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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The People of No Principle


Geraldine Adams • 3 December 2006

The leadership lies. It knows no such thing as an honest exchange of opinion. It seeks to blacken those who criticise or challenge it. Reputations are destroyed. The argument can't be defeated by reason, so the good name of the person making it must be stamped into the ground.

Tony Catney's letter in the Irish News covered these points. His sense of hurt and anger was palpable. Tony's was a welcome contribution to the current debate about the state of republicanism. But a serious omission was context. The leadership didn't start practising black propaganda when Tony left the movement last year. They've been doing it for 12 years now and Tony was there, at a leadership level, when they were doing it.

In 1994, those who disagreed with the ceasefire and the British-sponsored peace process were demonised. In 1997, those who left the Provisional IRA over the Mitchell principles of non-violence were visited by the Provos and threatened with death. What did Tony make of that? What did he think when lies were spread about Bernie and Mickey McKevitt and their contribution to the struggle belittled, as is happening Tony's contribution now?

After the 1998 Omagh bomb, when Martin McGuinness encouraged "people power" against those it was alleged were responsible, did Tony speak out against this "felon-setting". What did he say when republicans like Paddy Fox, Brendan Shannon, and a host of others were abducted and beaten for doing nothing other than being republicans?

When Joe O'Connor was murdered in Ballymurphy, and the Provo lie machine spun into action, did Tony think of resigning? When the mob picketed Anthony McIntyre's house, with his heavily pregnant wife inside, did Tony publicly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with McIntyre in support of truth and freedom of speech or did he sidestep the issue?

The leadership has tarnished the names of countless republicans who challenged it long before Tony did. Character assassination is far easier than logically responding to an argument. Brendan Hughes is an alcoholic. Anthony McIntyre's head had gone after all those years in jail and then he was brainwashed by that new American wife who is probably an FBI agent. Marian Price has been loopy since the force-feeding. Francie Mackey was jealous of Barry McElduff.

Bernadette Sands couldn't cope with her brother dying on hunger-strike. Bernadette Devlin never recovered from being shot. Mickey Donnolly's brain wasn't the same after his 'guinea pig' experience. John Kelly, Martin Cunningham, and Martin Galvin - slurs were invented about them all. Some people were written off for doing too long in jail, some for never having been jailed in the first place. It was claimed that some were MI5, despite the fact that the only British agents found in recent years have been in senior Provisional ranks.

Every time a criticism was made, verbally or in print, the timing of the intervention was said to be suspicious. It was coming at a crucial point in the peace process and only played into the hands of the enemies of republicanism. These "crucial points" lasted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Sinn Fein leaders are the people of no principle who will say or do anything for power. It wasn't just those within the movement they demonised. Even journalists, who reported on internal dissent or uncovered leadership untruths, were targeted: Ed Moloney invented material for 'A Secret History of the IRA' because he was greedy for the money from a best-selling book. Strangely, no-one ever mentioned that Gerry has written far more books than Moloney or asked how much he has made from them.

Tony has taken a firm stand about the lies he's heard about himself. But what stand did he take when he heard the lies about others over the years? Did he believe them? Did he close his ears? Did he ever think of writing a letter to the paper on their behalf? Indeed, as a former director of elections, Tony devised strategy to convince voters to support the people who were spreading lies about good republicans.

I don't want to sound petty or spiteful. There are already far too many divisions in the ranks of "dissidents" for that. The Provos are laughing all the way to PSNI headquarters about such squabbles. There is much more that unites those of us who see through them than divides us. Tony's contribution to the struggle - 16 years in jail - is far greater than many of us have made. But republicanism would have been less damaged if more people like Tony, of obvious intelligence and capability, had spoken out earlier, instead of so far down the line when we are now presiding over the wreckage of the republican movement.

No-one was ever reticent about publicly denouncing the SDLP, calling them all the so-and-sos of the day. So many republicans courageously stood up to the Brits, verbally and physically, and paid a huge personal price. Sadly, it must be acknowledged that, when it came to speaking out against a leadership which sold out the movement and lied through its teeth, too many were found wanting. The people of no principle were able to do what they did because their followers were more loyal to personalities than ideology.




















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

3 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Forensic Framework Unravels
Martin Galvin

RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

F's All Around
Dr John Coulter

Loose Ends
John Kennedy

The People of No Principle
Geraldine Adams

Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?
Willie Gallagher

Conway Mill Debate
Anthony McIntyre

Not Too Late for a United Front
Mick Hall

Afraid of the Voice of the People
James Bradley

Ideals Live On
Dolours Price

Ray McAreavey

Poetry in Motion
Lord Falls

Michael Pebble
Anthony McIntyre

Action Required to Stop Bullies
Dr John Coulter

O'Shea is Right on Aid Policy
David Adams

Ministerial Own Goal
Anthony McIntyre

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
Maryam Namazie

19 November 2006

The Bogeyman
Anthony McIntyre

Believe It Or Not
John Kennedy

Contra Con Artists
Anthony McIntyre

The Wrong Kind of Republican?
Ivan Morley

Equality Agenda: British Rhetoric and Reality
Martin Galvin

A Deal Done By Quislings
Mick Hall

Dr John Coulter

Deadline? Pull the other one!
David Adams

Political Policing
Martin Ingram

It's Not The Taking Part
Anthony McIntyre

Who Can Get Dr No to Say Yes?
Dr John Coulter

Equality or Equity
Michéal MháDonnáin

Michael Gillespie

Revolutionary Unionism
Dr John Coulter

Who Needs Enemies
John Kennedy

The King's Threshold
Robin Kirk



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