The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Bobby Tohill vs. the Andytown News


Liam O Ruairc • 7 December 2004

Six months ago, in the Call for a Congress of Republicans, this author signed up “to stand against the tyranny of abuse and intimidation employed against anyone who has the courage and fortitude to speak out against the wrongs and injustices they see, or suffer themselves.” Thus, when Bobby Tohill expressed the desire to report what he believed to be a politically motivated campaign to vilify his name, The Blanket felt obliged to do so. Tohill believes that there are “a small number of people” in a position of “high authority” within the Provisional movement who are trying to “demonise” him through the Andersonstown News. Tohill notes that apart from some titles of the Sunday gutter press, it is the only newspaper in Ireland which carries unsigned articles doing so.

Tohill was referring to last Thursday’s edition of the paper, which carried an unsigned article reporting how he was convicted in court of the charges of drunk driving. Tohill expressed “regrets” about his actions, and admitted that what he had done had been “very wrong”, to say the least. The only mitigating circumstances he could think of was that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (In the eyes of this writer, it was actually criminally wrong, and Bobby was very lucky to escape with just three years driving suspension and a fine.) Bobby Tohill criticised the article on two grounds. The first one is that every month, dozens of people from West Belfast appear in court for driving offences. The Andersonstown News rarely reports those cases, so why would they write a whole article about his court appearance? What was so special about this case? The only reason Tohill can think of is because of his high profile following the Kelly’s Winecellar incident last February. That brings up the second reason why Bobby is critical of that article. The paper is implicitly trying to connect a “personal and apolitical problem” (drink driving) into the “political equation” for the purposes of discrediting him. For Tohill, there are no logical connections between the two issues, personal and political, and the paper illegitimately tries to associate them.

“If the Andersonstown News are so interested in my life, why don’t they get in touch with me, and find out what I am really about?” declares Tohill. “And if they are so concerned about the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption, why do they advertise no less than 14 pages of alcohol related promotions in the same edition of their paper?” This was not the only contradiction in the paper that Bobby pointed to. A couple of pages later, an article quotes Mr Maskey referring to Tohill as a “so-called victim”. “They print that I am a ‘so-called victim’, yet a few pages back, there is a photo of the ‘so-called victim’ in hospital with no fewer than 120 stitches!” Those inconsistencies could just show poor standards of journalism, but Tohill thinks that there is something more sinister at work. “What was the purpose of publishing that? I believe that is symptomatic of a hidden agenda.” Bobby thinks that those who wrote those articles are “pathetic puppets” of certain elements within the Provisional movement who have a “personal grudge” against him, and are using the paper to demonise him. He agrees with the description of the Andersonstown News as the “propaganda voice of banana Republicanism”.

Bobby insists that “as an Irish Republican and ex-Volunteer”, he has a lot of respect for people from the Provisional movement apart from the “small minority” who has a grudge against him. He says that he fought for the liberation of the Irish working class “inside and outside prison walls” for “three decades”, and is not prepared to allow his life being wrecked by that small minority. He reiterates that he is not a ‘dissident’, and believes that armed struggle is “over for good”. That said, he thinks that the political direction taken by the Provisional movement is “drastically wrong” from a broad Republican perspective. He agrees with the peace, but not with the process. He notes that he is popular with the local community, and has received a lot of support around the country and abroad. He is confident that people will not be duped. “Everybody can read between the lines and know what the truth really is” concludes Tohill. Let the readers judge for themselves.






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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

11 December 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Post-Debacle Stress Syndrome
Anthony McIntyre

Keeping the Lid on Pandora's Box
Davy Adams

Paisley's Guide for Penitent Provos
Brian Mór

Talking to Mr. George
Fred A. Wilcox

Dr No Says No, Again; Dublin Wrong to Back Photos
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

A Way Out of the Impasse
Liam O Comain

'Eternal Elves of the West'
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bobby Tohill vs. The Andersonstown News
Liam O Ruairc

Peace Comes Dropping Slow
Brian Lennon

6 December 2004

The Fleece Process
Anthony McIntyre

Padraic Paisley
Anthony McIntyre

Revolutionary Unionism
Dr John Coulter

Official Secrets
Mick Hall

Kilmichael Controversay Continues
Liam O Ruairc

Turkish Man Beaten and Racially Abused by PSNI in front of Witnesses

Iraq is Not the Second World War
Fred A Wilcox

Dancing at the Edge of the Abyss
Karen Lyden Cox



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