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




A fraud or a fool


John O’Leary

“Ruling by fooling is a great British art, especially with great Irish fools to practice on.” - James Connolly


I can see that answering Deaglán Ó Donghaile is going to be difficult – because he adopts a consistently hysterical style of refutation – and perhaps not very enlightening for those who chance upon these words. Unlike O Donghaile, I do not “feel obliged to respond”. However, if the correspondence can provide an illustration of how political bitterness turns to sectarianism, and becomes the opposite of what it purports to promote, then some good may come of it.

First of all, I did not criticise Ó Donghaile’s suggestion that he compared “Sinn Fein to the Arafat regime”. Ó Donghaile did not make this comparison, so it is not what I deemed "barely worthy of a considered refutation". Instead I criticised what O Donghaile actually wrote: he stated that Martin McGuinness’s request that people not cooperate with biographers, Johnston and Clarke, was a form of censorship and likened it in addition to the systematic closure of bookshops. This, I repeat, is drivel and should not to be taken seriously.

Why does O Donghaile have such difficulty with a comment on Liam Clarke? Mr Clarke is free to write what he wishes in Rupert Murdock’s organ and doubtless is happy to contribute the anti-provo tittle-tattle that seems to be the Sunday Times’s stock in trade. It is unfortunate for Clarke that his attempts to rubbish Sean McPhilemy’s The Committee (which researched connections between British state forces, unionists and loyalist assassination squads) landed Clarke and the Sunday Times on the wrong end of a libel action from McPhilemy . McPhilemy’s standing as a professional journalist was upheld, as was that of the late Martin O Hagan, a Sunday World journalist who contributed to the information in The Committee, who was recently assassinated by the LVF. Another source for The Committee, the solicitor Rosemary Nelson, was also assassinated by the LVF.

The anti McPhilemy campaign was an unfortunate comment on the Sunday Times. It is equally unfortunate that last week in the Bloody Sunday inquiry, a witness said that his statement to solicitors to the enquiry had been leaked to Clarke and Johnston and misleadingly portrayed in their book as the result of an interview with him (the witness). I quote from the March 8 2002 Derry Journal account:

Former teacher and Labour party activist, William Breslin, told the Inquiry that one of the reasons he had not signed his statement until January of this year was that he had been told extracts from an original draft of his evidence had appeared in the Clarke/Johnston book, entitled "From Guns to Government".
Mr. Breslin said: "I was told by Nell McCafferty that my name was mentioned in a book by Liam Clarke and Kathy Johnston, and the manner in which they referred to me in the book suggested they had interviewed me and I have never met either of these people.
"Indeed to that, they used evidence which I had given to Eversheds in my statement which did not appear in this draft.
"A number of things that I have not really told anyone else appeared in this book so I did not submit the statement until I investigated that".

When told by Counsel to the Inquiry, Christopher Clarke QC, that he was named as an interviewee in the acknowledgements of "From Guns to Government", Mr. Breslin replied: "I would not buy the book because of what it is about and also because of the people who wrote it.
"Are they liable for that, for I have never met either of them in my life? I have never spoken to them by telephone, in person or in any other way".
After concluding his evidence Mr. Breslin said that despite reassurances from Eversheds that the information had not come from them, he had asked the Inquiry's own solicitor to investigate the matter and, if necessary, to report it to the Law Society.

Mr Breslin, a former teacher and Labour party activist, said he would not by the book “because of the people who wrote it”. I leave others to draw their own conclusions.

While recently Mr Clarke has appeared to be in conflict with the British security services in relation to naming an undercover agent in the North, he has been remarkably well sourced from the British side over the years. Perhaps he was just over-reliant on his sources and that is why his stories appeared so one sided. It could happen to anyone trying to get the story out by the looming deadline, I suppose. However, O Donghaile hails Clarke as a friend in the fight against the common provo foe, and treats the pro-imperialist predilection of the media he has contributed to as an irrelevancy. O Donghaile is either so politically sectarian as not to see this as a relevant factor or, to be charitable, he is too naive to understand the point.

O Donghaile has quite a few gripes against Sinn Fein and throws a lot of them into the pot in an attempt to justify his inane suggestion that “Sinn Fein cannot tolerate criticism of any kind”. SF is clearly tolerating his criticism, that of Clarke and Johnston and the anti-republican propaganda that the pro-imperialist media regurgitate on a daily basis.

When I come across references to “the romantic fantasy of evil journalists versus innocent Sinn Fein”, I know that I am confronted by a simplistic pedant. It is obviously written by someone whose proclamation of the need of debate and discussion masks a completely closed mind capable of saying anything in support of his point of view, no matter how improbable or lacking in evidence. For instance, O Donghaile seriously suggests that Britain sustains the IRA (or “private militia” as he terms it, alongside John Bruton, Conor Cruise O Brien and David Trimble). So, the desperate attempts by the British, Unionist and Irish establishments to force republicans to decommission are just a joke then? I have not come across political insanity like this, that flies in the face of reality, for some time. All I can suggest to Mr O Donghaile is that perhaps he should get out more. If he can escape the attentions of the intolerant republicans who cannot bear his criticism, he might see that the world is quite different from his inverted perception of it.

Despite O Donghaile’s capacity for convincing himself completely that Sinn Féin have sold out, the imperialists do not necessarily agree. That is why they invented stories about Martin McGuinness on Bloody Sunday and suggested that a load of armed but dead provos (shot by the paras, you see) were magically spirited away on the day by Martin and his friends.

If anyone disputes what I wrote about Clarke’s co-author, Johnston, then go and look at the Channel 4 discussion on Bloody Sunday (Jan 28 2002), after the screening of the Jimmy McGovern film. She functioned as a less scatter-brained version of fellow guest General Clutterbuck (or ‘Clutterbrain’ as he was affectionately termed in the 1970s). She positioned herself effectively on the same side as the general and promoted an argument that could in logic justify firing by British Paratroopers, since they were reacting to planned IRA attacks (instigated according to Johnston by Martin McGuinness).

Thus a British propaganda lie is now effectively being promoted by Mr O Donghaile in his witless outpourings.

To sum up, Deaglán O Donghaile is either a fraud or a fool.

Note: O Donghaile keeps referring to my argument being “romantic”. Is this a phrase that he has learned somewhere and now throws around like confetti, because he is so (romantically) enamoured of it? The only other instant of this type of phraseology that I can recall was from members of the group that ended up as the anti-republican Workers Party. It was as unintelligible then as it is now. It is a curious coincidence in the light of O Donghaile’s praise of Liam Clarke.

And finally, I promise, WB Yeats’s poem, ‘1913’, was in praise of the Fenian John O’Leary who took romantic Ireland with him to the grave. Yeats was arguing against the money grubbing William Martin Murphy (owner of the Irish Independent which supported the 1916 executions) types by contrasting it to the ‘romantic’ views of O’Leary (who was also an iconoclast and an atheist by the way). Is O Donghaile suggesting that he is siding with the moneygrubbers?








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