Marisa McGlinchey discusses her book Unfinished Business with Anthony McIntyre.

AM: The book – it made quite a stir when it came out and people still mention it to me. I found it a tremendous read, a pulling together of so many diverse strands of thinking. I have still to complete a review of it. I started one and then got waylaid but hopefully it will feature on TPQ shortly. It was less a strange topic to write about than it was a necessary one because the gap in understanding that needed filling was considerable. You did a great job in enhancing pubic understanding. And no attempt to rest on your laurels and shy away from critical questioning. You went to the crease and batted for your perspective: always the real mark of an authentic public thinker.

MM: Thanks. I look forward to the review as it’s always good to hear how the book is being received and I’m interested to know your take on what it has achieved. As you say there was a considerable gap in understanding, and I wanted to produce a piece of work that moved beyond the simple stereotypes around “dissident” republicanism that seem to dominate the mainstream. I wanted to delve into the psyche of so-called ‘dissident’ republicanism and really get to the heart of what it means. I felt that the best (and only) way to do that was to speak to republicans on the ground and present their actual voices throughout the book. I travelled around Ireland interviewing 90 so-called ‘dissident’ republicans, including some prisoners in Maghaberry prison and spokespersons for armed groups. I wanted to show the wide spectrum of opinion that exists across organisations and independents. 

AM: For you, did it achieve what you wanted in terms of it serving up what it said on the tin? It did for me but I wonder what you feel as quite often we tend to reflect, revisit and over analyse, wondering if we could have done something differently. 

MM: I hope that the book achieves my original aims but when you have a restricted amount of words that you can write you’ll always think of other things you’d like to have included. Maybe that’s for another book. I think this book has compiled a significant oral history of republican views at a particular period in time. Some people interviewed for this work had never given an interview to anyone and some of those people are now deceased. Some may see the main contribution of this book as putting on the record a number of voices which may have been lost over time. 

AM: I am wondering about the motivation for writing it - it is a subject that is all too often given a wide berth but you sailed right into the wind. 

MM: Personally, I was in part motivated by my background. I was born and raised in the republican hotbed of West Belfast and so I saw this developing around me as former comrades became bitterly divided. My family fled Clonard during the burning of Bombay Street in ’69 and my granny was very friendly with Tom Williams. In fact members of my family actually started the petition outside St Paul’s chapel to gather signatures for Tom’s reprieve; and some of my family were involved in the SDLP from 1970 and so there was always politics talk in my home.

AM: I notice you employ inverts when using the term dissident. I often wonder why republicans don’t like being described as dissident. I was dissenting before many of the people in the book were and have never been unhappy to self-define as a dissident republican. A republican in a monarchy has to be a dissident: there would be something wrong were they not.

MM: Yes that’s true about the word dissident. Many of the republicans I have spoken to or interviewed have said exactly the same as you - that they’ve always been a dissident and they are proud of that. Several republicans spoke to me about their solidarity with dissidents around the world. In fact many have said to me that if they weren’t a dissident then there would be something fundamentally wrong with their republicanism. You’ve reminded me of a conference I was at last August in Coventry where Alastair Campbell and I were both speakers and when someone introduced us he smiled and said ‘will you include me as a dissident in your book?’ Clearly, like yourself, Alastair likes the label!

AM: It is not so much that I like it but am not uncomfortable with it. I understand that since the Omagh bomb in particular, it has acquired the inflection of deviant. It is the inflection I would have a problem with, not the term. Is that the problem?

MM: For many the problem stems from the way in which the word is used, particularly here in the North. I remember being in a taxi here in West Belfast and the driver asked me the topic of the book I was writing. I simply told him what it was on and he replied ‘oh you’re one of them dissidents’ and a nice uncomfortable silence befell the taxi for the rest of the journey. It conjures negative connotations and is mainly used in a derogatory sense. I personally don’t like using the word and I tend to put it in inverted commas or put so-called before it. As a term I think it’s simply inaccurate, given that it has been used to imply something new. Many of the people I interviewed were active in the Republican Movement prior to the formation of the Provisional IRA in 1969 - people such as Billy McKee, Lita Campbell or Richard Behal. Phil O’Donoghue was on the Brookeborough raid with Seán South in 1957. Republicans are espousing the same message and ideology that they always have. And so I have to ask, dissenting from what?

AM: You had a wide range of people to draw upon, but also a view from a person strongly associated with Sinn Fein and who has been excoriating of the type of republican your book focuses on.

MM: I also wanted to include interviews from Sinn Féin but that didn’t materialise and so I extensively interviewed Danny Morrison to provide that perspective throughout the book. I felt it was important to include that counterweight position and Danny gave a lot of time, over a number of interviews to answering my questions; which is probably why he joked with me when leaving his home that it had been an interrogation rather than an interview.

AM: It was useful for you that Danny Morrison agreed to participate, although I am not sure of the need for his input into an oral history on dissident republicanism. A better approach, I think, is rather than include Morrison in the way you did, would have been to put his perspective to the people you interviewed. I am not criticising either you or him on this matter, merely wondering if it could have been employed differently. I am have drafted a review of The Wrong Man at the minute, which needs completing. It is quite a good piece of work.

MM: Yes that could have been another approach but I wanted to ask interviewees about their ideology, activism and strategy and I didn’t want to do that through the lens of the Sinn Féin position. I was conscious that I wanted the questions to be open and not leading and I was very interested to see how interviewees would interpret the questions and what immediately came to mind for them and what points they wanted to make. For example one of the questions which I put to all interviewees was about acceptance or rejection of the PSNI. I feel that the research was more rigorous by asking questions like this, rather than putting the Sinn Féin perspective (or Danny’s) to interviewees and then getting their response to that. I found it more valuable to see how the interviewees responded and then undertake a comparison of their views with Danny’s (and vice-versa). But you’ve raised an interesting point and I actually think that the approach you’ve suggested was partly being employed, albeit unconsciously. Inevitably, interviewees were asked to engage with Sinn Féin’s position and vice-versa with Danny’s interview. Regarding Danny’s participation, I think it greatly strengthened the work to juxtapose the two positions throughout the book.

AM: Obviously you did not find republicans monsters. There are some people on Twitter I interact with and they seem perfectly rational until republicanism comes up and then a gasket blows. They are suddenly consumed by this hatred. Not against me personally but against anything republican. I have seen the vitriol poured on John Finucane – the very surname seems to drive them apoplectic and the current mayor of Belfast is suddenly almost an IRA devourer of Protestant babies, a Roland Freisler type. While there are always religious wackos that scream biblical obscenities, the people I am thinking of don’t seem in the slightest religious, but they hate with the bible’s perfect hate. Do you think your work which humanises armed republicans without in the slightest excusing their actions, can ever penetrate that seething cauldron of hatred? I am not speaking about all loyalists – many of them are very engaging and nuanced in their thinking. They differ for sure, but they don’t pulsate with that intense animosity which I always find disquieting.

MM: I launched this book in Belfast, Dublin and London and some people have said to me that they’ve never seen such a mix of people come together - those in attendance included academics, print and broadcast journalists, a well-known local comedian, SDLP, former IRA prisoners, a member of the House of Lords and our parish priest. Some journalist friends who were at the Belfast launch have told me that there were loyalists there, including former UVF prisoners. I wasn’t aware of that at the time and in fact I wasn’t aware that some of them queued to get their book signed. I was surprised and interested to hear this. I think it’s a really positive thing that the launch attracted such a diverse mixture of people and I’m delighted that there were also loyalists there who were interested enough to give up their time to come along.

In terms of conflict and understanding I think the starting point is always to humanise people and actually understand their views and motivation. That doesn’t mean you have to accept them or agree with them. I don’t know if this work can help penetrate the ‘cauldron of hatred’ that you’ve referred to but I hope in the very least that it presents an understanding of republicans and their position and views. After publishing the book I received some anonymous Facebook messages stating ‘up the UDR’, ‘Ulster is British’ and ‘No surrender!’ from people who I assume don’t want to leave that cauldron and probably haven’t read the book. But I have also been contacted by loyalists who have read the book with a lot of interest and curiosity, some of whom have asked me to meet them and sign their copy of the book.

AM: The Know-Nothing club remains vibrant, but many of the Loyalists I have engaged with over the years have been highly astute. From time to time we carry their stuff on the blog. I have long been an admirer of the writing of Clifford Peeples from when I first read him in Fortnight, which might surprise some but hardly yourself. His ideas and my own hardly gel, but the man simply has a talent for getting his thoughts across via the written word. Gareth Mulvenna has got into the psyche well but there has to be room there for the type of work you have done with republicans.

MM: I actually saw Clifford Peeples speaking at an event in Conway Mill in Belfast in February. Republican Sinn Féin had organised the forum on the Éire Nua policy and had invited all parties. I was surprised that it wasn’t picked up by the media as this was one of the first times that such public debate has taken place between RSF and loyalism. Given that Éire Nua is a federal policy for all the people of Ireland, including unionists, it was fascinating to watch the exchanges between Clifford and members of RSF around the policy.

I do think there is room for a similar study of loyalism; one that would compile an extensive oral history across the various strands. Maybe one is already in the making?! I hope one is produced as I think it would be a great contribution to the literature. To whomever is undertaking it, I would pass on the wise advice that you once gave me - just don’t let anyone disclose anything of an illegal nature, ever.

AM: Have you got any feel from the many conferences and launches you have attended as to how those with the security services have viewed Unfinished Business? I know it is instinctive to them to try and use it for intelligence gathering purposes or for something they can prosecute someone for and you were assiduous in your efforts to ensure that your work was free from the errors that so weakened the Boston College project. But was there anything that indicated to you that they might see things differently? I have spoken to and debated with many PSNI at conferences over the years in Oxford and Cambridge and noticed how some of them at least had recalibrated their view on the IRA campaign. While certainly not lending any justification to it they had acquired a better more nuanced understanding of why it was fought.

MM: I don’t know if there were any members of the security services at the conferences I spoke at as none ever identified themselves or asked a question that would indicate a security background. I honestly don’t know how the security services view this work or if it has changed their understanding. I had anticipated that after the book’s publication I may be contacted by them, especially as a few years ago the Sunday World carried a quote from a DUP MP stating that my tapes should be seized by the PSNI, but I haven’t had any contact from the security services.

However, I recently had a meeting with the prison service over the banning of my book in Maghaberry. At the end of the meeting the conversation turned a bit more informal and interestingly the individuals there were curious about my motivation for writing the book and they expressed surprise that so many republicans agreed to be interviewed and that they all agreed to be named. This is a point that people often mention to me. I think people see so-called ‘dissident’ republicans as operating in the shadows and when they read this book they are struck by the fact that all are named, apart from the spokespersons for armed groups; and far from operating in the shadows many are prominent members of their community. Interviewees include solicitors, elected councillors, a taxi driver, students, a retired psychiatric nurse, etc. So my general impression is that the book has challenged mainstream stereotypes regarding who so-called “dissidents” are and people are also surprised to learn that the “dissident” republican spectrum is quite nuanced and includes many individuals who do not support the current use of armed actions by republican groups.

AM: Unionists, how did they react? I have spoken to DUP people at conferences about the IRA campaign and not all of them have the same view in private as they do in public. One senior figure told me had he been a young nationalist growing up in West Belfast in the 1970s he would have fought as well.

MM: So far it’s difficult to gauge unionist reaction to this book but it was launched in Belfast and Dublin by Paul Bew who is a member of the House of Lords in Westminster. At the time some journalists said that they were surprised that a unionist and Lord would be launching this book on republicanism. While Paul had no connection to this book he was my PhD supervisor at Queen’s University Belfast - my thesis was on the SDLP and I graduated in 2010. During the launches, Paul spoke of the ‘scholarly contribution’ which this book makes and has written: ‘anyone who has ever asked the question about “dissident” republicans - who are they and what do they think? - will find the answer here’, which appears on the back of the book. There were academics at the launches who are unionist and some of them talked about the insight into ‘dissident’ republicanism which the book has brought. They were struck by the fact that 90 republicans were interviewed and seemed curious to read what they had to say. They made comments similar to Paul about the book giving them an insight into who ‘dissidents’ are.

During the launches Paul revealed that he was particularly struck by a quote from interviewee Kevin Hannaway - which I open the introduction with. After apologising in advance for the language Paul read the quote verbatim from the book:


The present leadership of Sinn Féin – if they were out for an Irish Republic they failed. If they were out for civil rights they got it in 1973. So what the fucking hell was the other thirty years of war for?


AM: This takes me to a related topic. Incredibly the book ended up being banned from Maghaberry.  Prison management like some dinosaur that still believes it is in the 1970s H-Blocks continues to think in terms of Unfinished Business. It was like a throwback to less enlightened times when it prohibited a considerable band of material. Always on spurious grounds. I invariably found the NIO lie machine to be competing with the Thiepval lie machine for poll position. Yet the ban was overturned and you actually met with Ronnie Armour, which in the old days would never have happened. Then it was unfailingly a terse irrational answer from some faceless NIO pen pusher. Was it pure pettiness, sectarian bigotry, faux security concerns – all the traits that characterised the Prison service back in the day? Did Mr Armour offer any explanation? I am glad he actually read it and I hope he asks his colleagues to take a leaf out of the same book.

MM: When the book was banned in Maghaberry prison the story was carried by The Guardian, the Irish News and the BBC which is how it ended up on Ronnie Armour’s desk. I then received an email from the prison service requesting a meeting with me. That meeting took place recently and in attendance was the head of the prison service, Ronnie Armour, his PA and me. This was a constructive meeting. Going in I fully expected to be politely told that the ban would not be overturned but it was actually the opposite. Straight away Ronnie Armour said that when the book landed on his desk, and he read it, he realised that there were no grounds on which the book should be banned. He said that it was regretful that this had caused me personal annoyance but that something positive had come out of this case. He said he felt it was important to meet with me himself and he explained that there had been a blanket ban on anything relating to ‘paramilitarism’ entering the prison. Therefore the very topic of my book was enough to ban it. He said that when he read my book he immediately commissioned a review. The review resulted in a historic change, in that it got rid of the blanket ban and established guidelines on what constitutes banned material. He said that my book was used as the test case. The new process means that books will not be banned unless they breach the specific guidelines which include hate speech, extreme pornography, are racist or homophobic or encourage the commission of a crime. Ronnie Armour was keen to explain the context in which this ban was in place. He stated that the prison service are still living with the killing of colleagues and that the last two people killed by republicans were members of the prison service. But he stated that when he looked at my book he felt that the ban was ‘not appropriate’. At the end of the meeting it was also acknowledged that the ban can’t have hurt sales to which I asked if they would consider banning my next book on the SDLP, to which I was jokingly told ‘no. Thanks to you we can’t now’.

AM: Do you know what other books are banned from the jails? During the Blanket the only thing we ended up being allowed was the bible. A funny choice given that the prison service was claiming to be locking up people responsible for mass murder and here they were giving us a book where massacres were divinely approved and inspired. I refused to read the thing from about the autumn of 78 after some Board Of Visitors snob told me I should.

MM: I heard from some academic colleagues that various Irish politics books were banned including work on loyalism. I hadn’t been aware of this until this happened with my book. A Belfast based solicitor told me that a pamphlet relating to a current republican prisoner was also banned and that no reasons had been given. From what Ronnie Armour told me, it looks like any books relating to ‘paramilitarism’ at all were banned. I did laugh when a well-known republican said to me ‘don’t worry we’ll get it in’. The fact that someone would care enough to try to smuggle this academic book into a prison sounded like a dream scenario!

AM: Some of the ideas expressed in the book seemed weird and almost theological in their detachment from any sense of reality. I wonder how you found the patience to work on it.

MM: I loved doing the research and I loved travelling around Ireland and delving into people’s psyche regarding their background, motivations and tactics. Sometimes people expressed surprise that as many as 90 republicans would agree to be interviewed. In fact I had to stop at 90 to get the book written! More and more potential interviewees were coming forward and it was hard to stop. The fact that so-called ‘dissident’ republicanism contains such a wide spectrum of views meant that the research took several years as it involved approaching multiple organisations and individuals. I was fascinated in why individuals chose to join a particular organisation, given the numerous republican organisations which exit. As you say, some of the views expressed may be viewed by some as theological or doctrinal, which to me made it all the most interesting to try and understand why individuals are so driven in adhering to those positions. The human mind is fascinating and throughout the interviews I was hearing a combination of ideologically driven positions and people’s personal testimony based on their life experience, particularly within the Provisional Movement. A very interesting interviewee is the late Tony Catney of the 1916 societies. When I interviewed him in his home in Belfast I was surprised to hear that his exit from the Provisional Movement was mainly as a consequence of his belief that he was not permitted to express dissenting views, rather than any ideological criticism.

AM: What were the challenges you faced during the researching and writing? Were there times you ever felt like giving up? Your original co-author didn’t complete the journey and in some ways that leaves all the blame or credit to you for the finished item. In this case it is very much praise. Was it a sense of accomplishment or relief?

MM: From the outset this project was a really bumpy ride! The hits just kept coming. During the research I was stopped and searched by the PSNI as I was travelling to some of the interviews. I was also facing prosecution for allegedly partaking in an illegal parade in Lurgan in May 2016. I was simply taking photographs of the event, some of which appear in the book. It was only a few days ago that I received a letter saying that the prosecution service had decided not to prosecute. I was very lucky to have an understanding boss at Coventry who stood by me throughout this whole project and the difficulties that came. As I said at my book launches, I still laugh when I think about an event in the Ulster Museum which my boss had invited me to as he was one of the speakers. Other speakers included community organisations and elected representatives. As I walked in the door he quite loudly said “have they dropped the charges against you yet?” I got some very strange and curious looks from some MLAs sitting there and I went quite red.

I never once thought about giving up. I always knew I would produce this book. One of the biggest challenges was when my co-author didn’t deliver. But, like many other things that happened throughout this process, I view it as serendipitous that he didn’t! I began this research on my own at home in West Belfast and it grew into a project from there. But it was ‘my baby’ and my interviews with republicans; therefore the fact that I wrote this book on my own is the right outcome. A friend in Liverpool recently asked me how I coped with going from having a co-author to doing it completely alone. As I explained to him, all the research was my own anyway and so I just tore up the original book structure, took a deep breath and wrote a new structure which reflected what I wanted to cover. Given the various bumps on the road, some academic friends and colleagues have recently admitted to me that they never thought this book would see the light of day. I actually like hearing that as it’s a great sense of accomplishment and I always knew I’d get it out there.

AM: You got there and in style. Have you any Unfinished Business to complete now that you wish to share with our readers?

MM: I’m actually working on my second book with Manchester University Press. For me it is definitely unfinished business as it is based on my PhD thesis on the decline of the SDLP which I completed in 2010. I had always planned to bring it out as a book as it contains interviews which I conducted with John Hume, Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern, Séamus Mallon, David Trimble, Gerry Kelly, Mark Durkan and many others. But I wanted to do the republican book first and then return to this. Séamus Mallon was in fine form and was particularly witty during his interview, at one stage referring to Gerry Kelly as acting like John the Baptist on the street at Drumcree; and soured by the SDLP’s exclusion, he sarcastically said that Adams and McGuinness were in Downing street so often during the peace negotiations that it was rumoured that they were on the electoral register in London as 10 Downing Street. Séamus’s wit needs to be shared…

I love true crime and so I’ve a few new books sitting on the bedside table waiting to be read, along with Anna Burn’s Milkman as I seem to be the only person in Ireland who hasn’t read it!

Marisa McGlinchey is a West Belfast researcher at Coventry University.



In Quillversation ⬌ Unfinished Business

Marisa McGlinchey discusses her book Unfinished Business with Anthony McIntyre.

AM: The book – it made quite a stir when it came out and people still mention it to me. I found it a tremendous read, a pulling together of so many diverse strands of thinking. I have still to complete a review of it. I started one and then got waylaid but hopefully it will feature on TPQ shortly. It was less a strange topic to write about than it was a necessary one because the gap in understanding that needed filling was considerable. You did a great job in enhancing pubic understanding. And no attempt to rest on your laurels and shy away from critical questioning. You went to the crease and batted for your perspective: always the real mark of an authentic public thinker.

MM: Thanks. I look forward to the review as it’s always good to hear how the book is being received and I’m interested to know your take on what it has achieved. As you say there was a considerable gap in understanding, and I wanted to produce a piece of work that moved beyond the simple stereotypes around “dissident” republicanism that seem to dominate the mainstream. I wanted to delve into the psyche of so-called ‘dissident’ republicanism and really get to the heart of what it means. I felt that the best (and only) way to do that was to speak to republicans on the ground and present their actual voices throughout the book. I travelled around Ireland interviewing 90 so-called ‘dissident’ republicans, including some prisoners in Maghaberry prison and spokespersons for armed groups. I wanted to show the wide spectrum of opinion that exists across organisations and independents. 

AM: For you, did it achieve what you wanted in terms of it serving up what it said on the tin? It did for me but I wonder what you feel as quite often we tend to reflect, revisit and over analyse, wondering if we could have done something differently. 

MM: I hope that the book achieves my original aims but when you have a restricted amount of words that you can write you’ll always think of other things you’d like to have included. Maybe that’s for another book. I think this book has compiled a significant oral history of republican views at a particular period in time. Some people interviewed for this work had never given an interview to anyone and some of those people are now deceased. Some may see the main contribution of this book as putting on the record a number of voices which may have been lost over time. 

AM: I am wondering about the motivation for writing it - it is a subject that is all too often given a wide berth but you sailed right into the wind. 

MM: Personally, I was in part motivated by my background. I was born and raised in the republican hotbed of West Belfast and so I saw this developing around me as former comrades became bitterly divided. My family fled Clonard during the burning of Bombay Street in ’69 and my granny was very friendly with Tom Williams. In fact members of my family actually started the petition outside St Paul’s chapel to gather signatures for Tom’s reprieve; and some of my family were involved in the SDLP from 1970 and so there was always politics talk in my home.

AM: I notice you employ inverts when using the term dissident. I often wonder why republicans don’t like being described as dissident. I was dissenting before many of the people in the book were and have never been unhappy to self-define as a dissident republican. A republican in a monarchy has to be a dissident: there would be something wrong were they not.

MM: Yes that’s true about the word dissident. Many of the republicans I have spoken to or interviewed have said exactly the same as you - that they’ve always been a dissident and they are proud of that. Several republicans spoke to me about their solidarity with dissidents around the world. In fact many have said to me that if they weren’t a dissident then there would be something fundamentally wrong with their republicanism. You’ve reminded me of a conference I was at last August in Coventry where Alastair Campbell and I were both speakers and when someone introduced us he smiled and said ‘will you include me as a dissident in your book?’ Clearly, like yourself, Alastair likes the label!

AM: It is not so much that I like it but am not uncomfortable with it. I understand that since the Omagh bomb in particular, it has acquired the inflection of deviant. It is the inflection I would have a problem with, not the term. Is that the problem?

MM: For many the problem stems from the way in which the word is used, particularly here in the North. I remember being in a taxi here in West Belfast and the driver asked me the topic of the book I was writing. I simply told him what it was on and he replied ‘oh you’re one of them dissidents’ and a nice uncomfortable silence befell the taxi for the rest of the journey. It conjures negative connotations and is mainly used in a derogatory sense. I personally don’t like using the word and I tend to put it in inverted commas or put so-called before it. As a term I think it’s simply inaccurate, given that it has been used to imply something new. Many of the people I interviewed were active in the Republican Movement prior to the formation of the Provisional IRA in 1969 - people such as Billy McKee, Lita Campbell or Richard Behal. Phil O’Donoghue was on the Brookeborough raid with Seán South in 1957. Republicans are espousing the same message and ideology that they always have. And so I have to ask, dissenting from what?

AM: You had a wide range of people to draw upon, but also a view from a person strongly associated with Sinn Fein and who has been excoriating of the type of republican your book focuses on.

MM: I also wanted to include interviews from Sinn Féin but that didn’t materialise and so I extensively interviewed Danny Morrison to provide that perspective throughout the book. I felt it was important to include that counterweight position and Danny gave a lot of time, over a number of interviews to answering my questions; which is probably why he joked with me when leaving his home that it had been an interrogation rather than an interview.

AM: It was useful for you that Danny Morrison agreed to participate, although I am not sure of the need for his input into an oral history on dissident republicanism. A better approach, I think, is rather than include Morrison in the way you did, would have been to put his perspective to the people you interviewed. I am not criticising either you or him on this matter, merely wondering if it could have been employed differently. I am have drafted a review of The Wrong Man at the minute, which needs completing. It is quite a good piece of work.

MM: Yes that could have been another approach but I wanted to ask interviewees about their ideology, activism and strategy and I didn’t want to do that through the lens of the Sinn Féin position. I was conscious that I wanted the questions to be open and not leading and I was very interested to see how interviewees would interpret the questions and what immediately came to mind for them and what points they wanted to make. For example one of the questions which I put to all interviewees was about acceptance or rejection of the PSNI. I feel that the research was more rigorous by asking questions like this, rather than putting the Sinn Féin perspective (or Danny’s) to interviewees and then getting their response to that. I found it more valuable to see how the interviewees responded and then undertake a comparison of their views with Danny’s (and vice-versa). But you’ve raised an interesting point and I actually think that the approach you’ve suggested was partly being employed, albeit unconsciously. Inevitably, interviewees were asked to engage with Sinn Féin’s position and vice-versa with Danny’s interview. Regarding Danny’s participation, I think it greatly strengthened the work to juxtapose the two positions throughout the book.

AM: Obviously you did not find republicans monsters. There are some people on Twitter I interact with and they seem perfectly rational until republicanism comes up and then a gasket blows. They are suddenly consumed by this hatred. Not against me personally but against anything republican. I have seen the vitriol poured on John Finucane – the very surname seems to drive them apoplectic and the current mayor of Belfast is suddenly almost an IRA devourer of Protestant babies, a Roland Freisler type. While there are always religious wackos that scream biblical obscenities, the people I am thinking of don’t seem in the slightest religious, but they hate with the bible’s perfect hate. Do you think your work which humanises armed republicans without in the slightest excusing their actions, can ever penetrate that seething cauldron of hatred? I am not speaking about all loyalists – many of them are very engaging and nuanced in their thinking. They differ for sure, but they don’t pulsate with that intense animosity which I always find disquieting.

MM: I launched this book in Belfast, Dublin and London and some people have said to me that they’ve never seen such a mix of people come together - those in attendance included academics, print and broadcast journalists, a well-known local comedian, SDLP, former IRA prisoners, a member of the House of Lords and our parish priest. Some journalist friends who were at the Belfast launch have told me that there were loyalists there, including former UVF prisoners. I wasn’t aware of that at the time and in fact I wasn’t aware that some of them queued to get their book signed. I was surprised and interested to hear this. I think it’s a really positive thing that the launch attracted such a diverse mixture of people and I’m delighted that there were also loyalists there who were interested enough to give up their time to come along.

In terms of conflict and understanding I think the starting point is always to humanise people and actually understand their views and motivation. That doesn’t mean you have to accept them or agree with them. I don’t know if this work can help penetrate the ‘cauldron of hatred’ that you’ve referred to but I hope in the very least that it presents an understanding of republicans and their position and views. After publishing the book I received some anonymous Facebook messages stating ‘up the UDR’, ‘Ulster is British’ and ‘No surrender!’ from people who I assume don’t want to leave that cauldron and probably haven’t read the book. But I have also been contacted by loyalists who have read the book with a lot of interest and curiosity, some of whom have asked me to meet them and sign their copy of the book.

AM: The Know-Nothing club remains vibrant, but many of the Loyalists I have engaged with over the years have been highly astute. From time to time we carry their stuff on the blog. I have long been an admirer of the writing of Clifford Peeples from when I first read him in Fortnight, which might surprise some but hardly yourself. His ideas and my own hardly gel, but the man simply has a talent for getting his thoughts across via the written word. Gareth Mulvenna has got into the psyche well but there has to be room there for the type of work you have done with republicans.

MM: I actually saw Clifford Peeples speaking at an event in Conway Mill in Belfast in February. Republican Sinn Féin had organised the forum on the Éire Nua policy and had invited all parties. I was surprised that it wasn’t picked up by the media as this was one of the first times that such public debate has taken place between RSF and loyalism. Given that Éire Nua is a federal policy for all the people of Ireland, including unionists, it was fascinating to watch the exchanges between Clifford and members of RSF around the policy.

I do think there is room for a similar study of loyalism; one that would compile an extensive oral history across the various strands. Maybe one is already in the making?! I hope one is produced as I think it would be a great contribution to the literature. To whomever is undertaking it, I would pass on the wise advice that you once gave me - just don’t let anyone disclose anything of an illegal nature, ever.

AM: Have you got any feel from the many conferences and launches you have attended as to how those with the security services have viewed Unfinished Business? I know it is instinctive to them to try and use it for intelligence gathering purposes or for something they can prosecute someone for and you were assiduous in your efforts to ensure that your work was free from the errors that so weakened the Boston College project. But was there anything that indicated to you that they might see things differently? I have spoken to and debated with many PSNI at conferences over the years in Oxford and Cambridge and noticed how some of them at least had recalibrated their view on the IRA campaign. While certainly not lending any justification to it they had acquired a better more nuanced understanding of why it was fought.

MM: I don’t know if there were any members of the security services at the conferences I spoke at as none ever identified themselves or asked a question that would indicate a security background. I honestly don’t know how the security services view this work or if it has changed their understanding. I had anticipated that after the book’s publication I may be contacted by them, especially as a few years ago the Sunday World carried a quote from a DUP MP stating that my tapes should be seized by the PSNI, but I haven’t had any contact from the security services.

However, I recently had a meeting with the prison service over the banning of my book in Maghaberry. At the end of the meeting the conversation turned a bit more informal and interestingly the individuals there were curious about my motivation for writing the book and they expressed surprise that so many republicans agreed to be interviewed and that they all agreed to be named. This is a point that people often mention to me. I think people see so-called ‘dissident’ republicans as operating in the shadows and when they read this book they are struck by the fact that all are named, apart from the spokespersons for armed groups; and far from operating in the shadows many are prominent members of their community. Interviewees include solicitors, elected councillors, a taxi driver, students, a retired psychiatric nurse, etc. So my general impression is that the book has challenged mainstream stereotypes regarding who so-called “dissidents” are and people are also surprised to learn that the “dissident” republican spectrum is quite nuanced and includes many individuals who do not support the current use of armed actions by republican groups.

AM: Unionists, how did they react? I have spoken to DUP people at conferences about the IRA campaign and not all of them have the same view in private as they do in public. One senior figure told me had he been a young nationalist growing up in West Belfast in the 1970s he would have fought as well.

MM: So far it’s difficult to gauge unionist reaction to this book but it was launched in Belfast and Dublin by Paul Bew who is a member of the House of Lords in Westminster. At the time some journalists said that they were surprised that a unionist and Lord would be launching this book on republicanism. While Paul had no connection to this book he was my PhD supervisor at Queen’s University Belfast - my thesis was on the SDLP and I graduated in 2010. During the launches, Paul spoke of the ‘scholarly contribution’ which this book makes and has written: ‘anyone who has ever asked the question about “dissident” republicans - who are they and what do they think? - will find the answer here’, which appears on the back of the book. There were academics at the launches who are unionist and some of them talked about the insight into ‘dissident’ republicanism which the book has brought. They were struck by the fact that 90 republicans were interviewed and seemed curious to read what they had to say. They made comments similar to Paul about the book giving them an insight into who ‘dissidents’ are.

During the launches Paul revealed that he was particularly struck by a quote from interviewee Kevin Hannaway - which I open the introduction with. After apologising in advance for the language Paul read the quote verbatim from the book:


The present leadership of Sinn Féin – if they were out for an Irish Republic they failed. If they were out for civil rights they got it in 1973. So what the fucking hell was the other thirty years of war for?


AM: This takes me to a related topic. Incredibly the book ended up being banned from Maghaberry.  Prison management like some dinosaur that still believes it is in the 1970s H-Blocks continues to think in terms of Unfinished Business. It was like a throwback to less enlightened times when it prohibited a considerable band of material. Always on spurious grounds. I invariably found the NIO lie machine to be competing with the Thiepval lie machine for poll position. Yet the ban was overturned and you actually met with Ronnie Armour, which in the old days would never have happened. Then it was unfailingly a terse irrational answer from some faceless NIO pen pusher. Was it pure pettiness, sectarian bigotry, faux security concerns – all the traits that characterised the Prison service back in the day? Did Mr Armour offer any explanation? I am glad he actually read it and I hope he asks his colleagues to take a leaf out of the same book.

MM: When the book was banned in Maghaberry prison the story was carried by The Guardian, the Irish News and the BBC which is how it ended up on Ronnie Armour’s desk. I then received an email from the prison service requesting a meeting with me. That meeting took place recently and in attendance was the head of the prison service, Ronnie Armour, his PA and me. This was a constructive meeting. Going in I fully expected to be politely told that the ban would not be overturned but it was actually the opposite. Straight away Ronnie Armour said that when the book landed on his desk, and he read it, he realised that there were no grounds on which the book should be banned. He said that it was regretful that this had caused me personal annoyance but that something positive had come out of this case. He said he felt it was important to meet with me himself and he explained that there had been a blanket ban on anything relating to ‘paramilitarism’ entering the prison. Therefore the very topic of my book was enough to ban it. He said that when he read my book he immediately commissioned a review. The review resulted in a historic change, in that it got rid of the blanket ban and established guidelines on what constitutes banned material. He said that my book was used as the test case. The new process means that books will not be banned unless they breach the specific guidelines which include hate speech, extreme pornography, are racist or homophobic or encourage the commission of a crime. Ronnie Armour was keen to explain the context in which this ban was in place. He stated that the prison service are still living with the killing of colleagues and that the last two people killed by republicans were members of the prison service. But he stated that when he looked at my book he felt that the ban was ‘not appropriate’. At the end of the meeting it was also acknowledged that the ban can’t have hurt sales to which I asked if they would consider banning my next book on the SDLP, to which I was jokingly told ‘no. Thanks to you we can’t now’.

AM: Do you know what other books are banned from the jails? During the Blanket the only thing we ended up being allowed was the bible. A funny choice given that the prison service was claiming to be locking up people responsible for mass murder and here they were giving us a book where massacres were divinely approved and inspired. I refused to read the thing from about the autumn of 78 after some Board Of Visitors snob told me I should.

MM: I heard from some academic colleagues that various Irish politics books were banned including work on loyalism. I hadn’t been aware of this until this happened with my book. A Belfast based solicitor told me that a pamphlet relating to a current republican prisoner was also banned and that no reasons had been given. From what Ronnie Armour told me, it looks like any books relating to ‘paramilitarism’ at all were banned. I did laugh when a well-known republican said to me ‘don’t worry we’ll get it in’. The fact that someone would care enough to try to smuggle this academic book into a prison sounded like a dream scenario!

AM: Some of the ideas expressed in the book seemed weird and almost theological in their detachment from any sense of reality. I wonder how you found the patience to work on it.

MM: I loved doing the research and I loved travelling around Ireland and delving into people’s psyche regarding their background, motivations and tactics. Sometimes people expressed surprise that as many as 90 republicans would agree to be interviewed. In fact I had to stop at 90 to get the book written! More and more potential interviewees were coming forward and it was hard to stop. The fact that so-called ‘dissident’ republicanism contains such a wide spectrum of views meant that the research took several years as it involved approaching multiple organisations and individuals. I was fascinated in why individuals chose to join a particular organisation, given the numerous republican organisations which exit. As you say, some of the views expressed may be viewed by some as theological or doctrinal, which to me made it all the most interesting to try and understand why individuals are so driven in adhering to those positions. The human mind is fascinating and throughout the interviews I was hearing a combination of ideologically driven positions and people’s personal testimony based on their life experience, particularly within the Provisional Movement. A very interesting interviewee is the late Tony Catney of the 1916 societies. When I interviewed him in his home in Belfast I was surprised to hear that his exit from the Provisional Movement was mainly as a consequence of his belief that he was not permitted to express dissenting views, rather than any ideological criticism.

AM: What were the challenges you faced during the researching and writing? Were there times you ever felt like giving up? Your original co-author didn’t complete the journey and in some ways that leaves all the blame or credit to you for the finished item. In this case it is very much praise. Was it a sense of accomplishment or relief?

MM: From the outset this project was a really bumpy ride! The hits just kept coming. During the research I was stopped and searched by the PSNI as I was travelling to some of the interviews. I was also facing prosecution for allegedly partaking in an illegal parade in Lurgan in May 2016. I was simply taking photographs of the event, some of which appear in the book. It was only a few days ago that I received a letter saying that the prosecution service had decided not to prosecute. I was very lucky to have an understanding boss at Coventry who stood by me throughout this whole project and the difficulties that came. As I said at my book launches, I still laugh when I think about an event in the Ulster Museum which my boss had invited me to as he was one of the speakers. Other speakers included community organisations and elected representatives. As I walked in the door he quite loudly said “have they dropped the charges against you yet?” I got some very strange and curious looks from some MLAs sitting there and I went quite red.

I never once thought about giving up. I always knew I would produce this book. One of the biggest challenges was when my co-author didn’t deliver. But, like many other things that happened throughout this process, I view it as serendipitous that he didn’t! I began this research on my own at home in West Belfast and it grew into a project from there. But it was ‘my baby’ and my interviews with republicans; therefore the fact that I wrote this book on my own is the right outcome. A friend in Liverpool recently asked me how I coped with going from having a co-author to doing it completely alone. As I explained to him, all the research was my own anyway and so I just tore up the original book structure, took a deep breath and wrote a new structure which reflected what I wanted to cover. Given the various bumps on the road, some academic friends and colleagues have recently admitted to me that they never thought this book would see the light of day. I actually like hearing that as it’s a great sense of accomplishment and I always knew I’d get it out there.

AM: You got there and in style. Have you any Unfinished Business to complete now that you wish to share with our readers?

MM: I’m actually working on my second book with Manchester University Press. For me it is definitely unfinished business as it is based on my PhD thesis on the decline of the SDLP which I completed in 2010. I had always planned to bring it out as a book as it contains interviews which I conducted with John Hume, Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern, Séamus Mallon, David Trimble, Gerry Kelly, Mark Durkan and many others. But I wanted to do the republican book first and then return to this. Séamus Mallon was in fine form and was particularly witty during his interview, at one stage referring to Gerry Kelly as acting like John the Baptist on the street at Drumcree; and soured by the SDLP’s exclusion, he sarcastically said that Adams and McGuinness were in Downing street so often during the peace negotiations that it was rumoured that they were on the electoral register in London as 10 Downing Street. Séamus’s wit needs to be shared…

I love true crime and so I’ve a few new books sitting on the bedside table waiting to be read, along with Anna Burn’s Milkman as I seem to be the only person in Ireland who hasn’t read it!

Marisa McGlinchey is a West Belfast researcher at Coventry University.



25 comments:

  1. With Finucane, it rankles the Loyalist community so much because he now stands as a Shinner, and whose electrol agent is Gerry Kelly aided by Carol Cullen, two names no loyalist is likely to forget. It also feeds into the narrative that his Dad was a Provo, though I don't believe he was. So everytime we see him spout some shite about 'Human Rights' we think he is being a massive hypocrite, what about the human rights denied to so many by the Provos? Why are the shinners bleating about 'campaigns for truth' but only if it's crimes of the State and not their own? Again, hypocrisy.

    I personally don't blame him for turning out the way he has, his Dad should never been murdered and especially not in such barbaric circumstances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve - that doesn't much figure in the criticism - it is all about his father being a Provo and him being a chip off the old block. It is vitriol and hatred. He doesn't spout shite about human rights but raises concerns that go to the heart of any society: the state homicide of citizens in the society it rules over. SF is frequently criticised here for its demands for half the truth. It is saturated with hypocrisy and has one eye vision but it is hardly alone. None of it really explains the visceral hatred expressed towards John Finucane.

      Delete
  2. Interest in the book is across the political spectrum. She tweeted Ex Fianna Fáil councillor Daithi O’Donnabhain reviewed her event in London apparently!

    ReplyDelete
  3. “The wrong man” , as it were.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stevie who are the we you keep referring to "So everytime we see him spout some shite about 'Human Rights' we think he is being a massive hypocrite

    Every now and then you say you are Irish but you and Barry at the end of the day are more British than Finchley...

    I have to think like that because now and then you both let your guard down....

    SO who are the 'we' you keep referring to....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frankie

      FYI, I hold both UK and Irish passports; the latter so that I can maintain my European identity. I have thus three tiers of citizenship : Irish, British and European. I do not have to be defined by the constitutional tradition and ethno-religious community that I was born into. When you say that I am more British than Finchley, what I guess you really mean are the quasi-racist epithets "West British" or "Castle Catholic". People's national (as well as gender identities) identities are fluid. Just get used to it and I have fail your inverse cricket test; your problem not mine, Frankie.

      Delete
    2. Eh? I am a Loyalist frankie. I am admittedly a very left leaning one however, and have absolutely no problem identifying as Irish because I AM IRISH. Loyalist to me is being loyal to my community, I am vehemently opposed to violence between our respective communities no matter what. I pass comment on this article in my own opinion of what the PUL community thinks about Mr Finucane.

      By the by, have you any idea how many senior Loyalists hold Irish passports? You'd be stunned.

      Delete
  5. AM- While I agree, he would have curried more favour if he'd perhaps stood for Alliance or the SDLP, he still could have made the exact same point as you mentioned above. Fact is, 99.99% of Loyalists believe his dad was a Provo, and a very talented one at that, given his ability to keep certain individuals out of prison.

    By joining the shinners he has just reinforced this allegation. There could also be a wee bit of fear involved incase he turns out as effective as his dad, but hatred isn't rational, it's fear untempered by logic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barry/Stevie,

      What got you both a bit wrangled? Was I too close to the truth for both of you?

      Barry you hold a British passport. I don't. You said on your application form that your are ok being subservient to a parasite living in a mansion in London (thats gay<---don't mean happy). Your British passport allows you to travel anywhere in Europe and affords you the same 'protection' as an Irish passport (Brexit hasn't kicked in)..Why the need to hold both? Unless as I suspect you are more British than Finchley. Your gender/identity may be fluid..mine is cast in stone...I am a rockabilly from Ardoyne.

      Stevie,


      I said you are more British than Finchley...I never said you are a Loyalist. I questioned why you keep talking about 'our community and their community...'. I asked you the same question on your TPQ article (big wheels keep on turning) a while back the same question. I see working class people being shit on by their glove puppet MLA's.

      Why do you feel the need to explain to anyone on TPQ (or anywhere) what Loyalists thought of Pat Finucane. Everyone knows their feelings..you just basically spouted the same nonsense as they do, only you tried to dress up as something else..

      Your point on senior Loyalists holding duel passports (Irish/British)..I personally know a couple, met them while living on a homeless hostel in the Sandy Row..

      Delete
  6. Steve - he does not have to curry favour. That sounds very like Croppy Lie Down talk.
    What individuals did his dad keep out of prison that another lawyer could not have kept out?
    Was Richard Ferguson the unionist barrister a Provo because he kept people out of prison? Is that not what barristers and lawyers for the defence meant to do?
    And why would he have to be a talented Provo to do that rather than a talented lawyer?
    That the same loyalists might believe the earth is 6000 years old would only prompt ridicule from you. Why give this nonsense any credence?
    The Pat the Provo claim had its origins in Sean O'Callaghan, yet he never put it in his book. Pulled it out of his jacksie for the Daily Telegraph many years later.


    ReplyDelete
  7. Very interesting interview. I am very much looking forward to reading this. Its not often that a book gets bumped to the very top of the reading list. Bought it on Saturday. A book hasn't jumped past all the others in a good 5 years.

    Books like this are essential for understanding. Saying that, so is this blog, both with things to agree with and vice-versa. Christopher Owens' obituary of Willie Fraser stands out as an excellent piece. Something unexpected and informative.

    ReplyDelete
  8. AM, I know unionists who were always against violence who agreed in front of me whilst sharing lunch, working in a solicitors office that there is no evidence the Birmingham Six are innocent. Despite them being educated lawyers who were taught that the quashings bring with them a presumption of innocence.

    Despite their knowledge and training they still let bigotry sway their thoughts. I guess the more extreme loyalists have even tighter blinkers. If it causes any sort of cerebral struggle it will be trumped by bigotry and bias.

    Their focus isn't on the fact that Republicans were more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, more likely to have a heavier sentence than loyalists for similar offences but on a solicitor for daring to show his clients were not guilty. A solicitor who defended loyalists too. How utterly repugnant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately Simon, logic and reason have to climb the Everest of ignorance and prejudice

      Delete
  9. AM- No, he doesn't and indeed he didn't. But by hitching his wagon to the shinners it became too easy for the loyalist people to make the inference against his Dad-if he's going to be taken seriously he'd need to ask his Uncle to come clean about Provo war crimes also- do you think that's likely to happen?

    And yes of course barristers are supposed to defend their clients to the best of their abilities, regardless of political beliefs, but with Finucane being in the public spotlight and from a well known Republican family he became a bogeyman figure, and if he wasn't that good at his job the spooks wouldn't have marked his card.

    I feel the need to clarify something though; I by no means am attempting to justify this horrendous crime, just give my thoughts on what I know many Loyalists feel about the situation. I don't believe he was a Provo, despite all his brothers being involved, and if memory serves even the RUC said he wasn't. And wasn't O'Callaghan a walter mitty?


    ReplyDelete
  10. Steve - too lazy, too convenient, too self-serving for those loyalists who claim to believe the father was in the IRA without a scintilla of plausible evidence. Imagine nationalists believing Gerry Adams wasn't in the IRA - they would be rightly laughed at. Why are you not laughing at those loyalists who believe Pat Finucane was in the IRA?
    Why would he need to ask his uncle anything? What evidence does his uncle have of war crimes? It is the same old gunk repackaged - blood ties equate with culpability.
    Again a presumption about the spooks - that they were good at their job. Would sheer sectarian hatred rather than being good at their job or him being good at his not be more than enough reason for the spooks to want him killed? Who did he keep out of jail that so enraged the spooks? Or was he good at flagging up abuses the spooks wanted to avoid?
    The RUC did say he was not a member of the IRA. O'Callaghan said what suited him. Not so sure he was a Walter Mitty. Not being one did nothing to improve his honesty.

    ReplyDelete
  11. AM-"Steve - too lazy, too convenient, too self-serving for those loyalists who claim to believe the father was in the IRA without a scintilla of plausible evidence. "

    Yep, I never said it was rational.

    "Imagine nationalists believing Gerry Adams wasn't in the IRA - they would be rightly laughed at. Why are you not laughing at those loyalists who believe Pat Finucane was in the IRA? "

    What purpose would it serve? I tell anybody who asks me that I don't believe he was, and they laugh at me!

    "Why would he need to ask his uncle anything? What evidence does his uncle have of war crimes? It is the same old gunk repackaged - blood ties equate with culpability. "

    I mean in the context of impartiality, he's supposed to be Lord Mayor of Belfast "I want to be Lord Mayor for everybody" so he says. So far all I've heard his him being understandably one-sided in his 'quest for the truth'.

    "Again a presumption about the spooks - that they were good at their job. Would sheer sectarian hatred rather than being good at their job or him being good at his not be more than enough reason for the spooks to want him killed?"

    Possibly, but there were easier and less politically sensitive secterian targets the spooks could have chosen. It was a womble fuck up anyway, Seamus Finucane was the target and intel had said he called in often to Pat's for dinner. When Barrett went in only Pat was there.

    "Who did he keep out of jail that so enraged the spooks? Or was he good at flagging up abuses the spooks wanted to avoid?"

    The guy that murdered the Army Corporals for one Pat McGeown, but yes, as I've said before, he was good at his job and flagged up abuses. But shooting barristers likely to pose a threat in the legal system is'nt just a State or PUL community issue, 5 years before this murder the provos murdered Edgar Graham, claimed by their notoriously secterian Belfast Brigade.





    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve,

      I never said it was rational.

      When you tell us these things it sounds like Norman Bettison telling us that some cops think that Liverpool fans are really to blame for the Hillsborough disaster. Why bother? Your energy would be much better used telling us some of the sensible things loyalists think rather than the nonsense some of them think.

      When a view is so stupid, you have every right to laugh at it, much like you laugh at their young earth creationism.

      Why should impartiality lead to him having a question for his uncle on war crimes. What would his uncle know about war crimes? It is the name thing again - an inability to let go. Had you said Adams rather than the uncle I would see you having a point.

      The Special Branch were not telling the UDA to target Seamus. They were telling them to target Pat. Igt was not a UDA fuck up.

      Pat McGeown didn’t kill the corporals. He was accused of it but the evidence was bull. The RUC made a bollix case. Any lawyer would have kept Pat our of jail. People went down for life in relation to that in a travesty of justice – one of them told me one day in the jail he got life for being nosy. Thing is, everybody knew he was telling the truth. Even the screws wondered what he and some of the others were doing in jail. People who had noting whatsoever to do with the IRA. He had as much to do with those killings as you or me. One of the crowd that milled around to see what was happening.

      Edgar Graham was not shot because he was a barrister but because he was a unionist politician advocating repressive measures against republicans. Nor was he set up by the state. Although I do remember in the jail, Jim Gibney saying it was wrong when the rest of us were saying something else.

      Delete
  12. Frankie, it was in response to a comment Anthony made, read the article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stevie, I read the piece three times, when it first graced TPQ.

      You keep telling yourself you are Irish and left wing etc..Then why do you keep referring to 'us & them'. If your thought process is as left as you want the world to believe, then why don't you see beyond the sectarian divide and call things as they are, working class people being crapped on by their MLA glove puppets..

      Delete
    2. Frankie,

      I suppose I slip up and revert back into an old mode of thinking, I am very far from perfect.

      And I couldn't agree with you more, the whole lot of the MLA's need sacked.

      Delete
  13. AM-Fine but it's a nosense a vast majority of them think. No point beating a dead horse with this, I was just attempting albeit poorly why the Finucane name riles the PUL community so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve - I don't know if a majority or minority of them think it. THere are enough do. But I have also met enough of them over the years to know that they are not the Neanderthals they are often depicted as. Gareth Mulvenna has also did a lot of work in that very sphere. And they are not given to believing stupid things. I think the reason the name irks many of them is not because of the involvement in what they call terrorism (the name Billy Mitchell would as easily rile them as well) but because of the lid lifting exercise the name has become synonymous with. It went to the heart of something rotten.

      Delete
  14. I thought Billy Mitchell was a good man, though I know a few that disliked him.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Steve - I liked Billy Mitchell and had not a moment's hesitation when he asked me to go into the heart of a loyalist estate in Antrim to meet with loyalists for the purpose of resolving an interface dispute. He took me in and out again. I would go over and see him regularly at his office as I worked with him on the editorial board of The Other View. He was a guest at our wedding (the joke being that it was the only wedding that could have both Billy and Marian Price as guests!) and I was at his funeral in the heart of Carrickfergus. The point I am making is that he had a conviction for killing two UDA members and that would have officially designated him as a terrorist. So it makes me query the so called moral indignation towards terrorism as being a bona fide reason for many loyalists to hate the name Finucane. Terrorism was not a concern, something else was.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Naked secterianism? Not sure about that. Maybe collusion? Privately most Loyalists are OK with that. The brutality of how it was carried out, breaking down the door and murdering him in front of his wife and young kids makes me sick never mind the rest of them. It showed an ugly, psychopathic side to Loyalism which was like a once faithful dog but one that's just bitten a child, your attached to the dog but know that it must be put down.

    ReplyDelete