Fintan: a man of high principles and quick exits

Since Martin McGuinness has announced his candidacy for the post of Irish President, I’ve lost count of the number of programmes and newspaper articles that have focused almost exclusively on his past in the IRA.

It happened again today. I was on BBC Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh’s The Stephen Nolan Show and that was where all the emphasis was placed – on McGuinness’s past. No, tell a lie – his distant past. The past twenty years and his work for peace? Perhaps mentioned but then hurried away from. Guest of honour for the day (pace Gregory Campbell) was Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times. Sad to say Fintan made his excuses (“I’m not being allowed to talk!”) and left before the rest of us. But while he was with us, he spoke yet again with the moral authority only available to him and a small  number of media gurus: if made President, ex-IRA man Martin McGuinness could be arrested as a war criminal, so the south had better not elect him.

Considering that Fintan is said to have a very big brain, that was an amazingly loopy thing to say.  Former IRA Chief of Staff Sean MacBride was appointed Minister for External Affairs in 1948 and went on to be awarded – uniquely – the Nobel Prize for Peace and the Lenin Prize for Peace. Former IRA man General Sean MacEoin was made Minister for Justice in 1948, and was twice the Fine Gael  candidate for Irish President. Sean T O’Kelly and Eamon de Valera both were imprisoned by the British (Dev was sentenced to death for his part in the 1916 Rising, although Fintan says it was all a misunderstanding and Dev didn’t fire a shot).  Between them  – O’Kelly and Dev – they occupied the Presidential post for twenty-eight years. So it looks like that O’Toole horse has just crashed at the first hurdle.

Fintan’s other Big Thing is that McGuinness would be open to arrest for war crimes, because the Geneva Convention forbids actions where non-combatants are tortured or killed. Are you listening? Yes, you – I’m talking to you – Tony Blair, George Bush,  Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Michael Collins, Winston Churchill…The list is endless. Armed conflict is a horrible, filthy business and in it non-combatants invariably suffer and die. In Ireland, in Germany, in England, in the US, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya…again, it’s endless.  If Fintan and his partitionist mates were to list in detail the pain and suffering and death inflicted by, say, Harry Truman alone, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we’d be here until the crack of doom.  I don’t know if Martin McGuinness was guilty forty years ago of breaching the Geneva Convention, but I do know that, if war criminals are all to be rounded up, starting with those who slaughtered most people, by the time they get to  McGuinness he’ll have died of extreme old age.

In the end it’s simple. There are commentators and media people –  a powerful nucleus – who see Martin McGuinness’s candidacy as a threat to partition. Keep those pesky damned northerners out of sight and out of mind.  To block McGuinness they’ll do and say anything, usually four times, to persuade people that the Sinn Féin man is uniquely unsuited. They don’t mind unionists working with him in the north,  in fact they insist on it. But Merciful Hour, don’t ask us Catholics in the south to have him in our Áras.

Will the Irish people of the south (not you, Virginia, you little northern vixen, you don’t HAVE  a vote, how often must I tell you?) – will they allow Fintan and Co to do their thinking for them?  I’ve lived in the south and I’m happy to say I really don’t believe they will. Which means, Fintan, you’re talking through your…Fintan? Are you still there? Oh dear. He’s left the building.

21 Responses to Fintan: a man of high principles and quick exits

  1. PJD September 21, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    I read a book (yes there were pictures in it) last year which dealt with the Official IRA/Workers’ Party/ New Left and all of the other incarnations of that body. A major section in the book dealt with how this organisation set out to infiltrate both the media and the Trades unions. Perhaps it’s time to revisit it and compare the names mentioned with those currently attacking MMG. I wonder, did the 1974 fued really end?

  2. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    The stickies have done a good job of taking over the media.
    Eoghan Harris RTE and the Irish Independent
    Liam Clarke currently political editor of the Belfast Telegraph
    Charlie Bird RTE recruited by Eoghan Harris
    And then there is Eoghan Harris’s former wife now an editor of the Irish Independent
    Henry McDonald a member of the Stickies youth wing now working at the Guardian newspaper

  3. Ryan Kelly September 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Didn’t hear the show, but I heard all about O’Toole’s decision to take his ball and run home. I wish I had been listening!

  4. paddy1967 September 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Not only that Jude, but the basis of Fintan’s argument is flawed.

    When it comes to non-International Armed Conflicts (which the conflict here would likely have been classed as ) it is Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Convention which applies. However, the British Government failed to ratify this until 1998 (after the GFA etc.) for fear that they may be indicted over some of the dirtier acts of their war here.

    So, the reality is that, whether Fintan believes Martin McGuinness ‘should’ be indicted for war crimes or not, Martin McGuinness will/can not be indicted.

    When a journalist of Fintan’s standing publishes such batantly inaccurate information it can only be viewed as scaremongering and propaganda.

  5. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Id happily vote for Martin McGuinness..but paradoxically Im not sure that I want him to win. The Presidents role is totemic and about how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen. The real problem with Lunchtime O’Toole and Glenda Lord and the rest is that as members of the Elite Circle, they dont want to see the cosiness of Dublin 4 to be expanded. The Election itself brings new people and issues……different from their agenda into play. The real issue isnt SFs Past…its SFs Future.
    To that extent SF cant “lose” the Election.

    (posting “anonymously” as I cant get the thingy to work

  6. Jude Collins September 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    An astute point ( as usual) , fitzjh…

  7. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Did Fintan really say Dev was not involved in the Easter Rising? I’d love to know who taught him Irish history if he did?

  8. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    You know what, the more hysterical people like, F O’ Toole,J Duffy and P Kenny become I really believe that M Mc Guinness could actually win.

  9. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Well done today Jude. To some extent, I think its great actually what Fintan O’Toole and co are doing. Their behaviour, comment and responses to Martin McGuinnes’s presidential bid brings out into the open their frightening way of thinking re the North and Northern people, their very partitionist attitudes and among other things an obvious colonialist and elitist way of thinking. The cheek of a working class Derry Catholic to bid for a place in the ‘big house’!! Reminds me of what I used to hear as a child about Catholics who some thought should stay in the future that others had laid out for them – ‘bloody uppity fenian’. Just as the Unionist and other people in Ireland have to be persuaded that their future lies in a shared project with the rest of us, so too do Fintan and his cohorts.

  10. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Fintan’s against it; then it must be good for dreary old Ireland…oh, did I say Dreary; I meant Dear, honest, I meant dear…..

  11. RoryCarr September 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Fitzjameshorse didn’t fool me one little bit with his “Anonymous” mularkey but, not for the first time, it was not who he writes as, but what he writes that allows one to admire his insight.

    But then again, lest he develop a big head, I would add that he had the advantage of being inspired by a cracking article by Jude.

    Somehow O’Toole’s latest shenanigans remind me of the former New Statesman editor, Paul Johnson who wrote in praise of the 1968 Paris eventments and disparaged the terrible police brutality but when faced with demonstrators in London giving back the cops as good as they got at the anti-Vietnam War rally, he retreated to his club in Pall Mall (or St. James or wherever) and begged a stiff drink from a flunkey and asked for a button to be sewn back on his shirt-cuff while he sank back into an armchair muttering in horror, “Bloody lefties !”

    Of course we have all since followed his meteoric rise as hagiographer of the Blessed Margaret and his inspirational and definitive tomes on the great religions, some of which I swear he may have been instrumental in founding.

  12. Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    A needed critique for balance
    Nách lagadh Dia thú a Jude

  13. RoryCarr September 22, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    I trust that Paddy 1967 will forgive me for quoting directly from his contribution above on Slugger O’Toole in order that a fuller understanding of the Geneva Conventions limited application to the recent conflict might dispel the wilfully ignorant and propagandist misunderstanding that was being peddled there by one of the commenters to Chris Donnelly’s thread on this very blog and this very thread.

  14. Ronan Gallagher September 22, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Media watchers here in the south will note the huge upsurge of ‘media love ins’ with David Norris since Martin threw his name in the hat. A week ago they had buried David but now are pushing him on a daily basis. The Joe Duffy show presented by the ‘400,000 euro per annum’ working class Ballyfermot lad, raised the McGuinness history issue and ran a poll which despite dedicating a lot of time to Shinner bashing, returned Martin at the top of the poll…Ooops! And finally, one should ask Fintan if he really is one to judge anyone in politics given that he ran like a little whippet, with his tail between his legs when offered a chance to put his money where his mouth is and save Ireland from financial ruin by standing for election last February.

  15. Gerard September 22, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Great stuff Jude – as usual!

  16. Anonymous September 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Poor Fintan O’Toole must be a glutton for punishment for he has just appeared on Irish radio in a debate with Eamon Dunphy and had ass whipped yet again.

  17. giordanobruno September 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    Are you saying that it is irrelevant if Martin Mcguinness is guilty of breaching the Geneva Convention because other men also might have breached it? If not why list others, none of whom as far as I know are standing for Irish President?
    Do you know if the IRA ever considered themselves bound by the Geneva Convention, either in law or in spirit?

  18. Anonymous September 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I listened to the Nolan show and pictured Fintan O’Toole gathering up his cuttings and scampering out of the studio in terror leaving a trail of sweat in his wake whenever he was confronted by an able listener. Even Steven Nolan sounded surprised. I remember seeing a poster years ago stating that Winston Churchill was wanted for terrorism during the 2nd Boer war. Small man and talks with a lisp. pronounced lisp. reward offered for his capture. Steven should have offered a reward for the capture of Fintan.

  19. Anonymous September 24, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Fintan favours socialism, the Socialist party here are terrified of Sinn Fein taking their votes, the decision to support David Norris was a political one, they don’t really care who is president of this banana republic but If they can knock out opposition from Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness so much the better.

  20. Anonymous September 27, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    Well done Fin “they dont like it up em”