The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Usual Suspects

Anthony McIntyre • 16 August 2005

A much confused Damien Kiberd seems not to know which end of him is up. I suppose neither clarity nor insight is the beneficiary occasioned by the downward spiral from serving as editor of a serious top league newspaper to functioning as a columnist in an enterprise where neither news nor accuracy matter all that much. Moving down the gears so quickly must produce a disconcerting effect. Merely cast an eye over all the writers that were lured down the same cul de sac only to have their creativity murderously strangled.

Perhaps Damien Kiberd, used to a more sheltered and rarefied atmosphere, has not yet inhaled the same intellectual smog as some West Belfast 'thinkers'. His hagiographical treatment of Sinn Fein leaders, however, suggests he is trying hard to 'breath in, breath out' on cue. It is an exercise fraught with danger. Failure to use a filter increases the risk of exposure to the symptoms of ATN positive which if not treated will eventually develop into full blown Robinitis. Already this debilitating malaise has ravished West Belfast's sycophant community, whose members suffer from sore knees, tongue elongation, a persistent urge to say 'yes' while frequently emitting brownish mucus from the nasal passages.

While appearing to acknowledge that an 'ounce of sense' is a rare commodity in some West Belfast writerly circles, rather than reflect on the challenges posed by and consequences of hanging out in a writers' graveyard, Damien Kiberd has opted to shake his pen at those who think society in general and republicanism in particular is better served by a plurality of voices rather than a single one. The source of his animus is seemingly those who express opposition to the violence and deceit of the peace process. As a historian he should be able to trace the history of this disturbing phenomenon back to ancient Greece. It has survived in the face of countless attempts to suppress it. Does he really delude himself that its practitioners are to be scattered to the four corners of the earth by a shake of his pen?

If so, we can excuse him that. It goes with the turf. Delusion and denial abound in the strange land of the peace process, something which he at least acknowledges. Vaclev Havel would have termed it living inside a lie. In a distorted world where mice catch cats one West Belfast writer professed that he initially believed the IRA had robbed the Northern Bank but changed his mind once Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness said they believed IRA denials. He earlier believed there would be no decommissioning by the year 3000 - because Gerry and Martin told him so. Others, rendered delirious by Robinitis, thought Freddie Scappaticci was a great republican victimised for his fidelity to the cause by securocrats. The evidence for this British conspiracy - none other than Gerry and Martin, again. Now, for most thinking people, the rule of thumb is to believe nothing until the Sinn Fein duo officially denies it. But as an old nemesis, Geordie Smiley, was fond of saying, 'common sense isn't all that common otherwise everybody would have some.'

Damien Kiberd takes grave exception to former republican prisoners expressing their views in outlets provided by the British media. Seems he has little to say about the US, German, Italian, Dutch, French, Canadian, Australian, Austrian, Chilean, Spanish and Swedish media who all rely on the same ex prisoners for an alternative to the line. He has even less to say about the amount of British funding that goes to the business group for whom he now writes a column, and from which he presumably draws his stipend. Puzzlingly, his ire, while not diluted, is restricted even further as it is only some former prisoners venting their views that concern him. Those who roll over and nod their heads while repeating the Sinn Fein leadership mantra ad nauseum - they are fine. Presumably they provide a valuable public service as they explain how the Provisional IRA never robbed the Northern Bank, and that Sinn Fein at no time sought to cover up aspects of the Robert McCartney murder.

Those who don't buy into the bollix, well, they are 'rounded up' by the British media. Kiberd of course is not 'rounded up' by the forces behind Daily Ireland. Nor would he have us believe that he is a stooge for the Sinn Fein spin machine to which he 'objectively' provides a valuable service.

That he would seek to bolster his cause with that old mass murderer and progenitor of Stalinism, VI Lenin, is hardly going to cause the same former prisoners who waded through Leninist nonsense twenty odd years ago to have a change of heart. Strange that he would even tread on the dodgy ground of citing history books to support his strange contentions and then go on to say the following of the Sinn Fein leadership:

This is not leadership that will lead to the creation of a United Ireland … Anybody with an ounce of sense could have seen in 1998 that the leadership of the republican movement had embarked upon a course which would lead them to accept a partitionist solution to the conflict in the six counties … one should not seek to pretend that what has been achieved is anything other than a second-best solution … Those who sought, at the time, to pretend that the Agreement would open the door to a United Ireland were simply living in a fantasy world. The Agreement, as it was constructed, accepted the legitimacy of partition. At the time some of us had the temerity to point this out using arguments based on the most rigorous legal reading of what had been agreed, but we were not thanked for our efforts … In the euphoria which surrounded the creation of the so-called Belfast Agreement we were supposed to welcome the risible rhetoric that attended the creation of the Agreement. Namely to accept that it represented - to quote Mao Tse Tung- some sort of Great Leap Forward for Irish republicanism. It was nothing of the sort.

Perhaps if Damien Kiberd were as tuned into historical data as he would have us believe, he would find, with no great effort, that every strand of political thought articulated by him above was aired by those former prisoners who he now feels are being 'rounded up.' Like he, they had the savvy to discern that the Good Friday Agreement was not transitional, and the prescience to see that the terminus was a partitionist solution. The Provisional leaders he seeks to defend are the very people who rounded up a posse of thought police to hound such ideas out of town.

Those Kiberd rails against were indeed 'rounded up' - many years ago by the British for taking part in an armed campaign directed by the same leaders. And what were they instructed to wage arms against? Each and every attempt by the British to establish anything that even vaguely resembled the Good Friday Agreement? It is hardly baffling that they might wish to contribute to public discourse by measuring the gap between aim and achievement and comment on the hypocrisy of leaders who directed the war but now deny having ever been part of it.

Next time Damien Kiberd takes time out to engage in some historical reflection he might find it worth his while to contemplate that the crime of those 'being rounded' up was to have called it right from the outset. It is not they who need to question their roles but the bad historians who somehow never manage to see them as anything other than troublemakers upsetting the established order.




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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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