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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Richard McAuley - ‘a literary giant of our time’

Belfast Republican inspired world’s best authors



By Barney de Breadbin and Eamon Codswolloper
(Scribes to the Court of King Gerry News Agency)
Special to the Irish Tomes • 8 April 2004

Just days after the startling disclosure by West Belfast Republican, Richard McAuley that he co-authored many of Gerry Adams’ ‘Brownie’ articles in Republican News in the mid-1970’s, and wrote the famous “I am an IRA member” admission, some of the world’s most celebrated literary figures have come forward to acknowledge that McAuley also played a huge part in helping to write their most famous works.

The public image of Richard McAuley is of a shy, self-effacing but intensely loyal aide who is most often seen walking several steps behind Gerry Adams, weighed down with suitcases as he accompanies the Sinn Fein leader to an airport VIP lounge at the start one of Adams’ many trips abroad to dispense advice to former guerrilla and terrorist leaders seeking to change their ways.

Occasionally “Rick”, as the foreign media call him, will give press briefings to update the world on Gerry Adams’ latest thoughts about Al Qaeda, the Iraq crisis and the tree-hugging techniques of lumberjacks in North-West Canada. But usually he shunned the spotlight and succeeded - until recently when the great secret of his role as the brains and literary talent behind Adams was made public.

But the story, as the Irish Tomes can exclusively reveal, does not end there. McAuley is also the genius behind some of the twentieth century’s greatest pieces of literature and is consulted regularly by the world’s most gifted writers and artists.

“Very few people know this”, confided Irish Voice editor Niall O’Dowd, “but the highlight of Gerry Adams’ trips to New York comes when Rick hosts a soiree for American writers at Norman Mailer’s apartment in Greenwich Village. I have seen the room packed with famous writers, eclectic characters who wouldn’t normally be seen dead together in the same room, people like Doris Lessing, P J O’Rourke, Catherine Cookson and John Irving, each seated at his feet and rapt with attention as Rick describes his writing techniques. They just love him to bits.”

Irish poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney is one of those who consults the Belfast Republican on a regular basis. “There have been so many times when I have been stuck in the middle of a poem and I always do the same. I reach for the phone and ask Richard - I call him Richard, I prefer that to Rick - to come post haste to South Derry and he always obliges. We open a bottle of Black Bush and the crack starts and before you know it the poem is written.

“I remember just before I won the Nobel prize for my poem ‘Act of Union’, I’d got to the end but just couldn’t finish it. So Richard came round and we worked for hours. Eventually the last stanza was completed and it read:

‘No treaty
I foresee will salve completely your tracked
And stretchmarked body, the big pain
That leaves you raw, like opened ground, again.’

“See the word ‘the’ in the second last line, that was Richard’s contribution and it was just brilliant. Let me tell you this man is the literary giant of our day”.

The most sensational episode in Richard McAuley’s long but secret literary career came nearly 16 years ago when he inspired his long-time friend and controversial writer Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses, a book that had disastrous consequences for the Bombay-born author.

“The central character was based on the prophet Mohammed”, recalled Rushdie, “and it was Richard’s idea to portray him as this tall man with a beard who always spoke out of the side of his mouth and could never be trusted to tell the truth about anything.

“Richard told me the idea was based upon a real life experience but he would never reveal who or what this was. Anyway it was this that really angered the Ayatollah Khomeini and led him to declare a fatwa against me. Ever since, I have been in hiding and while it was really Richard’s fault, I’ve never held a grudge against him.”

McAuley’s contributions to Western culture are not confined to the written word as Lord of the Rings director and Oscar winner, Peter Jackson told the Irish Tomes. New Zealand-born Jackson met McAuley during one of Gerry Adams’ trips to the antipodes and the pair hit it off. He also gave Jackson invaluable advice during the filming of the last episode of the trilogy, Return of the King.

“We were really stuck on how best to portray Smeagol, the oily, creepy creature who is trying to ingratiate himself with Frodo during their journey to Sauron’s kingdom”, Jackson recalled. “The computer animation people just couldn’t capture correctly the image of grovelling submission. But then Richard had an inspired thought. He showed us a video he had made of Gerry Adams meeting George Bush at Hillsborough Castle on the eve of the invasion of Iraq and bang! there it was, right in front of us. So I told the animation people to copy every movement on the video and it worked a treat.

“I really wanted Richard to come to Hollywood for the Oscars and to join me on stage if we won to take his proper share of the glory but he is such a modest character, he wouldn’t budge out of Belfast.”

Richard McAuley’s many contributions to modern literature and culture are now to be officially recognised however in his native west Belfast. Next year’s West Belfast Festival Committee plan to start an annual Richard McAuley Prize for Bullshit to the local writer most likely to emulate him. Locals say that the hot tip favourite to win it first time is McAuley’s old friend, Danny Morrison.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

9 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Richard McAuley - 'a literary giant of our time'
Barney de Breadbin and Eamon Codswolloper


Hear, Hear!
Brian Mór


How Will Paisley's Rise Play in America?
Sean Mc Manus


Other Shoes

Mick Hall


A Septic Needle
Anthony McIntyre


Why More Will Hate More and Less Will Understand Less
Michael Youlton


Save the Hill of Tara
Seaghán Ó Murchú


5 April 2004


Following the True Tradition
Eamonn McCann


Sinn Fein - Sold a Pup: Martin Cunningham Interviewed
Anthony McIntyre


Going to the Flix
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Reports and Inquiries
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State Department Flip-flop to Offset Cory?

Sean Mc Manus


Updating Capitalist Rule
Liam O'Ruairc


The Rush to Judgement: Binary Thinking in a Digital Age
Michael Youlton


"Poor people can't be engineers" - Free Market Corruption, Neo-Liberal Pretexts
Toni Solo




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