O Muilleoir, publisher of the Andersonstown News
Group, no longer identifies with armed struggle.
His support for the peace process means that he has
moved on from the days when he could speak at the
graveside of IRA members killed on active service
and proclaim them as our volunteers or
urge others to follow their armed example with the
words no matter how often they cut us down,
others will pick up and follow. As evidence
of both his peaceful intent and his new found commitment
to human rights he has since taken to
calling for physical force republicans to be locked
up in padded cells. Not those physical force republicans
who massacred civilians in Enniskillen, just those
who massacred civilians in Omagh. A case seemingly
of employing a dubious ethical distinction between
bad bombs and good bombs.
dichotomising and locking opponents in padded cells
seems a peculiarly Stalinist way of doing business.
But, as Orwell illustrated so graphically in Animal
Farm, when pigs learn to stand on their hind legs
and wear suits, they quickly adopt the discourse and
methods of those they formerly ranted against for
behaving unlike pigs.
course, locking people in padded cells is merely a
means of banishing them to some nether region where
they will neither be seen nor heard. For those who
can not so easily be shipped off to a far out gulag
then society itself must be closed down and transformed
into some type of carceral archipelago.
Mairtin O Muilleoir has for some time acted as a self
appointed governor attempting to extend the disciplinary
power exercised by his propaganda business over the
little gulag his colleagues in Sinn Fein have managed
to establish in West Belfast.
yet despite his best efforts, he and his colleagues
have been resisted and frustrated at every turn by
a small body of thinking people who will not be defeated
by the green shirts he so passionately endorses and
in whose service his paper the Andersonstown News
functions as an organ of intimidation.
the Atlantic, the Irish Echo has a reputation
for being a newspaper that plays host to a wide range
of political views. For years people have commented
on the value of the paper and the high standard of
its newsworthiness compared with the much more propagandistic
Irish Voice. Time and time again the journalists
of the Irish Echo have provided insight, commentary
and analysis which have surpassed much of what has
been carried in both the Irish and British media.
And in spite of its name it has never functioned as
a mere partisan echo chamber for any one political
leader or party on this side of the Atlantic.
O Muilleoir has recognised this and has most likely
been uncomfortable with it. His right wing mind set
would simply deny him the compos mentis to tolerate
the notion that there is a certain democratic value
accruing to society from newspapers that refuse to
subserviently function like the Andersonstown News.
They ventilate a countrys intellectual airways
allowing the critical imagination of people to breathe
unaided by a life support machine which The
Party is always desperate to depict its own
do not need the Andersonstown News to tell
us how or what to think. Its overriding purpose seems
to be to ensure that we do anything but think. Those
inclined to Stalinistic modes of thought and behaviour
are apparently pre-programmed to respond like Pavlovs
dog to anything that challenges their monopoly on
the dissemination of ideas. Slavoj Zizek wrote in
the 1990s of the former Stalinist bureaucracies that:
state and the ruling party acted with the utmost
nervousness and panic at the slightest public criticism,
as if some vague critical hints in an obscure poem
published in a low-circulation literary journal,
or an essay in an academic philosophical journal,
possessed the potential capacity to trigger the
explosion of the entire socialist system.
so it is with our self appointed guardians of West
Belfast media life. Last week the writer Eamon Lynch
penned a piece in the Irish Echo which addressed
itself to the authoritarian vigour with which the
Andersonstown News sought to close down debate
and marginalise The Blanket online journal.
Lynchs piece was articulate, coherent and scrupulously
honest. However, it so infuriated O Muilleoir that
the Andersonstown News mogul screamed achtung
and twisted the thumbscrews. This in turn led to a
decision being taken by the Echo to remove
the piece from the papers archives. O Muilleoir
also demanded the right to reply, ignoring his own
papers policy of denying such a right to those
who fall foul of its authoritarian ethos. The Echo,
to its credit provided him with the space in which
to respond. His column, however, could by no means
be considered a response to the Lynch article but
was rather an idiotic rant against what O Muilleoir
perceived to be a thorn in the side of his money-making
propaganda venture in West Belfast. His right of reply
amounted to nothing more than intellectual dishonesty
which he sought to imbricate with falsehoods and innuendo.
It is the sort of guff the pages of his own paper
are strewn with week in week out. That the Andersonstown
News should act as a purveyor of spurious nonsense
surprises no one. But that the Irish Echo would
elevate it to a status above the honest endeavour
of Eamon Lynch, while to the usurious advantage of
O Muilleoir, will hardly promote either the reputation
or integrity of the paper. Lie with a pig and you
get the pigs fleas.
the intimidatory power of the Andersonstown News
has slithered its way to New York, it was at Echo
senior management level alone that a deficit of fortitude
prevailed. Eamon Lynch was not cowered by O Muilleoir.
He subsequently resigned from the Echo in protest
at the ludicrous and morally indefensible course of
action opted for by management. To stand on principle
as Eamon Lynch did is immeasurably more important
to societal intellectual autonomy than any amount
of genuflecting to the power of intimidation. Those
of us who refuse to be strangled by the tentacles
of corporate media power can draw strength from his
example. O Muilleoirs lust for mammon has failed
to shake Eamon Lynchs grip on truth.
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