The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Armed Peace

Book Review

Anthony McIntyre, The Other View, Spring 2004

How does a reviewer tackle what essentially amounts to a chronology? Cast a suspicious eye for what its author omits; or deconstruct whatever narrative, if any, happens to accompany the jumble of dates, events and reports of who said what to whom about which? It has been said that if we do not know what happened then we shall never find out why it happened. With that in mind chronologies are indispensable short cuts. But truth is not, as Foucault points out, a mere matter of thought conforming to things. Thought has its own way of producing things, choosing what to prioritise, what weight to give particular inflexions and so on. Subsequently, no chronology is a simple value free construction. This is as true of Brian Rowan’s The Armed Peace as it is of similar endeavours.

That Rowan, a long time security correspondent with the BBC, has sat down to put together a book that covers the post 1994 years is a credit to him. One either needs to be brain dead and thus immune to the tedium of the peace process, or possessed of a commitment to their line of work, which would allow some deep digging into the reserves of motivation, that otherwise remain beyond the ability of those equipped with more mortal constitutions. Rowan’s commitment places him in the motivational category. How he has held his sanity after years of listening to the garbage bins that pass as politicians and players, while they spew out their endless rubbish, beggars belief. In the peace process where the same lies are told with tautological monotony, where one event slips into another, and one year’s speech seems the same as any other; where endless talk of the greatest crisis ever, or the most important summit yet, or the most serious election witnessed in the history of the British Isles, erodes the grey cells which sustain our interest, Rowan has survived and has managed to leave us something that will be flicked through by students of the conflict for years to come as they seek to ground events.

Unfortunately, as Rowan by dint of his job title is expected to have access to the type of sources and contacts that most researchers would give their eye tooth for, he seems not to have produced the big aces that readers would hope for. On the contrary, the book comes in the form of one long rally after another, with little to puncture the predictability of serve, return, return again ad infinitum. If you report what the political equivalent of boring Belgium businessmen tell you, your report is hardly going to scale the dizzying heights of titillation.

In many ways, this is a book that Sinn Fein more than most will be happy with. Perhaps this is why so many turned up for the launch. And it is not as if they can be found rushing off to greet every book that examines their party. They were all conspicuously absent from the launch of Ed Moloney’s book on Gerry Adams' management of the IRA.

The give away that the author of The Armed Peace had succumbed to the charms of Sinn Fein, which he clearly regards as an establishment party, comes when the reader contrasts his approach to the loyalists with that of republicans. Rowan simply accuses the UDA of lying when it said it had ordered the Red Hand Defenders to stand down: ‘this was nonsense: the UDA was the Red Hand Defenders.’ But nothing so direct when it comes to putting names and faces on the IRA army council. Yet the security correspondent for the BBC knows better. And if he doesn’t he should join the sports team.

The Armed Peace By Brian Rowan. Mainstream. £15.99










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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.
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Index: Current Articles

13 June 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

An Open Letter to the Leadership of the Irish Republican Army
Paul Fitzsimmons

Fred Wilcox

Something rotten at the core of US body politic
Mick Hall

Father Mc Manus Replies to Mrs. O'Loan, Urges Proof in Abundance
Father Sean Mc Manus

The Armed Peace
Anthony McIntyre

An Irish Wake for Ronnie Reagan
Radio Free Eireann

Gareth McConnell

Venezuela: terrorist snipers, their media allies and defence of democracy
Toni Solo

11 June 2004

US Nationwide Irish American Group Holds 2004 Convention in Belfast
Sean Mc Aughey

The Chen Case @ the European Court of Justice - Money Talks and a Government Lies
John Meehan

A Left Vote for the Right Person
Anthony McIntyre

John Martin

Response to:
"Irish Americans"

Peter Urban

Sri Lanka: up country with the Tamil Tigers
Cedric Gouverneur

The Letters page has been updated.


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