Word Travels Fast In West Belfast

It seems that intolerance towards an alternative viewpoint not ordained by the orthodoxy is still as much the norm in West Belfast as it was when I lived there and termed the place Stalinville

Máiría Cahill is very much a persona non grata in Sinn Fein circles because of her unrelenting determination to have her say and doggedly persist in putting forward her challenging narrative. When she expressed her opinion on the imprisonment of Slab Murphy, to the effect that it was an outcome she welcomed, she was warned to watch her step. "Mairia should be reminded once again about what side her bread is buttered on. Word travels fast in west Belfast & she knows it!”

The author of the statement was challenged online over his comment by someone who accused him of being a member of the "Policing Board sub-committee who it seems has made veiled threat 2 Senator of Irish Parliament."

While not a direct threat the statement is hardly short of menace, never supply-deficient as evidenced by other attempts at silencing women like Anne Travers who have provoked the ire of the orthodox. Is this really what the public expects from DPCPS members, regardless of what misgivings such members might have about the nature of verdicts obtained in the Special Criminal Court?

What did Cahill actually say that could have provoked such hostility?

I welcome today's sentence of 18 months in jail for Thomas "Slab" Murphy for tax evasion.

Justice has finally caught up with this notorious individual.

For many years there have been substantial allegations that he is at the heart of republican activity - criminal and otherwise - in South Armagh. These allegations include matters far worse than tax evasion.

Despite this, he has been repeatedly defended as 'a good republican' and a 'typical rural man' by Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald over recent weeks and months. This is a further indication of how they put themselves and their friends first before victims and the rule of law.

Much of this has the ring of boilerplate electioneering, the type of statement the party PR machines tags on to a politician’s name. With eight coalition governments notched up “the people whose interests Labour purports to serve, were betrayed” and the Labour Party was battling for survival. In the political jungle survival is generally adversarial and Labour was determined to pick off its opponents when the opportunity presented itself. Hence the linkage between Murphy and Adams/MacDonald rather than merely welcoming Murphy’s conviction on the grounds of his conviction for tax avoidance and nothing else. 

I don’t share Máiría Cahill’s enthusiasm for the fate of Slab Murphy. My own bias kicks in, viewing him as one of the people who put it up to the military might of the British state and its terror operation in Ireland. But that is what it is, bias, rather than detached appraisal.

Nor do the huge sums involved lend themselves to adopting the Jude Collins view that Murphy was engaged in “entrepreneurial enterprise rather than unforgivable illegality.” That would work if it was a case of carrying a pig underarm across the border or signing on in both jurisdictions in a bid to top up a meagre outcome. Still, Collins has a point of sorts about the amplified political opprobrium when it is considered that on the day Murphy was sent down Michael Lowry, earlier found by the Moriarty Tribunal as being a tax evader "beyond doubt", was being returned to the Dail where he would serve as a lawmaker.

There is a high tolerance level in this society for law breaking determined by which laws are transgressed and who is the practitioner of illegality. There is also a high level of intolerance and menace in abundance from those determined to silence anyone courageous enough to speak up and speak out.

Agree with Máiría Cahill or not, her right to hold and express an opinion on these matters, is inviolable, while the right of those to silence her with menace is invalid.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

4 comments to ''Word Travels Fast In West Belfast "

  1. Regardless of Slab's past, nobody escapes the feckin taxes!!

  2. AM,
    Totally agree. Cahill or Anne Travers both don’t need the trolls and their veiled threats.
    I can understand how their constant one dimensional attacks can be become extremely tedious and irritating to some, and at times myself included in that, but with the freedom to express an opinion comes the freedom to listen or to ignore that opinion!

  3. "Agree with Máiría Cahill or not, her right to hold and express an opinion on these matters, is inviolable, while the right of those to silence her with menace is invalid."

    I agree with Anthony on Máiría Cahill's right to hold and express an opinion, although I do not agree with the sentiment she expressed nor with her timing. When the mainstream media attacks people like Tom Murphy one does have a responsibility not to join the howling media mob, the more so when they not only ignore the real criminals within the Irish state but often cheer them on.

  4. Organized Rage,

    I think Maria had the family of Paul Quinn in mind when she gave her thoughts.


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