Martin McGuinness Sold Himself as Something Totally Different.

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview Irish Republican Gerry McNamara (GM) via telephone from Dublin about Martin McGuinness attending a banquet at Windsor Castle and toasting to the health of the Queen of England

Radio Free Éireann

WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio

New York City

12 April 2014

(begins time stamp 35:30)

JM: We head over to Dublin and we speak to Gerry McNamara who is a lifelong Irish Republican. His family is steeped in Irish Republican history from The Fenians onward. And Gerry, I wanted to have you on. We had Mickey Donnelly on from The North talking about Martin McGuinness who he knows personally. But what was the coverage like? And what was the reaction of the people in The Twenty-Six Counties about this extended coverage of toasting the Queen of England?

GM: I spent the week myself, John, with the TV turned off. I thought it was better.

JM: (Quips) Maybe you shouldn't have been the guy we're calling. But is was unprecedented. How many people went over? What was the type of coverage?

GM: It was saturation. And the national broadcaster here, RTÉ, sent over fifty staff. But the tone of the coverage was very crawling and it was embarrassing at times ... it was: doesn't the Queen look well in her hat and what she was wearing and this type of stuff. But The Irish Times, The Independent ... the national print media and the national broadcaster - it was very craven type coverage for the whole week.

SB: Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland, took an all expenses paid jaunt to Windsor Castle. There's a lot of other people leaving Ireland every day - the young people of Ireland who are leaving because they can't live there. You'd think Michael D. Higgins might be more concerned about that?

GM: Well, he is popular. Michael D. is well-liked here. He's a popular guy. Down through the years he's been an advocate for human rights right throughout the world. He is a popular guy but we understand where he's coming from. He's coming from that a lot of people would expect him to go and do something like this. And Enda Kenny is straight out of Redmondite tradition. I mean, to people like Enda Kenny this is like all his birthdays coming at once, you know?

JM: And Gerry, in the coverage, they were saying that Michael D. Higgins, the President of the Free State, was on equal footing with the Queen of England. Now, whatever you want to say Michael Higgins was elected in The Twenty-Six Counties. The Queen of England was bred into her position.

GM: That's the whole monarchal and royal system. She's the British head of state. By the way, the ordinary people on the street here were not as exercised as the liberal print media or their colleagues at RTÉ. I mean, if you speak to people on the trains or the buses, in work - it was not the topic. The topic was, like you said: emigration. Our emigrants away, the housing crisis, the economic crisis, that's the stuff people are talking about. Not the colour of the Queen's hat. And this stuff, while it attracted a lot of media interest, I don't think anybody said it to me right throughout the week.

JM: But Gerry, one of the running themes with the coverage was equating the Irish men and women who died in British uniforms during World War I fighting for the British Empire and that there wasn't much difference to the Irish that were fighting in Dublin against the British Empire. Did you see that theme running through the coverage?

GM: Well, John, that theme has been going for the last few years because the establishment here in The South realised that this decade of anniversaries is coming: The 1913 Lockout, the First World War, The Somme, the Declaration of the Republic in 1916, the First Dáil. We're in for the next few years of these events. So the establishment in The South they're running kind of scared as to what way they're going to handle this. They realised the upsurge in nationalism after the fiftieth anniversary in '66. To me it looks like they're trying to control this. I mean, one of the things that came this week is that a member of the royal family has been invited to celebrate in the 1916 celebrations – the anniversary of 1916 celebrations - to me, I wouldn't expect the British to celebrate joint commemorations with the Nazis, with the Germans today no more than I would expect the American government to be celebrating with the Viet Cong. I mean while the tragedy of war and conflict is a tragedy all around we came from two different positions on this.

JM: And one of the other things that the Irish government or The Twenty-Six County government was doing when they were over there they laid a wreath at Lord Mountbatten who was executed by the IRA in Sligo while on his boat - and he's a war criminal! If you study Canadian history he sacrificed so many Canadian soldiers during World War I. Then they laid a wreath at the foot of the Unknown Soldier. They went to look at the Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers. You'd think he would have taken some time out to go to the British prison where Sir Roger Casement was executed by the British for bringing German rifles into the Banna Strand. That was completely left out of any of the tours of going around London.

GM: There's a new revisionism of Irish history that's taking place at the moment...and of Republican history. The revisionists are coming from a position of: It was all unfortunate. If it hadn't been for a handful of really bad, extreme guys we'd have all been great neighbours and we'd have got along. Now can we just share this joint tragedy together? And while it can be admirable that neighbours get along fine in neigbouring countries...and I think that's a great position to aim for but there's unresolved issues. I would like to think that President Higgins ... did he ask for the repatriation of Irish martyrs, the Manchester martyrs, whose bodies still remain in British prisons? Then was the British government asked for the release of all the information in relation to the Dublin and Monaghan car bombings? And the activities of MI5 - and I'm not talking about even within The North I'm talking about the activities of MI5 within the southern Irish society - and what happened right throughout The Troubles? There's still an awful lot of unresolved issues.

JM: Gerry, I wanted to play a clip here and you were at this historic meeting that happened in Dublin in 1986. There was a split in the Republican Movement. Ruarí Ó'Brádaigh had given a speech that if they had taken their seats in The Twenty-Six County government that it would lead to taking your seats in The North and eventually going into Westminster. And the response came from Martin McGuinness who took a very hard line at the time that this would never happen. I want to play a little clip because you were at that meeting and just the tone of Martin McGuinness stating about his principles and it's so hard to believe that he was in his tuxedo this week toasting to the health of the Queen.

(Audio of Martin McGuinness' “Never! Never! Never!” speech delivered at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is played.)

JM: Never, never, never change – that was in 1986. Not so long in the history of Ireland (and) a short time later there's Martin McGuinness administering British rule in Ireland, receiving a British paycheque and toasting to the health of the Queen of England. Now Gerry, you were standing near him that day. A lot of people believed what Martin McGuinness said that day in order to carry the vote. What's your thought all these years later? Did you believe what he said?

GM: I was one of the first to shake his hands when he came down – I was standing to the left of the rostrum – and I was one of the first to shake his hands when he come down after making that speech. That was a speech in reply to Ruarí Ó'Brádaigh had made a speech where Gerry Adams tapped him on the shoulder and put his hand out. Ruarí Ó'Brádaigh turned around and shook his hand and said I'll shake hands with any man any time and not just for the media. But I didn't walk out that day. I stayed loyal to the Provisional leadership. The speech - I mean everything in that - just talks for itself. There are no principles. Everything is a tactic. There are no fundamentals. Everything that they do is a tactic. There's no standard of principle. There's no standard of: this is what we are - this is what we stand for. Everything is a tactic. And everything is a lie. And everything is an illusion. Actually Vincent Browne within the last week in The Irish Times, while not just focusing solely on Sinn Féin, a lot of it was targeted at Sinn Féin where he spoke about politicians in general in Ireland in The South that don't stand for anything and will say anything to get power and as soon as their in power totally renege on everything they said. We're used to this down through the years...The Labour Party, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael...But he did focus on Sinn Féin. He said look...I can't paraphrase him exactly...but basically: Look, you guys have stood for one thing all your lives and you're doing the total exact opposite. But that's the change - in everything that he claimed he stood for.

SB: Mickey, you said you believed Martin McGuinness when he made that speech. What disillusioned you? When did you change your mind?

JM: Gerry, do you hear us?

GM: Yep.

JM: Sandy was saying what changed your mind then? How long did it take?

GM: They changed my mind for me. They kicked me out. (all laugh)

JM: And Gerry, just to show how rigged that convention was, and that was the general meeting of Provisional Sinn Féin in Dublin, maybe quickly...How did you get the right to vote?

GM: The person in authority over me gave me a forged ballot paper in the name of a Cumann from Co. Kerry. And said when the card vote comes stick your hand up that way.

SB: Gerry, from your accent I don't think you're from Co. Kerry.

GM: No, I'm not from Kerry. No.

JM: So the whole thing was rigged. And now as you get to read history and particularly Ed Moloney's book about The Secret History of the IRA you see how everybody was manipulated for this day that came through this week where it had to end up this way with a former head of the IRA sitting at Windsor Castle toasting the health of the Queen of England. I mean it was predicted back in '86 but very few people would have believed that it would've ended the way it ended this week with Martin McGuinness.

GM: Well the graveyards of Ireland are full of men that wouldn't have believed that and I'm sure their families would like to know exactly: What? Is this another tactic?

JM: Well, they said the same thing about Éamon de Valera when he was getting into power: that he wouldn't forget The North and that he would stick by them, that this was another tactic - what they were doing with the Irish Free State - and then doing away with the oath to the Queen. But you have a different scenario now where you have former Republicans in The Six Counties stating that this is the way to go. We take our seats in Stormont. We sit down with the Queen, we accept British rule in Ireland – not only do we accept it but we'll administrate for the British government and behalf of the British government and accept our salaries from the Exchequer in London. How do you see this going? It seems after this week to me it's: The Irish Free State declared independence from The Six Counties and Martin McGuinness copper-fastened the border this week.

GM: Well, to a certain degree it's been heading this direction anyway for a long time. I think they should do the decent thing and actually take their seats in Westminster. I don't actually see why Sinn Féin don't take their seats in Westminster.

JM: And the history of Sinn Féin – it was founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith - was to pull out people that were elected to the Parliament and now we've come full circle with, it was stated in the clip that we played at the beginning of the show, where you had elected officials from The Six Counties of Sinn Féin sitting in the Parliament during the week when President Higgins was giving a speech there. So I don't think it's ending very well, Gerry. From the time you started and your whole family with 1916 and now the hundredth anniversary and how this is going to play out with the Queen of England saying she will be celebrating The Uprising – or probably she'll be celebrating the crushing of The 1916 Uprising - that would be more of her celebration.

GM: What other way could you interpret that? What exactly would the Queen of England be celebrating in relation to The 1916 Uprising? Only the British victory over the 1916 rebels. What else would she have to celebrate in relation to it? The Irish people fought a bloody war of liberation from 1918 to 1922 and then a civil war which put counter-revolutionaries into position. So I can't see why the Queen would want to have a joint celebration in relation to 1916 with the Irish people for. The problem is – in relation to Enda Kenny – he's from that tradition – he's a Redmondite. There's a large section of Irish society actually who never wanted the British to go. Actually to look at Enda Kenny and some of the southern politicians - the look of almost adulation in their face kowtowing to the English Queen ... they seemed to get quite excited about it. I accept that from their position. But Martin McGuinness sold himself as something totally different.

JM: Well listen, Gerry, we thank you for coming on and giving us the point of view from The Twenty-Six Counties. And we had Mickey Donnelly talking about what's going on in The Six Counties...and it was a momentous week in Irish politics when you could see and hear on RTÉ television the bowing and scraping of elected representatives of The Twenty-six Counties heading over to the Queen for a meal. And as she said: we've had centuries of division. How did that division come about? You send your army over, invade and occupy and they rebel and she's calling that centuries of division.

GM: We've had division because of exploitation, of mayhem, murder, invasion, the stealing of lands, the genocide - we've had division for that reason. It didn't come about for no reason. And still today we have unresolved issues. There's some large issues and some small issues. Like a small issue: that the flag that they stole, the British forces stole from Countess Markievicz' house on the day of The Rising is still in the Military Museum at Lambeth. Maybe they could give that back. Maybe they could repatriate the bodies of Irish martyrs.

JM: Gerry, thanks for coming on we're going to go out with another toast to the Queen. (ends time stamp 56:00)


  1. “To be forgotten is to die twice”

    A quote which poignantly relates to the Hunger Strikers and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of Irish freedom. Those of us who are still here and who have remained true are deeply hurt & saddened that those sacrifices are now of little or no significance to the Provisional Sinn Fein Social Climbers Club or to its Deputy Officer Commanding the Banquet Men / Deputy First British Minister.

    This one’s to you McGuinness / Adams and you know exactly where it came from.....


    PS: Now that you are no longer Irish Republicans those of us who still are would appreciate neither of you ever appearing at the gravesides of our patriot dead ever again and god help the next unfortunate bastard that you've sent knocking at my door seeking a vote for Sinn Fein.

  2. Sandy Boyer came up with five very important questions that he believes should be asked whenever people meet the Queen of Britain and it is true that the same five questions should be asked of Provisional Sinn Fein whenever they are at our doorsteps looking for votes.

    (1) What power have you got?
    (2) Where did you get it from?
    (3) In whose interests do you exercise it?
    (4) To whom are you accountable?
    (5) And how can we get rid of you?

  3. There are no principles. Everything is a tactic. There are no fundamentals. Everything that they do is a tactic…… And everything is a lie. And everything is an illusion.
    I think this is a very neat summary. And it is paralleled with how they spend £8m to decorate the Norths vacant shop fronts, to give the illusion of a business behind.

    GM: The person in authority over me gave me a forged ballot paper in the name of a Cumann from Co. Kerry. And said when the card vote comes stick your hand up that way.
    The gerrymandered convention is well documented, what is less well documented is why people put up with it? There was obvious treachery , brought into sharper focus as time progressed, yet McGuiness was never taken to a cattle shed in S.Armagh. I guess I still have some issue with the whole ‘the movement was stolen from us’ concept, its seems an incomplete narrative.

  4. DaithiD

    I have been struggling to square that circle for over a decade myself! But they may finally be running out of track. Pity the were permitted to reach the end of it.

  5. Why do you think they are running out of track Larry? (I think so too btw)

  6. DaithiD

    Whilst they were able to bluff with the 'tactic' and ACE up the sleeve antics all down the line, the whole Royal thing has to my mind finally pulled the curtain away from their Wizard of Oz routine.

    Different had they cosy'd up to Royalty after a declaration to withdraw from the Brits. But SF are acquiescing in Brit rule and copper-fastening the concept that a Loyalist minority, not only in Ireland as a whole but most likely within their own artificially created state-let, trumps the right of the Irish people to run their won country.

    Whatever they want to call themselves now, SF have no authority or credibility now in claiming to be the heirs to the Irish Republican mantle Not merely to my mind but I'd hazard a guess to most other peoples minds also. I'm not even sure they qualify as Irish nationalists any more! Sooner they are forced to look in the mirror the better.

  7. Larry, I have given up hoping on events forcing them from stage, most of the major ones (e.g. policing) have been navigated with aplomb, little significant remains on the horizon. I think they took the movement with them on a lot of it, because of the cult of personality taking primacy over rationale. But they will be approaching 70 in the years after 2016. And if they are replaced with bland Mary Lou MacDonald types, I predict a similar result to Moyes following Sir Alex at Man Utd.

  8. Those still in SF know they are NOT republicans. As the societies gain momentum SF will eventually stop feeling arrogant and shameless enough and cease bringing shame to republican graves, and stay away.