Indolence Rather than Intellect

I have very little regard for the political opinions of Niall O’Dowd in respect of the politics of the North of Ireland. They tend to be slavish to what is a demonstrably mendacious Sinn Fein narrative. Nor do I believe that he exercises his analytical capacity to any great degree when writing on the same.  Rather than reflect he regurgitates. Indolence rather than intellect would best seem to characterise his output.

But that would not lead me to endorse the intemperate description of him as one of the world’s greatest assholes. There are many out there deserving of such invective more so than O’Dowd, amongst them those who have long censored all and sundry rather than permit an opinion different to their own.

Whatever my aversion towards O’Dowd’s political perspective I readily concede that since about twelve years ago when he first allowed his media outlets to be used as a platform from which assaults could be launched on me and others not persuaded by an implausible Sinn Fein narrative, he has unfailingly allowed the right to reply.  That’s more than can be said for some other sections of the media. Last year the jaded, timid Old Lady of D’Olier Street palpitated at the mere suggestion that it should afford a right of reply to a particularly disingenuous op-ed piece it had earlier published. The paper of record is certainly weak when it comes to being a paper of discord.

On the contentious matter of Boston College’s Belfast project, Niall O’Dowd takes a wholly contrary view to my own. Fine. Free inquiry is a contact sport where heavy tackles go in. This holds good even when he has been pulled from pillar to post by his own lack of focus, inexplicably and without consistency oscillating between criticising the British authorities and finding fault with the researchers for having tapped into a new vein of knowledge.  Nevertheless, it is to his credit that he has called on US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to intervene as a means to prevent the subpoenaed archive ending up with the British. Moreover, he has usefully outlined on the basis of precedent how this could be executed: much in the same manner that former US Congressman Bruce Morrison has done in an excellent piece by the Boston journalist Jim Dee.

None of this however should constitute a shield for O’Dowd with which he can ward off challenges to his prejudiced, tendentious and implausible views.

As of late he has found himself beset by a plausibility deficit.  In his bid to facilitate and promote the revisionist Sinn Fein narrative he has checked into Hotel Paradox. Under the false flag of raising public understanding he strives to erode it by coupling myth to myopia. He targets researchers while simultaneously shielding dissemblers. Those not remotely convinced by the Sinn Fein narrative, and therefore willing to probe beneath it, find themselves in the eye of the Periscope from where verbal depth charges are launched: fortunately without much in the way of steady aim. Whether it is the researchers at the heart of the Belfast Project or academics who comment on it, they find themselves shackled in the same dock by Niall O’Dowd where they stand jointly charged with ‘getting Gerry Adams’.

At no point does O’Dowd seem capable of addressing the central issue involved in any construction of IRA history: is it any more possible to get such a history without touching on the role of Gerry Adams, than it is to get a history of the war in Vietnam without reference to Henry Kissinger? If Henry Kissinger headed the National Security Council, it was hardly remiss of the Secretary of State at the same time, William Rogers, to mention him in memoirs. In fact there would have been something suspect about Rogers’ account had he failed to mention Kissinger. There would also be something ethically dubious about the researcher who asked Rogers not to mention Kissinger in case it might propel politically motivated accusations of ‘getting Henry.’

When mining at the coalface of history retrieval, as the oral historian is prone to do, the task is of one of extracting the raw material. The specialised sifting comes later, and is not always carried out by those tasked with the original extraction. The greater the insights mined while there is still time the better it is for those who have the task of processing it later. More acquisition rather than less would seem a prudent strategy at the retrieval stage. 

Moreover, as the Finnish historian Jussi M. Hanhimäki suggests, for a historian there is nothing like meeting those who were ‘present at the creation’; something oral historians, unlike others in the historiography field, often have the chance to do.  This ‘presence’ pertains as much to the creation of events as processes. It is hardly of shock value to find that those present at the moment of creation will have a view of the creator. What possible reason would there be for them not to have? Is there any longer room for doubt that Gerry Adams was the foremost creative influence behind the Provisional IRA campaign? Has any history of the IRA, of which there are numerous, when addressing the matter concluded anything to the contrary?

What analytical problem is posed by an enhanced understanding of that dimension? None, unless everybody that ever wrote a book or doctoral thesis on the IRA did so with the intention of getting Gerry Adams. The problem posed is a political one. Vested political interests don’t welcome probing. ‘Knowledge must wait’ being one of the catchphrases of the peace process.

In matters of history construction one would imagine that hackles would be raised in respect of historians who exclude rather than include, where the real crime is one of omission rather than inclusion, where historical revisionism is valued more than historical accuracy. But one senses that this reversal of the order of things is precisely the real motive behind the O’Dowd discourse: shout, roar, stomp your feet, bang the table, anything that drowns out an unapproved voice any time Gerry Adams - who O’Dowd concedes has lied about his IRA past - is analysed in the hope that eyes will be averted.

Niall O’Dowd can save his breath. Attempts at smothering academically relevant information have failed and will continue to fail for the simple reason that there is more epistemic oxygen out there than can be suffocated by the partisan demands of politics and the need to perpetuate false narratives.


  1. From Helen McClafferty:


    Simon Wiesenthal 1908-2005,a survivor of the Nazi death camps, dedicated his entire life bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of innocent Jews.

    Why not fill the jails in the north of Ireland with members of the RUC, UDR, and British soldiers who have been identified as being responsible for the cold blooded murder of innocent Catholics prior to the Good Friday Agreement.

    We can start with soldier F, who sits in his cozy armchair at home collecting a fat pension even after his own government acknowledged the fact that he was one of the soldiers responsible for the murder of innocent civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday. Then we can go from there, methodically investigating all the crimes committed against innocent Catholics by the RUC, UDR and British soldiers during the troubles, and then hunt them down, prosecute them and put these thugs into prison to serve a minimum of two years. After all, that is exactly what the BritishGovernment is doing, with the encouragement of the DUP, to Irish republicanswhose offences date back prior to the Good Friday Agreement.

    “Reconcillation” should begin only after the security forces have been made to serve prison time for the crimes they committed against innocent Catholics during the troubles.

  2. I cant for the love of me be as generous to O Dowd as yourself Anthony,I find the man as arrogant as Adams and a stooge to his whims, if Adams was to release a book tomorrow Gerrys War and how I fought the brits,O Dowd and O Muilleoir would be clambering over each other to portray the bearded one as another Tom Barry but maybe the smell of Northern bank notes and position blurrs his judgement who knows,but the fact that intelligent people in a position to inform deliberately mislead and lie to the public are as much a part of the problem as those who are attempting to destroy this most important history recollection project since the Tan War.I think he is a waster like his Boss.

  3. Marty,

    it is not about being generous to him but trying to present him in the round. The piece is in fact very critical of his position. Mairtin O'Muilleoir's paper told me once that there was no right to reply. Niall O'Dowd has always permitted the right to reply.

    But as I said it does not amount to shield behind which his position is afforded a protectionist status.

  4. Helen McClafferty

    Simon Wiesenthal 1908-2005,a survivor of the Nazi death camps, dedicated his entire life bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of innocent Jews.

    Please be kind enough to spare us the assimilation of another type of liar and fraud into the political mix we endure in this rotten statlet.
    Wiesenthal, possibly the greatest fantasist and mythologist, created by the Holohoax Industry, has long been exposed as both a nazi collaborator and a crank. [see Israeli biographer Dr Tom Segev].
    This congenital deceiver, has left us his legacy, in the form of the Simon Wiesenthal Center from which, along with the ADL, an entire Hate industry has evolved.
    Whilst I totally agree with your noble sentiments, a Wiesenthal style 'hate purge' is not what Republicans want, lest we aspire to becoming a criminal state like Israel.

  5. truthrevisionist-

    Do you hate everything and everyone

    I had to read your comment there a few times- just to make sure-

    Simon Wiesenthal weighed less than 45 kg-[99ib]when the American army liberated his camp from the nazi's-
    he spend 4 years of his life in the concentraion camps- do you hate
    Mr Wiesenthal because he was a surviver or because he was a Jew -
    " Holohoax " do you think the holocaust was a made up story- if so maybe you can explain where 6 million people dissapeared to-

  6. Anthony,

    '...find themselves in the eye of the Periscope from where verbal depth charges are launched..'

    I commented here on an earlier occasion that 'Colonoscope' occured to me to be a much more appropriate title for the repository of Niall's perspective on this. I often wonder why O'Dowd amongst others are so readily prepared to allow themselves to be publicly birched in Gerry's stead?

    ‘On the contentious matter of Boston College’s Belfast project, Niall O’Dowd takes a wholly contrary view to my own.’

    'Long ago and far away there seems little doubt that Gerry Adams was a senior figure in the IRA in West Belfast.'

    That reads very much like the narrative from ‘Shrek’.

  7. Robert,

    Shrek is right! I will address that little matter shortly.

  8. Michaelhenry

    Have the courtesy, to open your mind to the possibility that perhaps not every thing you ingest in a largely zionist controlled media is the truth.
    Sheilded by his protagonists, this man has been afforded the luxury, in death, of never having being outed, as a liar and a fraudster,[ref, example Dr Segev's book] by the same mainstream media.
    Very much in the same vein as his fellow quack Elie Wiesel [author of the fairytale, 'Night', that never once mentioned gas chambers when published in the 70's],our schools have been forcefed this plethora of garbage, so that this Holohoax Industry prepares us for political manipulation in adulthood.
    Weisel was never even in a concentration camp [see: Nikolaus Gruner, Stolen Identity]. nor does he show us this, by now infamous 'tattoo'.[google elie wiesel liar]. He was effectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 1986 for impersonating someone else.

    Other pertinent works of bullshit brilliance include:
    The Dairy of Anne Frank - written in ballpoint pen before ballpoint had even been invented.
    Surviving with Wolves- Misha Detonseca
    Angel At The Fence- Herman Rosenblatt
    Mans Search for Meaning- Viktor Frankel
    The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz- Denis Avey
    The Fifth Diamond- Irene Weisberg Zisblatt
    etc. etc....

    Michaelhenry, having researched the so called 'Holocaust' Industry for the best part of twenty years now, and as a committed Revisionist, I am always open to new discoveries of scientific, rigorous, empirical evidence, that is objective and impartial.
    Despite this, I have yet to see proof that 6 million jewish people were systematically murdered by the Nazis and that this was implemented by gas chamber. And yes I have been to Auschwitz.

    My list of sources is too exhaustive to include, however I would further refer you to the following, in the hope that you might seek scientific objectivity, before you begin your next rant:
    Films- One Third of the Holocaust. The Last Days of the Big Lie.
    Sites: revisionist
    The scientific work of Fred Leuchter [Leuchter Report]
    The documentary work of David Cole.

  9. Robert,

    Sounds very much like the Kenneth William's quip from 'Carry On Cleo'
    - "Infamy!Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"

    Although from another thread it is so appropriate to this one!!

  10. TruthRevisionist; Jesus H. Christ.

    Your very plausible argument about Zionism in the media (albeit not largely controlled in my opinion) gets lost in this type of revisionism.

    There are liars and fraudsters everywhere - we don't need to look too far in Ireland to find they're a dime a dozen among us, even running the 'country'. 9/11 had it's fair share too - people claiming to be there on that awful day, but seriously, c'mon. The holohoax? You have got to be kidding me.

  11. Robert Anthony when you both mention the bearded one in relation to the big screen I tend to think of Freddie Krueger and Nightmare on Elm st.mind you I could as well see the quisling $inn £ein president for life who is fond of telling all and sundry how good a cook he is mouthing that line "fava beans and a nice chianti "

  12. 'Whilst I totally agree with your noble sentiments, a Wiesenthal style 'hate purge' is not what Republicans want, lest we aspire to becoming a criminal state like Israel.'

    kind of has me thinking lately the H-Blocks should be buldozed and just move on. I mean are we advocating school trips there? Like sending Palatinian kids to Auschwitch for a moral booster and a happy school trip whilst wee Israeli kids cry about their great grannies...

    Robert's observations are very witty methinks.

  13. truthrevisionist-

    " The Dairy of Anne Frank-written in Ballpoint pen before ballpoint had even been invented "

    The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued on 30th october 1888
    to John loud-

    Laszlo Biro filed a british patent for a ballpoint pen on the 15 june 1938- ironically when i was checking out the history of the ballpoint pen i read that the two Biro brothers fled the nazi's in 1941 and got to Argentina-

    just to check- world war 2 was between 1939 and 1945- unless your list of sources says different-

  14. Anthony,

    "Although from another thread it is so appropriate to this one!!"

    It had originally been intended for inclusion on this thread but decided to throw it Gerry Macs way and hooked Ante Pavelic.

  15. Robert/Larry,

    the craic is mighty on this one!