her Boston Globe letter, September 1, 2011, Rita O’Hare expresses ‘disbelief’ that Ed Moloney and myself should vent concern that the British police might, through their endeavours to break in to the Boston College oral history project, seek to undermine aspects of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement which has annoyed some of them. In her view we should refrain from probing the motives of the British police or ascribe to them some other motives we do not believe them to have. How considerate of her to think of sparing us the effort.In
What we are concerned with is hardly what Rita O’Hare thinks, on the odd occasion that she might. Our primary focus is this: as journalists and researchers our first commitment and duty of care is to the protection of our sources; in the journalistic world, the primus pares inter. Were the British police seeking to strengthen the peace process by obtaining the Boston College oral history archives, our concern would be the same. It just so happens that in their pursuit of those archives, elements of the British police are doing so for nefarious reasons, which when distilled down amount to what Niall O’Dowd has termed revenge. O’Hare at least seems to acknowledge this much in her reference to a fishing expedition driven by ‘political motivation.’ But only she is allowed to say so. In deference to the Führerprinzip, her party’s governing ethos, we should remember our place and remain silent.
O’Hare has also stated that Ed Moloney and myself ‘have attacked Sinn Fein’s president, Gerry Adams, and others for their role in bringing an end to armed conflict.’ From behind what burning bush was this strange mystery of the peace process revealed to her? It is an allegation without the slightest shred of evidence to support it. Nowhere have we written in support of armed conflict. We have been unambiguous in our view of the futility of it. I in particular, because of my IRA and Sinn Fein past which led me to previously endorse the IRA use of political violence, have gone to considerable lengths to express the very simple concept that never again should republicans use any form of coercion in pursuit of their goals.
O’Hare further alleges that for years in our writings we have been ‘at the forefront of those irredentist elements opposed to the Good Friday Agreement [wanting to] bring down aspects of the peace process they abhor.’ For Rita, old Stalinist habits die hard as she labours in truly pedestrian manner to besmirch those who probe beyond the standard narrative of the peace process so that people like her may be spared the effort of thinking seriously about serious matters. Her attempt to corral all critical or dissenting voices under the one roof, the democratic with the anti-democratic, the radical with the reactionary, is as shallow as herself. The blind faithful, as always, alone shall be bamboozled.
If Rita O’Hare genuinely believes that the British police hounding of Boston College is politically motivated, then she should direct her ire at those behind that politically driven act and ask why, in the North’s supposedly new dispensation, political policing remains as strong a feature as it previously did. On whose watch did that get through? Attacking those determined to defend the pass against indolent and invidious policing encroaching on journalistic sources, might sate a long festering resentment, but it does nothing to curb the forward momentum of British political policing, which both the peace process and Good Friday Agreement were supposed to have pushed back.