The Blanket


A journal of protest & dissent



The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
- Hubert H. Humphrey




13 November 2001
Rebuttal to McIntyre/Gorman Letter, sent to Irish News

Liam O Comain

Sir, I request the right of reply to a letter which appeared in the Irish News on Saturday November the Third. The letter in question was from Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman of Belfast.

As their letter was addressed openly to 'physical force republicans' and as I am a republican who stands in the tradition of 'Tone, Emmet, Davis, O'Leary, Pearse, Lynch, O'Connor, Russell, South, and Sands, etc,' who all believed in the legitimacy of physical force as a means of freeing Ireland I assume that the letter was addressed to me among others. I refute the terminology used by your correspondents i.e. 'physical force': for this implies that I am so blinkered that the only means I can offer in pursuit of national self- determination is the gun and the bomb.

The noble tradition of which I am proud to be a part has used other means in pursuit of the freedom of our country (e.g.) propaganda, education, hunger-strike, mass meetings, non- violent protests, the ballot box, etc, as a close scrutiny of republican history will confirm. The latter, like armed force, are tactics to be used not ends in themselves. So let us bury that myth.

Anthony and Tommy contend that moral right is not on the side of today's republicans but surely to follow their argument and line of thought the republicans of 1916 and indeed the republicans of every era of our struggle, with the exception of those who defended the Republic mandated by the 1918 election and established by 1919, lacked the moral right to use physical force against the British presence.

As for your correspondents I am aware that they once subscribed to the moral right of republicans to use force and if they have had a Damascus type of experience in the meantime I acknowledge this and indeed their freedom of expression on the matter.

But where I strongly disagree with them is for them to create the impression that republicans are pursuing an unattainable goal (as stated in the second last paragraph of their letter).

Does this mean that we should all give up the struggle that their colleague and perhaps friend Bobby Sands died for? Does it imply that the British army have the moral right to garrison part of our country?

In opposing their position I am not advocating a return to the lunacy of certain types of physical force witnessed during the last 30 to 40 years e.g. the car bomb, the human bomb, the fire bomb, the sectarian assassination, nor indeed the lack of concern for innocent people which we witnessed regretfully during that period.

But I contend very strongly that the right of moral authority lies with the Irish people of which the republican movement is a part whereas none exists for the British military presence today nor in the past nor in the future.

I acknowledge that we live in a time of tremendous change but change for the sake of change leads nowhere: what is required within republicanism is a rational debate about what faces us in the aftermath of the obstacle that is the Belfast Agreement. Let that be the forum about the development of strategy rather than a piece meal condemnation of means.

Is mise le meas,
Liam O Comain

[In response to] An Open Letter to Physical Force Republicans


To date, the Irish News has yet to print Liam O Comain's rebuttal.

29 November 2001 Letter to Irish News Editor who refused to publish Mr O Comain's rebuttal to McIntyre/Gorman Letter

Sir, In a recent editorial you stated that the dissenters had lost the argument. But in order to win the argument there must be given the space, in the media, in this so- called democracy for dissent to be heard. I for one have attempted to put forward the revolutionary republican position but as I have stated in the past you have selectively published letters in order to serve your political ideology. Yes, you can say that you have published a lot of my letters, but the ones of most importance you exercise censorship UPON e.g., my reply to the LETTER addressed to the so-called physical force republicans. And of course there are others!!!


Is mise,
Liam O Comain






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