The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Blanket: A Journal of Protest & Dissent

On the history of The Blanket, trails blazed and proud moments

Brendan Hughes, Tommy Gorman, Carrie Twomey, Anthony McIntyre & Liam O Ruairc

Carrie Twomey, Editor of The Blanket 18 May, 2008

We started it shortly after the birth of our daughter. Basically we have had a 7 year run, which is pretty good for an amateur website.

We had no advertising, no grants, no funding. We ran a total of two fundraisers, both to replace our laptop, first when we were raided by the PSNI, they took the laptop off us, and the second one was when the first replacement started to go wonky. No one got paid anything for working on The Blanket, not the writers, not the editor. We use donated server space. Everything about The Blanket has been a labor of love. We did it because we believed in it. We ran into millions of hits, easily over 25 million. It's a huge site, basically 6-7 years of material covering the peace process, dissecting it, looking at it from unapproved angles. Much of what we were saying has come to pass. I find it ironic now, reading Jonathan Powell's revealing book which has vindicated our analysis, that when we started out we were accused by SF and their supporters of having a British agenda, because we spoke the truth as we saw it, and now we find out all the while it was the British who were writing their statements, SF's and the IRA's! It shows you how upside down it all was. We had no "British agenda". Our only agenda was freedom of speech, the freedom to speak the truth as you saw it.

I would be most proud of the record The Blanket has left. It is not much but it is a roadmap of sorts for the future. It was important to have people writing down their memories, their analysis, their concerns, their experiences, that would not otherwise have gotten a hearing. People's words and thoughts that wouldn't have been published elsewhere, like Brendan Hughes's, now live on because of it. Their words are a testament to what this peace process has meant for ordinary people, people outside the political class. It's also an analysis of what happens to "social climbers with bombs", what they do when they start to turn on their own people. It's all there, all exposed for anyone to come and understand, to see what happened, to hopefully take lessons from it and avoid it in the future. So I would be proud of having been able to create a space for people to have their voices heard. Anyone could write for us, it didn't matter if it was "party approved" or helpful to the peace process or not. All you had to do was have the guts to put your name to your words, to stand over what you said. And that I think encouraged people. People needed to see others visibly articulating what they themselves thought.

Now we see much of our analysis is common currency but for years it wasn't so. We were vilified, hated. We used to joke about being "the most hated in West Belfast", which we had to do as it was that bad. We predicted decommissioning, the endorsement of the police, the atrophy of the Provisional IRA, everything, The Blanket was writing about it happening and it all came to pass. Yet at the time The Blanket was writing this, the propaganda saying otherwise was in full effect. So we were heretics. You couldn't say what The Blanket was saying because that would give the game up and Gerry wouldn't get the support he needed to carry it through. So they turned the hate machine on, did everything they could to stop people listening to what The Blanket had to say, and now they are sitting in Stormont, embracing the police, having concreted weapons, talking about how the principle of consent is revolutionary thinking. They got the support they needed, and now they don't care anymore, so it's ok if the grassroots now hold our analysis; it doesn't matter now, it's too late.

Over the years we were picketed, threatened, raided. We lived in a climate of fear. But it was worth it. If you believe in something, you face up to it. I believe in freedom of speech. "I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - that is it in a nutshell. The Blanket carried all sorts of opinions, much of it in direct contradiction. Loyalists, unionists, republicans of differing shades, people from around the world on different topics, it was a space where no "party line" had to be adhered to, and I think our readers appreciated that. Living in the Clinton-Blair era of spin over substance meant people had to look elsewhere for voices of truth, people willing to speak from the heart and not "on message". The peace process was so much spin and propaganda, and mainstream media censoring itself for fear of being "unhelpful" to the process. It was Orwellian, especially within the Republican community, where night was day and day was night, and anyone who said otherwise had to be silenced. The Blanket was an alternative to that.

I am also very proud of the stand we took supporting the Manifesto against Totalitarianism. It showed our commitment to freedom of speech. It broadened things out further. The profiles of the 12 writers who signed the Manifesto and the debate that followed was enlightening. We were denounced by some for doing so but it was important to do. We would not be worth a thing in terms of being against censorship if we didn't say anything when this Manifesto was published. We didn't present it ignorantly, we wanted to give our readers more background so that it was an informed debate. I think it was a bright moment.

When The Blanket started out, the internet hadn't permeated Ireland as thoroughly as it has now. The internet's great value is that it gives everyone with access to a modem a printing press. The space is always there for those who want to pick up the torch and carry on.

Thank you all very much for your support over the years.















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

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles


18 May 2008

Other Articles From This Issue:

This Rock of Republicanism
Anthony McIntyre

A History of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein:
1970-1976; 1976-1986; 1987-2007
Liam O Ruairc

Gerry, Come Clean, You'll Feel Better
Dolours Price

Strategic Failures Leading to Unease
Tommy McKearney

The Victory of Ideology
Jerry Pepin

The Blanket, One Last Time
Anthony McIntyre

In Praise of A Journal of Dissent
Mick Fealty

A Genuine Platform of Free Expression
David Adams

Folding Up The Blanket
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Death and Burial of The Blanket
Michael Gillespie

History Will Decide
Mick Hall

Thank You
Robert W. White

Tales of the Vam-PIRA
Brian Mór

The Blanket: A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Carrie Twomey


24 February 2008

Fear Dorcha
Anthony McIntyre

An Dorcha
Richard O'Rawe

Brendan Hughes, Comrade and Friend
Dolours Price

Meeting Brendan Hughes, "The Dark", 1948-2008
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Still Unfree
John Kennedy

An Unrepentant Fenian
Martin Galvin

RIP Brendan Hughes: "The Dark"
Mark Hayes

For Darkie
Brian Mór

The Funeral of Brendan Hughes: Setting the Record Straight
Anthony McIntyre

Irish News Report of the Funeral of Brendan Hughes
Dolours Price

The Resolve of the Dogs
Tommy Gorman

Adams in the Dark
Brian Mór

Weep, But Do Not Sleep
Anthony McIntyre

Hard Times for Gerry Adams
Brian Mór

Tribute to Brendan Hughes
Bill Ashe

An Irony of Irish Politics
Dr John Coulter

Brendan Hughes, 1949-2008: Irish Republican, Soldier, Socialist
Mick Hall

Ride On
Anthony McIntyre

Brendan Hughes
Archive Material



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