2 March 2006 Edition
BY FRANK FARRELL
O'Tooles Jesuitical methods
Fintan O'Toole would not wish to be regarded as an ideological soulmate of his colleague, that rabid reactionary, Kevin Myers. Fintan is, after all politically correct in that liberal Irish Times-knows-best way that preaches responsible support for trade unionists, women, ethnic groups and so on - as long as such people don't do anything dangerous like actually fight for their rights.
But when it comes to the fundamental issue on this island, the national question, Fintan and Kevin are at one in their hatred of republicanism. They even share the same methodology in that they play fast and loose with facts while dressing up their arguments with an apparent depth of political and historic knowledge.
O'Toole was especially disingenous this week in an article on the recent Dublin riot, which he compared to the infamous attack on members of the Republican Congress from Belfast's Shankill at Wolfe Tone's burial place, Bodenstown in 1934. According to O'Toole that attack was an act of "feral tribalism, raw sectarianism" and "ethnic hatred" and, like O'Connell Street last weekend, revealed the ugly, sectarian reality of republicanism. But Fintan gave the game the away by mentioning, casually, that the Bodenstown attack was partly motivated by a "hatred of communism", which indicates that he knows the truth of this incident but chose to present a picture that is completely false.
The Republican movement was then going through a period of political debate in which a tendency, led by Peadar O'Donnell among others, advocated the development of class politics and gathered its supporters under the title of the Republican Congress. The IRA leadership opposed to this group. When some of its members gathered behind Republican Congress banners and attempted to lay wreaths at Wolfe Tone's grave, they were attacked physically by another section of those in attendance in what was a disgraceful episode. However, it was not a sectarian attack but an intolerant assault instigated by some supporters of the Movement who feared politics, socialist or otherwise.
What O'Toole did not say - because of "wilful ignorance", to borrow one of his own phrases from the same article - is that Congress members behind a Dublin banner were also attacked. To have mentioned the Dublin contingent, however, would have spoiled the image of "raw sectarianism" that O'Toole presented in Jesuitical device that allowing him to express his loathing of "feral" republicanism, a word that Myers, coincidentally (?), also used in his article on the subject the same day.
Both writers regularly distort modern history and ignore facts that do not back up their contentions while posturing as the most authoritative and erudite commentators. Meanwhile, Fintan has yet to take up An Phoblacht's offer to explain his silence on Pat Rabbitte's scaremongering remarks about 40 million Poles and the need for work permits. Can you imagine the sort of outraged rhetoric that O'Toole would have indulged in if Gerry Adams had been the one to make such a call?
The 'girl' from Tralee
While various politicians and media pundits recently vied with each other to condemn Mayor of Kerry Toiréasa Ferris, it was local people who reflected real public opinion about the Sinn Féin councillor.
Fine Gael's Johhny 'Porridge' O'Connor, the latest in a long line of politicians to exploit the shooting of Garda Jerry McCabe, got an early warning of people's increasing distaste at this tawdry tactic the night before his party's failed motion of no-confidence in Toiréasa.
Porridge, an entrepreneur who makes his living churning cheese, nipped into his popular, home town pub, Sheehan's in Killorglin, for a scoop or two the night before his effort to oust Mayor Ferris at Kerry County Council. Unfortunately, the pub was thronged with locals who are neither cheese-eaters nor monkeys and who are unwilling to surrender to the politics of smear and blackmail.
As Porridge tucked into his pint he tried to ignore the contemporary adaptation of popular folk songs that the clintele struck up minutes after his arrival. His face darkened and he wilted a little as they burst into a loud chorus of 'There's only one Toiréasa Ferris' and he cracked completely when the revisionist balladeers went on to sing 'Toiréasa Ferris, the girl from Tralee'.
Councillor O'Connor bolted down his pint and headed for the door, fast, as the local choir climaxed their medley with a rousing rendtition of 'Fine Gael is falling down, falling down, Eat up your porridge'! Kerryman, please copy.