The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Long Way Down

That's right, it's come to this, yes it's come to this, and wasn't it a long way down - Leonard Cohen

Anthony McIntyre • 17 October 2005

It was heartening this afternoon to watch a nastily scarred Denis Bradley overcome any trepidation that may have bugged him to give his first interview since the vicious attack on him as he engaged in the innocent family pursuit of watching a game of football with his young son. Demonstrably frail, but only physically, he showed no sign of apprehension as he asserted his determination not to be deterred from what he thinks, does or writes by people more comfortable with clubs than they are with pens.

One wonders were Martin McGuinness to have been sitting in the bar with Denis Bradley the night of the attack would his assailant have been as eager to carry out his 'mission.' After all McGuinness is hardly less culpable for the state of affairs that so enrages republican dissidents. He is also as accessible as Denis Bradley. The latter was a soft target. There was never going to be a sting in the tail for attacking him. Not that either man deserves their skull cracked, but the array of forces behind McGuinness is much more likely to return the serve with considerable illicit power not at the disposal of Bradley.

In the past eighteen months republicanism has been graphically depicted as something malign that travels around bars battering the defenceless. Since the incident in Belfast city centre involving Bobby Tohill, for which republicans were blamed by the PSNI, the IMC and the London and Dublin governments, a sordid linkage between republicans and bar room violence has taken root in the public mind. The murder of Robert McCartney by Provisionals at the start of this year reinforced that image, leaving an indelible stain on the republican character in the process. The attack on Denis Bradley by dissident republicans fits into that mould perfectly. A once proud perspective that waged war, at tremendous cost to itself, to beat the British out of Ireland is now reduced to beating Irish people out of pubs. This commonplace activity is what readers expect to find in a book about the life of Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris. That it has become narrativized as republican behaviour is testimony to the growth of decadence.

Despite the appalling negative imagery it has not deterred some from referring to what happened in Derry as an 'operation.' What Frank Hughes did were operations. To associate the two types of activity by word usage seems profane. The attack on Denis Bradley has more in common with Taliban bullying aimed at women not wearing the burca as prescribed by the theocrats. The backdrop makes it very easy for PSNI boss Hugh Orde to claim that physical force republicans 'have no political agenda, they are violent, criminal thugs who are stuck in history and haven't moved on.'

Some time back I debated the political future of the North with Denis Bradley at a venue in Derry sponsored by Fortnight Magazine. While I did not agree with him he was gracious, witty and intellectually engaging. At no time did I think he was about to leap up, Fred Flintstone-like, and clobber me for holding views not shared by him.

At the end of our exchange Denis invited me and a few others including the republican Micky Donnelly to the bar for a drink. Micky declined, robustly telling the policing board member how he objected to the board's approval of plastic bullets. That was the end of it; just as it should have been. The rest of us had a drink before I and the Fortnight team made our way back to Belfast.

Travelling over the Glenshane Pass, I had no idea that Micky Donnelly and Denis Bradley would soon have more in common than they thought. The Derry republican had already been seriously assaulted by fascistic elements in the city for his insistence on holding firmly to his own beliefs. The same club wielding intolerance that pulverised the limbs of Micky Donnelly and terrorised his family has since deemed Denis Bradley a persona non grata and as a follow-on set out to maim him.

No matter how democratically mandated a British police force such as the PSNI might be republicans have the right not to endorse it. That right does not extend to intimidating or brutalising others who take a different position. Denis Bradley sits on the policing board and supports current policing because he believes it beneficial to the community. Those republicans who disagree can oppose without resort to assault and battery. It is about siding with a rights-based republicanism and not its power-driven counterpart. What a strange irony it is that the PSNI finds itself more popular in these communities than the type of people who assaulted Denis Bradley.

















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

23 October 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin Badges
Mags Glennon

A Long Way Down
Anthony McIntyre

A Party of Their Own
Mick Hall

Reid's Sectarian Slur
Eamon McCann

Repeal Anti-Catholic Section of Act of Settlement 1701
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Nicola McCartney & the Facts About Irish History
Seaghán Ó Murchu

Usual Suspects
Anthony McIntyre

Socialism in Ireland
Francis McDonnell

Turning "Smoke ban" thing into ANTI-DIOXIN movement
John Jonik

From the Classroom to the Grave
Anthony McIntyre

Yet More Voices Against Censorship
Davy Carlin

The Death Fast Enters its 6th Year
Tayad Committee

Setting Up Abbas
Jeff Halper

6 October 2005

A Bleak Future
Anthony McIntyre

Provos Censor de Chastelain in Bid to Lie About Guns
Tom Luby

Taking Politics Out of the Gun
Brendan O'Neill

Sinn Fein - The Shark's Party
Mick Hall

Live From Hollywood: The IRA Disarms
Harry Browne

Show Us the Money
Dr John Coulter

Doris Dead
Anthony McIntyre

Whatever Happened to... 'er, You Know... Whatshisname?
Tom Luby

The Dirty War Goes On
George Young

Reject All British Institutions
Kevin Murphy

Capitalism Vs Socialism
Liam O Ruairc

Apology to Dr Dion Dennis and CTheory website
Carrie Twomey



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