Bus Banjaxed

Tonight The Pensive Quill features the speech by Jim McAllister at the recent Louth commemoration for Brendan Hughes.

There is an appropriateness about commemorating Brendan in these hills and that goes beyond his family connection and the place of his ashes although those are very important reasons. This is an area steeped in the lore of the Gaels and before them, indeed, and these hills from Slieve Fuaid between Newtonhamilton and Armagh to Slieve Gullion through to these Cooley Mountains are embedded in the stories and legends of na Fianna and the Craobh Ruadh and their warrior heroes like Fionn and Cuchullain; good reasons to commemorate a man like Brendan here. These hills also focus in the history of the IRA down the years and in revolutionary forces before the IRA existed. And here, in the Bearna Gaoithe, the Windy Gap, we can think of Brendan who so often stood in Bearna Baoil, the gap of danger.

There is a wealth of history here, ancient and modern. The Long Woman’s grave is an apt place to start because their are parallels in her story and Brendan’s story in that a sense of betrayal runs through both. Brendan in his time was, and still is, a hero figure to many although such a thing would never have been on his mind nor of any importance to him. Heroes arise from the conditions they find themselves in and their responses to those conditions.

Brendan saw the conditions the people of Belfast lived in and his life as a seaman, as was well explained recently in Conway Mill, gave him a window on the wider world where he found plenty of poverty, discrimination and misery too. His family upbringing, his experiences at home and abroad allied to his honesty meant that he was bound to be a republican and his very nature meant that he was bound to be a hell of a good one. It is important to most of us that Brendan was a republican in the truest sense of the word and that he believed in building an Ireland that would be of benefit to all including those at the bottom of the pile, indeed, especially those at the bottom of the pile. Power for power’s sake, winning elections for the sake of those fighting them, helping to administer partition, these were not his goals.

We know about his friendship with Mr Adams and how he felt about the U-turns he, Adams, took and led a once proud Republican Movement through. We know that this can only be described as betrayal of Brendan both as a friend, a comrade and as a Republican just as it is a betrayal of all who thought the whole thing was about getting rid of Stormont and any vestige of British rule to enable the creation of an all Ireland republic, democratic and with socialist intent.

Adams used to describe the republican struggle as like a journey, a ‘bus ride to Cork’ and would explain how there would be stops, reverses and sideways movements and how people would come a part of the way while others would come the whole journey. If Brendan was alive he’d likely say ‘Gerry, your bus is banjaxed, it’s stopped where it wasn’t supposed to go.' Gerry is not on that bus to Cork now, but he’s on the pig’s back while many of those who followed him are on the dole.

Gerry and his pals have their holiday homes while unemployment in West Belfast is as bad as the first day he got elected. I saw a South Armagh councillor in the local papers recently congratulating parents for raising money to buy an interactive white board for their children’s school. And that councillor never paused to remember that the current and previous two education ministers are, and were, from his bloody party and ask why aren’t they providing the interactive boards?

The Long Woman, I’m sure you know the story was betrayed by a faithless man, brought here under false pretences and lies, and died of a broken heart. We know from what Brendan has said that the lies and scheming of men like Adams, when it became clear, were a terrible burden for him who had faithfully trusted what he thought were republican leaders. Cuchullain, so well associated with these hills, fought a battle with his best friend, Ferdiad, who had left Ulster to fight for Queen Maeve. He said he didn’t want to fight him, not through fear but because he loved him as his friend and foster brother and a man he had trained alongside and fought alongside before. Fight he had to, though, another betrayal of friendship and comradeship. The moral of these tales is similar to Brendan’s story, a faithful man abandoned and betrayed.

Where goes the Republic Brendan believed in now? I believe it is in a parlous state and we need to look anew at where we are going, what we seek to find there and how to get there, just don’t mention a bus to Cork. We need new thinking, fresh approaches. We need to be willing to confront nationalism and show it up as hollow and empty. And I mean the nationalism of Sinn Fein, the nationalism they stole from the SDLP and managed to even dilute as they exchanged their republicanism for it. The fact that they have resorted to rows in council chambers recently shows an attempt to distract the public from the party’s failure. A republic of itself is no guarantee of anything so we need the republic Connolly believed in which I am sure is the same one Brendan believed in.

The Irish Republic has yet to be achieved and in the 26 counties people now speak routinely of Ireland in 26 counties terms only. Republicanism is very weak and must be resurrected and I mean the best kind of Republicanism, the kind that Brendan Hughes believed in , the kind that puts the people before Politician, President, Prime Minister, Pope, Priest, Pastor or Profit.

The answers lie within ourselves and others like us who still hold the vision that Brendan Hughes, The Dark, held.


  1. That reads to me like Jim Mc Allister, if not I apoligise either way,it was a well written post and one which I am in total agreement with.psf and I mean here Adams and a few others privy to the secret dirty deals,have ripped the heart out of the republican struggle,the rest of those who remain in psf are either suffering from part of the herd syndrome or ambitious wannabes,A new way foward for republicanism must be found,the old ways have given us nothing but hero,s like Brendan,who like other brave volunteers died way before their time,or young people banged up for years wasting that precious energy, I believe we can and will rekindle the flame of freedom, how we achieve that must be up for open debate.

  2. Marty,

    thanks for alerting me to that. I had the byline typed out and the phone rang. So I forgot to post it. Sorted now.

  3. No probs Anthony,Jims love for his part of this land shines out like a beacon.

  4. Jim,

    some great reflections there. I remember reading that bull about the bus ride to Cork.

  5. A lot of good people were on that bus Anthony,before the wheels came off.!

  6. Marty,

    despite destination Cork it got about as far as Banbridge before he ran it into the ground. Those still on it are happy enough to sing the Sash

  7. Very fitting and very moving.
    No buses these days, too busy making sure none of the gravy spills out of the proverbial train.
    No trickle down effect in West Belfast, buckets out everywhere to ensure the people do not profit from the overflow.
    What fascinates me and it really does, how they got the Basque and the Palestinian's to buy into this?

  8. Eddie

    Lot of passion in that post Jim and a truer reflection of republican feeling on the ground.Obviously feelings no longer shared by Gerry Adams and his merry ilk.I have never heard the crap about the bus journey,if I had it would have been dismissed as speedily as "you have got to see the bigger picture" and the mouthpieces who parroted this hand me down phrase from those most high upon their self constucted pedestals.

    Mackers, you were always hell and blue Jesus with a pen,glad to see you are applying it with rapier like precision in the direction of those who deserve to be confronted with the truth of their lies,deceit and treachery.

  9. Now after me Mickeyboy et all,
    The wheels on the bus are square,square square.the wheels on the bus are square ,square, square,
    This bus aint goin anywhere!

  10. Fionnuala,

    'What fascinates me and it really does, how they got the Basque and the Palestinian's to buy into this?'

    Read a book recently "Talking to Terrrorists". The concensus seems to be that SF have got into self deception. The Basques although infiltrated and as good as on their knees refused anything other than their original demands.

    I'm no authority on the Basques or the Palastinians, but it seems they are not going to be palmed off or bought out like SF. The Basques seem happy to play a waiting game rather than accept an imposed settlement by Madrid. While the Palastinians are resolute in choosing their own negotiators for any peace settlement.

    A great read Jim, thoroughly enjoyed that.

    Why do people refer to SF as Republicans? They are SDLP imposters.

  11. The bus was detoured down Consent Road via Good Friday Avenue to Stormont Hill where it was decommissioned due to wear and tear,to the utter dismay of some of the passengers. Unfortunately, the fares are non refundable as the tour company is insisting that though the bus is banjaxed the journey may still be completed using other transport.

  12. Larry,
    thanks for that, it is something that has puzzled me a lot recently.
    It puzzled me even more, when I heard the 'settlement' here was being used as model for peace and reconciliation in other countries.

  13. Fionnuala

    As with revolutions, each 'resolution' is also unique. The western media have lauded the northern 'peace process' because it is a triumph for the UK. Those involved in other struggles will have to study it and formulate their own strategy. When they do so, they will see just what SF did.

    The Unionists with their dogged determnination have more in common with the Basques than SF.

    The book is 'Talking to Terrorists' Making peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque country. By John Bew, Martyn Frampton and Inigo Gurruchaga.
    Very good read.

    brilliant, but who in their right mind would sign up for another Adams mystery tour?

  14. larry,

    "who would sign up for another Adams mystery tour."

    Only fools and horses.

  15. Alec,

    that sounds like Seamy F and Spike!

  16. Anthony no fools those two,have you seen their property pportfolio,s.as Nuala said some swaped the bus for a seat on the gravy train.

  17. Marty,

    Spike always got called the horse and the other fella was known as Seamy Wooden Top

  18. The Oslo Accords and the GFA came out of the same womb, and to be fair to the Palestinian people they quickly realised they were being stitched up. By the time Arafat met Barak and Clinton, he new the game was up and in the period after that meeting he understood the best the Palestinians could hope for was to endure, understand and await better days.

    However this was not on as far as Washington and Israel was concerned, and they turned their guns on old Yasser and the Palestinians, whilst placing their stooges in leading positions throughout the West Bank. Sound familiar?

    After Arafats gruesome death they felt they had the whole caboodle in the bag, but the Palestinian people said no and discarded the Quisling Fatah leadership for Hamas and the rest is history as they say.

    Whilst of a secular bent myself, there is much to be learnt from the way Hamas conducted themselves in those dark days. They realised conceding core beliefs will get them no where they wish to be.

    Back to the thread, a great speach by Jim Mc Allister,

  19. Eddie,

    ‘Mackers, you were always hell and blue Jesus with a pen.’

    Is that my old buddy Eddie O?

    ‘glad to see you are applying it with rapier like precision in the direction of those who deserve to be confronted with the truth of their lies, deceit and treachery.’

    I have gone off the boil over years. I basically said all I needed to say years ago and now use the pen more casually. There are much sharper nibs about.

  20. "There are much sharper nibs about."


    Perhaps, but when it is combined with fact, at your best you are as good as it gets.


  21. Really good speech Jim. The analogy stuff was great. Maybe it be that I am old now but felt deep sadness post reading it.
    RE: '...republicanism ...the kind that puts the people before Politician, President, Prime Minister, Pope, Priest, Pastor or Profit.'
    How will/can things as they be now ever be molded into a sustained cohesive determination of the Irish people? I just cannot figure how so many have sagged into compromise so thoroughly bar a handful. Like all the guts and self determination has been sucked out of Ireland. Creaking groaning tottering into the 21st century is Mother Ireland. Her back is broken & her heart ripped to shreds.

  22. Bus Banjaxed


    Thanks but you flatter me! I think it is important for writers to know when they are past their best. Otherwise they end up like old flabby fighters stalking a ring with no corners to hide in.

  23. Jim. Good piece.

    Alec: "The bus was detoured down Consent Road via Good Friday Avenue to Stormont Hill...

    Quite funny and so true.

    Mick: "By the time Arafat met Barak and Clinton, he new the game was up"

    Reminds me of when Adams met Clinton, Blair and Ahern!

  24. Mackers
    could be worse, you could have been working for News of the World.

  25. Larry

    The News Of The World will hardly be missed. Pity that people lost their jobs but it was a disgraceful set up.