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30 January 1997 Edition

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Paisley's zealous humbug

By Dennis Cooke
Published by Brandon

The author is a Methodist theologian and has produced a highly literate and intellectual analysis of Paisley's religious and political antics from early days.

The book is superbly well-written, and is therefore a fascinating read. The ranting, roaring malevolence of Paisley's uninhibited sectarianism is here reduced to its basic humbug.

Dr Cooke traces Paisley's career from the time he first emerged as an anti-Catholic demogogue. He examines his exclusive, fundamentalist and separatist doctrines, and demolishes them with references to Christian scriptures.

Paisley, the political manipulator, is also adept at manipulating Bible texts to suit himself.

It is observed that he clearly had his mind set on a political career from early on, and when the author proceeds to Paisley's emergence in politics, he omits none of the scandalous episodes - nor the shabby examples of unscrupulous opportunism and political twistery.

His responsibility for inciting the Divis Street riots in 1964, for instance. And his posturing as the leader of armed bands at various times, only to abandon his followers when things got uncomfortable.

Dr Cooke's view of political matters generally is from a slightly different perspective than my own, and I would not see eye-to-eye with him in some of his interpretations.

He sees Paisleyism as having its roots ``in the ethnic and religious aspects of Irish history.'' It may have, indeed, to some degree, but I am inclined to view the Paisley phenomenon of today as the special product of the creation of the Six Counties as a sectarian state, which institutionalised anti-Catholic sectarianism as the intrinsic ``ethos'' of modern Ulster Unionism.

However, it would be captious to find any fault with his book merely on account of a differing approach. This is a thoroughly competent work. When it comes out in paperback it will be a must for anyone interested in knowing all about Paisleyism.


Soldier, sailor, thinker, scribe

Liam O'Flaherty's Ireland

By Peter Costello

Published by Wolfhound Press

Price £19.99 (HB)

In Ireland there is a tendency to do ourselves down, an inferiority complex, a hang-up maybe from the colonial/imperialist days of `croppy lie down'. The achievements of Irishmen and women have in the past been glossed over, lost amongst the `British' sports figures, inventors, adventurers and authors.

In relation of writers - the education systems both north and south contributed to this amonymity with their greater emphasis on non-Irish authors and poets. Censorship in the 1930s, `40s and `50s also played a large part, but today there is no excuse. The achievements of Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane, Roddy Doyle, Maeve Binchy, and others are a statement that that inferiority complex is at last being put behind us.

Wolfhound Press is doing an excellent job of ensuring the achievements of another great Irish figure are not forgotten. Born 100 years ago on the wind-swept Aran Islands, Liam O'Flaherty lived as colourful, adventurous, and fulfilling a life as one would wish.

Peter Costello presents in a short biographical sketch the story of his life interspaced with excerpts from some of his writings.

The little nuggets of information provided have you ar bís for a fuller biography of this great writer of English and Irish.

The story of Lucht na Tincans (The Tin Can Party); the preparations for priesthood; the Blackrock College Volunteer company he formed in 1913; his period in the Irish Guards; his wanderings around the world; his chairmanship of the Council for the Unemployed, and their occupation of the Rotunda in Dublin prior to the Civil War; his founding of the Communist Party of Ireland; his short role in the Civil War; his anti-WB Yeats Radical Club; his banning from Franco's Spain and his flirtation with Fianna Fáil. And they are but one side of his writer's life.

Much of his life experiences make their way into the pages of his many novels, short stories, poems, play, and film scripts. His treatment at the hands of the Irish Censorship Board says a lot about the control exerted by the church and others whom O'Flaherty sought to expose. Similar to the playwright Sean O'Casey, O'Flaherty had no sacred cows; warts and all were exposed in an era where conservatism was to the fore. Republicans were often at the receiving end of his wit, his sarcasm or his blunt and frank words.

The only thing which takes away from this book is that it is aimed at the tourist market - a coffee table book. Some of the photographs and the accompanying captions are silly in the extreme and do a disservice to the book. A future edition should also include an index.

By Deirdre Nic an tSaoir

Raising awareness

Our children, drugs, alcohol and solvents.
Liam Adams
Price £1
Evidence of community-based commitment to raising awareness about drug use and misuse comes in this small pamphlet, produced by Dundalk-based Muirhevnamor Community Youth Project.

Liam Adams, a voluntary youth worker, introduces the reader to the issues linking youth and drugs and describes the commonest drugs available, from alcohol to heroin, and their likely effects.

Proceeds from the pamphlet go back into the local `Community House'. It can be obtained from MCYP, The House, 29 Grange Drive, Muirhevnamor, Dundalk, County Louth.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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