earlier penned a piece
in defence of University College Cork's decision
to appoint and retain former republican prisoner
Feilim O'hAdmhaill as a lecturer in social policy
I tuned into a radio debate on the controversy,
Liveline presented by Joe Duffy. Noel Dolan,
the person who made the initial objection to O'hAdmhaill's
appointment, was interviewed and asked to outline
his case. What drivel he bombarded his listeners
with. His claim to some exalted status within
the world of computer technology because he knew
how to Google was instantly dismissed by the presenter.
A monkey can Google but nobody would employ one
in the computer industry. Seemingly, however,
no obstacle is placed in its way if it wants to
take part in a radio discussion.
undaunted by the spectacle of sounding ridiculous,
went on to make even more outlandish claims. How
the presenter allowed him to continue in the vein
of accusing O'hAdmhaill of participation in the
Warrington bomb, where two young English children
lost their lives, beggars belief. It was not as
if he slipped it in. He revisited the theme throughout,
spicing up his claims with each new intervention.
O'hAdmhaill was being demonised. It was an attempt
to destroy both his reputation and career.
fact checking here has been so sparse that it
served as a license enabling the initial Warrington
allegation made by Dolan to run off on stilts;
reaffirmation of the maxim that a lie is half
way around the world before truth has its boots
strapped. Newspaper reports purporting to 'link'
O'hAdhmaill to Warrington fail on every score
to show any such link. No investigative journalism
has been cited in support of the allegation. The
journalism that makes 'links' produces nothing
other than its own lazy assertion of the link.
on such vacuous reporting had helped create the
atmosphere where it was felt appropriate to invite
comment from the father of one of the child victims
of Warrington. His point was simple; people from
the conflict, including O'hAdhmaill, should be
allowed to get on with their lives. Fair comment
given his bereavement, but the fact that he was
invited to comment at all in the absence of it
being stated that there is nothing apart from
prejudice to link O'hAdhmaill to the Warrington
bomb, can only reinforce the false view that the
issue under the microscope here is the awarding
of a university lectureship to the Warrington
bomber. What unsubstantiated hogwash.
tried to plug his leaky vessel with a criticism
of O'hAdhmaill for being a member of the Ireland
Palestine Solidarity Campaign. It was pointed
out that he signed a petition along with other
academics calling for an academic boycott of Israel.
Since when did support for Israeli policies or
at least acquiescence in them become a prerequisite
for a teaching post in an Irish university?
contributors to the discussion were concerned
to find out if there was any truth to another
of Dolan's assertions i.e. O'hAdhmaill opposes
the Good Friday Agreement. What does it matter
if he exercises his democratic right to dissent
from the Agreement? Is there no appreciation of
the irony in seeking to compel people to
support an agreement which elevates the consent
principle? There is no such thing as consent if
we are forced to consent. In my view he does support
the Agreement. But it matters not. Despite Dolan's
nods, nudges and winks, there is not the slightest
suggestion that O'hAdhmaill poses any undemocratic
threat to it.
accusations were flying that O'hAdhmaill was a
'convicted murderer' a 'child murderer' and a
London bomber, there was minimal intervention
from the presenter. He blew the whistle at one
point when Dolan suggested that he had information
which allowed him to mumble something by way of
inference that O'hAdhmaill was currently involved
in subversion. At no time were the wild allegations
that he was the killer of Warrington challenged.
O'hAdhmaill was never charged with killing children.
When I spoke with him a number of years ago, and
the topic of his arrest came up in casual conversation,
he spoke about a mistrust of journalists. It related
to the reporting at the time of his arrest. He
was clearly angered at deliberately mischievous
and spurious reports that sought to link him to
the Warrington bomb. Some media treatment of him
since has justified his misgivings about certain
also made charges that O'hAdhmaill was a member
of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Such
fabricated twaddle. He would claim to be a socialist
but so would many other republicans. It does not
place them in the IRSP. People can join the IRSP
if they wish. Some of the more radical political
activists within republicanism are currently in
the party. They can be subjected to political
critique but not strategies of marginalisation
and demonisation because of their political beliefs.
The reason this particular charge is being levelled
against Feilim O'hAdhmaill is because it is considered
a useful stick to beat him with. The age old trick
of the amalgam: link O'hAdhmaill to the IRSP which
opposes the Good Friday Agreement and subsequently
move to treat any opposition as some sort of deviant
political strain as opposed to a dissenting one.
On top of acquiescing to Israel, another criterion
for employment demanded by some is that all applicants
must now support the Good Friday Agreement. It
is nothing short of crass political vetting.
must study at the Tony Geraghty school for journalism
where climbing equipment would be required to
scale the mountain of mistakes made there. Geraghty's
animosity toward O'hAdhmaill leaps out from the
pages of his pretty dubious book, The Irish
War. But even here Geraghty, who has considerable
access to the spook world, states very clearly
that O'hAdhmaill arrived in England 'fourteen
months after the Warrington bomb.' If Dolan's
limited research abilities can only pull up that
O'hAdhmaill is a member of the IRSP, then the
rest of what he downloaded is seriously compromised.
If he got something so easily verified grossly
wrong why should he be suspected of getting anything
right? Flailing around for any excuse he can find,
Dolan exudes the demeanour of a man who on finding
his fifteen minutes of fame suddenly panicked
and tried filling fourteen of them with guff;
an exercise in which he was completely successful.
would have been much better had O'hAdhmaill taken
part in the debate. He is more than capable of
dealing with the egregious bollix hurled at his
character during the course of that discussion.
His absence from the exchange allowed his critics
with no great aplomb to toss every manner of malicious
allegation aimed at depicting him in the worst
possible light. Amazingly the former republican
prisoner Laurence McKeown, who did take part in
defence of O'Adhmaill, seemed to take his eye
off the ball. At no point did I hear him boot
into touch the allegations of child murder being
bandied around. Nor apparently did he refute the
false allegation of IRSP membership.
Monday after he was released O'hAdhmail, despite
his PhD, began labouring on a building site to
ward off poverty from his wife and children. If
Noel Dolan and his ilk get their way he would
be back on the sites. But even then the witch
hunters will ask for apologies and reassurances
that he will not throw bricks at passing children
in furtherance of some malign pseudo political
objective. What nonsense masquerading as concern.
Ultimately the dole is where those opposed to
his appointment would like him to end up. And
if he did and were he to engage in some survivalist
activity like doing the double, which the prosperous
would all too willingly label crime, the point
would be proved for them.
it is argued that political ex-prisoners have
been free for so long that there is no longer
a need for ex-prisoner support groups specifically
geared for dealing with this constituency. The
treatment of Feilim O'hAdhmaill suggests that
certain prejudices are alive and well in Irish
society. They need to be tackled. Currently there
is no legislation prohibiting discrimination against
ex-prisoners. Although O'hAdhmaill remains in
his post a red flag will be registered each time
in the future that a former prisoner's job application
is processed in the education sector. Complacency
on the part of ex-prisoner bodies will be rewarded
Dolan has demanded that Feilim O'hAdhmaill issue
an apology before being allowed to continue working
at UCC. An apology is needed but not from O'hAdhmaill.
Dolan should issue it for his disreputable behaviour
in levelling mendacious and malicious charges
for no seeming purpose other than self promotion.