An Invaluable Insight

Today the Pensive Quill carries an article by guest writer Fionnuala Perry, who reviews Ed Moloney's book, Voices From the Grave

Few books have courted as much controversy and debate as Ed Moloney’s highly acclaimed “Voices from the Grave”. The book, which has provoked more than its fair share of disparagement and speculation, is based exclusively on interviews conducted with former IRA leader Brendan Hughes and David Ervine who had been a member of the UVF.

Motivated by the belief and realisation that future generations could in some way benefit from their documented accounts, the participants agreed to take part in the Boston College Oral History initiative, on the understanding their testimonies would be held in the College’s archives and only published after their deaths.

The book opens with the profound introductory sentence, ‘Brendan Hughes was there at the very beginning, at one of the places where the Provisionals first saw the light of day’.

Ironically, the name of Brendan Hughes would have had little significance amongst republicans when the Phoenix was emerging from the ashes of 1969. However, long before the mythological bird would spread its colourful wings to ignite; his name and legendary feats would guarantee him iconic status.

Set against the backdrop of unfolding historical events, Brendan Hughes introduces the reader to his early life. The death of his mother at a very young age meant that Brendan and his other five siblings were reared by their father Kevin.

Many times throughout his story Hughes poignantly refers to the love and admiration he held for his father.

‘I think all my life, my father was my hero…….He devoted his whole life to bringing his children up and I believe he did a very good job’.

The bond of love and respect between Brendan and Kevin Hughes is highlighted again in a particularly emotive recollection.

‘I remember when I was on hunger strike, my father and Tim Pat Coogan came to me [on a prison visit] Tim Pat Coogan asked the question, as a journalist would, a direct question to me: did I think I was going to die? And I felt the tension in the visiting box at that moment. My father just froze and it seemed like an eternity before I could answer, and by that time my father had broken down, had got up and walked out of the visiting box, crying.’

The influence which the IRA veteran and ardent socialist Kevin Hughes brought to bear on his son’s life cannot be understated; his father’s beliefs coupled with the poverty and injustice he witnessed as a young seaman in South Africa would both formulate and underpin his socialist thinking for the rest of his life.

‘I worked in the galley at the time and I remember looking out the portholes at lunchtime, all these guys set along the deck of the ship with milk bottles full of cold tea and whatever food they could get. And I remember feeling angry, the way these people were treated….if I was never a socialist [before] I certainly became a socialist during that time in South Africa…’

Brendan Hughes never went back to his job at sea after the pogroms of 1969.

Within days of the outbreak of the conflict, Hughes immersed himself in a war which would absorb and dictate practically every aspect of his life for the next two decades.

As fate would have it, at the early part of the campaign, Hughes would meet the man who would become one of his closest friends and comrades Gerry Adams.

However, while the bond between the two would be fortified through comradeship and struggle the differences which would eventually emerge between them would ensure it could not be enduring.

In his no holds barred account of the IRA’s war against the British, Hughes talks quite unreservedly about the intensity of the early years of the campaign. He also provides a frank and graphic portrayal of his own involvement in it.

However, it has been this graphic portrayal and unhindered speech, which has caused Hughes to become the target of numerous unsubstantiated accusations and endless recriminations. This onslaught which at times bordered on hysteria has come almost exclusively from those adhering to a “mainstream republicanism” agenda. Although Hughes himself is the main target of the paranoia and frenzy, the loose cannon once unleashed ensured it had the researcher, author and the entire Boston College Project in its sights.

Two incidents have been singled out for an abundance of attention and have been considered by certain republicans as more damning and detrimental than the rest.

The first is the harrowing details which have emerged in relation to the death of Paddy Joe Crawford. Paddy Joe was a young twenty two year old prisoner who it is now believed was hanged in Long Kesh by IRA leaders for allegedly being an informer. Originally it had been claimed the young volunteer died by suicide.

It has however, been claimed by Hughes that the young man was the victim of an IRA execution.

The second is the entire saga of the ‘Disappeared.’ The ‘Disappeared’ were people who had been sentenced to death by the IRA. However, instead of their bodies being left in public view as with other summary executions as a deterrent to others, those unfortunate enough to be ‘Disappeared’ were taken away and secretly buried.

The reason that both these events have roused such a fury of speculation and denunciation does not rest entirely on the gross nature of the victims’ demise, but rather, in the accusation that Gerry Adams was privy to the logistics of their trials and subsequent deaths.

In his emotive recollection of the chilling death of Paddy Joe Crawford, Brendan Hughes describes his killing as a, ‘brutal, brutal murder’. The accusation that Paddy Joe Crawford’s death on an improvised gallows in Long Kesh was sanctioned by the leadership of the republican movement has caused the current leadership to vent a tirade of unprecedented anger at the source.

The other startling revelation in the book, is the claim made by Hughes, that Gerry Adams was involved in the abduction, murder and the subsequent secret burial of Jean Mc Conville, as well as other victims who were ‘Disappeared’.

Hughes gives a forthright account of how a unit which had been aptly named the ‘Unknowns’ an IRA unit set up to deal with the victims being ‘Disappeared’. This Unit was apparently established by and directly responsible to Gerry Adams.

These accusations have been met with a wall of denial at almost every level from the ‘mainstream movement’, claiming that this ‘vilification’ of the Sinn Fein leader is malicious, fictional, contrived and absolutely untrue. In a bid to turn the tables and ensure that the cycle of lies and deception spins uninterrupted, a campaign of slander and insult was unleashed to discredit Hughes.

The belief that Adams had knowledge of the death of the former and gave the order for the death of the latter cannot be attributed to the testimony of Hughes alone.

For years the role Gerry Adams played within the IRA has been the subject of supposition and speculation. However, instead of following his own advice to ‘come clean’ Mr Adams quickly dispensed with his own recommendation and chose to lie about everything.

According to the book, the lengths to which he was prepared to go to cover his own tracks is clearly evident in a conversation that the Sinn Fein President had with the Mc Conville family.

In a bid to deflect guilt from himself onto others, Adams told Jean Mc Conville’s family, ‘Thank God I was in prison when she disappeared’, a statement which was later proven to be factually inaccurate and totally untrue.

A central theme of the book is how the lives of Adams and Hughes twist and turn at every juncture. Described by the author as a pair who, ‘dovetail perfectly, Adams a strategist and a thinker, Hughes the man of action and an organizer, together they made a formidable team. As with Collins and Boland the break came when it was time for compromise.’

Their former closeness can be measured by the fact both men shared their thoughts and aspirations for the republican struggle in their cubicle in Cage 11.

One of Hughes’s amusing recollections gives the reader a clear insight into how the two differed ideologically even back then, ‘I read Che Guevara and Castro, while Gerry knelt and said the rosary’

Hughes was also privy to the intimate meaning behind the Adam’s pseudonym ‘Brownie’. The ‘Brownie’ articles were used by Adams to transmit hidden messages about the path he believed the leadership on the outside should be taking.

Gerry Adams would write coded messages under his pseudonym and these would be then printed in the Republican News. Several years later Mr Adams would deny being ‘Brownie’ insisting that ‘Brownie’ was in fact the product of several authors.

According to Hughes, ‘Brownie’ was Gerry’s sole creation and an invaluable and effective tool for transmitting messages between the prisoners and movement outside.

‘And if you read the ‘Brownie’ articles they had a hidden message in them which tried to explain exactly what was going on, that the British had tried this in 1972 and the ceasefire lasted only two weeks but this time the British were getting away with it. I believe that the ‘Brownie’ articles were the first to highlight the Ulsterisation, criminalisation, and normalisation policies.’

The close ties that were formed during their days in D Company and later in the Kesh are evident in Hughes’s own words,

‘I would have died for him; I would have jumped in front of him to save him from being shot and took the bullet for him. I would have done that, because believed, really believed what he was saying in his writings, in his talks….’

Some years later Hughes would tell an entirely different tale of the man he described as ‘shrewd and intelligent, manipulative and controlling’

Perhaps the greatest testimony to their comradeship was borne out by the fact that Brendan Hughes chose to go to the H Blocks rather then contest a precarious charge that may have been quite easily challenged and overturned.

His journey from the cages to the Blocks would prove difficult and cruel a twist of fate.

The difference in the two regimes’ political status and non-political status was made blatantly obvious on his return from court after sentence. Political status had been begrudgingly bestowed on republican prisoners in 1972 by the Brits after Billy McKee and his comrades began a hunger strike in Crumlin Road jail. Four years later as a result of the British Ulsterisation and Criminalisation policies political status was removed

With the loss of status, IRA prisoners would no longer be entitled to operate within the remits of the IRA structures. From March 1976 all convicted prisoners went to the H Blocks and were subsequently criminalised.

‘Here I was that morning being called ‘Mr Hughes or O/C’, now being called, ‘704 Hughes’ and dumped in a cell.’

Brendan Hughes endured the onslaught of the H Blocks and agonizing and
torturous days of the hunger strikes, because he harboured the belief that sacrifice and endurance would benefit the prisoners and republican struggle alike.

On his release from gaol in 1986, Hughes returned to a key role within the republican movement. By now Adams, his friend of almost two decades had risen to yet another prominent position within Sinn Fein.

Inspired and motivated by the need for change, Hughes quickly set about reinvigorating a weakened and highly compromised IRA structure.

The realisation that the balance of power within the movement was now swinging decisively in favour of Sinn Fein provided Hughes with the determination to strengthen, reinforce and discipline the army for a renewed campaign in England.

‘I believed we needed to go to England and that we would be more effective by attacking England.’

Sadly his plans for a new offensive in England were never to be. The republican movement, whose military arm had been unceremoniously and intentionally run down, was now sailing full steam ahead on the chartered course of reformist peace.

The road to constitutional reform rather than that of socialist revolution is one Hughes would find it impossible to submissively walk along.

‘The revolutionary socialist direction that I was fighting for has been dropped. All that Sinn Fein have done, all that the IRA has done is become the SDLP... all the things that were important to me, that we fought and died for, mainly the betterment of the working class in Ireland have been dropped.’

The extent, to which Hughes whose name had become synonymous with altruism, sacrifice and struggle now felt betrayed, becomes increasingly apparent.

‘It was like getting a hundred people to push the boat out; a boat that is stuck in the sand… and then the boat sails off, leaving the hundred people behind. That’s the way I feel; the boat is away sailing on the high seas and the poor people who launched the boat [are] left behind sitting in the muck and the dirt and the sand.'

This book, which is brilliantly written by Ed Moloney, provides the reader with an invaluable insight into the life and times of one of Ireland’s contemporary heroes.

At certain junctures in the book, specifically throughout Hughes’s agonizing recollection of the hunger-strikes, the sheer volume of pain that is contained in the words seems to leave the page and physically and emotionally reach out to you.

There no doubt this is an exceptional and fascinating story told by an exceptional and fascinating man. The young seaman so moved by the poverty in Cape Town never lived to see the Phoenix whose birth he witnessed triumph. However, like the mythical creature he too would be elevated to status far removed from the dirt and the muck and the sand.

Review by Fionnuala Perry


  1. Good review Fionnuala. I am near finished reading the book but have to put it down often as feel sick at times to my gut. I think this is one of the most important books to be put out there esp. for the next generation of Irish never mind the decrepit ones like meself ahaha. Any shred of doubt the bearded one is not what he is smashed to smithereens thoroughly to those who really want to see/know the truth. Any shred of naivety re why all is the way it be falls into place even more. Some of the excerpts you mentioned are the ones that burnt off the page on me. The underpinnings re. SF standover tactics into the 21st century on so called 'dissenters' are clearly exposed. An very old ex stickie in a pub here got a gleam of delight in his eyes and his face lit up like a lightbulb when I told him about the book. “Adams” he said “Adams the bastard…“ He had some rather revealing stories of his own from way back then... Owned is what he meant of course. There be some words from a poem that glued on me when I first read it ages ago…
    ‘It was our own that broke them, it was
    That's the heartbreak of it all
    It was our own that broke them.’ (The Ghosts of the road) by Carrie Twomey
    They did not break Brendan Hughes however - they just made his life a living hell. Btw one does not garner a round of affirmations criticising the bearded one even from afar. I had a tense moment when mentioning SF in a derogatory way to some shinners out here. Cries of rage and abuse were hurled at me hehe The Bearded One has done a thorough weave the spell of deception and looney toons on so many…Worthy of mention is nary a word against Brendan Hughes have I ever heard uttered. There is a respect and rightfully so. Respect that will continue to grow and grow… Strange and terrible that post a mans suffering/death the deceived start to grudgingly see the light - but that is life is it not. There is none so blind as those who do not want to see…

  2. Nice one Nuala,while I for one was a little dissapointed in the book,there was very little said that hasnt been already been in the public domain, I think Brendan held enough information to nail Adams once and for all, and show the world the deceitful lying manipulative waster that Adams really is, I think it was an opportunity lost, having said that no one living or dead could ever dispute that Brendan The Dark Hughes was an exceptional human being,who learned through the university of hard knocks the love of his fellow working man,and was prepared to fight those who would oppress his comunity,unfortunately like many others whos main focus was on the actual war effort and failed to see the politicos like Adams playing their games ie glady laying down others lives for the love of their own country,it is only right that the Darks testimony be recorded if for nothing else as a waring of the folly of following false prophets

  3. I would like to thank Mackers and Carrie for allowing me this space for my interpretation of the book.

    Much has been said about this book.
    Long before the book actually hit the book shelves, speculation about its contents was almost feverish. This fever manifested itself to the extent, that the Hughes family were paid a visit from 'mainstream republicans' eager to find any clues to its contents.

    Many believed, rightly or wrongly that Brendan the 'Dark' Hughes was about to nail his former comrade and friend Gerry Adams to the proverbial cross.

    Many have been disappointed that the great expose did not infact take place.
    Others cite that, they believe Brendan betrayed his former friend and was wrong to do so.

    Personally I am glad that we have been given a chance to read and share a genuine and fascinating legacy. In a country that has had more than our fair share of heroes he still manages to shine.Fair play to you Brendan.

  4. Nuala,

    thanks for writing this for TPQ. The book burners might think that reviewers should also be purged of independent thought by fire. That hardly impacted on you. Good piece. Keep writing.

  5. Mackers, thank you. I have friends who read the book and loved it and others who have refused to read it.

    One friend commented, that reading the book was like an emotional roller coaster.

    Another said that she would not read it as she did not agree with Brendan writing about Adams.

    If ever there was a person who had earned the right to speak out, it was Brendan Hughes.

    At some point I can see this book appearing on a university 'Conflict Studies' curriculum as a must read.
    The 'Dark' experienced Orwell's prediction first hand. And had the courage to relay it to others.

    Marty was so right when he said, the extent to which Brendan was betrayed may someday serve as a warning to others.

    Mackers, all of you done an amazing job with this book.
    Would genuinely love to hear another analysis!

  6. Nuala,

    there should be another review, somewhat different from your own, coming through this week. The guy is still working on it. I always wonder about those who refuse to read books in case it offends them. A sheltered intellect prevails there. If I refuse to read a book it is because I have a view that it is going to be rubbish or that it holds no interest for me. The notion of not reading it because it does not fit into my worldview simply would not occur to me.

  7. Mackers, Some republicans have very entrenched opinions about speaking out.
    For some reason, many of those same republicans do not seem to mind, their bosses encouraging them to inform to the PSNI.

    My friend, who refuses to read the book, claims she would not read it because of what Brendan said in relation to Paddy Joe Crawford and the 'Disappeared'.

    She argues that, she believes he broke an IRA code in doing so.

    I told her that, personally I believed he exposed a lot of truths and a whole lot of myths.

    For example, many many people within the movement knew that in the early eighties, the IRA security in Belfast was rotten to the core.
    No-one and I mean absolutely no-one
    dared do or say anything about them.

    Once the 'Dark' was released from prison, he acted immediately to stop the rot, dumping two top 'nutters' literally.

    He exposed the crime and corruption that had taken such a hold on the movement while he was in prison.
    He spoke to Adams, who dismissed the thieving and pocket lining as just a bit of 'pilfering'

    He exposed Gerry Adams because he believed, Adams was prepared to look the other way while an entire struggle was tarnished and tactlessly diminished.

    He also exposed Adams as a liar who was prepared to let other people take the blame for his actions. Which was very much the case with the Mc Conville family.

    As republicans I think we are quite within our jurisdication to know all these things.

    Really look forward to reading another analysis on the book.

  8. Nuala,

    There is a major anomaly there. They don’t like speaking out, they claim, because it is anathema to the tradition they hail from. That would be fine were it not for the whole raft of traditional buttresses that have been kicked to the side or dismantled in some other, usually devious, way. Many of them accuse others of committing the crime of speaking out yet failed to consider that they in fact my have committed the crime of silence while republicanism was destroyed in front of their eyes.

    Gerry Adams a couple of years ago said during one of his numerous IRA membership denials that if he had been a member people had a right to know. Yet anybody who says he was a member is hounded or accused of being anti-peace.

    In any event the whole ground on which that argument for silence has collapsed. The root of its collapse lies in the leadership strategy of touting to the British.

    There is no IRA code. It was hacked to pieces until it became nothing more than a device for keeping people in line. Just take a look at the ridiculous writings emanating from the quarter most fond of making the charge of code violation. You will search long and far and hard before you come across more convoluted outpourings.

  9. Mackers, there is no doubt the book has had a massive impact on how people view Sinn Fein and 'Mainstream' republicanism as a whole.

    'Mainstream republicans' initial reaction to the book, was attack.
    They tried to dismantle Brendan Hughes's integrity and judgement.
    They also tried to discredit people like yourself and the author.

    They still plod on after the great liar, believing that a few crumbs are better than nothing.

    Adams, may continue to deny and deny, the book however, has made a lot of people pause for thought.

  10. Nuala,

    no one book explains everything although if left to the SF leadership the only books we would be able to read are those by Gerry Adams. A multiplicity of accounts is more beneficial to historical understanding than the singular approved narrative.

  11. every view point should be read, even ed baloneys voices from the grave, this book has made no difference to the way republicans think, like the recent elections have shown, some of the dark minds wants GERRY ADAMS to say that he was in the RA, so that GERRY will spent more time behind prison bars, and afterwards he would be restricted from world travel, specially to gaza or america, does those who want GERRY ADAMS to admit membership also want those in the dissidents to also admit membership, its the argument of the fool,there are plenty of smart comments being made, with no questions then asked, for example, whilst GERRY ADAMS is on his knees in cage 11 at long kesh saying the rosary the bold brendan read CHE GUEVARA and CASTRO, neither baloney or finnuala perry asked why brenden hughs, who opposed compromise would support these two cuban leaders who let the american army stay in cuba, and who are still there along with an american prison on cuban soil, this was just put in to make it look that brendan was more hardline than GERRY, then we go to brendan and his plans to take the war to england, it was not to be, his own words, but others took the war to england, the culmination of which were the two 1 tonne bombs that exploded for peace in 1996, others took on the england jobs, like others had to take over his command of the hunger stikes, others kept going when brenden stopped, his own admission, GERRY ADAMS knew that brendan hughs was a fighter, once, i am sure he was proud to help carry brendans coffin, like he helped carry many comrades over the years, one day it will be GERRYS turn, but i hope that day is a long way off, i heard brendan hughs once when he spoke at a march, years ago, the brit army, the r.u.c was around him, he was a hero, that is how i always remember him.

  12. Gerry is in the process of rewriting the Bible... spurred on by his success with rabid ramblings and hoards of devotees blinkered eyed. Gerry drunk on Messianic delusions with his catchcry peace. Gerry's new Bible will simply be titled Judas. Written in Orish of course. Nothing appeases the people more than a promotion of Gaeilge and patriotism beautifully wrapped up in rosary beads, suppressed crimes and liberal sprinklings of the word Peace. Let the healing begin... Laying on of hands by Gerry Adams Never mind the blood on them. Believe believe just believe. Hail the new Messiah. Irelands' own. Only in Ireland and only in Ireland...

  13. For a few days after I received a copy of the book the hype and anticipation was replaced with dread I left it sitting on the table knowing it was an emotional time bomb waiting to reignite a past some would prefer to remain forgotten.
    For two days I would occasionally glance at the cover the small picture of Brendan would be my focus as I believe that was the photo used in the poster of him in the first hunger strike.(I could be wrong)
    I dropped the notion of waiting on Moses coming down from Mount Sinai and revealing something new. Instead I picked up the book and decided not to look for anything abandoning prior conversations regarding the content.
    I had explained to my friend that reading the book for the first time would not be objective on my part as I projected past memories would takeover and I would drift away from the account.
    I struggled through the book for two days with pauses that seemed longer as this would remind me of that and that would become something else.
    Happily depressed I did manage to read the book with a smirk and a ponder I had to wonder why there was even an utterance of controversy surrounding the project.
    Today I picked up the book again taking a break after 90 pages I found it more enlightening and uplifting as I was no longer pensive following the narrative intently.
    Hopefully the debate shall continue and not fade away quietly.

    Thanks Nula I enjoyed reading your review.

    PSF buried their principles along with the disappeared

    Anthony I have to disagree with you as I use PSF books as an aide for my insomnia.

  14. Tain Bo, appreciate your comment, to be honest it was a pleasure to write about him.

    Saint?MaryHegdehog, I honestly believe that in his own warped way, Adams perceives himself as some sort of modern day Messiah.

    There is absolutely no doubt, Adams is an accomplished liar.
    I don't think of him as a Judas more a Brutus.
    Judas could not live with his betrayal, Adams spends every waking hour justifying his.

  15. Michael

    Highly entertaining as usual for some reason the wee doggie in Brain Mor’s cartoon peeing on the PSF building comes to mind reading your comment.
    I assume Fionnula’s comment rattled your cage?

    If anything it is a backhanded compliment as it shows Adams relying on his faith and Hughes escaping captivity as in “still trying to get out of Belfast” which he speaks off in the book?

    “Every view point should be read, even Ed Maloney’s voices from the grave, this book has made no difference to the way republicans think, like the recent elections have shown, some of the dark minds”( May the farce be with you)

    Bold statement with a hint of maybe that old film Star Wars considering you confidently boast “this book has made no difference to the way republicans think” I assume with those words you are not equal to Adams but greater?

    Referring back to the Rosary and Che would suggest republicans think different?

    Interesting that you would mention Fidel and Ernesto perhaps an accidental attempt to improve your already derelict thought the mysterious region being Guantanamo Bay. Which is a naval base not an army base then that is a moot point?

    In December 1903, the United States leased the 45 square miles of land and water for use as a coaling station. A treaty reaffirmed the lease in 1934 granting Cuba and her trading partner’s free access through the bay, payment of $2,000 in gold per year, equating to $4,085 today, and a requirement that both the U.S. and Cuba must mutually consent to terminate the lease.

    Again rather than an insult on the late Brendan Hughes a compliment and ironically a comparative insult to Mr. Adams, considering he displays the same qualities as Fidel Castro with his totalitarian reign as dictator of republicanism.

    It is strange that Fidel considered Ernesto a threat sounds very familiar? I am sure there are those who would equate Brendan with similar qualities of Che and those who would draw the same conclusion with Adams and Castro.

    Personally I am not a fan of Ernesto as I would say he displayed sociopathic tendencies (I know I just pissed off the entire left) whereas Brendan comes across as more reasonable with an understanding of his limits.

    Perhaps you should ask Mr. Adams to boycott America and maybe petition the British government to close down the prisons they built on Irish land?

    I forgot we are now part of our own occupation my mistake.

    “This was just put in to make it look that Brendan was more hardline than GERRY.”

    Sounds like someone has a serious crush on a certain politician where do you come up with these lines?

    Oh I remember you now from former comments the confused seethe that is never sure if he is reading The Dandy or The Beano. Oh and I am still on the 9 county Ulster side.

    I have this image of you sitting in Paradise Lost with your 12 trained monkeys churning out pointless insults admittedly annoying but I confess to the belly laughs I get reading your inane rants.
    With your non linear rage and my laughter I am confusing myself.


  16. “Then we go to Brendan and his plans to take the war to England, it was not to be, his own words, but others took the war to England, the culmination of which were the two 1 tonne bombs that exploded for peace in 1996,”

    “Others” I assume you mean the Provisional Irish republican Army? But we shall call them “others” in this time of peace after all if that leaked out it was the Ra it could prove embarrassing for the reformed Provisional leadership.

    A perfect oxymoronic statement wrapped up nicely with disassociation “bombs for peace” and the mysterious “others.”

    So perhaps with those words Provisional Sinn Fein did not negotiate a peace treaty instead they bombed their way into it? Albeit by the help of the mysterious “others” who for the sake of your integrity shall remain anonymous, your words are you implying that Mr. Adams would be denied credit for attaining a deal instead it goes to the “others.” Odd you would discredit your idol and give praise to the bombers.

    “i heard brendan hughs once when he spoke at a march, years ago, the brit army, the r.u.c was around him, he was a hero, that is how i always remember him.”

    Once I heard the sound of one hand clapping.

    You heard Brendan Hughes speak once and like Northern Ireland he was surrounded by the British military machine that is how you shall remember him your putrid attempt at sarcasm would suggest different obviously you did not post a comment to discuss the book instead picked a few lines and made a pathetic attempt to discredit the subject.

    Feeble at best having a go at a man whose shadow shall forever walk in front of you every time you see a shadow you will think of the “Dark.”

    I am sure there are those within PSF, who would feel embarrassed having you as a supporter.

    You should enlighten the readers with a review I know a few excellent PSF writers who would assist you.

    Try reading a fitting homage to a fallen republican “Another Spartan Down.”

  17. Aye Tain Bo I remember during the abstenious bebate in the 80,s tombestone Tom Hartley proudly boasting that the only principle he had was the principle to win!

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Mackers, this will be Marty on red alert, he always believes that, there is someone in diffs when a comment is deleted.

    Tain Bo, I know a lot of people hold very different view points on Che. However, irrespective of what those view points are, I have always believed him to have been an incredibly principled person.

    There is absolutely no doubt that there are a lot of similarities between both men.
    I cannot pretend to know that much about Che, my son would be the expert when it comes to the revolutionary left.

    What I have learnt from him, however is, like Brendan Che had no attachment to money or the flair and prestige that fame can bring.
    Both men were essentially socialist and both were totally dedicated to their cause.

    A few years ago I remember being quite taken back, when I was told a Sinn Fein delegation had attended Che's re-internment.
    I wondered what the great man would have thought of that lot gathered around his grave? I can only hazard a guess, not very much!

  20. Tain Bo

    I would have thoughts nightmares are the end result from reading PSF books!! They are to be read not because we believe what is in them but for the purposes of reading the line and having as a matter of record what their stated position was on a given issue at a particular point in time.


    Unfortunately cults can develop in any country and not only Ireland. There are just situations where people are prepared to abandon all reason and invest faith in some figure or belief system which is true to the term because it relies on believing and not thinking. Sounds like a description of religion!


    The Messianic complex I can comprehend given that it is ego driven but those taken in by it deny their own self worth. It is more like some flagellation of the ego – yes oh great one, we unworthy creatures need you to redeem us.

    As for the Che resemblance it is easier to make the case that it is Pinochet rather than Che.


    on the principle of winning, the quip Robert provided us with is most fitting. Tomas an Chaca.

  21. Mackers, really confused about the Pinochet comment?

  22. Nuala,

    there are just some who extol Che - may even have been at the reinterment - and who would claim to resemble him when in fact they more resemble Pinochet in both actions and politics.

  23. Mackers, I actually meant that there were similarities between Brendan and Che, more than likely I did not clarify it very well.

    I believe the only difference between Pinochet and people like Adams is, Pinochet could not conceal his vile side.

  24. An Invaluable Insight
    Nuala, you made your point very well – crystal clear in fact. It was your comment about Che being re- interred and the Shinners being at it that allowed me draw a contrast between them and Che. Your opening was something for me to hang a different point on. Sorry for the confusion.

  25. Nula my apology on the long delay in responding regarding Che and my own comparisons between Adams and Castro, Brendan and Che, mainly the latter I just don’t see Brendan having the fanatical quality Che held.
    That is just my own opinion and I am sure others well versed in Ernesto’s revolutions would say different.

    I agree with the nightmare aspect of the reformed PSF writings I think I was saying the repetitive party lines tend to cause boredom.

  26. Anthony
    I made the comparison between Brendan and Che, and the one I think you are confusing is Adams and Castro although I see your point about Pinochet.

  27. Saint?MaryHedgehog,

    Carrie wrote another one about Brendan, ‘Before The Dark’.
    They were close. He walked her up the aisle to me!!


    ultimately, the right to speak out is what it amounts to. The censors - who themselves once railed against censorship so fervently - will never smother thought expressing itself in their urge to have the line parrot itself.

    Tain Bo,

    I was aware of the points - there was no confusion. I spotted an opportunity to make a point and took it. I don't think I misinterpreted anything you or Nuala said. Nor was I disagreeing with it. Enjoying the contributions you make. There is always plenty to think about.

  28. Mackers, read 'The Ghosts of the road' very good, very intuitive.

    Must admit I was never any good at poems could never even understand most of them.

    Like Seamus Heaney's stuff though and liked that one of Carrie's.

    Mackers it would take an extremely shrewd person to confuse you.

    I know what Tain Bo is saying though.

    So thanks to Saint?Mary for that one.

  29. Tain Bo, wish I knew enough about Che to comment.

    What I do know though is, he held true to his principles.

    Would have loved to know what he would have thought of Mr Adams and co.

    Cannot figure out why the Basque and Palestinian people still come here and listen to their claptrap.

  30. Anthony

    My mistake as I misread the Pinochet parallel I was caught up in my comparison between Che and Brendan and not the Adams, Castro point so I was a little confused with Pinochet again my mistake, thanks for clarifying.

    It has been a few years since I have read about Che so I could be relying on faulty memory.

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  32. Just finished re-reading it, and I have to admit finding myself in tears at the end of Hughes' section. The final two chapters really do portray the feeling of someone who had been thrown on the scrapheap, still held onto their principles but wondering was it all worth it. I felt a certain anger: seeing people like him who fought for their country being treated in such a way, condemned as "informers" after death and yet still being celebrated on murals by the same people? Utter Orwellian doublethink.

    I would have liked a bit more detail on his time in the late 80's, such as his thoughts on the Milltown attack and the increasingly accurate attacks from loyalists. That, for me, is the most interesting time because of the backroom machinations going on with all three sides while the conflict was still active.

    Ervine's section, unsurprisingly, was very guarded. Like Plum Smith and Spence, all of them seemed incredibly reluctant to really go into what they did during the beginning of the conflict. Whether it's because there was embarrassment/shame at their actions in those days, or just a general air of "what is done is done", it makes for flat reading.