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Spin Cycle

Mick Hall • 28 August 2004

In my experience, there are few, if any, political-military conflicts currently taking place in the world in which rumour and innuendo plays such a prominent and detrimental role as it appears to do in the north of Ireland, and takes flight in quite the manner in which it does there. Sometimes one's head literally spins trying to cut through the bull. And don’t think it is just the Brits who are engaged in such tactics; all the main players are up to it. Republicans, Loyalists/Unionists, Nationalists, leading Protestant and Catholic clergy, senior police officers, and some who are not so senior, and, one must not forget, the British Armed Forces and Civil Servants, the Political Party for which the Secretary of State and his Ministers belong, plus a host of less prominent propagandists.… Half the watering holes within the north of Ireland must be kept afloat from back-handers of one sought or another emulating from within these circles.… Every section of the north's political community has their favourite journalist through whom they try, and more often than not do, plant stories in the media. In such a small community as the north of Ireland, far from having a positive impact on the Peace Process this continuous spinning has the opposite effect.

When this type of political spinning goes on in the rest of the EU or in the USA, by and large only the political elite and those who bother to read the political pages of the broadsheets get to hear about it. The general public have become almost immune to it. Thus whereas much of the Westminster village regards the likes of Peter Mandelson as a master of the black arts of politics, spinning against his master's opponents, the electorate regard him as an over-promoted waster who continuously returns from the political dead due to some hold, real or imagined, that they believe he has over Mr Blair. In other words, they are not that far from the truth having sussed the game out and, having done so, want no part of it nor with those who practice it.

Whereas in the north of Ireland, where in the past the political stakes have often been a matter of life or death, people tend to take rumours and innuendoes more seriously. For if true they may impact on one's life in a detrimental manner, whereas elsewhere the most that can happen is this or that politician is up or down. Add to this the comparatively small population in the north of Ireland which helps these rumours and innuendoes quickly filter down to the man/woman on the street. Thus, whilst they were originally designed to influence and outwit political opponents, what also happens is that they often demoralise and confuse the general public. Unfortunately these political ‘spinners’, once they have sown their seed of deceit and it has filtered down to their core constituency, can hardly then turn around to the said constituency and say 'ignore this, it is all rubbish, we put it out to outwit the Brits, Prods, Provo’s, Whoever', for if they were to do this their words would also quickly find their way into the media, thus exposing them as the shifty so and so they in reality are.

In other words the end result of all this intrigue and liquid lunching of pliable journalists can only be described as a dog's breakfast, which leaves the average Northern Irish voter confused, angry, demoralised and, of some importance to the Peace Process, ever more contemptuous of the north's professional politicians. From a Republican standpoint it was perfectly understandable that this type of thing went on during the armed struggle, when Republicans were either barred from much of the media or treated by it with the utmost caution. However this is no longer the situation today. One only has to look at the current situation within the republican movement's heartlands to see all this spinning by the SF leadership is having a counterproductive effect on the nationalist community's interest. Besides, this is a battle Republicans cannot win due to the Brits' overwhelming advantage in controlling and manipulating the media.

Perhaps it is time Republicans started trusting their communities politically, as they once did militarily. Stop all this behind the scenes crap, in which the Brits seem to come out ahead more often than not, and instead regard all conversations with journalist as being on the record. Any negotiations with the Unionist Parties and the British should also be placed on the public record. No more secret deals or agreement by nods and winks, full disclosure of what was negotiated after each session ends. This would terrify the British with their double dealing nods and winks and ego puffing about this or that prominent Republican being equal to any good staff officer in the British Army, the bloody cheek of it! The one thing all governments fear is the cold light of day being let into their deliberations. Nowhere is this more true than with the British State's Governance of the six counties. For SF to allow themselves into being enticed into playing this game is foolishness on a major scale. For how, at a later date, can they call for transparency over such important issues as Collusion, when they themselves have been party to secret deals with the British State? If they were to reject all this secrecy, not only would they be setting a benchmark for any future reunification negotiations, however far in the distance they may be, they would also have the advantage of making the RM, when they issue public statements to the media, appear more trustworthy than their opponents and rightly so.

It is a total mystery to me why SF continues to conduct closed negotiations with the British State. Historically time and again the British have reneged on binding agreements made with Ireland's political representatives, or in the case of the Treaty which brought into being the Free State and Northern Ireland, forced its signing with the threat of dire military consequences. The Provisional Republican Movement has itself been on the receiving end of such skulduggery, not least with the deal that was agreed after the first Maze hunger strike of the 1980s was called off. Yet still Mr Adams insists on agreeing to any negotiations with the British state on terms that cannot but be beneficial to the British. Whereas if SF were to insist on the openness I have mentioned above, the populations of Ireland and beyond would be with him.

If anyone doubts what I have written above, I suggest they watch Andrzej Wajda's movie, Man of Iron (1981). It covers the birth of Solidarity and has documentary footage of the 1980 Gdansk shipyard strikes and the negotiations that the Union's leaders had with the Stalinist Government of Poland. Solidarity insisted that these negotiations were open to all and broadcast live into the shipyards etc. The Polish Government bureaucrats just could not understand this demand. If we do this, how can a 'deal' be done, they helplessly asked. What they misunderstood was that Lech Walensa's advisers did not want any wretched 'deal,' they had something much bigger and honest in mind, equality and fairness. And they achieved it. Of course as they were dealing with lying scumbags who took their orders from further east it was not adhered to, but that is not my point here. In any case the situation in the north is different as the Brits increasingly appear to want to leave.

Perhaps they should send a message to Martin and ask him how.





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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

30 August 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Knackers Yard
Anthony McIntyre

Spin Cycle
Mick Hall

Reality Check
Patrick Lismore

32 CSM Pays Tribute to Memory of Republican Socialist Volunteers
Marian Price

Let Them Stay
Davy Carlin

"Fine Words"

27 August 2004

"Every Editor's Nightmare"
Carrie Twomey

Topsy Turvy World
Eamon McCann

A Quarter of a Century Ago
Anthony McIntyre

Gali Beaarda and the 40 Thieves
Harri Kaharazad

Nuclear Solutions Lost in Ambiguity
Mary La Rosa



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