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28 January 1999 Edition

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Television: Conspiracies

The Timor Conspiracies (UTV)
Prime Time (RTE)
Would You Believe (RTE)
Gleann Cheo (TnaG)
Hey Ronnie Reagan, I'm black and I'm pagan,
I'm left and I'm gay and I'm free,
I'm an environmentalist, unfundamentalist,
Don't bother me

And I'm a coffee drinker... or so the myth goes of lefty types. We're sceptical of some, due to their convenient refusal to involve themselves in the national question, but many of whom, ourselves included, have followed the fortunes of South Africa, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and now East Timor - countries whose plights have attracted international campaigns against the dictators and various bad guys who readily arm and support them, usually in the guise of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and other western government types.

The coffee drinkers' hero John Pilger again came up with the goods on UTV's ``The Timor Conspiracy'', exposing the ongoing Indonesian occupation of East Timor, its genocide against its people and the issues that surround it, namely the connivance and compliance of the US, Australian and British governments in the slaughter of 200,000 civilians since the Indonesian invasion of 1975, which was aided and abetted by the West.

Indonesia was described by Nixon as ``the greatest prize in South East Asia'' with huge oil reserves and consequrntly General Suharto's military regime was welcomed with open arms into the West.

Western intelligence were at all times aware of the invasion, which can only be compared with the efforts of Pol Pot of Cambodia, and arms assistance from the USA was doubled in 1976.

The terror inflicted on the Timorese over the last twenty years - murder, torture, rape, disappearances etc has only been made possible by the silence and complicity of hypocritical Western governments.

While Margaret Thatcher refused to speak to our hunger strikers ``crime is crime'' she increased the huge amounts of arms sales to Indonesia, at the height of the genocide.

While John Major urged governments not to deal with ``terrorists'' he clinched a £1 billion arms deal with Suharto.

The Dille Massacre, which was a larger version of ``Bloody Sunday'', was described by Australian Ministers as an ``aberration'' while their government were given access to Timorese oil reserves.

Despite the fall of Suharto, the occupation continues, with the UN and Western powers showing little interest in the plight of East Timor which was described as ``expendable''.

So-called New Labour, while preaching on ethical foreign policy, have increased arms supplies to Indonesia with 64 contracts drawn up in 1998.

And they call us ``terrorists''!

Another favourite of ours, Fianna Fáil, are currently under pressure and under the spotlight on RTE's ``Primetime'' for their own shady dealings with men with brown envelopes.

Founded as the Republican Party and the party of the small farmer they were about as republican as the neighbour's cat and the small farmer is dying a rapid death.

They were never too policy-orientated or strong on ideals, their U turns including health cuts of the 80s and neutrality among others, although they would defend themselves as pragmatists, moving with the changing times.

Their strength has always been in their organisation at grassroot level, and some of their politicians have been highly effective at local level, particularly in clientelism - it was common practice at home for local Fianna Fáilers to have the local council footpath extended to their house or their sons placed in local employment strongholds.

Their republicanism has for long been a joke, most notably the great opportunist De Valera's jailing of many of his ex-comrades in the Second World War in the Curragh, Haughey's treatment of the H-Block hunger strikers and Ray Burke's Extradition Act.

A colleague once recalled how a local Fianna Fáil candidate, when questioned by a posse of local Shinners why they should vote for him, replied, ``sure you lads and us are all the same, it's just you take it a little more serious''.

Bertie Ahern has been their most recent shining jewel, with his affable personality, somehow managing to be closely allied with the fallen Haughey and Burke and the soon to be fallen Flynnstone, but never being associated with their murkier dealings.

His presentation on Prime Time was a valiant attempt to extract himself from the mire, but if the mud continues to fly, it will soon begin to stick, but then again who wants John Bruton to be given responsibility for the peace process?

Those other stalwarts of the Free State, ``An Garda Shickaloney'', were yet again being given a hard time on TnaG's newest comedy ``Gleann Cheo'' which portrays (unfairly do I hear you say?) the boys in blue as conmen who drive Ford Cortinas, rusty boneshakers, sell sheep, eat Kit Kats, draw the dole, fall over each other as the bad boys get away, rent out the cells to unsuspecting Yanks, poison them with poitín, bury dead chickens, fiddle electricity meters, dump bodies in the bog, drink after hours, rustle sheep and drink `till dawn. And I thought they just harrassed republicans. Tune in.

On a more sombre note, RTE's ``Would You Believe'' was a brave and honest attempt to address the thorny issue of Suicide, which we have yet to address in this country.

Increased pressures in today's society, where success is measured in terms of finance, status and position in society, have added to the strain as have the decrease in communities as Ireland becomes a more individual-based society in Celtic Tiger days.

Our macho male culture, where men are not supposed to cry, or discuss their problems, beyond ten pints in the pub, has been another factor in th increased suicide rate, which is now one of the primary killers in Ireland among young men, particularly on the west coast, where some have even opined the continous grey skies and rain haven't helped.

The three individuals in this feature all discussed their backrounds, reasons for taking and most difficult their recovery.

Less TV and more talk please?

By Sean O Donaile

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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