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Conor Cruise O'Brien dies

category national | rights and freedoms | news report author Friday December 19, 2008 01:29author by weight lifted Report this post to the editors

Called Conor "Booze" O'Brien, he sacked the RTE board

Long time supporter of Israeli Zionism, British power in Ireland, censor, bully, anti-Republican and self publicist dies at age 91.

A heavy drinker, he edited the Observer newspaper in Britain
A heavy drinker, he edited the Observer newspaper in Britain

Conor Cruise O'Brien's famous book The Siege was a sympathetic history of the State of Israel and Zionist expansionism. His views on the destructive and anti-democratic entity that Israel has become showed a consistency with his hatred of negotiation and compromise. A regular columnist for the Sunday Independent throughout the 90's, he regularly attacked the peace process in Ireland and Sinn Féin. He also continually forecast a second civil war in Ireland.

Hostile to Irish nationalism throughout his life, he became more openly pro-Unionist as he got older. He was once sued for libel by relatives of those murdered by the British army on Bloody Sunday for claiming that those killed were actually "operating for the IRA".

Most infamous for his 1970's stint as Minister for Post and Telegraphs in the government of the 26 counties, he introduced legislation to censor broadcasts of Republican views. His laws meant that members of Sinn Fein could not be seen or heard on Irish airwaves in any context, discussing any subject. Finding resistance among RTE journalists, he oversaw the sacking of the entire board of the state broadcaster.

He then tried to hand over RTE's second television channel to the BBC.

Many people say that the biased and negative reporting which is still evident on RTE dates from the atmosphere of fear and conformity that he started.

He was sacked himself when he lost his seat at the next general election.

A vicious and single-minded opponent of Irish Republicanism, he found a comfortable home in the Irish Labour party, serving as a TD in the 1970's and rejoining the party in 2005 after a spell in a fringe Unionist party.

He gloated that he used the tax exemption for artists to avoid paying any tax on his journalism or other writings, and no one in the government questioned this. Many people regarded him as a thoroughly nasty piece of work, who could be said to have set the tone for many of the anti-democratic and post colonial attitudes of modern Ireland.

Right wing commentators and politicians will miss him and say he was a great man whose like won't be seen again, but a moments reflection will show that his views live on in a great many aspects of Irish life today.

Conor Cruise O'Brien 1917-2008

author by An avid readerpublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 05:54Report this post to the editors

All your facts are true. He was, as left-wing anti-islamofascism writer Christopher Hitchens wrote about him "a champion of the overdog". He could take a ' progressive stance' on chosen issues such as apartheid, the Congo, contraceptives, the Vietnam War, but disappointed on other matters. He called himself a liberal conservative and modelled himself on that futile Irish politician, Edmund Burke, who spent many years cultivating the English parliamentarians in the hope of influencing better policies for Ireland.

Your instant anti-eulogy is at any rate honest - none of this gushing Speak Well of the Dead sentimentality for you.

Ah but he could write; which can't be said about many posters on indymedia, and some of his writings provoked thought, even if those provoked ended up thinking in the opposite direction from him. I suppose the mainstream journos will say that about him too, without mentioning that they personally did sweet all to counter Section 31 when it was in operation. Radio and television programming was skewered as a result of the ban during those years.

Irish physical force republicanism was the main target of the Section 31 ban. I never sympathised with that republicanism. It took too many lives. It has put me off the word republican for life. I don't wave flags or sing the national anthem. Cruise O'Brien was Irish republicanism's sharpest critic. Have you read many of his books and articles?

author by Seámuspublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 06:05Report this post to the editors

Gaeilgeoirí - Naimhde an Stáit

Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video


author by weight liftedpublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:43Report this post to the editors

I can't think of a politics or ideology in Ireland that didn't take lives, and I have no idea what the acceptable level (or "too many") is.

Conor Cruise O'Brien was obviously intelligent, so he knew what he was doing was intellectually dishonest and his self-interest and class-interest overwhelmed any of intellectual abilities. As to his writing abilities, I never rated them. Too much certainty and self-regard, and overly personal and sentimental in the wrong places- the typical writing style of the brandy soaked pseudo-intellectual.

author by Hubrispublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:48Report this post to the editors


Irish physical force republicanism was the main target of the Section 31 ban. I never sympathised with that republicanism. It took too many lives. It has put me off the word republican for life. I don't wave flags or sing the national anthem. Cruise O'Brien was Irish republicanism's sharpest critic. Have you read many of his books and articles?


so censoship is fine by you as long as you hate the people towards which it is directed
CC O'B was someone that claimed to be a dedicated political writer who saw merit in censoring the political writings of others. There's an expressionm for that all right and it ain't 'A great Man'. Now that I think of it CC O'B is a perfect role-model for the Irish. A hypocrite to the end


Ah but he could write; which can't be said about many posters on indymedia, and some of his writings provoked thought,
I should HOPE so considering he actually got paid for that crap.

He was, as left-wing anti-islamofascism writer Christopher Hitchens wrote about him "a champion of the overdog".

a champion of the OverDog. - How noble, how brave, how worthy of our respect (excuse me while I vomit)

Screw him.
Screw him.

author by Sean ogpublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 15:00Report this post to the editors


I doubt if any of you ever met him - I did and heard him speak a good few times

and each time he was good ------he was a towering intellect

an original thinker [ for a Catholic ] and objectively viewed every

situation - local or world wide - compared to him all our present day

political thinkers are pygmies

as for the Indy contributors criticising him -at least he was gracious and kind

author by Harry Crakepublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 16:10Report this post to the editors

O'Brien was in office from 1973-77. Erskine Childers and the Fianna Fail government of 1971 introduced the broadcasting ban. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael-Labour both implemented it until 1994. Cruise O'Brien just made an intellectual defence of it. Ask Bertie Ahern why he supported Section 31 and he probably won't be able to tell you; at least Cruise O'Brien could.
His essay on 1916, written during 1966 is excellent and a left-republican critique of the failure of the state to live up to the ideals of its founders.
He became an old reactionary. He was selective in his condemnation of violence. Most people are. The Provos are in government with unionists and have accepted the principle of consent (the Unionist veto). They killed over 600 civilians to get to where they denounced the SDLP for wanting to go in the 1980s. Its a funny and tragic old world.

author by Frank Adam - private citizenpublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 16:29Report this post to the editors

Perhaps those who are so outraged by Israel might now look at its Hebrew Jewish majority nationality clad in the same shoes as our dear Gallic speakers???

author by Baggiepublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 17:31author email andy-mcgowan at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

The review of his life doesn’t go far enough. The man was a vile person who served the cause of the rich and powerful and persecuted the ordinary person.

It’s interesting that those who oppose Republicanism [fair enough political outlook] justify his outlook as non-violent yet he justified and gloried in the violence of the Heavy Gang and the war crimes of the Zionist state. Another strand of thought states that he opposed nationalism – yet again we find him kowtowing to the rabid nationalism of Britain. Such was his hatred [interesting that writers like him and Kevin Myers both suffer from a deep self loathing which is obvious in their pontificating] of all things Irish [his ‘bog oak culture’ springs to mind] that even when the British did a deal with Republicanism he could not accept it and railed from the wilderness when his pay masters had dumped him as superfluous to their needs.

His exploits in Africa where he dumped on the fledgling socialist Ghana of Nkrumah in favour of positions in the apartheid South Africa are another pup being sold to us.

author by pygmiepublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 17:49Report this post to the editors

"an original thinker [ for a Catholic ]"

That just says it all doesn't it?

author by o'cool - nonepublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 18:46Report this post to the editors

it seems pointless to go on and on about the cruiser in these polite but caustic tones. with all our new fangled grandeur and freshly minted ideas, some honest to goodness old irish expressions are heard less and less these days.
he was a real gob-shite.
there y'are. now we all feel better, dont we.
o'cool

author by apopheniapublication date Fri Dec 19, 2008 23:01Report this post to the editors

Very good obituary, thank you! Indymedia Ireland has a great selection of obituaries. I've nothing much to add to it, except the silly thought that he was one of the supposed intellectual or pseudo-sophisticated types Ireland through up back in the 20th century who had double barrelled surnames.
Did it begin with Sheehy Skeffington and end with Philbin Bowman? Oh well, they're all in some intellectual circle of purgatory now. Cruise O'Brien was related to Sheehy Skeffington and had a hereditary privilege excuse for getting on Gay Byrne's Late Late Show long after he had been rejected by the Irish electorate - so I suppose the double barrelled surname meant something.

yep. it meant something.

I suppose in time his UN stint will become more interesting than his Irish things. Not only because he wrote his best book about it, back when having an intellectual on the global stage with a double barrelled surname who wasn't actually technically a p - r - o - t - e - s - t - a - n - t - was a source of national pride.

Nobody expected the UN Secretary General to die in suspicious circumstances and the Congoese to betray a legacy of thanks to the people of Roger Casement and reduce themselves to eating our blue berets..,

You know honestly, a very old man who had long outlived his time to be nasty or interesting......to be either a source of pride or revulsion.

I doubt any one of us who remember seeing but no hearing the actual words of Sinn Fein during those long years were horribly surprised by the accents and ideas we heard once those restrictions were lifted. ¿Did anybody bother learning lip reading to hear the unhearable?

Kevin Myers next.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_Cruise_O%27Brien
author by Michael - Human Leaguepublication date Sat Dec 20, 2008 05:55Report this post to the editors

Nothing much to add either except This .
Kevin Myarse is as riddled with cheap hysterical nonsence as much as each and every one of us is riddled with cheap hysterical nonsence .
O'Brien Has Left Little remarkability of presence and is hopefully in a better place today .
Kevin Myarse is finished as a Journalist ,of that comment you can be sure ,
He is at pains to tell anyone who will listen of his Irishness and his deep concerns as to the road we are taking is usually the wrong road and what
Kevin Myarse says is actually a contender for the now obsOlete section 31 ,
Surely we can ressurect a little section of 31 just for Heem Only Senor ,i mean it would be nice to see and not hear The Oirish West Brit Accent he has
cultivated to order for any one who cares to know .

Seannie O'Rourke and the Doomers Of R.T.E. could also find inclusion .

author by Gearoid O Loingsighpublication date Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:06Report this post to the editors

It is customary to say that nobody's death brings any joy etc. However, with CCOB I have to say Xmas came early. He was a reacionary on all fronts. There was nothing progressive about him, as for his intellect. It is to put it mildly overstated. Being able to quote in Latin and other public school tricks etc are a sign of class nothing else. When Myers dies we will get similar drivel.

Good riddance Conor, your passing has made the world a little better than your life did.

author by Sean Ó Briainpublication date Sat Dec 20, 2008 17:50Report this post to the editors

He was a spiteful man. A hateful man. A person who lacked any form of empathy or compassion. I don't glorify the deaths of any person. But I doubt I'll shed a tear for the likes of Conor Cruise O'Brien.

He was a disgrace to the people of Ireland.

author by Mack the Knpublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 00:15Report this post to the editors

The London Times obit here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/art...74296

And The Grauniad has its obit here http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/19/conor-cruis...brien

author by plonk fancier meselfpublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 01:55Report this post to the editors

Anthony Howard, former deputy editor of The Observer for which O'Brien worked, has this snippet in the paper's memorial on him - "He was the most commendable of colleagues, holding us all rapt in local hostelries as his voice rose by something like an octave as the glasses piled up in front of him. (When you heard that distinctive Irish voice squeakily address you as "party comrade", it was usually time to go home.) Few things afforded me greater pleasure than helping to get Conor named Commentator of the Year in the 1983 What The Papers Say awards."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/21/conor-cruis...brien

author by paul o toolepublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 13:15author email pauljotoole at eircom dot netReport this post to the editors


He was a tax dodging, pisshead socialite, pseudo intellectual idiot. Loved by the elite. Couldent do enough to stay in the public eye giving rise to his contraversial nature. Much like Myers and Waters .He is a despicable example of an Irishman. Wrapped up in their coccon of their own importance, with the protection of their publications, challenged by none given their position as editor-Much like Meyers in the Times editing his own Column and the editorialswhich may differ from his view but we;ll never know.
Much like his tax affairs, he wasnt to fond of paying his ESB bill's either in the eighties, when unmarried mothers were getting cut off for as little as a fiver.. The esb were writing him hand written notes on his ESB bills from central billing offering him the chance to take part in the 'prises' on offer....... 'If you Mr O'Brien pay your bill on time, you also can avail of our gifts on offer'....
Anything from Shannon cruises to refrigerators, toasters and irons.

Good riddance to him and all who admire him for his 'intellect'....

author by Sceptic2publication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 14:28Report this post to the editors

I do not endorse O'Brien's politics. However, I do find it revealing that many of those who oppose him on this thread prefer him dead than alive and able to answer back. The question arises: why wish death on an opponent? What is wrong with simply debating different points of view, and tolerating people's right to have them? A tone of hatred and rejoicing in his demise belittles those who offer it, and undermines their own arguments - for it does rather suggest an intolerance for dissent that might, under certain conditions, translate into a desire to shoot opponents rather than reason with them.

author by RSF Limerick - Republican Sinn Féinpublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 14:35Report this post to the editors


The series of tributes paid to Conor Cruise O’Brien by various
political figures upon his death are in stark contract to his
performance as an allegedly enlightened politician, a spokesman
for Republican Sinn Fein said today.

Joe Lynch from Beechgrove Avenue in Ballinacurra Weston in
Limerick, the RSF chairman in the southside of the city said
that the role O’Brien played was a vicious backward and
ultimately useless one.

He was a Labour minister who introduced draconian laws
to stifle freedom of expression, he said. He brought a ban
to the airwaves and kept files on people to wrote letters
to the newspapers. As an editor of a British newspaper
he censored and dismissed staff who were independent.

The legacy of O’Brien is far from the glowing tributes
being given to him – he was the next best thing to a
British agent in Ireland and tried to bend the will of
the Irish people to accepting British rule.

While he craved honours and recognition from the British
he betrayed and abandoned the Republicanism of the Irish
nation and subverted the will of the Irish people.

His role was to stifle debate and discussion in Ireland
and he did this at the bidding of his political masters.
There is no honour in his performance and people must
remember this aspects of his time in power.

He was part of an administration that was the most
repressive in Irish history. No amount of flowery
tributes can gloss over that dark episode presided
over by the likes of Conor Cruise O’Brien.

Related Link: http://www.rsf.ie
author by southern comfort - Judean Cruisers' Front (Popular brigades)publication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 18:34Report this post to the editors

The cruiser just had an ability to get up peoples' noses - that's not so unusual for socialists.

But hey, someone who chose not to use Irish, and had no time for the church of our forefathers, can't have been all bad.

And he did invent GUBU and distrusted Charlie Haughey - a bit ahead of his time.

Section 31 annoyed republicans, but he would have been better off letting us hear exactly what they were like. No doubt him standing as a unionist candidate annoyed a lot of unionists too.

author by claritypublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 19:28Report this post to the editors

well said everyone.

Didnt he say John Hume was in the IRA and that the Civil Rights Association planned to be shot?

I suppose that wont be in any obituaries. He was an embarrassment , an apologist for that brutish empire.
Told them what they wanted to hear, all this Catholic Nationalist nonsense.

His so-called intellect is milked so people can have a nice thing to say about him and take away from the facts.

Dont forget Pat Rabitte et al readmitted him into the Labour Party after his unionist mates kicked him out.

author by Scepticpublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 20:32Report this post to the editors

The comments of “clarity” are inaccurate and small minded. O’Brien did not say that Hume was in the IRA which would have been an absurd thing for anyone to say. The remark about the Civil Rights movement does not make sense. He was certainly not an imperialist. His career was marked by asserting the rights of the native people in Africa for example against European oppression where he saw it. Not was he particular sympathetic to the British against whom he was often a very severe critic. He was no kow tower to them. The lynchpin and centrepiece of his opposition to physical force nationalism was that the real problem was the unionists not the British. This was eventually a position that even Provisional Sinn Fein came around to accepting. O’Brien set out his position in his writings in “States of Ireland” and elsewhere with characteristic erudition. Many of the comments in this thread are unworthy begrudgery, untruths and the venom of lesser men than he.

author by Michael - Human Leaguepublication date Sun Dec 21, 2008 20:47Report this post to the editors

Oh you mean 'Smoke Salmon Socialite ' Pat Rabbite, he of the 'tongue' type who dare not let his Real Polithicks surface ?
During the last General Erection and he in a shopping centre in Dublin 12 and the Ordinary people literally walked by him as they done their bit o' shopping
now one would imagine the same decent people would have approached Saint Pat with a question or 50 ,but no , Canvass or no Canvass he was'nt
getting the '.Aura' ,at all at all .
Rory has opened an office in Sandymount Green ,its not situated down a one way lane either ,away from the prying eyes of D4 ,na its right across from
A.I.B. Now thats what a politician should do in order to set up his stall ,Up Front And Personal , He always did try though .did'nt he ,our Rory.
Wonder would he do a Christmas Day Special this year ?
The R.D.S. is 20mins walk away from Sandymount Green, say Rory opened up at 8.00am on Christmas Morning ,around the same time the homless
are given the only thing that is free ,Fresh Air , and before the couple of thousand homeless go to the R.D.S. could they not slip into him and see what he
'might do' on their behalf , No Answer To That Really, Is There . No i cant spell Bolloz

Me, i would make sure those Dossers work every hour God Sends, and i am not referring to our forgotten homeless persons either .

Lofs of volunteers welcome at R.D.S. On Christmas Day . Get Here By 10am.

Dont Let The 4 Seasons Hotel ( IN UR FACE ) Put You off . Our Heads Of State usually Hang out in the place along with lots of the Magnificent 166
And their Fwends .
Spot the difference in the above ''title''

author by claritypublication date Mon Dec 22, 2008 21:52Report this post to the editors

No, he always seems to have his sectarianism ignored. The indo obit touched on it as did the guardian one. He never condemned loyalist terrorism, again the indo obit today touched on it, and then they all revert back to his genius by summarising burke.

The far right in Ireland simply latch on and bask in the reflected glory of the b empire (the french extreme right, le pen and co, do it with regard to the nazis).

northern nationalists like brendan keenan of the indo and mcaleese cannot be expected to laud him.

P.S. In the guardian obit, there was a link above he is mentioned as to have said racist things about black South Africans. The states of ireland is just pining toward lazy british concepts of their colonies, i.e. it is not their fault.

author by martin fordepublication date Mon Dec 22, 2008 23:07Report this post to the editors

This is a petty and mean-spirited obit. Neither is it honest. All it really tells us is that the writer hated Dr O'Brien.

Like him or loath him, CCO'B left a giant footprint. He did what few had the integrety or courage to do. He directed a piercing searchlight onto the tired nostrums of Catholic Nationalism and exposed the hypocracy and reaction at its core. By changing hidebound attitudes in the South he made the peace-process inevitable. By undermining a national psyche which was based on an inferiority complex vis a vis Britain he also helped us move on socially and economically rather than wallowing in failure and self pity with Britain used as the excuse and cause of all our woes.

A life well led.

author by Lumumbapublication date Mon Dec 22, 2008 23:23Report this post to the editors

I doubt whether Cruise O'Brien said "racist things about blacks in South Africa". A more nuanced reading of his articles and books will show that he criticised African politicians in the same language as he criticised American, Irish or Russian politicians. For instance, he wrote about meeting Robert Mugabe before the 1979-80 Lancaster House talks that led to the Zimbabwe independence settlement. Mugabe confronted him about his attitude to Mugabe's likely becoming first African prime minister of the new state. O'Brien replied that if Mugabe were democratically elected as leader he would respect the result, but if Mugabe were to lose an election he should give way to an alternative leader. This has a bearing on the stolen election held in Zimbabwe in 2007, more than 25 years after the conversation. Mugabe and his military bullies have refused to allow the opposition election winners to take power, not even in the negotiated power sharing arrangement. O'Brien saw the seeds of a tyrannical mentality in some African freedom fighters. This fueled his Burkean scepticism about the power agendas of revolutionary liberators.

author by Counterpunchpublication date Tue Dec 23, 2008 00:02Report this post to the editors

Historian, Politician, Censor
Conor Cruise O'Brien, 1917-2008
By NIALL MEEHAN

Conor Cruise O’Brien has died aged 91.

He had a long career: in the Irish Civil Service in the 1940s; in the 1950s in the UN; in the Congo, the University of Ghana and New York University in the 1960s, He was elected an Irish opposition Labour TD in 1969 under the slogan ‘The Seventies will be Socialist’. He became Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in 1973 and lost his seat in 1977. He became Editor in Chief of The Observer until 1981. He has been a writer and commentator ever since. He wrote numerous books on politics, history and literature.

Half way through he became a reactionary. The rock on which he fell was the Irish National Question. ...........................

http://www.counterpunch.org/meehan12222008.html

Related Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/meehan12222008.html
author by Dermot Laceypublication date Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:04Report this post to the editors

What a sad and despicable series of postings. Conor Cruise O'Brien will be long remembered for standing by democracy and decency.

author by Lumumbapublication date Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:39Report this post to the editors

Is the Black Goat dancing some sort of literary reference? "Taste" is the operative word running through this thread.

author by Fiachrapublication date Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:39Report this post to the editors

You would re-instate section 31 in a heartbeat if you thought you'd get away with it wouldn't you Cllr? It might make your party's hypocrisy over the Lisbon Treaty a bit easier to get away with if you could shut the shinners up wouldn't it?

What do you think will be the first thing mentioned in own obituary? My money is on the bin tax sell out.

author by Pat OHarapublication date Tue Dec 23, 2008 20:38Report this post to the editors

Conor Cruise only banned from the media those who advocated political murder.
Opinion polls at the time gave him 95% support in this.

author by Operation Anthropoidpublication date Wed Dec 24, 2008 01:57Report this post to the editors

It's a bit odd then, that he lost his seat at the next general election. Very fickle that 95 per cent you find in opinion polls in the papers...

Anyway, wasn't this state founded by those who advocate "political murder"? What do you think we'll be commemorating the 90th anniversary of next January 21st?

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Dec 24, 2008 17:04Report this post to the editors

He lost his seat in the 1977 election due to an anti government swing on the economy. That does not mean there was not support for Section 31 in the population at large - the fact that it lasted so long is evidence of this, Your conflation of the two issues is disingenuous. So is your invoking of 1919 - there is a democratic Irish state in being and the people of that state did not give any mandate to for Provisional IRA campaign waged in their name. Nor did a majority of the northern minority - they consistently voted for the SDLP or similar non-violent people while the IRA campaign was on. Not for the political wing of the IRA.

author by own harrasspublication date Wed Dec 24, 2008 18:16Report this post to the editors

Yeah, right, except when they voted for Bobby Sands and other H Block candidates before the British changed the rules, not to mention more recent Sinn Fein election successes, won before the IRA cessation, despite the biased and censored media.

Anyway, anyone with a brain would realise that censorship of Republicans in the media was designed to stop people voting for them, and instead vote for those candidates who had the support of RTE and the press. The one did not justify the other, it caused it.

Thankfully it didn't always work.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Dec 25, 2008 00:20Report this post to the editors

The Fermanagh South Tyrone by election victories of Sands and Carron occurred more than a decade after the commencement of the IRA campaign. Moreover the campaigns never mentioned the terror – people were told it was about prisoner rights and not the terror ”. In any case two by election victories in Fermanagh South Tyrone in 1981 hardly gives a mandate to the Army Council of the PIRA to make war on behalf of the Irish nation as a whole against British cities and northern Protestants financed by kidnapping and armed robbery in the Republic. Where was the mandate for the bombing of Birmingham in 1974 by the Provos? And there is a perfectly legitimate case for curbing media exposure to those who advocate crime and the overthrow of the State. The problem with the PIRA was that they wanted freedom for themselves to express their views and recruit on the airwaves while reserving the right to bomb and shoot those whomever they wished. Killing is the ultimate censorship. Thus we had the same Provos who permanently silenced the politician and law lecturer Edgar Graham by murdering him then complaining about lack of access to the airwaves for themselves – their rights in other words though they had no respect for the rights of others themselves.

author by Platopublication date Fri Dec 26, 2008 08:28Report this post to the editors

O'Brien's section 31 was an attempt to stifle debate on the issue, which was the British presence in Ireland. No matter what the circumstances, political censorship cannot be justified and anyone who supports it is clearly a bigot or fears the truth. O'Brien's travels through the political spectrum indicates a feeble political mind however his final admission that he was a unionist was hardly surprising. All those who are paid by the Brirtish media ,as O'Brien was, are west brits and that is what informed O'Brien's conscience. He took the soup.

author by Geography buffpublication date Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:56Report this post to the editors

Plato uses the term west brits i.e. WEBs. Are the unionist people in NornIron North-East Brits i.e. NEBs?

author by Barnyard Rossitor - Washington Pastpublication date Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:29Report this post to the editors

That Washington post obituary is a classic case of revisionism. It left out the Washington Post's role causing the Irish Public to see O'Brien in his true colours. In 1976 Bernard Nossitor of the Post interviewed O'Brien on his support for new emergency legislation that brought in 7-day detention. The proposed legislation also threatened imprisonment for publishing anything that could be interpreted as supporting the IRA. In the interview O'Brien gave an example. As a result Nossitor called in on Tim Pat Coogan, then editor of the Irish Press. Coogan wrote:

"Bud Nossiter was the Washington Post's London correspondent and he had come to Ireland to do a piece on some anti-terrorist legislation which was before the Dail Irish Parliament at the time. Because of the situation in Northern Ireland, the law proposed to curb the kind of material newspapers could print. .....

"Bud showed up in my office unexpectedly. He told me I had better watch out. He had asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs for an example of the sort of material which the proposed law would curtail. The Minister, Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, pulled open a drawer filled with clippings from the Letters to the Editor column of the Irish Press. Bud, coming from the paper that broke Watergate, was naturally stunned at the thought of prosecuting people for exercising the elementary democratic right of writing to a newspaper. But it turned out that it was not the letter writers whom it was planned to hit, but me, the editor."


Irish Voice, October 27 1992

The Irish Press and the Irish Times republished Nossitor's subsequent article in full. Coogan also re-published the letters O'Brien kept in his drawer. In the subsequent outcry the government retreated on its attempt to extend O'Brien's broadcasting censorship to newspapers.

The Counterpunch obituary above includes extensive examples of O'Brien thought, of the the old-speak and new-speak varieties. It brings out his role in splitting the Irish labour Party and in generating antagonism in the SDLP. O'Brien called John Hume his 'deadly enemy' in 1972. The repression he supported also turned quite a few poachers into gamekeepers. In 1976 also, the then Labour Fine Gael coalition banned the annual Sinn Fein 1916 commemoration. 10,000 showed up, including Labour TD David Thornley. He said he was marching in support for civil liberties. Thornley was all that was left of the promise of 1969, when Labour TDs were elected under the slogan, "The Seventies will be Socialist". Under O'Brien (and his very right-wing Fine Gael colleagues) they turned very sour indeed.

Counterpunch obit (leaves in the bits the Post left out):
Historian, Politician, Censor
Conor Cruise O'Brien, 1917-2008

http://www.counterpunch.org/meehan12222008.html

Related Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/meehan12222008.html
author by Roy Greenslade - The Grauniadpublication date Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:01Report this post to the editors

Roy Greenslade's Conor Cruise O'Brien obit in The Guardian:

A great Con indeed
Admiring obituarists praise Conor Cruise O'Brien as a 'man of contradictions'. Indeed, he did nothing but contradict himself...............

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/20/con...brien

Related Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/20/con...brien
author by Napper Tandy - "United Irishman" seller, 1960's.publication date Sun Dec 28, 2008 23:58author email mcgratmj at tcd dot ieReport this post to the editors

Conor Cruise O'Brien was typical of many Irish people of the period from the Treaty up to the commencement of the the Celtic Tiger economy, he was schizophrenic, caught politically between love of Ireland and the old loyalty to England. I had a friend in the IRA in the South in the early Sixties who loved British Army martial music, the Changing of the Guard, the Edinburgh Tatoo. A few weeks ago he told me that he still loves British Army ceremonial and their martial music, though he taps the bodhran and does the Half Set expertly himself, though the same man did jail "for Ireland" in Limerick Prison !

The words "Republican" and "Nationalist" are almost meaningless as they have always been in trying to depict a certain type of Irishman, especially in the South. The "Republican" is supposed to be totally anti-British (few of our most famous patriots were ever that), Catholic (even less so), to speak Bog English (but most Irish people do that !), and few if any really care for the Northern Irish, whether nationalist , republican or unionist. Hardly any of them hate the English, though some unionists could be accused of that !

We must consider Conor Cruise O'Brien as coming from our own mixed-up culture of the Twentieth Century, and seen from this point of view he wasn't at all unique. He insisted on sp[eaking English properly, he refused free speech to those who afterwards for the most part turned out to be murderers, common criminals and political opportunists.

Out in the Great World he was our giant, and we were proud of him . He virtually presided over our best university, now counted amongst the top fifty universities in the world - Trinity College Dublin. (UCD et al are rated from number 311 to not being rated at all !)., and he represented Trinity as best he could, painting Burke in a heroic light he did not fully deserve. He did his level best to sort out the unholy mess that was the Congo - though he will never be forgiven for criticising Irish UN troops there for being slovenly and unshaven.

All in all, his life can be counted a success, for himself and for others. He showed political innocence by joining that unionist fringe party when he was old and perhaps doddering - a lapse that harmed nobody but his own credibility.

It says a lot for a man to draw such jealousy and derision in life, it speaks volumes when a man like Conor draws it in such huge measure in death.

Maybe now we might attempt to speak English properly, as we have always written it superbly, as did Conor. Maybe now we will see and express clearly our traditions, both Irish and British. In life he at least thought us that, in his own peculiar way.

Ar dheis de go raibh a h-anam.

author by conpublication date Mon Dec 29, 2008 16:32Report this post to the editors

" The "Republican" is supposed to be totally anti-British " Who says? And why anyway, would anyone with a brain be "anti" a whole country?
Anti-British food? anti-British music?

Anti- the Beatles?

It's idiotic and simple-minded reasoning like this that makes it difficult to take the apologists for bullies like Conor Cruise O'Brien seriously.

And what the fuck is meant by saying that Irish people don't speak English properly? Who decides? Some prick from Trinity College?

author by Scepticpublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:54Report this post to the editors

“O'Brien's section 31 was an attempt to stifle debate on the issue, which was the British presence in Ireland.” – Plato

It wasn’t as debate could and did carry on about the British presence. Even strident nationalists like Neil Blaney were perfectly free to put their position. Sinn Fein was free to organize and contest elections and put out their literature. Section 31 only affected broadcast interviews with spokespeople for named organisations which were either directly engaged in armed conflict with the State or were the political wings of such organisations. It was renewed by numerous governments of all parties – latterly by Michel D Higgins.

“No matter what the circumstances, political censorship cannot be justified and anyone who supports it is clearly a bigot or fears the truth.” – Plato

This is a non sequitor. In any case there is a case for banning from the airwaves those who do not subscribe to normal democratic values. For instance while Sinn Fein promoted itself as a political party contesting elections its military wing killed politicians from other parties whom it disliked. A Fine Gael member of the Oireachtas was killed – Senator Billy Fox. So also were the MPs Anthony Berry and Ian Gow and the Northern Ireland Assembly Member Edgar Graham. Sinn Fein could not have it both ways and when the violence stopped Section 31 stopped.

author by Miriampublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:47Report this post to the editors

Sceptic:

"normal democratic values": such as those connected with the unlawful invasion and occupation of Iraq (for example) by the U.S. and the U.K.?

Related link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Khut8xbXK8

There have been over 2,000,000 views of the above well-researched 24 minute "youtube" video at the above address, and it seems to leave absolutely no doubt whatsoever that both the 2003 invasion, and the ongoing occupation, are both illegal under national and under international law.

I'm wondering if you think "there is a case for banning from the airwaves" those who subscribe and support such extreme lawlessness?

author by Scepticpublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 16:17Report this post to the editors

Hello Miriam – interesting how you change the topic. I am sure you are aware there is a distinction between the lawfully constituted armed forces of the nation states and private armies and terror groupings. Democracies can and do go to war and this is not unlawful providing that certain principles are upheld and codes of conducts are honoured. The issue of legal justification for the initial intervention in Iraq in 2003 is a matter of controversy but the law officers of the main coalition governments – the US, UK, the Kingdom of Spain and Italy advised their Governments that it was legal under the original Security Council Resolution 666 of 1990 and subsequent resolutions as well as the doctrine of pre-emptive force. Furthermore the allied presence is Iraq has been mandated by the UN since 2003. There is no question that the IRA campaign was unlawful and criminal and had the binary politico-military strategy succeeded it would have destroyed the economy and polity of the Irish State. There are no parallels between the two situations and the conflation is a deliberate misconstruing. If there were an indigenous large terror group in the US advocating the violent overthrow of democracy in the US and its replacement with a government comprised of the terror group there would be some analogue between Section 31 and measures the democratic organs of the US might take to restrict broadcasting by the terror group in question. In any case to disagree with the war in Iraq does not somehow make the IRA campaign right unless I am missing something from your logic.

BTW I left out Robert Bradford in my previous posting. He was a South Belfast MP who was killed by the IRA along with a caretaker because the IRA disagreed with his position on the H Blocks. That was what made Section 31 necessary in the minds of the legislators – it was not enough for Sinn Fein to seek to persuade people of their case – they had to kill people elected by other parties as well. Killing elected politicians while putting forward your own candidates for election is the antithesis of democracy. Moreover democracy can be a fragile thing – it can be subverted by a well organized binary politico military campaign of delegitimization and organized crime as practiced by the “Republican Movement” between 1969 and 1994 and between 1996 and 1997.

author by own harrasspublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 17:45Report this post to the editors

It's interesting how people like "Sceptic" always come down to respect for the rule of law, but forget that recent history shows very similar situations where the lack of respect for the rules of who is allowed to take up arms, results, not in a hangman's rope, but in having a public building named after you, or even a whole neighbourhood.

If you feel uncomfortable about the idea of the IRA being heroes in the 1920's but turning into criminals in the 1970's by using the same tactics and ideology, perhaps you should spend some time meditating on the activities of the resistance forces in France in the 1940's, who fought, seemingly unlawfully, after their government had signed a binding peace agreement.

Where they criminals? Were those who worked with the occupiers good law abiding citizens?

author by Miriampublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 19:08Report this post to the editors

Sceptic:

"If there were an indigenous large terror group in the US advocating the violent overthrow of democracy in the US (and elsewhere) and its replacement with a government comprised of the terror group there would be some analogue between Section 31 and measures the democratic organs of the US might take to restrict broadcasting by the terror group in question."

There is such "an indigenous large terror group in the US".

It's called the CIA -- and it's been terrorising people all over the world for decades.

author by Foxpublication date Tue Dec 30, 2008 23:17Report this post to the editors

I have observed o brien since he was minister for P and T , and I have never come across a more nasty , self serving traitor in my lifetime He has consistantly worked against the interests of this country since he was kicked out of office, despite drawing miltiple pensions at our expense.In my view, he was capable of anything , no matter how low, in order to serve his thirst for self publicity. He was despised by nationlists in both northern and southern Ireland, and was referred to by Seamus mallon , as as "that Thing" In short, a man without integrity, honesty or decency.

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:16Report this post to the editors

Pace Miriam if a worthy debater you should respect for certain realities not far left and anarchistic fantasies about the CIA. Even if there was a shred of truth in your argument how does this justify the IRA atrocities? The IRA was not at war against the CIA. As for France-Germany (own harass) if a state is anti democratic, ceases to be law based, becomes really internally repressive and externally expansive as did the German state under the Nazi regime it became a rogue State and war with it by the democracies followed. As regards the occupation of France there were not two states of France as there were states of Ireland. There were no French “unionists” nor French “Ulster” which looked to Germany and felt German and the Vichy regime was not a legitimate French Government. It was not recognized internationally and did not fulfil the requirements and standards required for a valid State to be said to exist. By its collaboration with the Nazi extermination policy it forfeited much moral authority it might have had in terms of protecting its population from Nazi excesses. As regards the 1920s I did not describe the old IRA as heroes. As I have written before you besmirch the independence period by using it as a justification for your own grisly campaign of crime and homicide over such an extended period between 1969 and 1996 when there was no mandate for such activities – there was already an Irish democratic state whose people never gave the Army Council of the IRA any mandate whatever to go to war on its behalf or to finance itself by kidnapping its citizens and demanding ransom or by numerous Post Office and back robberies. If the IRA made no pretence to be democratic that would be one thing. But it claimed to be acting on behalf of the people when manifestly the people did not want it and it insisted on democratic right for its political wing while killing those elected by others. This was the atmosphere in which the Section 31 provisions were introduced and maintained. O’Brien’s analysis of the situation won over all parties in the Dáil and was maintained for decades long after he himself had departed.

The piece by “Fox” is ranting. There is no point in IRA sympathisers dancing a victory jig on O’Brien’s grave. It is too late as O’Brien’s ideas have largely put paid to the republican theology which claimed the IRA as the keepers of the flame and therefore justified in a campaign of armed terror whether the Irish people wanted it or not. O’Brien’s pen has proven more powerful over time than all the semtex and armalites and baseball bats of his enemies.

author by Miriampublication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:23Report this post to the editors

Sceptic:

The following link lists some of the thousands and thousands of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=CIA+Atrocities&btn...f&oq=

Please note that I have not made any attempt to justify such crimes and atrocities; that I have no wish to to justify them; and, that it matters not to me who the perpetrators of such crimes and atrocities are.

"Killing under the cloak of war is no different than murder" -- this is a view that I share with many millions of other people around the world, and, if interested, more on this very important subject can be found at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Killing+under+t...earch

Related link: http://www.humanrightsireland.com

author by john1234publication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:33Report this post to the editors

I've always been sceptical of what is allegedly the Irish practice – ‘don't speak ill of the dead’. Why not? To take just one example – Mugabe is clearly a scumbag and a mass murderer (mostly of other black Africans.) If he chokes on a pretzel and pops his clogs tomorrow, I shall dance a merry jig – along, I am sure, with thousands of his Zimbabwean victims.

So – should we refrain from criticising the Cruiser because he’s dead? No. But people who do criticise should try to stick to the facts, and not their old, tedious, ‘Republican’, leftie, SF prejudices.

For myself, I admired and respected him while he was alive and still do. (Even if I didn't always agree with him.) Most politicians spend their lives telling people what they want to hear. He told them what he believed. People may disagree with his joining a unionist party – that’s their right. But does anyone seriously believe he did it for profit or popularity? He did it because, rightly or wrongly, it was what he believed.

(It always amuses me that, if someone from a British and/or unionist background shows support for Irish nationalism in any way, Irish ‘nationalists’ fawn all over them – ‘what a remarkable display of open-mindedness’. However if anyone dares to take the opposite journey – ‘Traitor!’ ‘West Brit!’ etc, etc)

I don’t personally know what the mass of Irish people think of him. But the publishers of the Times and Indo obviously thought he was popular enough to publish his columns for years.

I respected him more than anything for standing up to the Provos and their vile murder campaign. Naturally their supporters, including the author of the so-called obituary, Mr/Ms “weight lifted”, are crawling out from under their stones to take one last swing. (Naturally enough, according to Mr/Ms Lifted, what CC O’B wrote was ‘vicious’ – not the countless murders and maimings of the Provos.) He’s worth 10 of any of them.

I'm amused to see that one of the editorial guidelines for this site is ‘We want original comments that add information, or argue a point of view not re-heated barstool clichés’. I’d have thought a lot of the drivel posted here – ‘West Brit’, ‘traitor’ etc – fits exactly into the category of ‘re-heated bar-stool clichés’!

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 17:36Report this post to the editors



The issue of the morality and justification of the latter day IRA campaign has nothing to do with the CIA - this is a diversion. The CIA is morally responsible for what it does. The IRA is morally responsible for what it does. You seem to be trying to paint the Federal Government of the US and its agencies and institutions as terrorist and that in some way this excuses the IRA terror. This will not wash. The IRA has to be justified by reference to Irish conditions and politics. It is in this space that O’Brien addressed the issue along with many others. The IRA army council had no objective or moral authority to make war. Bombay Street does not justify the Birmingham or Warrington bombs or the kidnapping of Don Tidey and the associated killing of a young garda and an Irish army private. These acts were those of terrorism, subversion and gross criminality carried out against ordinary people and civil society.

Contrary to another assertion of yours killing in war IS different from murder under any legal system though the codes do recognize crimes of war. The bible for example draws a firm distinction between a nation going to war and the crime of Cain. The main legal codes follow similar lines. A civilized State may only go to war with just cause, broadly in accordance with international legalities and then must conduct itself according to the Geneva code or similar. The main rules of war are that non-combatants cannot be deliberately killed and POWs must be treated properly. The war must be prosecuted by uniformed personnel. War crimes are killing POWs and killing civilians. If these happen, as they may at a local level, the State concerned must prosecute those responsible even if from their own side. Systematic war crimes would put the leadership of the forces concerned under hazard of prosecution.

(PS my gratitude to the other posters who have supported by position and made valid points of their own)

author by Foxpublication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 18:32Report this post to the editors

I wonder if sceptic is old enough to be aware of all o'briens actions down the years since he was in Goverment .Is he aware for instance that O'Brien worked against any peace process including the present one and tried to incite distrust and hatred among the unionist population against the Irish government and people. I say he is a traitor because he was an Irish citizen and ex government minister yet he worked against the welfare of our country in trying to prolong the conflict in northern Ireland. O brien also admitted on television that he attempted to cover up any involvement of the british government in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings saying that if the Irish people knew all the facts it would lead to a wave if anti british feeling. O'brien was asked by cathal o shannon while in Government if he thought the voters agreed with his anti nationalist stance. His reply was that the voters would havea chance to speak at the next election and if he lost his seat he would be stop speaking on the northern situation. However as everybody knows he lost his seat but continued his crusade against the nationalist population So what sceptic calls a "rant" I call facts. If sceptic is genuine in his postings he should do some more research . However my instinct is that sceptic has an agenda similiar to Tony o Reilly which is to rubbish Irish traditions and promote britishness for his own benefit.

author by Miriampublication date Wed Dec 31, 2008 22:37Report this post to the editors

"O'Brien's attitude towards Garda brutality in this period has been remarked upon. In his book, he recalls a conversation with a detective who told him how the Gardaí had found out – from a suspect – the location of businessman Tiede Herrema, who had been kidnapped by the IRA in October 1975: The escort started asking him questions and when at first he refused to answer, they beat the shit out of him. Then he told them where Herrema was. I refrained from telling this story to Garret [FitzGerald] or Justin [Keating], because I thought it would worry them. It didn’t worry me." (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_Cruise_O'Brien )

Beating the shit out of someone in such circumstances is an extremely serious criminal offence: and all the more serious when it was done by the police.

It seems clear that "Sceptic's Hero" believed the Gardaí (Police) were above the law: the very kind of ignorant, arrogant, and sick attitude which is of course one of the main reasons why organisations such as the IRA come into existence in the first place.

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Conor+Cruise+O%27B...earch

author by free floaterpublication date Thu Jan 01, 2009 06:07Report this post to the editors

Intellectuals often show gaps between their published ideals and their actions in real life. I think of 19th century marxist thinkers and political leaders whose writings and speeches championed the advancement of the peasantry and urban manual labouring classes, but whose own social lives were confined to members of the well educated middle class professions.

Conor Cruise O'Brien was a highly gifted intellectual who early in his life espoused western liberal ideals perceived to emanate from the Enlightenment. (Liberal ideas in fact began with Socrates and other Greek philosophers.) When he became part of the mid-70s power establishment in Ireland he experienced a tension between the calm world of academia and the hurly-burly world of political administration. The weekly bombings and shootings on the streets of Northern Ireland with the threat of a spillover into the republic disturbed him, as it disturbed many other citizens. Miriam and others contributing to this blog have pointed sharply to the contradictions between his professed thoughts and his administrative actions. I agree with some of the criticisms posters have made above, but not with the vitriolic language of abuse in which some of the criticism has been couched. From my reading of some of Cruise O'Brien's writings I have acquired a sensitivity to the language of political polemics.

Since I believe Cruise O'Brien was an outstanding man of letters of the twentieth century I'd like to share a short assessment of his achievement and his impact on me personally:-

His speeches and writings made me think about Irish nationalism, about how it assumed that the Ulster unionists were somehow British by self-delusion rather than by birthright and social inheritance. Of course he overlooked the corollary: the Catholics in Northern Ireland were by similar reasoning inheritors of the Irish nation in Ulster, and trapped in a state that denied their national existence. His lack of sympathy for the palestinians was similar. The coterminous writings of Desmond Fennell in the Sunday Press and elsewhere helped me to view the conflict in Northern Ireland as an ethno-political problem, with the unionists as an über-herrschenden caste.The GFA rightly assumes that Northern Ireland has two ethno-political groups, and points some way towards helping peaceful coexistence of conflicting ethnic identities.( Whether DUP leaders and their Sinn Fein partners persist with implementing the GFA spirit remains a moot point.) Ethnicity, more than class disparity, will continue to come to the boil in Europe. Consider Belgium, the UK with Scotland and Wales, Spain and the Basques, former Yugoslavia and eastern Europe, or the tensions between Greek and Turkish culture.

Cruise O'Brien's writings, many of which I have read, will survive him. He wrote thousands of articles in so many different publications that nobody alive can have read them all. Some of them will be collected into edited anthologies in years to come. I consider him to have been an outstanding twentieth century essayist, and would put him up there along with Belloc, Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw, Camus, Orwell, Gramsci, Koestler, Sontag, and Edmund Wilson among others for exuberance of style, vocabulary, literary construction and challenging viewpoint rather than political orientation. His inventive metaphors will be quoted periodically. His brief word pictures of key political actors will be recalled in books and after dinner talks. His breadth of reading was enormous and surpassed by few contemporary nonfiction writers in the English-speaking world of letters. His intimate interest in international affairs was astounding.

His liberal conservative politics, with their controversial self-contradictions, will be the subject of much future derogatory comment by scholars and political opponents, especially Irish republicans. He is a true spiritual son of his eighteenth century mentor, Edmund Burke, whose writings and political life endlessly command the attention of admirers and detractors. Christopher Hitchens' description of him as The Champion of the Overdog will stick. One measure of Cruise O'Brien's genius is that his writings and speeches stung conservatives and radicals alike. He made us and them all think - even if many reached conclusions opposite to his - but by golly he made us-them think. And thinking can make humans free.

author by Brendanpublication date Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:29Report this post to the editors

I think you enjoy pompous orgies of self-indulgent verbal nonsense.

This would explain your great admiration for Mr O' Brien -- as it was something he excelled at of course.

About the only thing in fact.

author by free floaterpublication date Thu Jan 01, 2009 13:25Report this post to the editors

Regarding your remark about "pompous orgies of self-indulgent verbal nonsense", Brendan, please discuss in elucidatory detail. I might wish you Athbhliain faoi mhaise then.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Jan 01, 2009 18:13Report this post to the editors

Miriam - this is only anecdote about the Herrma kidnapping and it’s not clear if it anything more strong armed tactics to avert the lesser evil of the murder of a kidnap victim given that the government of which O’Brien was a member was being threatened if a huge ransom was not paid. The Gardai are not above the law and that was not O’Brien’s position. What about the kidnapping itself Miriam – was that wrong too or does that enjoy the republican exemption from normal law and civilized norms? Punishment beatings and kneecappings by the IRA were a common occurrence – were these wrong by your lights given you have such strong feelings about beatings and brutality? And IRA killings – these are OK by you I presume but any hint of Garda strong arm tactics in a live kidnapping case upsets your sensibilities? The IRA was not there to protect the people from the Gardai – it was the other way around and members of the Gardai were killed in the process by the IRA.

As for Fox saying O'Brien worked against any peace process he participated fully in the Sunningdale conference which had it not been opposed by the IRA with its stepped up murder and mayhem and the loyalists strikes might have spared a whole generation from terror. It was the IRA not he who worked to prolong the troubles for decades. It was the IRA which carried on when direct rule was brought in; after their carnage at Enniskillen and Le Mon; after the pope’s heartfelt plea at Drogheda and all the rest. That he saw dangers in the Hume Adams dialogue and subsequent developments and articulated them is to his credit. As usual critics of the IRA are accused of being pro British as if to oppose the IRA campaign is somehow to be anti Irish. It is not. The IRA was opposed by the entire spectrum of Irish civil society. Republicans cannot deal with this because of their own particular, flawed fixations. The late Cardinal O’Fiach was a strong critic of the IRA – yet he was no more pro Brit than O’Brien was. O’Brien and the rest could see that not just the IRA methods were repugnant but its entire world view which ignored the reality of a divided society for a primitive and inaccurate anti British rhetoric which was also deeply inimical to Irish democracy and civil society and civilized values in general.

author by Miriampublication date Thu Jan 01, 2009 21:36Report this post to the editors

Sceptic:

The law is normally clear about such things as beatings, killings, kidnapping and so on, and it applies to all concerned: the Gardai (Police), members of the IRA (and suchlike), and to everybody else.

The big difficulty is that "ruling elites" arrogantly, and unlawfully of course, put themselves above the law (and others beneath it) in ways which cause social injustice, and then organisations (such as the IRA for example) come into existence to oppose the ruling elites in question.

Frequently such confrontations end up with both sides getting themselves drawn into areas of extreme lawlessness, which automatically involves the use of extreme violence (physical and/or psychological) directed towards each other.

The ruling elites invariably exacerbate the downward spiral of socially destructive events by ensuring the corrupt legal professions they control prevent any lawful remedy for the aggrieved party/s: even though legal remedies may well exist (but which are strictly for window-dressing purposes only).

Further exacerbation occurs when the ruling elites lay all the blame (100% plus!!) for the overall disastrous situation on the aggrieved party/s -- as they also invariably tend to do, and even though the exact opposite is true.

"The only stable state is one in which all are equal before the law." (Aristotle, 384 BC - 322 BC)

Add to all that the fact that, overall, we're extremely slow learners regarding such basic social matters: and thus things are the way they are in the very dangerous world we all live in at the present time.

I don't think anybody doubts which side the late Conor Cruise O'Brien was on -- I don't anyway.

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=The+only+stable+st...earch

author by Napper Tandypublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 03:47Report this post to the editors

Conor Cruise O'Brien will be remembered by the world for his writing, by Ireland - and a small part of it at that - for his political schizophrenia.

He didn't feel right in a country that equates patriotism with fervent Roman Catholicism or British Protestantism.

Surely there is an Irish patriotism that is above these two evil forces and owes nothing at all to their darkness ?

A patriotism of Hope.

author by Scepticpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 16:50Report this post to the editors



Miriam it is interesting how you won’t respond to my direct questions but dissemble by generalizing about universality of the law and ruling elites which are more diversion. I suppose it’s good to see you have a tender (newly found maybe?) regard for the rule of law. However it is not a question that the law applies to members of the IRA like everyone else but to be a member of the IRA itself was a criminal offence since the IRA was dedicated to the subversion of the State and wanted to tear it down in its entirety and replace it with itself as a Government of a 32 County Socialist Republic to be achieved by violence and only violence at least for its first decade or so. The IRA was lawlessness incarnate – not just statute law - but the basic laws of civilisation. Its methods were homicide, kidnapping, organized crime gangs, usurpation of lawful authority. As for the “ruling elite” argument this is a straw man. It’s a much abused term from political science with which you are trying to set up an artificial duality between such an “elite” abusing its position and a kind of a balancing Robin Hood style lawless criminal gang/private army being conjured into being as a result. This won’t wash any more than your CIA hyperbole. For one thing the real elitists were the IRA who set themselves up alone above any law or norms as the only true inheritors of some pure republican tradition who as Joe Cahill said in 1969 regarded talks as a “waste of time”. Violence was the only thing that interested them or that mattered and anyone and anything that stood between them and what they saw as their goal was to be killed, terrorized or torn down. Any wealth which was not theirs but which they wanted for their cause or lifestyles was to be stolen by armed robbery or extortion from kidnap victims. The fact is there was hardly any armed robbery or serious crime in the Republic of Ireland before the IRA decided to use it as a happy hunting ground for their fund raising from Post Offices robberies, their kidnappings and for their assassinations. The IRA as protectors of the common man from the “elites” in this context is a complete fallacy. The State may not have been flawless but whatever remedies it needed the Provos were not that. Again your construction of this miraculous and novel justification for IRA lawlessness based on a single and unsubstantiated anecdote in O’Brien’s book will not convince many except the already prejudiced. Such arguments merely vindicate the correctness of O’Brien’s approach to Republican violence and the protection of Irish democracy from it – its deadliest enemy.

author by Teamhairpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 18:37Report this post to the editors

Information relating to the extremely serious matter of the "ruling elites" referred to above has been sent today to United States of America President George W. Bush.

A "full copy" of the Yahoo e-mail used (plus translation facilities) can be viewed at:
http://www.humanrightsireland.com/PresidentGeorgeWBush/...l.htm

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Corrupt+Ruling+Eli...earch

author by Donat O'Donnellpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 21:36Report this post to the editors

Sceptic:
"based on a single and unsubstantiated anecdote in O’Brien’s book will not convince many except the already prejudiced."

The story of of O'Brien approving the police "beat[ing] the shit out of" a suspect is not unsubstantiated. It is O'Brien's story of his own conversation with policemen about their admission of beating up a suspect. He was not the only one this group of cops beat up. They later went on to be a core part of the 'Heavy Gang', that beat the shit out of lots of suspects, including Nicky Kelly and Oscar Breathnach - convicted of the 1975 Sallins mail train robbery they did not commit, based on 'confessions' beaten out of them. What did the great 'liberal' and free-speechifier (except for republicans) say about this - nothing, that's what.

Sceptic will say anything to justify the brutal hypocrisy of Conor Cruise O'Brien - a reactionary intellectual.

Care to discuss O'Brien's ham-fisted support for apartheid in 1986, Sceptic, when he broke the academic boycott of South Africa? The old hypocrite announced, "I am off to South Africa with my black son" (I pity his offspring in such circumstances). After the university riots that ensued, most of O'Brien's remaining international friends abandoned him. Only a provo-hating Irish cabal remains, still grubbing around with their terminology of cant and special-pleading - written in interminably long, dense paragraphs.

author by Scepticpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 22:52Report this post to the editors

As regards the Herrema story it IS unsubstantiated because we don’t know anything of the circumstances or if the alleged victim was a suspect as such – only an anecdote about Gardai having successfully leant on someone to reveal the whereabouts of a kidnap victim whose life was in mortal danger and was thereby saved. We don’t know if it really happened – only that O’Brien’s Garda driver passed on a story to him. Maybe if the Gardai had NOT applied pressure Herrema would probably have been killed by his captors which apart from the murder act itself being wrong would have destroyed foreign investment in the State which at the time was of course what the extremists wanted – to destroy the economic underpinnings of the State and thus weakened make it less able to defend itself. What is your view of the kidnapping Donat or to you confine yourself to criticisms of those who try to defeat terrorists and not the terrorists themselves who in this case took the initiative by kidnapping the industrialist? O’Brien was not responsible for the Gardai during this period in any case – Patrick Cooney the Minister for Justice was and he denied Irish Times reports that there was a heavy gang or Garda abuses and these things were unproven in the subsequent report by Judge O’Briain or any other evidence. Even if there were such instances these was caused by the reaction to the stressing of law enforcement mechanisms of the State by an unprecedented and groundbreaking outbreak of subversive crime and the Garda forces had little experience in dealing with this style of thing. It was not what they had trained or prepared for or what the court system had been designed to deal with. It took a while to catch up. It was not clear the State would survive by 1976 or in what form unless firm action was taken in terms of stronger laws etc. As I have said it was a very peaceful and crime free society before then with an almost unique unarmed police force and suddenly there was all this serious armed subversive crime. Mistakes were also made in the UK and Germany when the experience of terrorism was also new in the late 1960s and early 1970s. What this does not do is validate the delegitimization of the States in question by the supporters of PIRA or the Baader-Meinhof group. Well run States have correcting mechanism to deal with these issues. For instance Nicky Kelly was released, pardoned and compensated and new Garda procedures were put in place. Unfortunately it is not possible to apply such remedies to the thousands of victims of IRA killings. An IRA apology to its victims in 2002 is not quite the same thing. Yet he IRA supporters are ferocious critics of the slightest deviation from what is now understood as best judicial practice by the Gardai and courts yet still defend the killings of the thousands. This is rank hypocrisy. Demanding the fullest rights and legal protections for oneself while having no respect for same whatsoever in ones own dealings with ones chosen opponents is precisely the kind of double standards O’Brien was exercised about. You are on the side of the Provos and their murder, crime and mayhem. O’Brien was in Government charged with defending the State was on another side and was directly, itself, threatened by the kidnappers. The success of O’Brien is countering the IRA as a public intellectual is what causes him to be held in such bad odour among the IRA/SF types and their supporters. That is more of a badge of honour than anything else.

author by Jimmypublication date Sat Jan 03, 2009 08:50Report this post to the editors

Sceptic believes it's entirely in order for the cliques of "ruling elites" to put themselves above the law, and those outside such cliques beneath it (as and when it suits the ruling elites): while at the same time the ruling elites keep on, and on, and on, hypocritically and perversely ranting and raving about the benefits of a society built on "democracy" and "the rule of law".

"All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination." -- Article 7 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights from http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html (signed on December 10th 1948).

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Article+7%2C+Unive...f&oq=

author by Marypublication date Sat Jan 03, 2009 09:48Report this post to the editors

There's also Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"Beating the shit" of somebody seems to me to be a very serious violation of this piece of law (especially when the beating was carried out by the police who are supposed to be enforcing the law) -- but, which Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien obviously supported whole heartedly.

Related link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Article+5%2C+Unive...earch

author by Platopublication date Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:01Report this post to the editors

Sceptic wrote,

"the Gardai had NOT applied pressure Herrema would probably have been killed by his captors which apart from the murder act itself being wrong would have destroyed foreign investment in the State which at the time was of course what the extremists wanted"

Are you saying that police brutality is acceptable in a democracy?

author by Donat O'Donnellpublication date Sun Jan 04, 2009 21:35Report this post to the editors

In the middle of Sceptic's long-winded (and almost impenetrable) screed, we find

"Well run States have correcting mechanism [sic] to deal with these issues. For instance Nicky Kelly was released, pardoned and compensated and new Garda procedures were put in place."

Nicky Kelly and, don't forget them please (Sceptic), his co-accused were beaten by those empowered to enforce the law. In addition to the four eventually charged (whittled down to three) over 20 were initially beaten to a pulp by these 'guardians of the peace'. As an innocent man, Kelly used his own 'correcting mechanism' by absconding before he was to be sent to jail for a crime he did not commit. His co-accused stayed and went directly to jail for a couple of years. Kelly was informed that if he returned he would be given the right of appeal. GIving up his right to live free from incarceration after being beaten into confessing to something he did not do, Kelly returned and was promptly refused leave to appeal. He eventually had to threaten to kill himself on hunger strike before the state took notice and let him go. The fact that the Birmingham Six were had also been let go in London and that the state was shamefacedly calling for their release also had something to do with it.

As for the police, the outgoing government (with OBrien as chief (secret) cheerleader for the brutalizers) ignored the evidence of brutality (including from many policemen). The incoming FF 1977 government sacked the Garda Commissioner in 1978 and refused to say why. The deposed commissioner, Edmund Garvey, challenged his dismissal and was reinstated by the Supreme Court - because the state refused to say openly that Garvey was the brutalizer in chief. He got compensation as well as reinstatement, Sceptic. The criminal was rewarded, Sceptic.

A private enquiry into interrogation 'techniques' in general was set up with no reference to the actual allegations of brutality, or indeed to any suggestion of brutality. The Commission eventually made recommendations that were ignored. As for those brutalised, they stayed in jail. There were no new 'procedures', Sceptic. The brutalizers were promoted, Sceptic.

Some 'corrective mechanism'!

Did O'Brien ever correct himself?

No, he stayed quiet like a coward while the beatings he cheered on were going on. He revealed his ministerial support for police brutality in 1998. If there was a corrective mechanism, he would have been prosecuted and so also, here is a novel thought (Sceptic), would the police who did the beatings.

That, of course, never happened. There is only so much 'correction' a state can take (eh, Sceptic - BTW, whatever about civilised standards, please try and write in ways that don't strain the eyes - regular paragraph breaks please).

author by Sickenedpublication date Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:07Report this post to the editors

Beatings by Northern Ireland Police:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Beatings+by+Northe...o&oq=

author by Pat Ohara.publication date Mon Jan 05, 2009 15:41Report this post to the editors

Amusing article here in the Irish Independent about how the Cruiser was nearly lynched by the Apprentice Boys.

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myer....html

(Anybody who was simultaneously hated by both the Apprentice Boys and the Provos can't have been all bad.)

author by Son of a Mother of a Bastardpublication date Mon Jan 05, 2009 15:50Report this post to the editors

Anyone regarded by Kevin Myers as "almost certainly the greatest Irishman of his generation, and even of the 20th century" does not have much to recommend them.

author by Joan McAnthonypublication date Thu Jan 15, 2009 16:14Report this post to the editors

It seems the Cruise O'Brien fan, Myers is a poster boy for the racist and fascist British National Party (BNP):

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/90568&comment_limit=0&c...43073

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/90568&comment_limit=0&c...43073
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