The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


Good Friday to Easter Sunday
2 Days and Light Years

The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves. Surrender to a leader is not a means to an end but a fulfilment. Whither they are led is of secondary importance
- Eric Hoffer
Anthony McIntyre • 11 April 2004

Easter Sunday, and all over Ireland various parties, militias, cults and sects were on the march. Even councillors who traipsed off to British war graves or cenotaphs would today put on their republican false faces and pretend that their politics and those of the men and women in the graves they stood at were somehow similar. When I visit the republican plot in Belfast the thing furthest from my mind is the politics of Sinn Fein, which sit like an ugly scar defiling the very sacrifice inscribed in each republican grave. Even more nauseating is the sight of some Sinn Fein leaders who have risen to prominence on the backs of those who lost their lives recoiling in shame at suggestions that they may have been IRA comrades of the dead. How often must we listen to the cock crow?

I didn't attend any of today’s events. It taxed me to even put out a tricolour. I am uncomfortable with flags and flag wavers. Too many of them and Nuremburg dawns on the horizon. Even when I fly the Palestinian flag, it is not a statement about Palestinian nationalism, but rather a protest about the murderous policies of the Israeli state directed against Palestinian people. As for the hoisting of the tricolour, my wife insisted on it. And as she can't reach from the bedroom to the flagpole holder, the task falls to me. She also flies the Stars and Stripes on July 4 and September 11. She is a US citizen and has a strong sense of identity with her homeland. Hanging that up falls to me as well. But people with sharply differing views can live together quite easily without feeling the need to stand on principle over such matters in the home. My friends in the SWP gently rib me about the US flag. I suppose it gives a few knuckle shufflers elsewhere something to crow about, but who cares?

Tomorrow in Derry Marian Price will be the main speaker at a republican commemoration. As it sits presently, I am tempted to take my daughter Firinne up there. We may then go on to Donegal after it and spend some time with Tommy Gorman. It would be a good way to tire the child out. By the time she is back in Belfast she will be ready for bed, if she hasn't already succumbed to sleep in Shando's car. The last time he and I went to Derry it was to a SEA conference and we broke down this side of Toome. But we got there eventually and almost had a mental breakdown listening to some of the conference speakers. A smoother journey and less cumbersome ideologues tomorrow, hopefully.

Why Derry and Marian Price? I suppose if it were not for the fact that we are personal friends, I would not go up. I do not subscribe to the philosophy of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, and not just for its association with the Real IRA. Its blind adherence to a totalising nationalism that has no greater a right to call on our allegiance than Catholicism is odious and jars with my awkward intellectual and emotional attachment to the right to dissent. Nationalism attracts me only in proportion to the extent that it permits people to opt out of its schema for the nation. Priests, whether ideological or theological, when beyond my visual and audible range make life much more bearable.

But at least tomorrow, Marian and her movement will be honouring those who were alongside us during the conflict but fell as a result of it. And there is a certain poignancy involved in standing alongside others, even if fundamentally opposed to me, in silent and reflective tribute to those with whom we at one time shared arms.

There was no chance of my having gone over to Milltown today where there was a choice of two Stick parades. Years ago, as the Sinn Fein parade and the original Sticks met at the cemetery gates there would be abuse, mostly verbal, exchanged between the two. Today, the casual observer would experience difficulty distinguishing which is which, with both factions shouting 'up Stormont' at each other. A visitor attending a Workers Party commemoration in the mid-seventies and listening to Des O'Hagan would, were he to attend a Sinn Fein one today, be excused for thinking that Des had merely grown a few inches in the intervening years but had still retained the beard and glasses. What would Gerry Adams be saying today that O'Hagan hadn't said all those years ago and which we would uproariously laugh at? There is not much novel in a statement laced with references to the need to bring back Stormont, reform the police, secure a bill of rights and oppose all who resist with arms. Small wonder that when a Sinn Fein parade was goose-stepping its way through Dublin today to the air of 'take it down from the mast Irish traitors', a woman confronted the marchers and shouted, 'take it down from the mast yourselves boys.' My sole thought was to recall the words of Cardinal Richelieu - "give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him." Of the vocal woman I thought, "Watch they don't hang you from the mast in its stead, Mrs." Their attitude towards those who disagree with them has won them few prizes for tolerance over the years.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday are a mere two days apart. But the gap between what Good Friday republicanism achieved and the objectives Easter Sunday republicans died to secure can be understood only in light years.






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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

11 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Easter 2004, Arbour Hill, Dublin
Francis Mackey


Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 2 Days and Light Years
Anthony McIntyre


Is there a Republican Alternative to the Good Friday Agreement?
Gerry Ruddy


Bail For Sale - Nationalists Need Not Apply
Anthony McIntyre


Is the British State Neutral?
Liam O Ruairc


Lost Sheep or Shepherd?

Tom Luby


A Person I Admire
Miss O'Dee


Lerner, Said and the Palestinians
M. Shahid Alam


9 April 2004


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




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