a daughter sitting with her father as he lays dying and she looks back on their lives.
Gregory Campbell has joined the right-wing chorus.
“Given her Irish background, she must know [The Men Behind the Wire] was written about people who were murderers, arsonists and terrorists,” said the DUP minister, glossing over the fact that people were interned without trial, let alone charged or convicted of ‘murder, arson or terrorism’!

Internment: The facts

ONE poster on the NME music paper website (Tomsong) has helpfully included some background info from a University of Ulster resource (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/ intern/sum.htm) on the conflict for the factually-challenged Campbell and the man from the Daily Mail:
“The policy of internment had been used a number of times during Northern Ireland’s history. It was reintroduced on Monday 9 August 1971 and continued in use until Friday 5 December 1975.
“During this period a total of 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic/republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist.
“The unionist-controlled Stormont Government convinced the British Government of the need, and the advantages, of introducing internment as a means of countering rising levels of paramilitary violence. The policy proved, however, to be a disastrous mistake.
“The measure was only used against the Irish Republican Army and the Catholic community. Although loyalist paramilitaries had been responsible for some of the violence, no Protestants were arrested (the first Protestant internees were detained on 2 February 1973).
“The crucial intelligence on which the success of the operation depended was flawed and many of those arrested had to be subsequently released because THEY WERE NOT INVOLVED IN ANY PARAMILITARY ACTIVITY.” [Tomsong’s emphasis.]
“Read the history,” Tomsong adds, “and make up your own minds.”

Banned by the Beeb

THE Men Behind the Wire, like any song that didn’t toe the official British Government line on Ireland, was censored by being banned by the BBC.
That mentality lives on in the Daily Mail. The unnamed reporter targeting Dido refers to The Men Behind the Wire being penned by Paddy McGuigan, “a member of The Barleycorn folk band from the notorious Falls Road”.
Notorious?!!! Not half as notorious as being from the fascist Blackshirt-backing Daily Mail.

Touting for business

SEÁN O’CALLAGHAN, the renegade republican story teller and self-publicist who cashed in by reinventing himself as an MI5 secret agent, has been suspiciously quiet about one of his old clients. It has just been revealed that O’Callaghan pocketed £80,000 from the Omagh Victims’ Legal Fund five years ago “to assist with media and fund-raising”.
Michael Gallagher, whose son, Aiden, was among the Omagh victims, confirmed O’Callaghan’s presence for just over two years.
“I know that Seán worked for H2O solicitors firm for a period,” Michael Gallagher said, before adding curiously, “and dipped in and out of the victims’ fund.”
Dipped in and out? Was he paid or did he help himself?

Justice denied

PRESSURE of space last week prevented us from noting the death of Basil Kelly (87) – the judge who presided over the notorious Christopher Black paid perjurer case – in England after a short illness.
Kelly was given a bullet-proof vest to wear to court and round-the-clock armed SAS guards while he was in London preparing his sentencing speech to prevent his assassination by the IRA.
In 1983, Kelly sentenced 22 nationalists to sentences totaling more than 4,000 years on the word of Christopher Black. Eighteen were freed three years later when their convictions were quashed.
Appointed Attorney General in 1968, Kelly had previously been an Ulster Unionist MP in the old Stormont parliament whose institutionalised sectarian discrimination gave birth to the Civil Rights movement. So you can judge how much justice ‘Lord Justice’ Basil Kelly dispensed and how impartial he was.

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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