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




"Romantic Ireland..."


Deaglan O'Donghaile


Having read John O'Leary's letter, written in response to my review of Liam Clarke's and Kathryn Johnston's recent book, "Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government", I feel obliged to respond.

O'Leary begins, rather romantically, by stating that "there are other republican voices with a legitimate point of view". My review, however, was "a totally unbalanced and favourable review of the Clarke/Johnston hatchet job on Martin McGuinness". Well, the point behind writing a review of any book is precisely to give an opinion on its content, style and subject matter. Indeed, I think that the book is a particularly good one, and stand by my original judgement of it.

O'Leary might find my comparison of Sinn Fein to the Arafat regime to be "barely worthy of a considered refutation", in that it discusses the Palestinian Authority's closure of book shops stocking Edward Said's work. However, by drawing this analogy I pointed to the reality of life under Sinn Fein. I wonder if he remembers Sinn Fein's harsh attempts to silence the Republican Writer's Group, just under a year and a half ago? Like Arafat, Sinn Fein cannot tolerate criticism of any kind, and that is why the comparison is relevant.

Perhaps he does not know about the murders of Andrew Kearney and Joseph O'Connor in Belfast. Maybe he never even heard about the abduction and torture of Paddy Fox. Maybe he does not recall the attempted murder of Mickey Donnelly in Derry, and perhaps he is not aware of the attempted murder and enforced exile of Joseph McCluskey from the same city. Or maybe he doesn't want us to know that these things have happened and, instead, would rather we just live the Sinn Fein romance instead.

As for the authors being "pro-imperialist" (an accusation worthy of the of McCarthy Tribunal), I suggest that O'Leary have a think about who the real imperialists are: they are the politicians like McGuinness who sit in the partitionist Stormont assembly and who have offices in the imperial palace at Westminster.

As for "the pro-British history of Liam Clarke as an anti-republican ideologue, and as a completely ill-informed (because fed by pro-British sources) pundit", again, I refer O'Leary to the facts. Indeed, this kind of name-calling is as far as he comes to mentioning the authors or their work. In fact, I seriously doubt if he has read the book at all since, instead of criticising the work itself, he reverts to the romantic fantasy of evil journalists versus innocent Sinn Fein.

As for his outrageous accusation that that Kathryn Johnston "was effectively an apologist for British policy on the Channel 4 discussion programme on Bloody Sunday", I have to state that I, too, watched the same programme. However I do not recall Kathryn Johnston acting like "a British apologist". In fact, she condemned the murder of the fourteen marchers and offered to testify to the Saville Triunal, when told that she should do so by John Kelly.

O'Leary also states that "Your reviewer is obviously also guilty of reading backwards into Martin McGuinness's life in order to justify his... current opposition to SF policy." Well, reading backwards into the subject's life is exactly the point behind the art of biography and the fact that this book does so with Martin McGuinness makes it all the better.

He concludes, "If you want to make a cogent case against Sinn Fein then try not to become just another branch of the anti-provo industry". O'Leary also states that I am are "more concerned with finding fault with Martin McGuinnness than with pinning responsibility on Britain." I am certainly concerned with pinning responsibility on anybody who abuses human rights. Sinn Fein maintains a private militia, which it uses to suppress dissent via the use of guns bought in Florida, iron bars, mace gas, chloroform and nail-studded baseball bats (supplying and supporting these gangs must be an idustry in itself). That Sinn Fein uses these tactics against men, women and children is absolutely no secret. I do hold McGuinness, his cronies in Sinn Fein, and the British establishment that supports them, wholly responsible for this undemocratic and totalitarian system because they enforce it together.

Sinn Fein supporters like John O'Leary might want to sell us the romantic fantasy of life under Stormont, where "other republican voices" are tolerated by Sinn Fein, and where healthy criticism of "the party" thrives. But as O'Leary himself has stated, meaningful criticism of Sinn Fein is invalid in his eyes because it is "propaganda", "cynicism" and "opportunism". I suggest that he pick up a copy of Yeats, and read the poem "September 1913", which refers to his nineteenth century namesake:

"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave."








Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters Archives



The Blanket



Letters of interest to local and international media, as well as letters sent to the webmaster of The Blanket will be posted here.


Latest News & Views

Index: Current Articles

 Book Reviews 



The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002

Republican Voices



To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to: