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7 December 2006 Edition

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Media View By Frank Farrell

Who fears to speak of Collusion?


Sometimes media  prejudice is more blatant in its omission than its commission. The findings of an Oireachtas Sub Committee Report into British collusion with loyalist assassins in the murder of 18 people on both sides of the border - perhaps the most significant and staggering finding by any official body in the last 30 years - has been met with a mute indifference that screams collaboration with and support for state sanctioned murder louder than any words this column can find.

There is more to come with the McAntee report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings imminent, a report that is likely to be even more damning and detailed than the Oireachtas report.

Yet official reports set up by such democratic bodies, set up by the state, which show that British Intelligence and the British army murdered Irish people has provoked not a whisper from a media that claims to be horrified by violence. Neither the Irish Times nor the Independent has bothered to editorialise about these acts of murder by the British state and the sensational admission that the Irish state turned a blind eye.

Nothing illustrates the double standards of those journalists and editors who have lectured republicans for infinity about political violence than their shameful silence in this matter. Such devotees of  peaceful, democratic means are opposed, not to violence but republican violence. The willful, calculating slaughter of Irish civilians by the British state and their co-operation with - actually their creation and sustenance of - loyalist murder gangs strips the sermonisers of their inexhaustible supply of angry words and indignation.

It is still difficult to credit that an Official Dáil report concedes that there was mass murder carried out by the British Military; that it was done in concert with loyalists; that it was sanctioned by the British Cabinet and that it was meekly accepted by the Fine Gael/Labour administration of the period. Republican's have always argued that this was central to the war in the North and therein lies the rub.

There is a reason for this deafening silence. It is that for nearly 40 years the Southern establishment and media peddled the British line of the British Army peacekeepers acting evenly between nationalists and unionists. Thus, the hand wringing of the Dublin media and their - not physical but social, economic and political cowardice  - in the face of a rebellion that threatened to end partition.

This report blows away all the excuses and the intellectual justification for a Southern body politic that first abandoned and then turned on its own people. The abrogation of responsibility by successive administrations in Dublin gave carte blanche to loyalists and British dirty tricks operatives to target Irish people - and murder them. Such abstention quickly and logically turned to collaboration. The media denial that now screams complicity is a natural response to the guilt that must surely follow any serious examination of the role of those in authority and with influence in the 26 counties.




Coincidentally and appropriately, a lone voice establishment voice, former Supreme Court Judge Donal Barrington, was raised in defence of the late Irish President, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. Barrington defended Ó Dálaigh against the insulting rants of Fine Gael 'historians' - Jim Duffy and Ronning Fanning - who in recent weeks added posthumous insults to those delivered by Fine Gael Ministers at the time of Ó Dálaigh's resignation in 1976.

ÓDálaigh resigned because the President's office was undermined by insults to himself by Defence Minister Paddy Donnegan and because he believed in defending the Constitution against the depredations of an extreme right-wing government that was out of control.

In a prominent Irish Times article Duffy recently explained this most fundamental period of Irish governmental history by describing Ó Dálaigh as effectively mad and someone whom nobody in the Dáil wanted as President. Incredibly, Duffy also accused Ó Dálaigh of bearing responsibility for the killing of a Garda. Fanning, who was similarly abusive in a Sunday Independent article which in he referred to the President's "fragile state of mind"

Barrington dissected Duffy's scurrilous and legally illiterate piece in a methodical article that went through the constitutional and political issues in The Irish Times last Saturday. He showed that the then Thaoiseach, Liam Cosgrave and his ministers failed to defend the Presidency against insults from Donnegan and British premier, Ted Heath. He also pointed out how the government flouted the Constitution by refusing to confer with Ó Dálaigh as provided for in Article 28 of the Constitution.

Barrington concluded by pointing out also that the insult to the President was a crucial factor in the Fianna Fáil landslide victory of 1977. The Donegan insult was a watershed for the Cosgrave administration in that it showed how Free State democracy was threatened not by the Republican Movement but by the most ardent of Free State champions - Cosgrove, Cruise O'Brien and company.

All of which begs the question - Where was Fianna Fáil when the media was allowed to be used to insult O Dálaigh, one of the few intellectuals in the 'Republican Party' and a man who took seriously the democratic values of constitutional republicanism? That it falls to a former Supreme Court judge and An Phoblacht to do so says an awful lot about our free press and Free State politics at the moment.



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