The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
In Defence of Eamon Lynch

The censure of those who are opposed to us, is the highest commendation that can be given us.
- Charles de Marguetel de Saint-Denis de Saint Évremond

Anthony McIntyre • June 19 2003

Mairtin O Muilleoir, publisher of the Andersonstown News Group, no longer identifies with armed struggle. His support for the peace process means that he has moved on from the days when he could speak at the graveside of IRA members killed on active service and proclaim them as ‘our volunteers’ or urge others to follow their armed example with the words ‘no matter how often they cut us down, others will pick up and follow.’ As evidence of both his peaceful intent and his new found commitment to ‘human rights’ he has since taken to calling for physical force republicans to be locked up in padded cells. Not those physical force republicans who massacred civilians in Enniskillen, just those who massacred civilians in Omagh. A case seemingly of employing a dubious ethical distinction between bad bombs and good bombs.

Moral dichotomising and locking opponents in padded cells seems a peculiarly Stalinist way of doing business. But, as Orwell illustrated so graphically in Animal Farm, when pigs learn to stand on their hind legs and wear suits, they quickly adopt the discourse and methods of those they formerly ranted against for behaving unlike pigs.

Of course, locking people in padded cells is merely a means of banishing them to some nether region where they will neither be seen nor heard. For those who can not so easily be shipped off to a far out gulag then society itself must be closed down and transformed into some type of ‘carceral archipelago.’ Mairtin O Muilleoir has for some time acted as a self appointed governor attempting to extend the disciplinary power exercised by his propaganda business over the little gulag his colleagues in Sinn Fein have managed to establish in West Belfast.

And yet despite his best efforts, he and his colleagues have been resisted and frustrated at every turn by a small body of thinking people who will not be defeated by the green shirts he so passionately endorses and in whose service his paper the Andersonstown News functions as an organ of intimidation.

Across the Atlantic, the Irish Echo has a reputation for being a newspaper that plays host to a wide range of political views. For years people have commented on the value of the paper and the high standard of its newsworthiness compared with the much more propagandistic Irish Voice. Time and time again the journalists of the Irish Echo have provided insight, commentary and analysis which have surpassed much of what has been carried in both the Irish and British media. And in spite of its name it has never functioned as a mere partisan echo chamber for any one political leader or party on this side of the Atlantic.

Mairtin O Muilleoir has recognised this and has most likely been uncomfortable with it. His right wing mind set would simply deny him the compos mentis to tolerate the notion that there is a certain democratic value accruing to society from newspapers that refuse to subserviently function like the Andersonstown News. They ventilate a country’s intellectual airways allowing the critical imagination of people to breathe unaided by a life support machine which ‘The Party’ is always desperate to depict its own organ as.

We do not need the Andersonstown News to tell us how or what to think. Its overriding purpose seems to be to ensure that we do anything but think. Those inclined to Stalinistic modes of thought and behaviour are apparently pre-programmed to respond like Pavlov’s dog to anything that challenges their monopoly on the dissemination of ideas. Slavoj Zizek wrote in the 1990s of the former Stalinist bureaucracies that:

the state and the ruling party acted with the utmost nervousness and panic at the slightest public criticism, as if some vague critical hints in an obscure poem published in a low-circulation literary journal, or an essay in an academic philosophical journal, possessed the potential capacity to trigger the explosion of the entire socialist system.

And so it is with our self appointed guardians of West Belfast media life. Last week the writer Eamon Lynch penned a piece in the Irish Echo which addressed itself to the authoritarian vigour with which the Andersonstown News sought to close down debate and marginalise The Blanket online journal. Lynch’s piece was articulate, coherent and scrupulously honest. However, it so infuriated O Muilleoir that the Andersonstown News mogul screamed ‘achtung’ and twisted the thumbscrews. This in turn led to a decision being taken by the Echo to remove the piece from the paper’s archives. O Muilleoir also demanded the right to reply, ignoring his own paper’s policy of denying such a right to those who fall foul of its authoritarian ethos. The Echo, to its credit provided him with the space in which to respond. His column, however, could by no means be considered a response to the Lynch article but was rather an idiotic rant against what O Muilleoir perceived to be a thorn in the side of his money-making propaganda venture in West Belfast. His right of reply amounted to nothing more than intellectual dishonesty which he sought to imbricate with falsehoods and innuendo. It is the sort of guff the pages of his own paper are strewn with week in week out. That the Andersonstown News should act as a purveyor of spurious nonsense surprises no one. But that the Irish Echo would elevate it to a status above the honest endeavour of Eamon Lynch, while to the usurious advantage of O Muilleoir, will hardly promote either the reputation or integrity of the paper. Lie with a pig and you get the pig’s fleas.

While the intimidatory power of the Andersonstown News has slithered its way to New York, it was at Echo senior management level alone that a deficit of fortitude prevailed. Eamon Lynch was not cowered by O Muilleoir. He subsequently resigned from the Echo in protest at the ludicrous and morally indefensible course of action opted for by management. To stand on principle as Eamon Lynch did is immeasurably more important to societal intellectual autonomy than any amount of genuflecting to the power of intimidation. Those of us who refuse to be strangled by the tentacles of corporate media power can draw strength from his example. O Muilleoir’s lust for mammon has failed to shake Eamon Lynch’s grip on truth.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Censorship of anything, at any time, in any place, on whatever pretense, has always been and always be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.
- Eugene O'Neill

Index: Current Articles

19 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Andersonstown News: Voice of Banana Republicanism?
Eamon Lynch


A Gnat on the Back of an Elephant
Mags Glennon


In Defence of Eamon Lynch
Anthony McIntyre


Left Right?

Eamonn McCann


President-in-Exile in Jail

Pedram Moallemian


The Letters Page has been updated.


16 June 2003


Building an AntiWarMovement: Moving to Action
Davy Carlin


The Genealogy of Power: On Michel Foucault
Liam O Ruairc


Trade Union Bureaucrats Shaft Aldergrove Workers

Sean Smyth


The Supreme Commander

Anthony McIntyre




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