Some Bones To Pick

Guest writer Eoghan O’Suilleabhain with a response to a recent piece by Niall Carson and Paddy Hoey. 

In their article The Bell and the Blanket: Journals of Irish Republican Dissent, authors Niall Carson of the University of Liverpool and Paddy Hoey of Liverpool Hope University write:

There is, of course, a paradox inherent in The Blanket’s stance of being, on the one hand, supportive of peace, but simultaneously critical of the abandonment of core ideological tenets that had sustained the republican armed struggle. The dissidents pointed out that republicanism aimed to coerce the British from Ireland forcibly and to discredit the notion that Unionist consent was needed for the British to leave. But The Blanket contributors never made clear how it could do so peacefully. 45 (Emphasis added).

45. See “Radio Free Eireann Interview With Brendan Hughes,”Blanket (March, 2000). Hughes said, “I don’t have an alternative, people keep saying to me if your (sic) going to criticize put up an alternative. I don’t have an alternative, the alternative is within the republican movement.” (Emphasis added).

And how right Mr. Hughes was!  Besides the obvious difference between the writers’ use of the plural words “The dissidents…” and “…The Blanket contributors” versus the singular “Interview with Brendan Hughes” there is the matter of their completely overlooking my dissident contribution to The Blanket which makes clear how it can be doneSee “Can You Hear Ho Chi Minh Laughing?” The Blanket, 1 July 2004:

If no one voted for the Belfast Agreement of 1998 how does that necessarily mean more violence? By 1998 most Republicans were happy to be on a cease-fire with no end in sight. However, the successful government and mass media manipulation of the population and political parties then caused a further cleavage of Irish Republicans that in turn enflamed subsequent internecine feuding and reactionary violence. Radical rejection in the form of boycotts and a general refusal to engage with the invader anywhere would have prevented further factionalism and fostered a far better culture of Irish independence than the usual Brit tit dependence we are seeing now making 2016 no nearer than 3016. (Emphasis added).

Seaghán Ó Murchú , another contributor to The Blanket, followed up on this idea on “…how Irish republicans can further our cause by peaceable methods.”  See his article there entitled Magpie’s’ Nest wherein he writes:

Ó Suilleabhain’s assertion stimulates my own response. What it lacks in originality it may gain in relevance. Advocating a programme of mass resistance not through physical-force but alternative action against constitutional compromise appears rarely promoted within what I’ve read of contemporary republican ideology. Dominated by militancy over the past three decades and defeated when applying the civil-rights protests of the late 1960s, Irish strategies, as Eoghan’s remark implies, appear to avoid “radical rejection” of the invaders and their collaborationists. Such language, indeed, smacks of the French resistance rather than a society happy to shop at Tescos and participate in the flood of goods from China, the EU, and the rest of the WTO-dominated marketplace.

Therefore, Carson and Hoey’s academic assertion that “…The Blanket contributors never made clear how it could do so peacefully” is contrary to heretofore published reality.

And what they overlook in facts they overreach in argument:

The combined heritage of republican and socialist dissent shared by The Bell and The Blanket operated in a similar way. Both were vocal objectors at a time of political stabilization. That both journals chose to publish their criticisms openly testified to their belief in the security of the prevailing political order, despite the obvious risks such criticism entailed and despite their undisguised displeasure with the nature of that order. In their own way, each publication marked a new era in Irish politics, in which the dynamic forces that shaped their world—namely, armed struggle—gave way to a period of self-questioning and criticism. The Bell and the Blanket played a key role in such a process for their respective generations. Their legacy is to demonstrate that once political power has been won, the question of what to do with it often remains to be resolved. [End Page 93] (Emphasis added).

How do they figure this?  Would they say same about Chinese dissident Ay Wai Wai or Russian dissident Alexander Solzynitzin? 

Did their openly published art and books “…testify to (their) belief in the security of the prevailing political order” or to their belief that their government was just a totalitarian house of cards? 

Wasn’t one of the purposes of The Blanket to provide a free speech forum for among others people who didn’t believe in the security of the prevailing political order? Wasn’t that the whole point of Marian Price’s protest for which she is now imprisoned?

And how do Mr. Carson and Mr. Hoey figure that colonial government by local co-opted satraps amounts to “…political power… won” for the colony

Since when?


  1. That was a powerful response and quite clearly Eoghan is a person of great academic ability,a very enjoyable and informative read.

  2. Juan Miranda,

    I know what I am talking about when I am talking about the revolutions. The people who read the books go to the people who can't read the books, the poor people, and say, "We have to have a change." So, the poor people make the change, ah? And then, the people who read the books, they all sit around the big polished tables, and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat, eh? But what has happened to the poor people? They're dead! That's your revolution. Shhh... So, please, don't tell me about revolutions! And what happens afterwards? The same fucking thing starts all over again!

    John H. Mallory’s response,

  3. Thats an excellent piece from Eoghan, A lot to take in and digest ,and to decipher.


    I am one off those who was poor in the recent conflict on our Island Of Ireland, Albeit the North Easter Province of Ulster.

    I can assure you, I and my Friends could read very well, and, are still alive today, So whats your point about the poor not being able to read and all dead?. The last part of your posts is too obvious, but it reflects on something I have adcocated several times, We are on an ever ending rollercoaster untill the British, either leave or are forced to leave by Demonstrations and protests, refusing to pay Rates etc, if that fails then it is back to the drawing board and a new army council, and a new war, But I hope it doesn't come to that, but I cant think of an alternative. Now, Do you have a different plan?, I would love to Read your plan on the TPQ, maybe it could be followed up on.

    I will Plead ignorance on the Juan Miranda, I was looking to see if someone by that name had posted! (american Football player) or, am i missing out on something.
    I do know who John H Mallory was .

  4. Nial, are you a mexican revolution movie buff. I saw that movie too. The bandito's brother was a priest and he got slaughtered for taking the 'easy' way out.

  5. Nial.

    Nice to see you copied the characters words from the movie.
    He was reading from the book ;
    Mikhael A. Bakunin,
    "The Patriotism"
    But I like others on TPQ , prefer to use our own words, and if a quote is used , the source is given as well. But the other Juan Miranda was born in Cuba, He is a famous American footballer playing for Tampa Bay!

  6. Larry and itsjustmackers,
    My fictional quote has not been fully understood……who do you think he is referring too when he speaks of the book readers sitting around the table eating and drinking…’s a clue, it’s not just Adams and Co.

  7. Nial
    The quote is a good one. It was very well put in the movie. I can see the truth of it and certainly not just in the North where SF have parked themselves at the 'big' table with no more purpose than being having their irrelevany presence accepted at it.