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EOGHAN HARRIS – columnist redoubles sectarian campaign
arts and media |
Sunday July 24, 2011 23:20 by Jack Lane - Aubane Historical Society
More than the usual amount of reactionary drivel
Over the past number of weeks Eoghan Harris has been uttering more than the usual amount of drivel in relation to the 1919-21 War of independence. Contemporary events have been dragged in week on week to promote the moronic view that the IRA systematically attacked Protestants during the War and after it.
No notion is too ludicrous in pursuit of the deeply reactionary and frankly sectarian campaign aimed at undermining the IRA’s anti-sectarian pursuit of independence between 1919-21.
Harris in his hey day, supporting censorship, secretly - he has attempted to re-write this history ever since
It was a war to end sectarian privilege of either the Protestant or Catholic variety. It was not Republicans but especially the party that became Fine Gael, that initiated and continued an alliance with the Catholic Church, one the British initiated in the 19th Century in an attempt to stave off Republican revolution. The Republicans were ‘the excommunicated party’ at one stage.
The British left the former privileged elite in place, as did the deeply conservative ruling caste that governed Ireland after the ‘Treaty’. How does Harris think the Musgraves, who he mentions today in the context of their attempted buyout of Super Quinn, continued to prosper? Harris, a former member of Poblacht Chriostuil is a Johnny come lately when it comes to sticking the boot into the Catholic church. Some of us were doing it when it was neither profitable nor popular, when the Church was a powerful organisation in alliance with the state, that packed off the poorest of the poor and the marginalised out of sight out of mind.
So few in number are the examples of sectarian outrages cited during the period prior to full state formation that Harris returns to the well again and again to dredge up the same incidents ad nauseam. Today he names all three yet again, “the Old IRA's sectarian actions in the Bandon Valley, at Coolacrease and at Clifden Orphanage”, and then adds “to name only a few”. There are just these ‘few’ in the arsenal of Orange Order merchants and neo-unionist commentators like Harris.
These pathetic examples are a cloak that covers up the documented sectarianism that blighted the Six County state and its ruling unionist ideology from its inception. Harris made a fool of himself over Coolacrease in an RTE documentary of the same name. Harris described a botched IRA execution of two brothers in June 1921 for taking armed action against the IRA as follows, “they shot them in the testicles, in their sexual parts.” No evidence justified this nonsensical observation.
When confronted with evidence - yes evidence - that southern Protestants, yes Protestants, rejected this unionist propaganda, Harris (the imaginative former unelected representative) opined, “they had a gun to their head”. What, all of them, individually and as represented at the Protestant Convention on May 11 1921 in Dublin? The Protestants said that, apart from what they temed “this incident”, the killing of 10 Protestants two weeks earlier in the Bandon Valley, southern Ireland had been free of sectarian attacks on the religious minority. That is during the entire period of the war of independence, and the 10 months afterwards when republicans ruled the roost.
This is how the silly man explains it today (24 July 2011), “what happened frightened [Protestants] into a forced amnesia about the actions of the IRA”. Only someone devoid of critical faculties could use the term ‘forced amnesia’ and expect it to be believed without contradiction.
However, if a columnist couldn’t care less about the facts and knew that contradiction could be excluded, then such an unprincipled person could be on to a winner. The grinding out of the same propaganda week in week out in the manner of an old style Pravda hack on heat (or as merely a modern day Murdoch style hacker) can leave the audience in ignorance of the alternative. Harris has perfected the art of never naming the “academic historians” or others, such as myself, who do not agree with his historical hysteria. While it has the disadvantage of leaving the audience scratching its collective head it means that those with the contrary view cannot avail of right of reply rules.
Last week, child abuse, Nazis and the agreeable (to Harris) prospect of hanging intellectuals from lampposts featured in increasingly ludicrous attempts to resuscitate the declining stature of Harris's favourite historian, the late Peter Hart. It seems (Harris suspects) that something is stirring the historical undergrowth, a rebellion is fermenting. If rational argument won't stop it, nameless verbal terror might. Well, it won’t. Neither sticks and stones, or stones from a former 'stick' wil do it.
I have written twice to challenge the columnist, who got his professional training in RTE when it was subject to legislative censorship (and who revelled in it). On both occasions, my efforts have been censored, that is excluded. The columnist’s ego is so fragile that he cannot abide seeing an alternative view to his own in print in what he considers his personal paper fiefdom. Here are the two letters Harris’s paper censored:
, Sunday Independent
19 July 2011
Eoghan Harris is correct in suspecting that the late Peter Hart’s reputation within Irish historiography has slipped (17 July 2011). This slippage is due partly to consistently negative reaction to a recently published book, ‘The Year of Disappearances’, by Gerard Murphy, that many hoped might enhance Hart’s stature. It seems to have had the opposite effect. Consequently, the ‘niggle and quibble ‘brigade, as Eoghan Harris terms them, do appear to be in the ascendant.
I suggest that the fundamental problem people have with Hart’s research is that he claimed to have interviewed two War of Independence veterans, one of whom was in fact dead at the time, while the other was a 96 year old almost incapacitated stroke victim. Hart also misrepresented material disproving his charge of IRA sectarianism that he found unpalatable. Before his sudden and highly unfortunate death in 2010 Peter Hart never addressed the substance of these issues. Possibly, he could not.
Perhaps understandably, your columnist has difficulty recognising deficiencies in a historian whose conclusions he clearly would like to believe are true.
Editor, Sunday Independent
28 June 2011
Eoghan Harris's article on the Kingsmill massacre of 10 Protestants on 5 January 1976 forgets that the day before six Catholics were killed nearby. To recall these possibly associated events is not to engage in 'whataboutery' but to avoid the trap of singling out some victims as more worthy of remembrance than others, for possibly political purposes.
There is another reason, once we go past remembrance to understanding. The motive for the second massacre most likely originated in reaction to the first.
The failure to remember the first massacre is not something for which your columnist should receive blame, as his is not the only media failing in this regard. It appears that the killing of Catholics by loyalists is regarded as unexceptional and commonplace, hence less likely to agitate newspaper ink. The deliberate targeting of innocent Protestants by republicans is regarded as exceptional and apt to be commented upon long after similar Catholic victims are forgotten.
The first RUC officer, on his own admission, to attend the sickening aftermath of the Kingsmill killings was Billy McCaughey. He had shepherded one group of loyalist killers to their Catholic prey the previous day (additionally, at least one of this group was a member of the UDR, according to one victim before he died). McCaughey boasted that he and his associates took special measures to ensure that no Catholic RUC officer would stay in their loyalist gang. He was later jailed for the murder of a Catholic pharmacist after suffering a nervous breakdown.
Northern Ireland was and is a dysfunctional political set-up, ‘a failed entity’. Some members of the security forces there saw it as their function in the 1970s to enable loyalists to kill Catholics. In the midst of such a breakdown of law and order, it is not surprising that sectarian terror resulted in a sectarian backlash.
Your columnist may consider this nit-picking. I record it for his evaluation and for the consideration (in full) of your readers.
There is more that could be said, but never in the Sunday Independent where comment is free but facts are few.
Further Indymedia Reading
Eoghan Harris and John A Murphy fall out
Edwards, Myers, Harris, Carew: Pro-British, Pro-US, Pro-Israel, Pro-War
Hidden History or hidden agenda – the real story
Coolacrease - The Hidden Interview - an Indymedia EXCLUSIVE!
War Of Independence Debate On Sectarianism Descends On Unassuming Offaly
Communist to Capitalist - Eoghan Harris fights the pesky RTE provos
EXPOSED: Censorship in the Sunday Independent
Eoghan Harris defends the 'Gentle Black and Tan' against verdict of history
Two faced Sindo sneers at and applauds Ken Loach Film
Justice for the Forgotten attack Jim Cusack's misreporting on Dublin Monaghan bombings
Ian Paisley should say "Sorry!" to Eugene Reavey
Link below to an article (PDF format, page 19-20) on 'Harris, Hard Gospel and Hot Stuff in Co Cork' - another outing for the excitable right winger, whose antics at a private function were revealed to us by some Protestants who objected.