much confused Damien Kiberd seems not to know which
end of him is up. I suppose neither clarity nor
insight is the beneficiary occasioned by the downward
spiral from serving as editor of a serious top league
newspaper to functioning as a columnist in an enterprise
where neither news nor accuracy matter all that
much. Moving down the gears so quickly must produce
a disconcerting effect. Merely cast an eye over
all the writers that were lured down the same cul
de sac only to have their creativity murderously
Damien Kiberd, used to a more sheltered and rarefied
atmosphere, has not yet inhaled the same intellectual
smog as some West Belfast 'thinkers'. His hagiographical
treatment of Sinn Fein leaders, however, suggests
he is trying hard to 'breath in, breath out' on
cue. It is an exercise fraught with danger. Failure
to use a filter increases the risk of exposure to
the symptoms of ATN positive which if not treated
will eventually develop into full blown Robinitis.
Already this debilitating malaise has ravished West
Belfast's sycophant community, whose members suffer
from sore knees, tongue elongation, a persistent
urge to say 'yes' while frequently emitting brownish
mucus from the nasal passages.
appearing to acknowledge that an 'ounce of sense'
is a rare commodity in some West Belfast writerly
circles, rather than reflect on the challenges posed
by and consequences of hanging out in a writers'
graveyard, Damien Kiberd has opted to shake his
pen at those who think society in general and republicanism
in particular is better served by a plurality of
voices rather than a single one. The source of his
animus is seemingly those who express opposition
to the violence and deceit of the peace process.
As a historian he should be able to trace the history
of this disturbing phenomenon back to ancient Greece.
It has survived in the face of countless attempts
to suppress it. Does he really delude himself that
its practitioners are to be scattered to the four
corners of the earth by a shake of his pen?
so, we can excuse him that. It goes with the turf.
Delusion and denial abound in the strange land of
the peace process, something which he at least acknowledges.
Vaclev Havel would have termed it living inside
a lie. In a distorted world where mice catch cats
one West Belfast writer professed that he initially
believed the IRA had robbed the Northern Bank but
changed his mind once Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness
said they believed IRA denials. He earlier believed
there would be no decommissioning by the year 3000
- because Gerry and Martin told him so. Others,
rendered delirious by Robinitis, thought Freddie
Scappaticci was a great republican victimised for
his fidelity to the cause by securocrats. The evidence
for this British conspiracy - none other than Gerry
and Martin, again. Now, for most thinking people,
the rule of thumb is to believe nothing until the
Sinn Fein duo officially denies it. But as an old
nemesis, Geordie Smiley, was fond of saying, 'common
sense isn't all that common otherwise everybody
would have some.'
Kiberd takes grave exception to former republican
prisoners expressing their views in outlets provided
by the British media. Seems he has little to say
about the US, German, Italian, Dutch, French, Canadian,
Australian, Austrian, Chilean, Spanish and Swedish
media who all rely on the same ex prisoners for
an alternative to the line. He has even less to
say about the amount of British funding that goes
to the business group for whom he now writes a column,
and from which he presumably draws his stipend.
Puzzlingly, his ire, while not diluted, is restricted
even further as it is only some former prisoners
venting their views that concern him. Those who
roll over and nod their heads while repeating the
Sinn Fein leadership mantra ad nauseum - they are
fine. Presumably they provide a valuable public
service as they explain how the Provisional IRA
never robbed the Northern Bank, and that Sinn Fein
at no time sought to cover up aspects of the Robert
who don't buy into the bollix, well, they are 'rounded
up' by the British media. Kiberd of course is not
'rounded up' by the forces behind Daily Ireland.
Nor would he have us believe that he is a stooge
for the Sinn Fein spin machine to which he 'objectively'
provides a valuable service.
if Damien Kiberd were as tuned into historical data
as he would have us believe, he would find, with
no great effort, that every strand of political
thought articulated by him above was aired by those
former prisoners who he now feels are being 'rounded
up.' Like he, they had the savvy to discern that
the Good Friday Agreement was not transitional,
and the prescience to see that the terminus was
a partitionist solution. The Provisional leaders
he seeks to defend are the very people who rounded
up a posse of thought police to hound such ideas
out of town.
Kiberd rails against were indeed 'rounded up' -
many years ago by the British for taking part in
an armed campaign directed by the same leaders.
And what were they instructed to wage arms against?
Each and every attempt by the British to establish
anything that even vaguely resembled the Good Friday
Agreement? It is hardly baffling that they might
wish to contribute to public discourse by measuring
the gap between aim and achievement and comment
on the hypocrisy of leaders who directed the war
but now deny having ever been part of it.
time Damien Kiberd takes time out to engage in some
historical reflection he might find it worth his
while to contemplate that the crime of those 'being
rounded' up was to have called it right from the
outset. It is not they who need to question their
roles but the bad historians who somehow never manage
to see them as anything other than troublemakers
upsetting the established order.