23 October 1997 Edition
A great distortion
A Great Hatred (Channel 4, Wednesday 15 October) was aptly named, not because it produced any evidence of anti-Semitism on the part of Irish republicans - it didn't - but because it revealed the depth of the ``great hatred'' that the programme makers have for Irish republicans. The programme was so full of distortions, misrepresentations, lies and bigotry that I am amazed that it could be broadcast without any opposing view to give some semblance of balance.
If Channel 4 had really wished to find evidence of fascism, it should look at those opposed to the kind of left-wing republicanism represented by Sinn Féin. Those right-wing clerics who ranted against Jews in Limerick in 1904 (before Sinn Féin was even founded!) also excommunicated republicans who opposed the Treaty which established partition in 1922. Arthur Griffith, who preached anti-Semitism, also opposed republicans in the Civil War and went on to set up the precursor to Fine Gael - a party that one ``Great Hatred'' contributor, Eoghan Harris, has advised and assisted.
In the lead-up to World War 2, while Irish republicans, and IRA Volunteers like Frank Ryan in particular, went to Spain to defend democracy, republicanism and socialism alongside fellow republicans in the International Brigade, Fine Gael leader General O'Duffy established the fascist Blueshirts to assist, along with Hitler, fellow dictator General Franco.
It is true that IRA leader Russell went to Germany to try to secure the release of Frank Ryan and to try to get guns to fight Britain's occupation of Ireland. To suggest that this indicates anti-Semitism is akin to asserting that Britain supported the actions of Saddam Hussein or the Argentinean generals just because the British Government sold weapons to them. Anyway, the Officials/Workers' Party/Democratic Left, which have been supported by many contributors to ``Great Hatred'', used to claim to be more directly descended from Russell's IRA than the Provisionals who broke away because of the Stalinism of the Officials and their failure to defend nationalist areas from Loyalist and RUC killings and burnings in 1969 at the start of the Troubles. Many of those protagonists now support the ``Peace Train'' organisation, whose leader, Chris Hudson, got a standing ovation at a PUP/UVF rally in Belfast last week. The UVF (and the Orange Order, which is also advised by Eoghan Harris) have marched alongside anti-Semitic, fascist organisations like the National Front and Combat 18.
The reversal of reality in this programme was illustrated by its claim that ``Sinn Féin imposed its will'' on the Falls area of West Belfast.
How, then, are 8 of the 10 councillors elected (by secret ballot) for that area from Sinn Fein? Is it not the British Army (with the support of their apologists in ``Great Hatred'') who are imposing their will on the people of the Falls, over 80% of whom want an end to British occupation?
I suggest that Channel 4 correct this blunder by making a program which examines the right-wing, fascist connections of some of the contributors to ``Great Hatred''.
(Dr) Sean Marlow.
PS Sinn Fein does not mean Ourselves Alone - indicating exclusion of ``outsiders''- but We Ourselves, indicating the ability and the right of the Irish people to run our own affairs.
When in Rome...
``A night of shameful, inexcusable police brutality, witnessed by the whole world, on a group of innocent civilians''. The actions of this so-called civilised police force cannot, and should not, be excused. It was plain to see from the television pictures flashed across the world that the police were intent on causing injury and were not concerned about violating the human rights of those who protested their innocence.
Many politicians have called, quite rightly, for a full and thorough independent inquiry into the actions of the police on that night, but will we ever learn the truth? Will the officers who wielded those batons with such ferocity ever be brought to justice for their actions or will a cover-up ensue?
Even after the beatings the crowd were hemmed in like animals and told that they would only be let out when it was safe to do so.
When you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Stop crying Britain and get your own house in order before condemning someone else. The events outlined above took place on the Garvaghy Road on 6 July 1997, not in Rome on 11 October 1997. You showed the world that might is right so if you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen.
Garvaghy Road Resident
Following her own leader's lead, Fine Gael presidential candidate Mary Banotti has decried the Alliance Party leader's call on Mary McAleese to withdraw from the presidential race. Why, because he - like Gerry Adams - is from the Six Counties and should not intervene in 26 County elections.
Will Ms Banotti therefore criticise her own leader, John Bruton, even if only retrospectively, for launching a forthright call on northern nationalists not to vote for Sinn Féin in the elections there? Or is it the case that the role of the Six County population is to play a bit part in the inter-party rivalries of Southern politics and to be patronised mightily by people like John Bruton and his double-dealing advisors? Northeners are to be told how to vote but are not to have the temerity themselves to suggest who should be supported in Southern elections. What partitionist hypocrisy.
I think that those who recently attempted to manipulate public opinion to the extent that they set up a Fifth Column within the campaign of Derek Nally, to the ultimate benefit of Ms Banotti, have a lot to answer for. Ms Banotti on Questions and Answers attacked Mary McAleese for being a northerner. Derek Nally followed up a week later on the same programme, at the prompting of Fine Gael advisor (and Donald Duck supporter) Eoghan Harris, with an attack on Mary McAleese's role in helping to create the conditions for a new IRA ceasefire.
As a result of their activities (and as someone who has never in his life voted for a Fianna Fáil candidate) I am about to change the habit of a lifetime and give Ms McAleese my number 1 vote.
If, as we are now being told, taking documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs was a ``criminal offence'' surely those who accepted the documents, published and benefited from them should be considered accessories to the act and treated accordingly? Or does receiving and benefiting from an old lady's stolen handbag merit the tile of accessory while receiving and benefiting from the government's stolen documents does not?
In his typically self indulgent post mortem on the Connswater pantomime, David Ervine stated, ``The scenes were disgraceful and this was not the way to win friends and influence people in the United Kingdom.'' Obviously attempting to transfer a maniac who murdered a teenager in a Glasgow shopping centre in broad daylight is a much more productive venture.
Dara Uí Coigcigh.