Video of Belfast "Good Friday" speeches

Last night's launch was a great success. Heartfelt thanks to all who attended, and to Aoife for all her efforts. Further report to come in the following days; for now, Sleepyjean at YouTube has posted the evening's speeches. They follow after the jump.

Updated 9 Nov: Aoife Rivera Serrano, Ausubo Press (transcript added)

Aoife Rivera Serrano starts the evening's speeches

AOIFE RIVERA SERRANO: We're here today to celebrate the publication of Good Friday, the Death of Irish Republicanism, and there are a couple of comments I would like to make before Mr. Gorman takes over the stage...takes over the microphone. First of all I want to welcome you all to Linen Hall and this event for Anthony McIntyre and for Ausubo Press.

I'd like to speak a little about Ausubo Press because I think some people might be interested why a company that isn't American, but a company that is from Puerto Rico, and the publisher is Puerto Rican, would go to the trouble of publishing this book.

I am really overjoyed and at the same time saddened to be here, because the histories of our two island nations have crossed paths before, and they are crossing paths again today, with this book, this launch, and this author. My presence here would never have happened without the Latin American Fenian, Pedro Albizu Campos and his contribution to the Irish struggle that began when Albizu Campos was scorched by the fire of Irish republicanism in 1919, as I am scorched by the same fire.

In publishing Good Friday, I continue the work of my compatriot, Pedro Albizu Campos. I think it is worth noting that few publishers would have touched Anthony's book and that it took a republican from Puerto Rico or from Borikén, which is the indigenous name of my country, to publish the book.

I'd also like to point out that when this Irishman's book was published, no store on the island north or south would carry or stock the book. So, again, a Puerto Rican who is, for lack of a better way of putting it, an Irish Republican, intervened and somehow got the most reputable distributor in Ireland, Gill and Macmillan, to distribute this book, so that anywhere on this island, north or south, Good Friday can be purchased and read.

I don't have much else to add to that. I would have thought a lot of people might be interested in Ausubo Press, I would just like to finish with this thought. Despite the title of the book, Good Friday, the Death of Irish Republicanism, it is because of the fire of Irish Republicanism that I am here. Irish Republicanism is at a crossroads, to be sure, at this time, but it is far from being remotely moribund. Especially in the last two oldest colonies in the world, Northern Ireland and Puerto Rico, or Borikén, which is what we call it.

So that is how I will finish my comments. And I would like to intro -- oh, one more thing. Greetings have been sent to Anthony, and to people of like mind, from an old Republican in Puerto Rico who has equally been ostracized and marginalized for being very frank in his discussion of republicanism in Puerto Rico. He wrote me a note saying - his name is Dr Ovidio Dávila and he was, he's retired now, he was the Director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. And he said, "I wish you the best of luck in Ireland, that special nation that holds a very, very special place in the heart of every true Boricua Republican."

And with that I'd like to introduce, Mr. Tommy Gorman.

Tommy Gorman speaking at the launch of Good Friday, also first half of Anthony McIntyre's speech

TOMMY GORMAN: Some years ago, if Mackers had had a mind, he could now be living in luxury, and a hassle free life, not harassed by thugs and former comrades in West Belfast. He could also, I imagine, had been offered a nice job in Stormont, in the new administration, enjoying all the trappings of luxuries which the former socialists up there now display. He could have done this by first of all, in the first instance by walking away, when he walked out of jail after doing a substantial time in prison. And he could have got the second one, the job in Stormont by joining in the whole charade which is described graphically in the book which is now launching.

Mackers sought to do neither but to stay and get involved in fighting the new oppressor, and the new oppressor turns out to be our former comrades in the organisation to which we belonged. My efforts against the machine were feeble to say the least. More like a scatter gun against the attack. A little bit of noise but no real damage. Mackers, on the other hand, was like a skilled surgeon, cutting through the flim-flam, cutting through the fudge and the organised lying, to expose all the contradictions within this charade. The charade was [unknown] to sign up to and look at it at some way progressive when its the opposite.

Mackers has been blessed with more than his share of cynicism and more than his share of brilliance. And he puts those two together to pen some massive [unknown] pieces on the situation carried in the book. And this book should be read by everyone. And particularly people who still cling on to the notion within the box that this leadership is going to lead them anywhere near the secular socialist Republic of our promised land.

The opposite is true. They are now getting quickly towards shit creek and they haven't got the paddles.

And again I am proud to be a very, very small part of this struggle against this new oppressor. I'd like to hand you over now to my good friend, Mackers.

Anthony McIntyre speech, part 2.

ANTHONY MCINTYRE (FULL SPEECH): Thanks very much, Tommy, and Aoife. I feel very humble, and at the same time, honoured to be here. And that people have turned up to, the launch of a book which in some ways is controversial in that I don't think there's many other writers who were mad or gifted enough or whatever to accuse the Sinn Fein leadership of being liars, on many of these points and issues that we've raised. I suppose one of my favourite lines from the book is that in 50 years' time we shall see pilgrimages to the graves of Sinn Fein leaders, where they will say on the headstones, "Here they are, lying still."

And, you know, in many ways this is what this book tried to do. It was a collection of articles written over the years. And, you know, I remember, Danny Devanney, a Sinn Fein member, now you have to bear in mind that Danny Devanney if he had two heads he'd be twice as stupid, that's probably the best thing you could say about him, is that he accused me of, "You, wee Tony McIntyre from the Ormeau Road, criticising Gerry Adams?" And in ways he realised, that this is what it boiled down to, that I didn't have the right to speak. Being an IRA volunteer of many, over two decades of having been involved in the IRA, having been involved in the prison protests, having never once crossed the picket line, that, you know, that - I could not - there was a very elitist culture there whereby people like me could not criticise. I felt that at all times it was an attempt to speak truth to power, to speak a certain truth and ask certain questions of people that many of our dead comrades never got the chance to ask.

I come here tonight as a writer and as a former IRA volunteer. I'm very, very pleased there are many people here, including people from the Unionist community. One of the benefits of the relationship that I have with people in the Unionist community is that I try to be direct and very, very honest. And quite often it comes at a price. But I've always said, and the unionists understand when I say this, that I have, will never once apologise for having been a member of the IRA. I've never once apologised or regretted having joined the IRA, having been in the IRA, having served time in the H Blocks, having been on the blanket protest. And to this day I still don't.

But I know that people are here from the Unionist community who have themselves been denigrated and vilified for having had the temerity to write articles that sort of dissent from the dominant line... Within that, within that sense, we're all here together.

I'm very pleased that I see so many people here from my early life. I had a curious journey. This day 33 years ago, as a young IRA volunteer, and so eager to get back into the IRA, I was leaving prison, I had been imprisoned for a two year sentence and I left prison on the 5th of November 1975, and [was] eager to get back into the IRA. 33 years later, I stand here, perhaps unable to stand the sight of the IRA given what's become of it, what it has done, the betrayals that the leadership have engaged in.

But I served time with so many IRA volunteers and I see some of them here tonight. I'm so proud to stand alongside them. I'm very, very proud to see so many different people, the likes of former blanketmen, people like Tommy McKearney, people like Gerard Hodgkins, people like Tommy Gorman, standing here tonight, people who have come, and a guy that I didn't recognise, a guy called Liam who just said he had been on the blanket now, I signed a book for him, and it meant an awful lot to me that comrades from the blanket, because that was a difficult, difficult time in our life. In many senses the blanket was about protest and this book was about protest.

But it was strange tonight that the man who brought me into the IRA, my first comrade in the IRA, from the lower Ormeau Road, should be the same man who picked me up in Dundalk and brought me to this event tonight, Tommy McReynolds. Tommy McReynolds has been there for me all my life, in times of crisis, and I am deeply, deeply grateful to a person like Tommy.

[video break]

A great IRA comrade, and because he brought me into the IRA, I don't blame him, I have to be philosophical about it, Tommy was a great guy, who wasn't one of the people who at the end of the day betrayed and effectively sold out.

For long enough I used the term the leadership failed, but now as a dissenting republican even though I am not worried about the term dissident, I am not a dissident in that I do not support armed campaigns, I do not support violence, I have simply said that they have turned [their] backs on us, too many of our comrades died and too many other people died.

But people like Tommy McReynolds were great guys and have stood by me. But I also know from that time, when I was a young IRA volunteer at 16 when I was first arrested, and I see people here tonight from the lower Ormeau Road and I can't pick out everybody but I can pick out people like Frankie Ray who has been a life long friend, him and his wife Eleanor who visited me in prison, who welcomed me into their homes and who might not have agreed with my views and at times we didn't even talk politics but in human, social situations they were always there for me, and I am very, very grateful that they have turned up tonight.

And I can't let the moment pass without paying great tribute to Magdalene Robinson. Magdalene Robinson's a lifelong friend and again somebody who I was very close to and a person who I wrote a poem to, her and her husband at one time, "13 Years and Still They Come", -- in case anyone thinks there's sexual connotations, I merely talked about the way they visited me in prison regularly and were so good.

And then at other times, I mean, people here tonight, lifelong comrades. Comrades themselves who were hassled in Sinn Fein. Comrades who were in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement who are here tonight. People like Kevin McQuillan, people like Tony Catney who went through jail with me. I'm so pleased that these people turned up, even if they don't agree with my view on everything, even if they don't agree with my attitude.

And then there's other friends and I can't name everybody, but people stand out, the likes of Ann Gorman, the likes of Niall Corey, the likes of Diarmuid Twomey. And journalist colleagues, like Mick Brown. People who, at all times when I was in trouble with the police for writing about things that the police don't like, and that's virtually anything about them, that they would come into my home and raid my computer and people like Mick Brown would stand up and defend me and take up the case with the NUJ.

But I am particularly grateful to my publisher, Aoife, who spoke at the start, because without Aoife, I doubt if I would have get off my backside to do the work. She hassled, harried and is absolutely brilliant. And it's without doubt, had she not have put the effort in, we wouldn't be standing here tonight, either criticising this book or praising it for what it's worth.

I'd also like to say that, I wasn't the first person to see what was going on within the ranks of the IRA. I found myself at times thinking, what sort of position have I got into? I'd suddenly become and cast by the SF leadership as 'Peace Process Enemy #1'. I got called every sort of name, I was ostracized. I was actually accused, at one point by Comical Marty McGuinness of being the brains, the Svengali type figure behind the McCartney sisters, who I'm so pleased to see are here tonight. I was not their advisor. Those women were too intelligent for Comical Marty to deal with, so he had to make up the notion that there was some 'man' manipulating them, somebody with a gripe against the peace process.

On top of that as I said earlier, I was not the first person to see what was going on, I merely wrote about it. I merely asked questions, and the book is full of questions. I think a very important thing is that even 12 years, 10 years, a decade, whatever it was before I was writing about it, the IRA's most successful, the most intelligent, an IRA intellectual, the IRA's Chief of Staff, in 1983 predicted exactly what was going to happen. Adams of course, with the aid of the British thru the Bobby Lean case, removed him. And myself and Ed Moloney discovered this when we were in London a couple of years ago when we were talking to people who were academics but with close associations as a result of research with British intelligence services. And they told us that the key moment in the defeat of the IRA was the removal of the IRA's Chief of Staff in 1983.

Now I would argue very, very strongly if people go away with nothing from this book, or remember nothing about this event that they try and keep a number of things in their head, is that the IRA's Chief of Staff in 1983 was right. He was right then, he is right today, he'll always be right.

And Mr Adams, who was an IRA Chief of Staff despite the fact that he wasn't in the IRA, has consistently disputed claims that this whole struggle has been a failure. But I watched the protest the other day at Belfast City Hall or in the town against the march of the RIR through the city, and it seemed to me that the defeat could be summed up in simple terms. The only demand that Sinn Fein could have actually stood there and asked, and you couldn't have shouted at the Unionists, the only thing that they could have genuinely said given their politics, they would have looked stupid shouting it but, what they should have been shouting was Bring Back Paisley, because Peter Robinson, the whole thing there is that Peter Robinson seems to have made a fool out of them, seems to have trumped them, nothing has emerged from a Republican point of view in relation to the struggle that I could acknowledge has been beneficial.

On that, I'd like to thank everybody who turned up here tonight. I'm very, very grateful. Most of all, I'd like to thank my wife, Carrie Twomey. In moments of absolute darkness and despair, when the IRA and Sinn Fein were outside the house rolling cars with the engine off up and down the street, when they were in the living room and in the kitchen, the Chief of Staff, Dumb and Dumber, the Intelligence Officer, his sidekick, the Idiot General come in and decided to threaten us in the kitchen, she faced them. When they hounded, when they hounded us and came to our home and stood outside my home and I was unfortunately at a conference, a political conference in Cookstown, my wife went out, six months pregnant, stood and faced them. And they howled and they scowled but they couldn't defeat her. And in a sense, if this book is the throne, she is the power and the strength behind the throne that this book is. There's no doubt that this book would not have been possible were it not for her.

I'd like to finish off by saying that everybody who has come here, who has come here tonight you are very, very welcome, regardless of what the political affiliation is, and regardless of what the past is. There's many people here tonight wouldn't like my past, and I'm sure I don't like theirs. The one thing that we are certain of, that I am certain of, and I know not everybody would agree with me on this, that never again, and myself and Tommy Gorman paid a price for saying this but we agreed it is certain, time and time again, never again should republicans take human life in pursuit of their goals. Whatever differences we have with people, we should find another way to resolve them. I want a United Ireland, I would love to see an United Ireland, but I do not want to see it at the expense of one person's life.

I thank everybody for coming here tonight.


Good Friday, The Death of Irish Republicanism is available at these online outlets: Ausubo Press; Small Press Distribution and Amazon.

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  1. 'Mackers your book will always be essential reading for students of our recent history. Similarly I see your blog {which will no doubt go from strength to strength} as another essential avenue for those who wish to better understand not only our past, but also the present and all that that is still being played out.

    I too seek an Ireland Free, United, and more. And that understanding of where we have come from, where we are now, and how we go forward is an essential part to that debate.

    A debate that you have been an essential part of, and had, with Carrie and others stood your ground to provide.

    And in doing so, so providing that initial avenue and space for many like myself to be able to write and ‘Dissent’ before then moving on to other things.

    Indeed with out the Blanket, and support, I do not think much such would have been possible

    Wishing you all well, and always in Solidarity

    Davy Carlin

  2. I completely endorse what Davy has written. You rightly mentioned Carrie in your speech, in my mind the two of you are inseparable. When you met Carrie you found your lucky lottery ticket for life, as the two of you make such a great team.


  3. First I've heard Anthony speak and thought he came across very well, saying what most of us new but were afraid to admit, the campaign against him has been repeated throughout ireland and scotland and is happening yet.
    The truth will out in the end by which time the last vestige of republican principles will be long gone. Buster

  4. Face reality Anthony, you lost the argument.
    I commend you for your part in the struggle and your academic success after you left prison,however, I feel from reading your articles and listening to your speeches that you are turning into a bitter and twisted person. A trait whiich only intensifies with time after one cannot except they have lost the argument.
    You seem to be obsessed with attacking the IRA and SF to the extent that people are quite fed up with the bitterness of it.
    You are in danger of being branded a bitter old crank.

  5. Anonymous, ‘bitter old crank’ and ‘bitter and twisted person’ is what you get the minute you start out questioning the position not something that comes at the end of it. As for losing the argument, I have no need or desire to comment on that. Others can pass judgement on whether things went the way I argued they would or if they went the way the SF leadership argued they would. As for the ‘fed up’ contingent, reading me or listening to me is not compulsory. All in, your criticism seems to amount to this: subject the SF position to public scrutiny and we will call you bitter and twisted. Wouldn’t be like SF to call people names now would it?

    Bitter twisted and cranky old me