The Blanket

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Spin Cycle

Lather, Rinse, Repeat


Carrie Twomey • 11 December 2006

Today's Andersonstown News carries an editorial attributed to Robin Livingstone that reads very much like Jim Gibney's recent Irish News piece (Nov 17) regarding the alleged death threats against the Sinn Fein leadership. One could be forgiven for thinking that, along with the "news" about this "latest" death threat, the editorial is just another re-run of old hash. When the story about the alleged threats first surfaced, it was met with widespread ridicule, and was pretty much universally disbelieved. Each time it was repeated, it was disbelieved even more. Now, it's down to the Andersonstown News to beef the recylced story up with elaborations from the President of Lies. It's sad to think that the best that could be done when Jim Gibney couldn't sell the story was to turn it over to Robin Livingstone to try again. Surely that, if anything, is an indication of the lack of confidence in the bullshit being peddled that Robin Livingstone is writing sloppy seconds.

In the spirit of fun, let's deconstruct Robin's piece, and compare it to Gibney's work.

Here's Gibney waxing eloquent:

Concern obviously for the well-being of those being targeted and their families but concern also that a group of individuals who live among us and claim to be republicans fighting for Irish independence have degenerated to the level where they would turn their minds to such dastardly deeds.

And Robin:

...the reaction of both Mr Adams and Gerry Kelly indicates that they are taking the matter extremely seriously and are concerned about the intentions of certain dissident groups. It is mind-boggling to think that there is a single person in this community who thinks that the killing of any republican would advance the cause of Irish freedom one iota.

Mindboggling dastardly deeds is right. Where were Gibney and Livingstone when the Provisional IRA shot dead Joe O'Connor? Perhaps they cribbed notes from McIntyre and Gorman to save for a rainy day:

Assassination of republican by republican can never lay the foundation for a just and lasting peace. We do not believe actions such as the murder of Joseph O'Connor will lead us into a United Ireland, transitional or otherwise. We do not think the threats and intimidation that have surrounded Republicanism prior to Joseph O'Connor's death and those threats sure to come indicate any hope for justice or freedom.

Ooops, nevermind... Onwards.

Gibney travels around the world to make his next point, which is basically that conflicts "throw up organisations and individuals whose primary role is to sow the seeds of confusion, destabilise the situation, demoralise people and delay change." He namechecks South Africa and Israel before coming home to the loyalists to make his point, "We saw it here with the loyalist organisations being used to serve the interests of British securocrats through their murder campaign against Catholics and their internecine feuds." Livingstone goes cheap, and stays at home to write the same thing: "For many years, men and women who fought in the struggle and went to jail for their beliefs were targeted for assassination by the British government and their proxy agents within the loyalist paramilitary groups." None of that fancy "We Are the World" shite for Robin, a fierce believer in West Belfast being the centre of the universe.

But his economy could come down to the needs of space. Gibney obviously has a bigger column with more words to play with; Livingstone needs to be much briefer yet hit the same bullet points. This is why the side-by-side comparison is interesting, because when you boil it down, they are saying the same thing. And to think people accuse the Shinners of being dogmatically party line, making jokes about the chips implanted in the back of their necks to keep them on message.

Next, Gibney takes his time suggesting that those behind the supposed threats to the leadership are irrelevant failures, desperate altogether, isolated, unpopular, distorted (twice, even), nihilistic and infiltrated. He doesn't lay it on thick at all. Livingstone cuts to the chase and calls them drunken louts with tins of spray paint in one hand ... and nothing in the other (because they are such losers). I'm paraphrasing but Robin has never been one for subtley.

I love this bit:

If scrawling graffiti on the Falls Road, hysterically berating anyone they disagree with, and now discussing the assassination of senior Sinn Féin figures is their idea of a strategy for freeing Ireland, then they’re in for a long wait.

I can't help but get a campy image of some overly-passionate individual with spittle flying from his mouth swatting someone's head with a newspaper as they hysterically lose the run of themselves making their point. However, I would put forth that the only discussion going on regarding the assassination of the SF leadership is about how daft they are talking about these made up threats. Of course Robin is entirely correct in pointing out that sort of talk is not going to free Ireland, but then, some would argue, nor is supporting the British police presence in Ireland.

The two conclusions are slightly different, with Gibney noting that "Those responsible for this threat are so bereft of argument that they cannot produce credible spokespersons – or even spokespersons – with which one could debate," and "[The threat] should not only be withdrawn the people involved should desist from their activities forthwith."

Robin goes about it from the other direction. He acknowledges that there are vocal republicans (whom one could presumably debate with, albeit hysterically?), but that they aren't being vocal enough in this instance. Whereas Gibney wants them to cease from their activities (threatening the SF leadership), Livingstone assumes because he hasn't heard any condemnations from them that they must be up to something.

If there are any within that vocal republican rump which objects to the Sinn Féin strategy who disagree with the threat to Adams and Kelly, then they have remained untypically silent. And that speaks volumes.

Which leads one to wonder who exactly this republican rump is made up of. I think its fictitious myself. Obviously, he can't be referring to any of the republicans who are in The Blanket, who have been speaking out against this sort of thing — republicans threatening, intimidating and using violence against other republicans — for years now. From well before the statement referred to earlier, to the No More Lies statement, right up to the vox-pop last month regarding the so-called threats to the SF leadership, republicans from all over the spectrum (except, that is, Sinn Fein), many of whom have been threatened, intimidated and/or attacked by the Provisional Movement for their political views, have been to the fore in speaking out against those sort of tactics. That Livingstone feigns ignorance about this also 'speaks volumes'.



* A bit of disclosure: The similarities between the two articles caught my eye because I had previously addressed Gibney's piece in a letter to the Irish News.



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Index: Current Articles

12 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

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35 Years of Silence
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Sucking Up to Sinn Fein
Dr John Coulter

Circling the Wagons
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Spin Cycle
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The Hypocrisy is Pathetic
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'Provo leaders should wake up to the truth'
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Get It Together
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The Liar is Dead. Long Live the Liar
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Throw Away the Key
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Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam
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Mental Madness
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‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
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