If you were to get too serious about things, you’d go mad. I’m just off the Nolan show on Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster, where Alban Magennis was defending his recent article in the Belfast Telegraph.
You haven’t read his article? Well, in essence it sprang from another article by that well-known republican commentator, Newton Emerson …No, sorry, that can’t be right. Alban expressed his admiration for NE several times on air, and in his article as well,. No, this’d be the Newtown Emerson who has never knowingly commended a republican in his life. Anyway, NE has been going around schools, he says (remind me some other time to tell you about a discussion I once had on air with NE, as to how much he knew about our education system) and he’s unhappy to find that young people have got hold of the idea – in Catholic schools at least – that the Troubles were inevitable and that the IRA was involved in a just war.
This morning, Alban articulated his concern about this, and urged that young people should be armed against propaganda. At first I thought he was suggesting that the children in the schools were being taught this propaganda, but then Alban said he figured they got it from their parents. What children should be made aware of was the belief of Bishop Eddie Daly, as revealed in recent historical papers, that an IRA informer was lured back to Derry and killed by Martin McGuinness. Alban also cited the comment of Monsignor Denis Faul about the Loughgall killing of eight IRA men by the SAS, and how one of a number of theories doing the rounds was that Gerry Adams had arranged the whole thing.
Alban was very concerned that children be taught soundly-based truth about the past, he said, and cited George Orwell’s 1984, where facts about the past were arranged by the government to suit their purposes. (Sound familiar? Did someone mention Bloody Sunday? Ballymurphy? Dublin-Monaghan bombs? Pat Finucane? )
I could go on at length on this, but let me confine myself to five brief points.
- Alban is or was an SDLP politician. He’s naturally happy to seize what looks like an opportunity to damage Sinn Féin by discrediting Martin McGuinness (who he says was ‘canonised’) and Gerry Adams.
- You don’t base history on the opinion (unsupported by evidence) of two Catholic clergymen, both of whom were strongly opposed to republicanism.
- Alban wound up saying that young people were imbibing from their parents this propaganda about the IRA having fought a just war. Not the schools, the parents. Which presumably means Alban has a low opinion of quite a few parents.
- Alban is right if he’s worried that the past is subjected to propaganda rather than soundly-based facts and rational argument. In his article – and on air – he showed little concern with either.
- This is yet another example of that weary old tendency, to engage in selective moral outrage. No one believes – not a person in the Long Tower church at McGuinness’s funeral or in the wider community – that Martin McGuinness was a pacifist. He never claimed to be one – in fact said he was proud of having fought in the IRA. There were a lot of cruel deeds which occurred during the Troubles, on all sides. Is it not odd, then, that in the name of historical accuracy, Alban has battened onto some opinions (as distinguished from facts) which he hopes will damage today’s Shinners?
Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please.