The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Jude The Obscure Republican

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self - Cyril Connolly

Anthony McIntyre • 28 April 2005

That the writings of Jude Collins are now being openly discussed by people other than Jude himself must come as a fillip to his artistic pride. With journalists such as Ed Moloney - who was up to his neck in the dangerous quagmire that invariably accompanies serious investigative reporting, while Jude was writing about getting his washing machine fixed - commenting on what he writes, might mark in Jude's mind a coming of age. Plodding away for decades with nobody giving a toss, other than to possess some faint awareness of the writers name and absolutely nothing of what is written, can quickly demoralise the scribe. A fragile self-image may find it difficult to cope with obscurity.

Jude's appearance in the pages of Daily Ireland led me to suspect that the wily Noel Doran at the Irish News had decided to torpedo his paper's new rival by offering to nourish it with his own dead leaves. The story goes that the equally shrewd Mairtin O Muilleoir's first poaching target in the Doran enterprise was Brian Feeney. Feeney, assured of a much wider readership where he was, opted to stay. Jude, calculating that he may as well be not read in Daily Ireland as not read in the Irish News, made the switch. While none yet can point to the 'Jude factor' as being responsible for Daily Ireland's downturn and the announcement of twelve lay offs, insipid columnists and high sales don't mix.

I can't claim to be either particularly hostile or endeared to Jude's writing. Apart from his quaint views on demographics, there is little that stands out from his columns on which I could draw for an answer if pressed in a pub quiz. Selfishly, admittedly, I do recall him once objecting to a PSNI raid on my home coupled with a defence of the right of people to both hold and give vent to alternative points of view. Admirable traits certainly - but what about their stamina?

In his bid to become Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Leadership over at Daily Ireland Cardinal Jude has taken to launching attacks on those who are at odds with such concepts as presidential infallibility. I was sufficiently interested to learn that he had penned a column in defence of the Provisional leadership in which I was the focus of the inquisitorial cleansing, that I bought a copy of Daily Ireland on my way through town. Good for the Cardinal; the very man to unravel the mysterium iniquitatis that sits like some dark halo around the necks of those who have the audacity to disbelieve.

I can hardly feign affront at being attacked by defenders of the line. This challenge was at least writerly, unlike that launched by the two finalists in the party idiot of the year competition I had encountered as I sauntered nonchalantly through the Whiterock only thirty minutes prior to reading the Cardinal's piece. Vainly trying to decipher what 'ug' and 'duh' repeated ad infinitum was supposed to mean, I had little option other than conclude stupidity is a privilege some are happy to abuse.

The first thing that struck me when reading Jude's encyclopaedic insight 'Agreement is the greatest threat to unionism' was that its author makes a common error in privileging a perspective less because of what it says and more because of who says it. There is a perilous kow-towing to elitism on the part of those who contend that because someone spends time in prison their ideas 'deserve to be heard.' Any more so than the next person's?

Worse was to come. Is Jude Collins serious, just having us on, or shamelessly sucking up to Sinn Fein leaders when he disputes the existence of evidence flagging up the lack of internal debate within Sinn Fein? To use that great phrase from Abba Eban, it seems that what is truly encyclopaedic about Jude is his ignorance. Was the Bobby Sands Discussion Group not closed down after it had hosted a debate in Derry in which awkward questions were asked of the leadership? Have party members not been subject to strict censorship enforced by the leadership and its thought police? Were John Kelly, Martin Cunningham, Tommy Gorman, Brendan Hughes et al simply making it up when they complained about the suppression of ideas and a dictatorial leadership intent on smothering discussion? Did the former Sinn Fein councillor for South Belfast not openly admit to the journalist Anton McCabe that he had sabotaged a speaking engagement at Queens University because the panel was comprised of four former Blanketmen not at one with the party line? Was Alex Maskey spoofing when he claimed that he and two others alone took the contentious decision to attend commemorations for British war dead? Was Jim Gibney pretending when he said the leadership had stretched itself dangerously far over the first round of decommissioning and had moved too far ahead of its grassroots which it had not consulted in advance but had briefed after the fact? Did we all just imagine there was no extensive consultation prior to the first ceasefire?

None of the above even begins to address the panoply of violent measures employed by the Provisional leadership to ensure alternatives do not emerge, which range from kidnappings to murder. In a later article we find Jude Collins telling us 'journalists have a duty to search out the truth in important news stories and report them accordingly.' If even he ignores what he has to say, what chance of others paying much attention?

The Cardinal contends that the Good Friday Agreement was not a defeat for republicanism. Which does little to explain why Jim Gibney informed his Whiterock Road audience in 1998 that from a strict republican perspective the Agreement should be thrown in the bin; that it could only be considered progressive within a strictly constitutional nationalist framework and on those grounds alone the party would go for it. Nor does Jude Collin's logic sit well alongside the most positive thing that could be said for it by a leading Sinn Fein member in Conway Mill the same year - a transition to a transition. Equally ignored in the Collins article is Mitchel McLaughlin's admission in Parliamentary Brief that the Agreement legitimised British rule. Examples of the GFA's deficit are legion - Jude Collins, again ignoring his own advice, never tried to find any.

In disputing the contention that there is no republican framework within the Good Friday Agreement that would lead to a united Ireland Jude Collins manages to misquote Jim Molyneaux, UUP leader at the time of the first IRA ceasefire. Molyneaux merely claimed that the ceasefire had destabilised unionism. Writers fond of citing this in favour of the 'GFA is a stepping stone to United Ireland' position invariably fail to tell us that Molyneaux explained why the ceasefire was destabilising; insisting that it was beyond his ken why republicans sold a horse and bought a saddle. Or as Stephen King puts it, unionism was confounded as to why republicans had fought so hard just to settle for so little. Eleven years after the 1994 ceasefire and the Molyneaux observations, we can find Eric Waugh mocking republicans: 'the old ideal of unity is more remote than ever. Unionists are not interested.' Even one as hostile to the agreement as Jeffrey Donaldson can still claim republicanism was 'defeated by a partitionist settlement, based on the concession of self-determination of Northern Ireland.' Against all this we have the bizarre spectacle of Cardinal Jude citing Paisley as evidence for movement to a united Ireland. Sure, if any of us were to take the ranting reverend seriously, we would find ourselves believing that the late pope was the anti-Christ.

Jude Collins manages to lose himself when he refutes the notion that republican leaders have amassed power and prosperity for themselves. Checking the books, as suggested by the Cardinal, might prove revealing if it were a matter of personal corruption at leadership level. But rather than that being the charge, it is one of an identifiable power and wealth disparity having emerged between the republican leadership and those they lead. Perhaps the Cardinal should take a look at today's graffiti in West Belfast stating 'Join Sinn Fein - Get two houses.'

Telling us that Irish republicanism hasn't been this strong since the 1920s because Sinn Fein has more votes than previously is laughable. Are there now more socialists in England than ever before because of the size of the Blair vote? Perhaps the Cardinal just gets confused. He does write fiction; publishes novels in fact. Maybe, inadvertently, he put the facts in his novels and the fiction in his political columns.

The scramble head approach is evident when Jude Collins assumes to speak authoritatively on behalf of nationalist Ireland when claiming that this broad section of opinion is sick of my perspective. One would imagine after the Cardinal tried speaking on behalf of those twenty per cent of unionists who he claimed favoured a United Ireland, he would refrain from acting as spokesperson for large bodies of opinion. His evidence - one e-mail, which he received from a Protestant, but only after he had made his inane claim. Nor does he manage to square this twenty per cent, that he alone knows about, with his latest political idea that 'there is the occasional Billy Leonard who crosses the unionist-nationalist divide, but 99 per cent of us stay on the side we were born into.' From twenty per cent to one per cent of Protestants willing to embrace a united Ireland - hardly evidence of republican success.

Furthermore, I would be the last person to challenge the right of Jude Collins to defend the leadership of armed nationalism. But I am puzzled why he would wish to serve as literary outrider for it now when its guns are turned only on people from within its own community? Seems that the Cardinal has absolutely no intention of answering his own question, 'who will protect the public from their politicians?'

As for Jude Collins' contention that I am standing on the coffin of Robert McCartney, let 'nationalist Ireland' make up its own mind about that rather than have the Cardinal look into his own heart to tell us what the people think. Just how many republican coffins did Jude Collins refuse to stand beside when there was a price to pay for doing so? If Cardinal Jude wants to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Leadership and assume the mantle of the literary equivalent of the ceasefire soldier he should at least be honest about it, rather than mask his aspirations in the false narrative of political advancement. There was a time to rub shoulders with the boys - when they stood in the Bearna Baoil, the gap of danger, rather than in the gap of deceit and diesel.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

29 April 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

I Believe
Eamon Sweeney

Behaving Justly
Anthony McIntyre

Stop the Cover Up -- Give Us Peace
Kathleen Coyle

Justice Needs Done
Damien Okado-Gough

More Than Politics to NI Process
David Adams

Jude the Obscure Republican
Anthony McIntyre

Shared Ultra Conservatism
Dr John Coulter

* More Election Coverage *

Europe and the General Election
John O'Farrell


24 April 2005

Robert McCartney's family appeal to Sinn Fein
McCartney Family

Kevin Cunningham

'Dreary Ireland'
Anthony McIntyre

An Ireland of Welcomes Should Be
Mick Hall

Brian Mór

A Spartan's Story
Anthony McIntyre

* Election Coverage *

Martin Cunningham, Newry and Mourne District Council



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