Victory to the Banquet Men

When the TPQ commenter DaithiD came up with the potent phrase Victory to the Banquet men in reference to Sinn Fein supping with the British queen the sagacity of Anatole France took hold: ‘when a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.’ DaithiD with a brevity of words, crystallised like no other the vastness of the terrain covered by Sinn Fein in its long journey away from the republicanism that had previously spurred it and into its own brand of partitionist reformism. The contrasting images of banquet men and blanket men could hardly have been starker. It also came in week laden with a symbolism that reinforced the trend: former blanket man Leo Green is taking Sinn Fein to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal at the hands of the banquet men.

Martin McGuinness has met the British queen before. He has met many British officials in his long career as Sinn Fein politician and member of the IRA’s army council. Meeting senior British officials is all in a day’s work for him. It doesn’t make him a tout as many of his critics allege, but someone who has been thoroughly constitutionalised and deradicalised at each step of the way, whatever his intentions at the outset.

His reason for hobnobbing with British royalty is anything but ‘a sincere gesture of reconciliation and respect towards our unionist neighbours.’ It is more driven by the search for respectability in the South and the concomitant pot of office that lies at the end of an electoral rainbow. McGuinness went hoping to be seen by the Southern electorate accompanying President Higgins rather than First Minister Robinson. Sinn Fein, chameleon like, will assume every colour in the rainbow to get office and crown (not even a pun) its current status as an intrinsic part of the political establishment.

Talk of reconciliation sits awkwardly against the churlish demeanour of unionism, annoyed that McGuinness turned up and was allowed to dine rather than being whisked off to the tower. It fails to appreciate the irony in the spectacle of the man of whom it was once said, ‘no other living person is a greater threat to the British State’,  emasculated and served up in bowtie-and-tails as a eunuch to the royal harem.

Yet unionist lemon sucking hardly allows Sinn Fein to claim sweet intent. If Sinn Fein truly sought to reconcile with the unionist community it would cease continuing to cover up for events like the Derry killing of Joanne Mathers in April 1981 or the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, both actions carried out by the IRA at a time when McGuinness was a key figure in the organisation.

Despite the criticism of republican critics it makes electoral - although not radical - sense in terms of Leinster House for Sinn Fein to meet the British queen in a climate where the electorate seems enthusiastic to embrace once heretical protocols, and consign, a la the Latin Mass, to the ancien régime anti-royalty concepts once championed by Irish nationalism. Sinn Fein senses that being fit for office is compromised by its long history of anti-officialdom. It wants to both embrace and be embraced by all it had previously sought to destroy. Having moved firmly into the shared Treatyite ground long occupied by Fianna Fail, Labour and Fine Gael, it is behaving exactly like them in relation to royalty and much else. In terms of its republicanism it is what John M Ford once termed 'locationally challenged.'

Whatever the merits from a reformist perspective, doing what everybody else is doing in the lurch for respectability is an exercise in dismantling a republican edifice. A reading of Jonathan Powell's Great Hatred Little Room illustrates that Sinn Fein’s peace process was for the British a fleece process through which it stripped the party of every republican asset it once claimed ownership of, boxed it into an internal solution, leaving it nowhere to go other than headlong into the reformist electoralism it had once reviled.

The Sinn Fein leadership is fortunate in that it has in its grassroots a tabula rasa, upon which it can write anything no matter how bizarre, in the certain knowledge that it will be learned by rote and regurgitated even when it spells volte face from whatever line was spouted yesterday. Few probably doubt that the Sinn Fein membership would eagerly fly the Union Jack from their homes if told by their leaders that it was helpful to the peace process, and even convince themselves that its three colours means they are still flying the tricolour. The same flag wavers would then be accusing those who did not fly the union flag of being anti peace process, living in the past, lacking comprehension of the bigger picture and all that.

The Provisional IRA by having one of its foremost figures appear in London achieved no Mandela moment. That’s just tripe served up for the sheeple. McGuinness the subject behaved exactly as a sovereign would want him to in the solemn setting of monarchical tradition. No chance of her wearing a balaclava in acknowledgement of his tradition.

Sinn Fein arrived suited and booted for a feast of stuffed quail and halibut in an act that was simultaneously mimicry of the establishment and mockery of its former self.

God Save the Queen.


  1. Provisional Sinn Fein are clearly very proud of what "they've achieved" at Windsor Palace so they should have no problem with the names of ALL the Banquet Men being posted on this blog.

    Victory to the Banquet Men!
    God Save the Queen!

  2. McGuinness, a true Brit made of pure shit.

  3. Martybroy smuggled out this comm from Windsor house to me the other night,it was scribbled on gold leaf edged bog paper, in it he lays out the 5 demands of the "Banquet Men".I copied and listed them below verbatim .

    1.The right to wear a tuxedo anytime.
    2.The right to associate with other touts and spooks and organise brainwashing sessions for other cronies .
    3.The right not to work.(never did).
    4.The right to to one visit to her majesty and any knighthoods going.
    5.The full restoration of the Commonwealth lost through rebellion.

  4. Marty,
    That gave me a wee chuckle, nicely done.


  5. 1.The right to wear a tuxedo anytime. (check)

    2. The right to associate with other touts and spooks and organise brainwashing sessions for other cronies .(check)

    3.The right not to work.(never did).(check)<----can't find the Cook report from 1993 where it is claimed he doesn't work..

    4.The right to to one visit to her majesty and any knighthoods going.(check)

    5. The full restoration of the Commonwealth. lost through rebellion.(work in progress)

    So far marty it's four from five for the banquet men.

  6. Thanks Anthony.
    Marty the UK Govt made an offer on those 5 demands through their intermediary known as the ‘Social Climber’. Its my understanding they were met in the most part, and it was thought a deal was in place, but then Adams intervened and tried to get Martin another round of quails eggs on top. Its jeopardised the whole initiative. Victory to the Banquet Men!

  7. Leadership says "We need more.."

    And what will happen to the Banquetmen then ?

  8. Marty,

    Bloody hilarious all they have to do now is smear their shite on everybody else’s walls and piss on anything remotely republican keep stuffing themselves feasting off the British table and before you know it the pressure on the Brits will make them crack and concede to the Banquet Men the 5th demand.

  9. DaithiD,

    pure literal genius you should go OTR as rumour has it there is a no nonsense new sheriff in town.
    I am fairly confident you can hide out in Brit-SF-GHQ on the Falls Road you could easily blend in as long as you just nod your head and agree with everything.

  10. That was an excellent piece of work right there. The article needs maximum exposure out there, through every media vehicle channel possible.

    Victory to the Banquet Men
    God Save the Queen. Bravo....

  11. Lookout for Lord McGuiness of LONDONderry coming to a banquet near you soon.

    Can't you see him in his tweeds shooting peasants (opps I meant pheasants....or did i?0 from the walls of the city in the company of his other peers of the realm.

    This has been the most bizarre spectacle - it seems like reconciliation is being confused with adopting all the trappings of the former foe.

    But maybe he will surprise us all and the Queen will show up leading a color party at Milltown Cemetery dressed in her best provo greens....

  12. I am fairly confident you can hide out in Brit-SF-GHQ on the Falls Road you could easily blend in as long as you just nod your head and agree with everything.

    So let me get this straight Tain, you are asking DaithiD to dissent from the dissidents and nod his head to the original dissenters...

  13. Mackers

    I would just like to publicly thank the Pensive Quill and the Blanket archives and wealth of material available here. Those resources have played a very valuable part in my BA + MA studies and have assisted me a great deal towards receiving a letter today confirming my PHD candidacy at the University of Ulster where I will be researching the "True extent of Free State collaboration with the Allies in World War Two".

    A huge and heartfelt thank you to the Pensive Quill from me. Very much appreciated. It's a victory for the 'Blanket'-men.

    Really like Marty's 5 demands. Sums it up. And they are so self confident now in the death of Irish Republicanism they gave two years notice of a Royal visit for the 1916 Commemorations.... dear oh dear!!

  14. Larry,
    That's some achievent! Hope we can read a wee snippit of your work on here.

  15. Anthony,

    'Victory to the Banquet Men'

    They don't come much better than this! One can but admire the distilled brillance and symbolic inversion of this no warning literary device as it accurately detonates hitting it's target and leaving an indelible stain.

    '..the vastness of the terrain covered by Sinn Fein in its long journey away from.. republicanism..'

    Van Bomb To Ice Cream Bombe - A Political Odyssey may be amongst the Windsor Castle menu inspired titles being considered by McGuinness for an inevitable autobiography.

    A good piece Anthony that dispenses with the usual flimflam. Your day to day commentary has been much missed recently. Busy on a new endevour - 'The Banquet' - A Journal of Partionist Reformism and Assent?

  16. Fionnuala

    it will be 3 yrs down the road. But I will certainly post an outline of the content on here come that time.

  17. fair play to you larry. marty ur third demand cracked me up, daithi d - the social climber oh man this is good!

  18. Frankie,

    nah, I just imagine his new term is a severe embarrassment and will touch more than a nerve.
    As for hiding in the centre I was just thinking how many in their were hiding in plain sight.

  19. Larry,
    Just the general gist. If your not too busy loving it lol.

  20. Fionnuala

    general gist is "The true extent of Free State collaboration with the Allies during WW2" with a focus on Derry and the battle of the Atlantic, the IRA 'Plan Kathleen' and the German 'Operation Green' using cypher communications released in recent times to go beyond the public stances of London and Dublin to shed light on the reality of the Free State being in the war all but officially. And how FF was ruthless in neutering any IRA threat. AND the scale of RC recruitment to British war effort both north and south. The only time Orange Parades were ever halted was during WW2; some people suggest it was so that all the able bodied Loyalists wouldn't be on parade for the government to see. But that's just cynical of course...
    All in good time.

    On the Banquet men... can't wait to see SF sell the Royal visit in 2016. They will really come into their own then. It's getting to the point I really can't see McGuinness or Adams 'getting outa this life alive'!!

    If Charlie and his Rottweiler are coming I recon SF should send Liam Adams to meet those two. Seems about appropriate enough to me.

  21. Congrats Larry. You put the work in and now thw rok really begins!

    Robert, unfortunately I have not a minute. Hardly time to read a page from a book. The volume of comments coming through that need read was time consuming in itself without the additional time required to engage in the chit chat and exchanges. But thanks to everybody that has commented anywhere on the site.

  22. The only time Orange Parades were ever halted was during WW2

    Larry kudo's to you. TPQ will soon have at least three Doctors on house call On your point about the Orange Order parades being halted. In the 19th century Orange Order parades and other oraganisations were banned between 1823-1845. I know there was still illegal parades and the ban was flouted but some parades were also stopped in their tracks. The reason for the ban in the 19th century was there was too much sectarianism surrounding them ( surprise, surprise)

    In all sincerity I hope you get you Phd...

  23. Frankie + Fionnuala + Mackers

    much appreciated. The next 3 years are daunting, but at least I know where I'll be and what I'll be doing.

  24. I am thinking of a doing a PHD myself.

    Funding is the issue. I have funded everything else, there are PHD'S being handed out with stip ends or other grants and I would like to enquire.

    Larry are you planning to fund it yourself? Or where have you went to seek funding.


    More or less the same question, did you seek funding or pay off your own bat.

    Any answers would be appreciated as it is a mindfield out there. My research topic would be business related.

    There doesnt seem to be any info about on it that I can find. any pointers appreciated.

  25. A DENI grant James. But that was back in the day

  26. James

    I did my BA + MA at Ulster Uni' and applied there. You ask to be considered for DEL CAST or Vice Chancellors funding on the application. I got the Vice Chancellor award. Applications need to be in by Feb 28th each year.

    post grad research link.

  27. larry, i came across this history site a while back - The Irish Story - had great article on British military support for freestaters in civil war. loads of other articles too. young man from dublin runs it i think.