The past: we’ve had one-eye teachers


 “Propaganda is a soft weapon: hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake,and strike the other way” –  Jean Anouilh

One of the most successful propaganda feats – at least until recently – was to insert in the national and international consciousness the belief that our Troubles were the product of a ruthless IRA killing spree that lasted nearly thirty years. It’s a view held by most if not all unionists;  and it’s  the view, with some tweaking, of the SDLP. The narrative is: bad IRA;  bad UDA/UVF etc but-could-you blame-them-merely-responding-to-IRA; unhappy Britain, forced into the costly role of peace-keeper. When you look closer, of course, you find all sorts of holes in this view of things. 

Two examples that throttle or semi-throttle this narrative have popped up in the news recently.

The first is the Ballymurphy massacre. Over a thirty-six hour period, ten people were shot dead. A priest, Fr Hugh Mullan, was shot dead as he attempted to administer the last rites to a dying man, Robert Clarke. A 19-year-old man who also tried to help Clarke was shot in the head and killed. Joan Connolly, a mother protesting against internment, was shot dead; so too was Noel Philips, a 20-year-old.  Eddie Doherty, Joseph Corr, Frank Quinn – the list goes on.  In evidence, British soldiers said the dead were armed. Fr Mullan, they claimed, picked up a rifle and was attempting to use it.In the aftermath of the killings, a sergeant from the special investigation branch of the Royal Military police signed a statement saying he had “ascertained that Military Personnel had fired from Springmartin Road”.  This later was altered at Frank Quinn’s inquest by a new statement from the sergeant where the word ‘no’ appeared: “I ascertained that no Military Personnel had fired from Springmartin Road”.

In sum,  the British army killed ten innocent people over a 36-hour period and then lied as they tried to cover up their deeds.

Joseph Campbell wasn’t an innocent civilian. He was a sergeant in the RUC, stationed in Cushendall. A Catholic father of eight, he was killed as he closed the station in Cushendall, in the Glens of Antrim. It now emerges that several senior RUC officers were aware of a threat to kill Sergeant Campbell but didn’t warn him or pass on their information to detectives investigating Campbell’s killing. The dead policeman’s family believe he was killed by the loyalist Robin “The Jackal” Jackson of the Mid-Ulster Glenanne Gang, made up of loyalists and members of the RUC and the British army.

Think about these  two cases for a moment. Ten innocent people killed over a 36-hour period in Ballymurphy – and in a British army cover-up lies and lies again. A Catholic man who was an RUC officer is allowed to die, even though senior RUC officers knew it was going to happen; and the killing was most likely carried out by the Glenanne gang, an amalgamation of loyalist paramilitaries, RUC officers and the British Army.

Kind of punctures the bad/good narrative of the first paragraph above, doesn’t it? Every time a killing by the IRA –  the Birmingham bombings, the killing of Jean McConville – is resurrected by Enda Kenny or people in the media in the south, let them cite alongside those killings the killings of innocent Catholic civilians and even RUC officers by that unhappy amalgam of loyalists and RUC men known as the Glenanne Gang, and the subsequent lies that were piled on to make sure the truth never came to life. If they want detail, consult Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies. It’s all in there. If politicans are going to cite misdeeds from the past, let them at least do it in an even-handed way.

35 Responses to The past: we’ve had one-eye teachers

  1. Eddie June 28, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Thanks for yet another interesting article Jude. I must admit being a bit disappointed when there was nothing relating to Liz Curtis’ expose of British censorship in the 1980s other than that the book cover was used as an illustration. Maybe the next blog could include some of Liz’s excellent work?

  2. Patrick J Dorrian June 28, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    This affidavit was written well before Anne Cadwaller’s book was published and it was rubbished as fantasy by unionists. It is worth reading all the way through. The following is an excerpt from the affidavit;

    24. A short time after this conversation, RUC Sergeant Joseph Campbell was shot dead in Cushendall. However, at the time, I did not connect Campbell’s murder with my earlier conversation with Jackson. Nor did Jackson mention the Campbell murder with me at our first meeting after the Campbell killing, nor did I ever discuss it with McCaughey: nor did I ever discuss it with Jackson at any time. There was no reason why, at the time of that murder, I should have made any such connection because the IRA were regularly murdering policemen and I had no reason for thinking that the Campbell murder was in any way unusual. At my first meeting with Jackson some weeks after my refusal to help him oblige his RUC Special Branch associate. Jackson proposed to me that I help him murder a different person, someone in Co. Antrim. This would turn out to be William Strathearn.

  3. Francis D June 28, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    The British Propaganda lie that they were ‘Pig in the Middle’ was propogated very effectively indeed, indeed so much so, that a book by some old General of other of this name I read years ago declared that while the upper half of Ardoyne was ablaze during an ongoing Pogram, the British Army asked why they stood by and watched the loyalist Mobs at work, argued (to no incisive challenges no doubt), ‘….we simply didn’t know what was going on’. The process of Double think was Doubleplusgood indeed as in his BBC

  4. neill June 28, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Jude I have read many of your articles and the common gist is to make the IRA less of the bad guys.

    The fact is that they were the bad guys alongside ther loyalist hoodlum counterparts the RUC and the State were also players to a far lesser extent.

    I await the storm….

  5. Francis D June 28, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    ….Sorry Jude, am having some technical problems……anyway, without labouring over what we already know well, I think it incumbent on us to remember that it is not merely snippets from the Tapestry which did not do Justice to the picture as a whole. The Tapestry itself when viewed from a paroramic perspective showed a calcified British Policy of acquiescence in Loyalism to defeat the IRA at any cost. Thousands marching in UDA massed paramilitary ranks openly, and the British set fire to the pyre by wrecking Narionalist/Catholics homes looking for a few rusty guns. A lot can be lost in the fogs of War, but with measured heads a distance from the extremity of the Conflict, we as rational being are stlill urged to swallow the old lies. Perpetual Political acts of contrition by Republicans will not expedite the British from their culpability in the past in fomenting a civil conflict then participating in it enthusiastically to smash the side who wished their unhelpful interference was far away. ‘Lethal Allies’ show a fraction of this ‘Enthusiasm’ in all its garish ‘Subversive’ horror.

  6. neill June 28, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Didnt take long….

    • Francis D June 28, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      The RUC and the State were not ‘Minor Players’ Neill. To think that they were, shows you wish to believe the old internecine Tribal Theory yourself. The RUC and MI5, Special Branch, MI6,/

      • neill June 28, 2014 at 11:38 am #

        Francis were the IRA the good guys or bad guys?

    • Antonio June 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      just bury your head in the sand

  7. Francis D June 28, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Force Research Unit, along with sundry other sub-groups within this State Apparatus, were very far from being ‘Minor Players’.

  8. Francis D June 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Neill, they were created in a response to very real grievances. To narrow them down to simply ‘good guys’ or no, is a false dichotomy. Certainly there were people in the Ranks of the RUC et al who believed they were doing the right thing. Likewise there were B-Specials who regarded their excesses as Justified to protect the 50 years of Unionist Misrule preceeding the
    outbreak of what became known as the ‘Troubles’. Beaten off the streets when Civil Rights were demanded, the emerging movement metamorphed from a defencive necessity into an offensive initiative to remove the causes of the deeper malaise completely. In this War they believed themselves right. It is hard not to see how how Justification and Community support sustained this ensuing struggle with belief that they were right. No one who engages War should do so lightly. When War errupts with the conditions necessary to force it, once engaged, as in the north, every measure of draconian legislation and repressive state operations in response to to the insurgency very ably ensured that the conditions remained that perpeuated it.

    • neill June 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

      You could have just said they were the good guys in your opinion without the waffle

  9. Patrick J Dorrian June 28, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Neil, given what we are learning from Pat Finucane Centre research and the bits and pieces about FRU from Panorama; The Glenanne gang from John Weir; etc etc can you say that the ‘security forces’ were the “Good Guys”. I don’t know your politics; can you say that the Unionists were the good guys in the period 1963-72. Senior members of that party and Stormont government colluded with Gusty Spence to set up the modern uvf in order to undermine the movement for civil rights. We know some of this gang were killed in a false flag bombing. All of these actions were to precipitate the attacks on nationalist areas in August 1969. There was no IRA. The Provisional IRA came into being in 1970 months after the 69 attacks. So were they instigators of or reactors to violence? That is not to say that all their actions those of GOOD GUYs but hey, we are all human and humans put in stressed situations do not always act well. The difference between the “legitimate forces” and the others is that the “legit’s” are trained to be disciplined, they are trained to follow orders and they were sent to kill nationalists when it was thought strategically good to do so, hence Derry, Ballymurphy, FRU, and the use of loyalist PARAMILITARIES to terrorise Catholic communities. Just on that name, while the republican groups were always called terrorist, the loyalist groups were always Paramilitary. The definition below, makes one ask the question, “Organised by whom?”

    par·a·mil·i·tar·y (pr-ml-tr)
    Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.
    n. pl. par·a·mil·i·tar·ies
    A member of a paramilitary force.

    • neill June 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      Yes the Pat Finucane centre would be about the very last place i would go for an unbiased opinion on what happened during the troubles

  10. William Fay June 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    The same regurgitated republican narrative that will forever fail to acknowledge the part of the IRA and their other cohorts.
    The British government were a player within the Troubles and that has to be accepted, and expected of any ruling state that had a serious national security problem. You would also expect them to be gathering intelligence, using whatever tactics that where available, including the use of agents.They got things wrong but largely got it right, that does not minimise the situations where they got it wrong. It is estimated that at least 90% of all terrorist operations were thwarted, estimate that in lives saved. The incidents in Derry and Ballymurphy were caused by infantry regiments poorly led, lack of discipline, and inexperience in these type of scenarios. They did not set out on those days to indiscriminately kill, unfortunately the results were tragic. In the history of the Troubles, state actors were involved in fewer and fewer incidents where civilian deaths took place, unfortunately that is not what took place within extreme republicanism.
    Claudy, Enniskillen, La Mon, Teebane, Kingsmill, Mountain Lodge, Dropping WellI’m just quoting a few from memory and in no particular order, there are many, many more. On the same day as Enniskillen, the IRA tried to blow up a group of children in Tullyhommon, please advise me of the tactics here. Numerous bombs placed outside properties and in towns that were largely of Unionist persuasion, don’t really need to work out the plan here. It left it easy for loyalist murderers to work within the vacuum.
    Republicans were responsible for over 60% of all deaths in Northern Ireland, and one can add to this the number of no warning bombs left in mainland GB, Harrods, Warrington, Guildford, Birmingham, Manchester, etc. it’s quite sad that I have to go through this again, but every blog on this site usually starts off in a benign fashion that somehow twists into the usual Brit bashing. Their hands are certainly not clean, but the major players were violent, out of control republicanism closely followed by their fellow loyalist purveyors of death.

    • Ceannaire June 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      “[The IRA] got things wrong but largely got it right, that does not minimise the situations where they got it wrong.”

      I changed the context there William to help you see there is another view. You don’t accept that, I know. But it doesn’t make it any less valid. You have one view of what happened. I have another. It happens in all conflicts – surely you must accept that?

      By the way, before you get tore into me, I accept your difference of opinion and am interested in your views.

  11. Patrick J Dorrian June 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    It’s funny you say the soldiers were badly led, it seems if one looks at British military history you will find the same poor leadership in every theatre they’ve ever fought in. Was it last year they had to apologise for behaviour towards Kenyans and pay massive compensation to the survivors? Was it the same military tactics that tied sepoy Indians to the mouths of cannons to terrorise the individual even in the moments before death (that culture believed if they were not buried with their bodies intact that had to spend eternity locating the missing bits), Then there was Burma, beheading the natives, torturing Iraquis, brutalising prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing prisoners and only getting jailed because they forgot to turn off their helmet cameras. As you say one offs; poor leadership absolutely nothing about letting the natives know who is boss. As someone who lived in a republican ghetto I know republicans could be brutal, the fact is acknowledged now for goodness sake would the unionists for once grow a bit of integrity and acknowledge that their security forces too were terrorists in the pure definition, they caused terror in Catholic/nationalist homes.

  12. neill June 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Answer the question

  13. RJC June 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    There appears to be a deliberate misunderstanding by some commentators as to what Mr Collins appears to be getting at in his article above.

    Collins is not claiming that IRA = ‘Good Guys’ and RUC/British Government/Unionist Politicians/Orange Order/Loyalist Paramilitaries = ‘Bad Guys’.

    Rather, he appears to be saying that for the past 40+ years, the accepted media narrative has been that IRA = Bad Guys, and that any wrongs perpetrated by others have been brushed aside, and are considered somehow ‘less bad’ by many in politics and in the media. There were serious crimes committed on all sides by a large number of individuals and organisations. To ignore this fact is simply wilful ignorance.

    • neill June 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      Sorry the state crimes have been very well reported the bottomline is this the state forces took prisoners and showed mercy the paramilitaries never did.

      • RJC June 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

        Neill, with regard state forces ‘showing mercy’ – here’s some words on Gerry Conlon, and his time in prison –

        “Their food came to them having been pissed on, defecated on, sometimes with glass sprinkled in it. Their cell door was left deliberately unlocked, so that those who wanted to were able to enter with socks full of batteries and beat them again and again.”

        Is this an instance of state forces ‘showing mercy’? Not to mention the fact that he was an innocent man.

        Did the Parachute Regiment ‘show mercy’ to those they murdered at Ballymurphy?

        I could go on…

        • neill June 28, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

          Did they arrest people yes they did can the same be said of the IRA?

          • RJC June 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

            A touch of the dreaded ‘whataboutery’ there, Neill. You claim that state forces ‘showed mercy’ – I offered evidence to the contrary.

            It’s a shame the Parachute Regiment didn’t arrest those eleven people during those 36 hours in Ballymurphy.

          • Francis D June 29, 2014 at 1:54 am #

            You are a dupe, and a willful idiot neill

      • paul July 1, 2014 at 11:11 am #

        The state crimes have been reported to a degree but never fully investigated. Delay tactics have preventedthe full truth from being revealed.

  14. neill June 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Faintly ironic you didnt answer my question about the IRA

    • RJC June 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      What was your question about the IRA? Did they arrest people? No Neill, the IRA did not arrest people – they were a paramilitary organisation, so it was not within their power to do so.

  15. Perkin Warbeck June 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Propaganda no more than a Knighthood, does not come cheap and there is nobody better positioned to appreciate the truth of the dictum than Sir Anthony J.O’Reilly himself who is now, alas, enduring the long night of the soul. But then, and with apologies to Ann Widdecomb, there was always something of the Knight about Tones.

    For indeed his Knighthood did not cheaply come. In fact it took years of wheelbarrowing shovel-loads of lolly into the coffers of the united sainthood, the Staters, the Stoops and eventually, the Sticks (once they had learned how to use the correct knife and fork) to propagate the right line on the North. The Lions line, as it were, to be zoological about it. But, in the end it all proved well worth while: kneeling down on the palatial carpet as mere Tony he was to receive the genteel tap on the shoulder which enabled him to rise as…..Sir Anthony. (American and Irish papers, please copy).

    For those who doubt the thralldom in which Ireland’s first Billionaire (but not, first former Billionaire) held the Southern Establishment and their Northern proxies I would like, with your kind permission, esteemed Blogmeister, to share with your discerning readership one moment in time which illustrated that same thralldom.

    At one time in my illustrious career, I found myself on the payroll of Government Buildings in Dublin. During my spell there as a C.W.T.S. (grade 4) – I was following in the family tradition and footsteps of Warbeck major who had reached the heady heights of C.W.T.S. (grade 1) – I was witness to the comings and goings of those who were born great, of those who had achieved greatness and indeed, of those who had greatness thrust upon them. (And some, alas, who just grated). But of that vast number none quite exuded that Ring of True Greatness like Sir Ring Tones.

    Take this particular Saturday for instance, about twenty years ago, involving a Hollywood Star, a Taoiseach, a Tanaiste and last but by no means l., Ireland’s greatest Irishman, the broth of a Belvo old boy himself.

    I emphasise the Saturday because for those with the least inkling of Southern politics will know that Saturday, like a crime scene, is sacrosanct, out of bounds, ringfenced and yellow ribboned off. Saturday is to the Southern pols what Friday is to the Sons of the Prophet. For that is the day they water the grass roots, the day they man or person their constituency clinics. That is the reason why Presidents, Prime Ministers, Princes, Potentates, Pretenders and even the odd (very) Panjandrum when they came a-calling, all, without exception, had to do so within the solid bookends of Monday and Friday. That condish was non-negotiable.

    Unless, of course, your name was A.J. O’Reilly. So, as this specific Saturday was his only free day in that particular week, Saturday it was. Thus, it was that this was the only time in my long spell there that all hands in Government Buildings were on deck and at the pumps.Thus, not not only were the then Taoiseach, the bullock-befriending Bruton and the then Tanaiste, Dick Spring (whose name one visiting American would-be wag opined would do just right as a dandy brand name for a device designed to aid those suffering from a certain ,erm, masculine dysfunction) in reluctant attendance but even more astounding, the entire Porterage were present and correct. Though in their case, their attendance was entirely voluntary. There they were, every last man jack of them, almost but not quite resplendent in their ill-fitting, manky black uniforms, craftily purchased in bulk in a job lot by the Quarter Master General of the Civil Service once CIE had decided to delete the conductor class in favour of driver only buses.

    The clockwork choreography of the three-part arrival was pure Oscar-Ceremonial as befitted the occasion. First stretch limo to enter through the huge, high wrought-iron gates of the Edwardian pile formerly known as the Science Buildings, had one passenger, Lady O’Reilly. And as she daintily climbed up the steps to be greeted by the then T and T (who were flanked by the -livlier, some say – statues of Robert Boyle and William Rowan Hamilton) the silence was broken only by the theatrical whispers from the Porterage: ‘Jaysus I though he could have having done better than THAT !’ to ‘Yeah, but did you see the size of HER wallet?’.

    Next limo to arrive, two minutes later on the dot (a total of 57 minutes having been allotted to the entire event) carried the husband of the previous arrival.And as he emerged from the chauffeur-opened door, a hush descended upon the Reception Party. Indeed, such was his charisma, that he was the only one of the three arrivals to subdue the assembled into an involutary shush. A charisma that stretched all the way from those de rigeur Derby shoes to the signature blue shirt with while collars, not to mention those trademark freckles. Ah, those freckles on the forehead. Just as the last thing that those dabblers in the sock exchange, the aging boxers lose is their punch so also it is believed that the last thing a former Billionaire loses is his….freckles. Majestically he strode up the steps, not speaking, not being spoken to.

    The third and last limo disgorged – after a theatrical pause – the familiar face of Paul Newman. And as he took the steps, three at a time, clad in stetson, blue jeans and brown cowboy boots, the Times of Porterland could be head to editorialise, ‘Jay-us, I never knew he was such a midget’ and ‘Will ya look at those baby blue eye of his’.

    Down in the bowels of the packed Press Centre, the bullock-befriending Bruton spoke a few incomprehensible words into the mike (I never could quite decode that curious mix of Clongowes and cowshed) before handing over to the Juxtapose of Tralee (more grouchy than Marxist) and he too followed with some equally incomprehensible words of his own. The patois of Yerraland is difficult enough to understand at the b. of times (think Spillo) but when it has been genetically modified by a spell in an egg-chasing college quite impossible. (Rock Street juxtaposed with Rockwell).

    The Sundance Kid next took the mike. And for a full ten seconds the female-dominated hackerate held its collective breath:not a syllable left the mouth of the movie star. And then, tilting forward suddenly he let rip with big big howdy do of a …..YEE HAW !

    The occasion was a worthy one: the handing over of Barretstown Castle in County Kildare by the state by the Hole in the Wall Gang, a charity devoted to terminally ill children, for the princely peppercorn rent of one euro a year.

    If one could have looked into the seeds of time and tell which grain would grow and which would not, it could then have been seen perhaps as an eerie metaphor of what was going to happen to Castle Catholic Ireland in the late Naughties. After that Crash the Civil Service was compelled to tighten its belt and to do away with the grade known as the C.W.T.S. which stood for, of course, Clock Watching Time Servers. Thus, the reason why Warbeck Minor has not been tempted to follow my footsteps into the ranks.

    Presiding over proceedings, but saying nothing as became the Billionaire Buddha like figure that he was, Tones allowed himself the thinnest of smiles. It was noticeable how he kept glancing at his Rolex, as if he had another appointment to keep. Which he had. And so, ere we knew it and the three limos were on their way out.

    Yet, the best was yet to come, the final grace note which underlined who exactly was pulling the strings here, the last minute touch down of the egg, as it were. For as his limo (the last one to leave) slowed down at the the exit that left hand with the familiar freckles, followed by the recognisable Rolex and the signature six inches of shirt and silver oval cufflinks, purused by seven inches of the wide charcoal grey pinstripes, stretched from the vehicle to place an object in the hand of the gobsmacked Porter on duty at the gate. And then, HE, the Knight of the Realm, was away, to the scene of many of the sporting triumphs of his youth, to Lansdowne Road where an international rugby game was due to commence in a hour’s time.

    And with that, all h. broke loose as the Porterage broke ranks on the steps and charged en mass to the security hut at the gates. It was perhaps the greatest breaking of ranks since the Fannyiad of Foxrock at the garden party in honour of JFK back in 1963 had charged across the lawn of Arus an Uachtarain to touch the hem of him or failing that, the hem of his garments.

    Now, the Porterage are known (perhaps unfairly) as a cohort for their petty bickering amongst themselves but when the chips are down they are a collegiate lot at heart who are always there for each other. And on this occasion it was to assist their colleague who probably needed a helping hand or two to count and even, carry his tip. Alas, the object was not of a monetary nature, nor was it intended for the Porter himself. Rather was he to be the conduit for the envelope which was to be collected by one whose name was on the envelope. The contents of the envelope were two prime tickets for the rugby international and the name on the envelope belonged to that of the brother of then President, named Mary. (No, not the Mary who has since gone on to throw her mighty mitre in the ring for the Papacy but the one who jumped ship to become the General Secretary of the World or was it the Galaxy?).

    This is called, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, covering all bases.

    To conclude: the Ben Madigan sized amount of moola donated by Sir Anthony J. O Reilly to his propaganda project (codenamed the Lions Line on the North) was accumulated by using the time honoured banking principle known as the D.M. principle. Exactly the same principle employed in such transactions as the Northern Bank heist: D.M. That is, for the uninitiated, the borrow now, Definitely, repay later, Maybe principle.

    Now, does this mean that the Staters, the Stoops and the Sticks will now be quizzed by the RTE rotweillers, on this matter; and if no straight answers are forthcoming, be subject to a Suarez like snap?

    Time, alone, perhaps, will tell.

  16. neill June 29, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Francis DJune 29, 2014 at 1:54 am#

    You are a dupe, and a willful idiot neill

    Good Morning Woodkerne

    By your refusal to answer my question it is clearly obvious you think that the IRA are the good guys which clearly says a lot about you and your mentality .

    • paul June 30, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      As I have stated here on several occasions, for LeMon, Kingsmills, Bloody Friday, Droppin Well, there can be no justification. Just wrong, end of story. The problem is that the forces of ‘law and order’ colluded with loyalists paramilitaries, enabling and arming them. They looked the other way when some of their own were murdered to protect ‘informers’ or agents like Robin jackson. There can be no justification for ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday and the large numbers murdered or maimed by rubber /plastic bullets.
      was the IRA good? In some cases they were. In some cases no. So there you have it Neil. When you see your parents, siblings etc beaten ( or shot) off the streets protesting for basic rights, when you see the same people interned without trial, in some cases hooded and tortured by the state, I can see how this led to some people fighting back.

  17. ben madigan June 29, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Lovely story Perkin. One request
    Would you care to explain the metaphor “the Ben Madigan sized amount of moola”

    • Perkin Warbeck June 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

      To Ben Madigan: Certainly, Ben. One of the roads of the parish in Dublin where I was bred and margarined, was called Ben Madigan Road. It was a big, long, low road. Hence the metaphor.

      • giordanobruno June 29, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

        Ben Madigan was of course the historic name for the Cavehill,which would have been a more apt metaphor than a long low road when describing a pile of something.
        But that is neither here nor there I suppose.

  18. Perkin Warbeck June 30, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Be that as it may, Ben Madigan was also the pen name for Ernest Blythe when he was a columnist with the only Irish Language newspaper on the planet at that time, INNIU. Or what his neighbours, when growing up as a Presbyterian in Lisburn, would have righteously dismissed as the lingo of Leprechauns.

    Truly, was E. Blythe a strange bird. Having started his working life as a reporter in the Queen’s English for the North Down Reporter he soon spread his wings and moved down to the Deep South, the Dingle Peninsula indeed, to immerse himself in the lingua franca of the Leprechaun. Ernest had recognised its importance, as he was a cultural conservationist before his time. It was, you might say, a form of green Bunbuyring.

    He went on to do different things: like serving in the first Cabinet of the Free State, reducing the pittance of the Old Age Pensioners (including the Widows’ Mite) and becoming M.D. of the Abbey Theatre., where he insisted on the Irish actors actually learning the Irish language. This led to the taking of much umbrage from the miffed monoglots of Liffeyside..

    Such larks ! Just imagine – at random – the Japanese actors of the National Theatre of Japan being compelled to learn ….Japanese !. Compulsory Japanese in Japan ! Noh, nay, never.

    When asked, in old age, whether he harboured, as a former Free State Minister, any regrets for the 77 Republicans executed during the Civil War, Blythe paused for a moment, scrunched up his face (which was round in a strange Oriental kind of way rather than long in a Lurgan spade sort of way), narrowed his small, slanting eyes behind those rimless Granny glasses of his, and barked: ‘Yis! I do have regrets’. Pause, of a theatrical nature.’ I regret we didn’t put a lot more than 77 of them up against the wall !’.

    Collapse in a fit of uncontrollable cackles.

    As I say, Blythe was indeed a strange bird, past all understanding by the mind of mere mankind.

  19. Navanman July 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    To a large degree the IRA let the British and Unionists off the hook.
    It was very hard to complain or highlight any wrong doing on their part without been labelled some kind of provo supporter.
    Focus and bad press follows the most extremes and with the IRA off the scene the focus is now directly on the loyalists and to a lesser extent the British eg parades, flags, Ballymurphy in the early 70s.