Anthony McIntyre 🔖 Sinn Fein, when it was little more than a cheerleader for the IRA, existed in an environment where a book about the party offered the prospect of titillation.


Very much so if the focus was on those leaders directing both the party and the armed struggle. These days with the war not remembered by almost anybody below the age of thirty, the whiff of gun smoke is much fainter. Its heady days behind it, Sinn Fein might not just emit the same risqué allure. The more it becomes dull and grey like the rest of them, and takes on the look and mannerisms of prison governors rather than prisoners, the image becomes one of bland men not blanket men. Can they really be that interesting? 

If a book on any political party is to grip the public imagination, its chances increase proportionate to the scandal it contains. And in a world where key figures still seek to protect grave secrets about secret graves and much else, there is always a scandal lurking beneath the surface just waiting for the right bait. Like an adroit angler, Aoife Moore knew where to cast her line to catch enough whoppers to both appetize and feed public curiosity. 

The Long Game is certainly nothing that a reader would expect to emerge from the cloistered world of academia. Aoife Moore is not a walking footnote. This is no turgid tome, meticulously referenced and laid out with forensic dexterity. The author’s success is down to making The Long Game a short read, despite it being three hundred pages in length. There is pace, and the interest never wanes from page to page. Once started I would look forward to the train or bus, settle down in my seat and lose myself between its covers. The commute, like the book, just flew by. The most of it I managed to read on the return trip from Drogheda to Wicklow, finishing off the final few pages this morning at home.

Moore does not tell the story of Sinn Fein. She tells stories from within Sinn Fein. For her efforts she will be maligned every bit as badly by party apparatchiks as she feels she was by Eoghan Harris who had a go at her because in his narcissistic world she was a Shinner shill. Best for her to take the attitude that if she is annoying them all she is doing something right.

The hero of the hour is undoubtedly Leo Green. A former hunger striker and leader of IRA prisoners in the mid-1980s, Green is a redoubtable character who would make a formidable opponent. He might come at you hard but without malice or vindictiveness. If you want to approach Green with an idea it better not be bull. His cerebral acuity will slice through it. When he called Gerry Adams out on his bull and told him to his face he was a liar, I was reminded of a quip by Brian Ervine of the PUP that Adams wore a beard to stop people calling him a bare faced liar.

Adams being accused of lying is hardly a news story but the background offers a window where the grime has been wiped away, allowing the public to peer into a world where the ethos of the army has long been used to run the party for the benefit of those at the top. It is heartening to know that not everybody in the party clapped like a member of the North Korean Communist Party when its leader decided he would report the mother of his raped niece for managing an allegedly unkempt home but not report the rapist.

This prompted what is perhaps the most memorable quote from the book made by a long standing member at the risk of being labelled a slow learner.

It was during the Aine Adams revelations that I realised that Gerry Adams is a terrible person . . . so when he is confronted with any uncomfortable truth his first instinct is to lie to everybody . . . this guy has no qualms at all . . . has no conscience about stuff, he’s not troubled by anything.

Green emerges with integrity. Much less dignified was the cameo role of his former hunger striking colleague and jail leader, Raymond McCartney. His clumsy attempt to badger Green into deference won for him the yes-man cup.

Aoife Moore not only had the ability to crack the nut and look within, she also had the cojones to do it. Getting on the inside track, she divested a sufficient number of party activists of the muzzle that a narrative-control obsessed leadership forced them to wear.

Books that scandalise those with the glare of publicity benefit greatly from conjuring up an archvillain. Much like the brilliant Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, The Long Game places that odious garland around the neck of former IRA Chief of Staff and erstwhile Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams.

Yet, for all the oleaginous endeavours brought to light in the book, perhaps the stand out vignette is the coming together of Martin McGuinness and Sarah Ewart, a young mother from the unionist community whose dreadful experience of a fatal foetal abnormality drove her literally into the welcoming arms of McGuinness. The then Deputy First Minister overcame his Catholic sentiment and strongly urged political parties to take on the 'duty and responsibility' of addressing the taxing issue of fatal foetal abnormality. Weeks after his death, Sarah Ewart named her new born baby Aoife in tribute to Martin McGuinness. 

Sinn Fein has as many dark corridors as it has dark characters. Despite some minor mistakes, Aoife Moore 's work is a candle in the darkness that will glow for some time to come.

Aoife Moore, 2023, The Long Game: Inside Sinn Fein. Sandycove. ISBN-13: ‎978-1844885794.

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

The Long Game

Anthony McIntyre 🔖 Sinn Fein, when it was little more than a cheerleader for the IRA, existed in an environment where a book about the party offered the prospect of titillation.


Very much so if the focus was on those leaders directing both the party and the armed struggle. These days with the war not remembered by almost anybody below the age of thirty, the whiff of gun smoke is much fainter. Its heady days behind it, Sinn Fein might not just emit the same risqué allure. The more it becomes dull and grey like the rest of them, and takes on the look and mannerisms of prison governors rather than prisoners, the image becomes one of bland men not blanket men. Can they really be that interesting? 

If a book on any political party is to grip the public imagination, its chances increase proportionate to the scandal it contains. And in a world where key figures still seek to protect grave secrets about secret graves and much else, there is always a scandal lurking beneath the surface just waiting for the right bait. Like an adroit angler, Aoife Moore knew where to cast her line to catch enough whoppers to both appetize and feed public curiosity. 

The Long Game is certainly nothing that a reader would expect to emerge from the cloistered world of academia. Aoife Moore is not a walking footnote. This is no turgid tome, meticulously referenced and laid out with forensic dexterity. The author’s success is down to making The Long Game a short read, despite it being three hundred pages in length. There is pace, and the interest never wanes from page to page. Once started I would look forward to the train or bus, settle down in my seat and lose myself between its covers. The commute, like the book, just flew by. The most of it I managed to read on the return trip from Drogheda to Wicklow, finishing off the final few pages this morning at home.

Moore does not tell the story of Sinn Fein. She tells stories from within Sinn Fein. For her efforts she will be maligned every bit as badly by party apparatchiks as she feels she was by Eoghan Harris who had a go at her because in his narcissistic world she was a Shinner shill. Best for her to take the attitude that if she is annoying them all she is doing something right.

The hero of the hour is undoubtedly Leo Green. A former hunger striker and leader of IRA prisoners in the mid-1980s, Green is a redoubtable character who would make a formidable opponent. He might come at you hard but without malice or vindictiveness. If you want to approach Green with an idea it better not be bull. His cerebral acuity will slice through it. When he called Gerry Adams out on his bull and told him to his face he was a liar, I was reminded of a quip by Brian Ervine of the PUP that Adams wore a beard to stop people calling him a bare faced liar.

Adams being accused of lying is hardly a news story but the background offers a window where the grime has been wiped away, allowing the public to peer into a world where the ethos of the army has long been used to run the party for the benefit of those at the top. It is heartening to know that not everybody in the party clapped like a member of the North Korean Communist Party when its leader decided he would report the mother of his raped niece for managing an allegedly unkempt home but not report the rapist.

This prompted what is perhaps the most memorable quote from the book made by a long standing member at the risk of being labelled a slow learner.

It was during the Aine Adams revelations that I realised that Gerry Adams is a terrible person . . . so when he is confronted with any uncomfortable truth his first instinct is to lie to everybody . . . this guy has no qualms at all . . . has no conscience about stuff, he’s not troubled by anything.

Green emerges with integrity. Much less dignified was the cameo role of his former hunger striking colleague and jail leader, Raymond McCartney. His clumsy attempt to badger Green into deference won for him the yes-man cup.

Aoife Moore not only had the ability to crack the nut and look within, she also had the cojones to do it. Getting on the inside track, she divested a sufficient number of party activists of the muzzle that a narrative-control obsessed leadership forced them to wear.

Books that scandalise those with the glare of publicity benefit greatly from conjuring up an archvillain. Much like the brilliant Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, The Long Game places that odious garland around the neck of former IRA Chief of Staff and erstwhile Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams.

Yet, for all the oleaginous endeavours brought to light in the book, perhaps the stand out vignette is the coming together of Martin McGuinness and Sarah Ewart, a young mother from the unionist community whose dreadful experience of a fatal foetal abnormality drove her literally into the welcoming arms of McGuinness. The then Deputy First Minister overcame his Catholic sentiment and strongly urged political parties to take on the 'duty and responsibility' of addressing the taxing issue of fatal foetal abnormality. Weeks after his death, Sarah Ewart named her new born baby Aoife in tribute to Martin McGuinness. 

Sinn Fein has as many dark corridors as it has dark characters. Despite some minor mistakes, Aoife Moore 's work is a candle in the darkness that will glow for some time to come.

Aoife Moore, 2023, The Long Game: Inside Sinn Fein. Sandycove. ISBN-13: ‎978-1844885794.

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

3 comments:

  1. Marty Flynn comments

    Hi a chara - your wordsmithing is getting better if that is possible. Your review and take on The Long Game is superb. I shall def get hold of it. I think Aoife could have filled a lot more pages. And if truth was to be told by all it would run into a few books Great stuff a chara.

    best regards

    Marty

    ReplyDelete