Independent Media Centre Ireland

Conor Cruise O'Brien dies

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Friday December 19, 2008 01:29author by weight lifted

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

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