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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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