The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Intimidation of a Writer

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anthony McIntyre • September 26th 2004

Some time within the past year BBC Talk Back featured a contributor mounting a forceful defence of dissent. His main point was that it was not some sort of optional extra but essential to progress in all countries. Dissent is how a society breathes and revitalises itself. The person giving forth that day was Davy Adams, formerly of the Ulster Democratic Party and now a writer and political commentator. It was a robust performance and it raised the question of how people who are either cursed or blessed with an ability to think differently can actually live out their fidelity to dissent in the daily lives that they lead in some loyalist communities. While dissent is as unwelcome in the republican community as it is in its loyalist equivalent, and is a cost-free exercise in neither, it is nevertheless generally less fraught with risk in republican heartlands.

In August one of Sinn Fein’s more progressive councillors suggested to me that republican critics of the party had vastly overstated the extent to which it actively suppresses dissent. That the Provisional Republican Movement does not pursue the lethal option against those who align with no alternative armed group but who nevertheless oppose its writ is arguably less the result of democratic sentiment within its ranks, than it is an astute awareness on the part of the movement's leadership of external democratic constraints. Evidence of the impact of such constraints within the underworld of violent loyalism, however, seems, where it exists at all, to lead a successful undercover existence.

There would seem to be a fitting parallel between the 'droogs' of the UDA and the soccer hooligans of Red Star Belgrade who made up Arkan’s Tigers in Serbia, of whom it was said, ‘murdered under the banner of Serbian nationalism but were motivated by the dynamics of organised crime.’ The instinct of organised crime, while replete with self-preservation, is rarely as attuned to political constraints as those who have a political motivation for their violence.

It is against the backdrop of such a localised power structure that Davy Adams strives to make his voice heard. He is much less vociferous in his criticism of the UDA than those republican critics who are at odds with the Provisional IRA. He seems merely to have assumed an independent stance and taken up the pen. He also serves on the local District Policing Partnership board. In both his column for the Irish Times and his slot on Talk Back, he expresses views on a wide range of issues which, agree with him or not, benefit hugely from discussion. It is to his credit that he continues not to take directions from the ‘ideological traffic police’ in their efforts to nail easily categorised number plates onto the backs of anyone within barking distance. For that he and his family have been forced to pay the price exacted by local UDA gang leaders. A number of weeks ago the family pet dog was killed. Hate mail has been posted to the family home, which has also been the target of paint bombers. This week the severed head of a pig was placed in the driver's seat of a car belonging to the wife of Davy Adams. Like the Godfather scene, where the bloodied head of a horse greeted a man not amenable to the normal means of persuasion, a gradation in menace is being applied to the former loyalist politician.

In a bid to suppress public awareness of the ongoing campaign to silence the Lisburn writer, DUP member and local District Policing Partnership head, Paul Porter, advised the PSNI not to investigate complaints pertaining to the intimidation. Davy Adams is to be outlawed by a representative of the party which ostensibly elevates the rule of law and has the chutzpah to berate Sinn Fein for not being forthcoming about IRA activity. On whose behalf does Paul Porter want Davy Adams silenced and denied the protection of the law his party claims is for the benefit of everyone?

What Davy Adams and his family are being subjected to in Lisburn, in addition to being horrific for them, is nothing short of a criminal assault on the public right to know. Other writers, regardless of how they view the produce of his pen or how far removed they may be from his political outlook, should not take the lead of the Loyalist Commission on the matter and ponder the significance of events in Lisburn in a state of stupified silence. The more thugs, masquerading as assets to a community, use violence to suppress ideas not to their liking the more imperative it becomes to risk their violence in order to frustrate and subvert them. Three years ago this month Lurgan journalist Marty O'Hagan was murdered by that vicious strain of loyalist criminality that is today persecuting Davy Adams. Paul Porter and his ilk should not be given free reign to understate the level of threat. It would be a damning legacy if Davy Adams were to emerge from this experience, in the words of Martin Luther King, remembering not the words of his enemies, but the silence of his friends.







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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

27 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Intimidation of a Writer
Anthony McIntyre

Say it in Breac'n English
Seaghán Ó Murchú

An Open Letter to the Man Known as "Martin Ingram"
Mick Hall

Philosophy in a Time of Terror
Liam O Ruairc

Diary: 3 Days
Elana Golden

24 September 2004

Honour the Legacy
Dermot McClenaghan, Eamonn McCann, Johnnie White

Working for the Clampdown
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Peace Bomb
Anthony McIntyre

No Essential Contradiction
Eamonn McCann

P. Michael O'Sullivan, 1940-2004
Deirdre Fennessy



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