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23 October 1997 Edition

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Television: Simple Simon!

By Sean O'Donaile

As Republicans we have become used to others inventing fantasies and tall tales about our activities - Branchmen coming to your Mammy's door to tell her you were suspected of being a member of the IRA; Evening Herald headlines about the IRA smuggling drugs and Sunday Times running tall tales about the dog and its mother being on the Army Council.

With the demise of Section 31 and the coming of the Peace Process we've begun to believe that we might get a fair hearing, but Channel 4's atrocious documentary A Great Hatred (Wednesday 15 October) brings us back to the bad old days of lies and more lies. One might argue we shouldn't give credence to these types of ``documentaries'', but unfortunately people actually believe this nonsense.

Sunday Times journalist Simon Sebag Montefiore endeavoured to link Sinn Féin with every wrongdoing in this country since its foundation, including the Limerick pogroms of 1904 and the German bombing of Belfast in 1940.

The tale of the Limerick pogroms is disturbing and indeed interesting in its own right and Montefiore could have developed this theme and looked at the problem of racism in Ireland today. Instead he chose to enforce his own prejudices and misconceptions.

In the summer of 1901 a number of Lithuanian Jews stopped in Limerick en route to America and quickly settled into local life earning money from selling blankets etc. Local Christian capitalists began to feel the pinch and enlisted the support of the local clergy who were all too willing to put an end to this ``most miserable tribe...who had wormed their way into business'' ...and needed to be ``turned out''. The lumpenproletariat were assembled, Harryville style and soon burned out the 40 or so Jewish families.

At around the same time Arthur Griffith, who would be seen as more of a Fine Gael father figure, was warning us of the ``hideous Yiddish'' ...who had ``tainted the purity of the Irish race''.

Unfortunately Montefiore forgets to remind us that Sinn Féin was in its infancy in 1904 and certainly played no part in these pogroms. Furthermore the Sinn Féin of Griffith bears no resemblance to that of Adams, whose members have a strong track record in their communities in support of travellers and refugees.

He then jumps to World War 2 and republican attempts to procure arms from Germany in 1940. He again forgets to remind us that Chamberlain had as recently as 1938 shook the hand of Hitler. Furthermore the Irish, as with most of Europe, was unaware of the terrible deeds at Auswicz and this did not come to light until 1945. Indeed many Irish supported the Germans in the same way as some of us cheered against the British in the Malvinas War of 1982. He also omits to tell us that most republicans were interned in the Curragh Concentration Camp during this time.

Poor Simon completely loses the run of himself when he enlists the expert analysis of Eoghan Harris, David Ervine, Hugh Lewsley and Joe Hendron, who finish by telling us that Protestants are being ethnically cleansed. Again Montefiore forgets that Ervine's colleagues have long been in contact with the National Front, and the Orange Order, as recently as last month, were marching with Combat 18.

Shame on Channel 4 for lumbering us with such nonsensical drivel... please spare us!

Unfortunately the current Presidential race is also becoming a throwback to McCarthyism with our old friend John Brutal leading the charge against those dastardly Northerners, who should go back to the back of the bus.

The Dublin media are currently shamelessly running with the ``who supports Gerry'' story, which is a smokescreen for anti-Northerner racism, which is still firmly implanted in the Blueshirt mentality. The Late Late Show (RTE, Friday) gave us another helping of the Famous Five with Gay Byrne setting the anti-nationalist agenda yet again.

In fairness to McAleese, she came across as the strongest of the candidates, followed by Mary Bannotti, who unfortunately is endorsed by John Bruton, and might otherwise have been a half decent proposal.

Poor Adi Roche was still listing and despite her strong stance on neutrality etc seems to be sinking after telling us she wants to turn Aras an Uachtarain into the Willy Wonka factory.

Derek Nally had taken time off from bugging phones (allegedly) and harassing Republicans to be deceived by our man Eoghan, who told him to lose weight and stop looking like a cop - how do you do that?

Dana should go back to the Eurovision - or she might get a job selling `An Phoblacht' in Derry.

Anyway, I thought Gerry Adams was already President.

On a lighter note Kilkenny supporters were telling us on First Among Equals (RTE Radio 1, Mondays) that DJ Carey should be President - he certainly is on Noreside after his hurling heroics of the summer. Carey is also a accomplished handballer and soccer player but he says ``there's more to life than hurling'' - now that wouldn't get him elected in a lot of places.

BBC ran a two-part Omnibus on The Fame and Shame of Salvador Dali on Monday and Tuesday last. Dali, the great surrealist painter and exhibitionist, died a recluse in 1989. Even when he achieved worldwide fame he was consumed by feelings of shame and inferiority. He wrote underneath a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: ``Sometimes I spit for pleasure on the portrait of my mother''.

He told the Pope he was a mystic.

He supported Fascism and later Franco.

He accused his sister of being a lesbian.

He was obsessed with castration, coprophilia, voyeurism, impotence and masturbation, which found expression in his work, and he said he liked it when his friends died. If that's what it takes to be a genius I'm happy to be a simple pleb.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
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