The Blanket

Setting the Record Straight

Billy Mitchell

Sean Smyth accuses me of forgetting to mention the role of paramilitaries in my recent articles on crime and anti-social behaviour. In order to set the record straight I would ask Sean to read my article Addressing Organised Crime again. I would ask him to read it this time with the word “paramilitary” etched large in his minds-eye. Hopefully, this time he will find that term is used at least eleven times throughout that article. I would ask him to read again paragraphs six, seven, eight and nine of that article and tell me again that I have forgotten to mention the role of paramilitaries. My second article, Crucified, was written in response to a brutal attack on a young person by alleged members of a paramilitary organisation. As the background of the alleged attackers was already in the public domain there was no need to specifically use the word paramilitary. Most reasonable people reading the article, and setting it within the context of the incident, would have known that already.

Sean opens his article with a selective quote from my article on Crucifixion. The words quoted by Sean come after three paragraphs of text in which I was highly critical of the barbaric form of punishment meted out to Harry Mc Cartan by vigilantes. Most reasonable people reading those words within the context of the previous three paragraphs, and within the context of the remainder of the paragraph from which Sean selectively extracted them, will realise that I was seeking to put forward a balanced case for addressing anti-social behaviour in a non-violent manner; but yet in a manner that reflected the anger of society. Having read and re-read Sean’s article I still cannot see the relevance of using that quote.

In the same paragraph that he falsely accuses me of forgetting to mention the role of paramilitaries Sean refers to the alleged activities of one section of a loyalist paramilitary group and says “But as this is done for Ulster/Ireland maybe it’s better not to mention it”. The insinuation is clear, I didn’t mention paramilitaries in my articles because crime carried out in the name of Ulster or Ireland is somehow okay. If that is what Sean had in mind then he is guilty of deliberately misrepresenting what was said in my articles and, perhaps more importantly, guilty of casting aspersions on my own personal integrity.

In paragraph seven of my article “Addressing Organised Crime” I state quite clearly that:

Political ideology and organised crime are incompatible. There can be no political motive for poisoning the children of our country with drugs or for forcing them to steal to pay for the habit that the ‘trade’ helped them to develop. There can be no political motive for undermining the local economy upon which the community depends for its quality of life. There can be no political motive for bleeding local shopkeepers or publicans of their hard-earned money until they feel that it is not worth the bother carrying on. There can be no political motive for putting personal selfish greed above the social, economic and cultural well-being of the community”.

I continue with this theme in paragraph eight where I clearly state , “Love of ones country, whether it be expressed through Irish patriotism or Ulster Loyalism, is wholly incompatible with organised crime”. Thus I neither ignore the fact that members of paramilitary organisations are involved in criminal activities nor do I suggest that criminal activities are justified if they are carried out in the cause of either Ulster or Ireland.

How Sean can claim that I ignored the issue of paramilitary involvement in criminal activity is beyond comprehension. If he wishes to take issue with what I write I have no problems. But let him stick to the facts. Let him read what I have actually written and try to use that information to genuinely understand the issues that I am trying to address. What he had to say about crime, anti-social behaviour and the family could have been said without any reference at all to my articles and I can only assume that his use of my articles as a launching pad for his own had more to do with misrepresenting me than it had to do with the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour. That kind of journalism does nothing to encourage genuine dialogue or to enhance the image of The Blanket as a forum for constructive debate.




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It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
- Arthur Calwell
Index: Current Articles

6 December 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Questioning the Prison System in the North
Liam O Ruairc


Britain's New Moral Authority to Shoot Republicans
Anthony McIntyre


Teething Troubles
Henry McDonald


Setting The Record Straight

Billy Mitchell


Herr Henry Struts Again
Anthony McIntyre


Even the Taxi Drivers Say It: "Likud has Failed"
Uri Avnery


The Letters page has been updated.


1 December 2002


Blanket Special

3 Part Series
Capo di Tutti i Capi?:
The Three Families

Part Three: The Civil Rights Veterans' Story
Anthony McIntyre


Asking the Awkward Questions
Terry Harkin


West Belfast Firefighters Support
Davy Carlin


Crime And The Family

Sean Smyth


Juliana McCourt
Anthony McIntyre


A Glimmer of Hope
Michael Dahan




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