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




Think Again


John O'Leary


I believe I have a fairly open mind (OK, who doesn’t) and I think, though I support the peace process strategy of Sinn Fein, that there are other republican voices with a legitimate point of view. However, your publication in ‘The Blanket’ of a totally unbalanced and favourable review of the Clarke/Johnston hatchet job on Martin McGuinness undermines your case.

To compare a request (from the unwilling subject of a biography) made publicly to others to refuse cooperation with the pro-imperialist biographers with an act of censorship and the closing of bookshops is totally off the wall. It is barely worthy of a considered refutation.

The quoted drivel about Martin McGuinness’s teenage years was the stuff of British tabloid dementia (or should that be Sunday Independent hysteria?).

It did not occur to your reviewer to comment on 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. All I know about Johnston is that she was effectively an apologist for British policy on the Channel 4 discussion programme on Bloody Sunday, after the screening of the Jimmy McGovern film. She was at pains to promote the idea that Martin McGuinness had provoked the British paratroopers. Don Mullan, author of Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, comprehensively refuted her Ill-informed and tendentious observations – and Jimmy McGovern obviously did not buy her story. Like your reviewer (apparently), Clarke and Johnston are more concerned with finding fault with Martin McGuinnness than with pinning responsibility on Britain. Your reviewer is obviously also guilty of reading backwards into Martin McGuinness’s life in order to justify his (your reviewer’s) current opposition to SF policy. Relying on such patently compromised sources shows questionable judgement on your reviewer’s part and on yours in not asking him to either re write it or to submit the review for the consideration of the Editor of the Daily Telegraph.

If you want to make a cogent case against Sinn Fein then try not to become just another branch of the anti-provo industry – the market is already cornered by the Daily Telegraph, other British media and ‘Independent’ newspapers.

Everybody from the the DUP, the OUP, the SDLP, FG, FF and the PDs - and now you - are fixated on Sinn Fein, searching for any angle of attack, impervious to context and the facts. Inevitably, in your case, it will lead to political sectarianism and bitterness, where every presumed political ill will be blamed on Gerry Adams. In other words, reading your material will be like reading the Sunday Independent from another angle.

Your entering into the anti-provo stakes could be seen as betraying a deep vein of cynicism and opportunism – the very things you accuse Sinn Fein of. I doubt that you started off with such intentions, but it is where you are ending up.

Think again.







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The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002

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