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Martin McGuinness’ Record As IRA Chief Of Staff

The IRA’s Chief of Staff is the organisation’s commander, responsible for directing the organisation’s military strategy in conjunction with General Headquarters (GHQ) staff.

GHQ staff, or Directors, are in charge of specific departments ranging from Operations, to Intelligence to Finance and so on, each department mirroring a military function. Along with the Quarter-Master General (QMG) and the Adjutant-General (AG), these people make up the IRA’s military leadership.

The Chuckle Brothers - this is the media's preferred image of Martin McGuinness, in happy alliance with Ian Paisley

The Chuckle Brothers – this is the media’s preferred image of Martin McGuinness, in happy alliance with Ian Paisley

But the buck stops at the Chief of Staff’s desk. Some departments, such as England, Europe, the IRA in the USA and further afield report directly to him (never a her). Otherwise, Departmental heads report to the Chief of Staff whose job is to implement a military policy decided upon by the Army Council (some of whose members may overlap with GHQ). The Chief of Staff has a seat as of right on the Army Council along with the QMG and AG.

Back in the years when Martin McGuinness was Chief of Staff there was a considerable degree of military devolution in the IRA. Units did not have to ask for permission from GHQ and were free to mount operations as long as they complied with IRA policy; and many activists felt more secure when the breadth of knowledge about planned operations was limited to colleagues whom they knew and trusted.

But McGuinness only became Deputy First Minister because of his record as a trusted and efficient IRA leader

But McGuinness only became Deputy First Minister because of his record as a trusted and efficient IRA leader

Nonetheless the statistics do hold evidence that in these days the scale of IRA violence at least, if not individual acts, were directed from the top. This is especially evident in the weeks and months leading up to, and during the IRA hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981 when IRA violence diminished radically, apparently out of a belief that otherwise the spotlight would move away from the prison protests or complicate diplomacy carried out by neutral middlemen.

The relationship between the Chief of Staff and the rank and file units was to change during the years leading up and after the 1994 ceasefire when increasingly the military leadership demanded to know beforehand about planned operations, often in detail, in case they carried negative implications or consequences for the peace process.

Although the IRA had greater freedom of action in the years of McGuinness’ time as Chief of Staff, there were some operations that were planned and authorised at the highest level. And even so, as the IRA’s military commander Martin McGuinness bore ultimate responsibility for all the organisation’s violence since it was perpetrated in pursuit of a military policy which he had the responsibility to implement and by an organisation which he commanded.

Martin McGuinness in Garda custody after Operation Motorman made it too dangerous to stay in Derry

Martin McGuinness in Garda custody after Operation Motorman made it too dangerous to stay in Derry

In the wake of McGuinness’ decision to quit politics, much of the media coverage is dwelling on his contribution to the peace process, especially his relationship with Ian Paisley. That is understandable. But Martin McGuinness did not become Deputy First Minister (DFM) because he was sociable and gregarious with former opponents.

He occupied that office by virtue of his military career in the IRA and because as a military commander he was trusted by many activists, not least those with reservations about the direction the republican movement was taking. Gerry Adams as DFM would not have cut the mustard with such people.

It is therefore important when examining McGuinness’ career and contribution to Irish politics and history to look at his entire life, including his period as Chief of Staff.

Martin McGuinness was twice Northern Commander of the IRA, once when Northern Command was first established as part of the of re-organisation that followed the 1975 ceasefire. He was again appointed Northern Commander in the mid-1980’s with the job of implementing the post-Eksund offensive.

In-between he was Chief of Staff for four and a half years. We can be quite precise about when he took up office because he succeeded Gerry Adams when he was arrested in February 1978 in the wake of the La Mon restaurant/hotel explosion.

With Gerry Adams. He succeeded Adams as Chief of Staff when Adams was arrested and charged with IRA membership in the wake of the La Mon atrocity

With Gerry Adams. He succeeded Adams as Chief of Staff when Adams was arrested and charged with IRA membership in the wake of the La Mon atrocity

He held the post until the autumn of 1982 when he stood as Sinn Fein candidate in Derry for the ill-fated experimental Assembly established by Conservative Secretary of State, Jim Prior. McGuinness had wanted to combine his elected post with his Chief of Staff job but he was overruled by the Army Council.

It is important when assessing Martin McGuinness’ career as Chief of Staff that he had the task of implementing the revival of the IRA that Gerry Adams and his allies had promised when they overthrew the O Bradaigh-O Connail leadership. It is hard not to conclude that he was successful in that task.

Martin McGuinness the young IRA leader

Martin McGuinness the young IRA leader

Here is a list of IRA operations carried out during his time at the IRA’s helm (with thanks to the Cain Chronology of the Conflict). The list begins with the La Mon bombing, the event that precipitated his promotion to Chief of Staff to replace Gerry Adams:

Friday 17 February 1978
item mark Twelve people, all Protestant civilians, were killed and 23 badly injured when an incendiary bomb exploded at the restaurant of the La Mon House Hotel, Gransha, near Belfast. The bomb had been planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Canisters of petrol had been attached to a bomb which was left on a window-sill of the restaurant. An inadequate warning had been given and the hotel was being cleared when the bomb exploded. Many of those killed were burnt to death. Seven of the dead were women. There were three married couples among the dead. All those who died were attending the annual dinner-dance of the Irish Collie Club.

Saturday 25 February 1978
item mark Gerry Adams, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), was charged with membership of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). [On 6 September 1978 Adams was freed when the Judge hearing the case ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was a member of the IRA.]

Friday 3 March 1978
item mark A British soldier and a Protestant civilian searcher were both killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) gun attack on a British Army pedestrian checkpoint in Donegall Street, Belfast.

Friday 17 March 1978
item mark David Jones (23), a British soldier, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a gun battle in a field near Maghera, County Derry. Jones had been undercover at the time. Francis Hughes, then a member of the IRA, was arrested following the incident.

Sunday 26 March 1978
item mark At the Irish Republican Army (IRA) annual Easter Rising commemorations a number of speakers state that the campaign in Northern Ireland would be intensified.

Thursday 25 May 1978
item mark Brian McKinney and John McClory, both Catholic civilians, were abducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and ‘disappeared’. [Their bodies were recovered on 29 June 1999.]

Saturday 17 June 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a gun attack on an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) patrol car near Crossmaglen, County Armagh. One officer, Hugh McConnell (32), was killed at the scene and a second officer, William Turbitt (42), was kidnapped. [A Catholic priest was kidnapped the following day in retaliation but was later released. On 10 July 1978 the body of Officer Turbitt was discovered. In December 1978 three RUC officers were charged with kidnapping the Catholic priest. The same officers were also charged, along with two additional officers, of killing a Catholic shopkeeper in Ahoghill on 19 April 1977.]

Wednesday 21 June 1978
item mark Three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a passing Protestant civilian were shot dead by undercover members of the British Army during an attempted bomb attack on a Post Office depot, Ballysillan Road, Belfast.

Thursday 21 September 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on Eglinton airfield, County Derry. The terminal building, two aircraft hangers, and four planes were destroyed in the attack.

Thursday 12 October 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb on the Belfast to Dublin train and one woman was killed and two others injured when it exploded without adequate warning.

Tuesday 14 November 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a number of bomb attacks in towns across Northern Ireland. Serious damage was caused in attacks in Armagh, Belfast, Castlederg, Cookstown, Derry and Enniskillen. Thirty-seven people were injured in the attacks. [This series of bomb attacks represented a renewed bombing campaign and over 50 bombs were exploded in the following week.]

Sunday 26 November 1978
item mark Albert Miles, then Deputy Governor of Crumlin Road Prison, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside his home in Evelyn Gardens, Belfast. [This was one of a series of attacks on prison officers.]

Thursday 30 November 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a number of bomb and fire-bomb attacks in 14 towns and villages across Northern Ireland. The IRA issued a statement admitting the attacks and warning that it was preparing for a ‘long war’.

Friday 1 December 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out 11 bomb attacks in towns across Northern Ireland.

Sunday 17 December 1978
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of bomb attacks on cities in England. Bombs exploded in Bristol, Coventry, Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton.

Thursday 21 December 1978
item mark Three British soldiers were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a gun attack on their foot patrol in Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

Friday 5 January 1979
item mark Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were killed in a car in Ardoyne, Belfast, when the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely.

Sunday 4 February 1979
item mark Patrick MacKin (60), a former Prison Officer, and his wife Violet (58), were both shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at their home in Oldpark Road, Belfast.

Saturday 24 February 1979
item mark Two Catholic teenagers, Martin McGuigan (16) and James Keenan (16), were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a remote controlled bomb explosion at Darkley, near Keady, County Armagh. [It is believed that the two teenagers were mistaken in the dark for a British Army foot patrol.]

Thursday 22 March 1979
item mark Members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed Richard Sykes (58), then British Ambassador to the Netherlands, and also his Dutch valet Krel Straub (19), in a gun attack in Den Haag, Netherlands.

item mark The IRA carried out a series of attacks across Northern Ireland with 24 bombs exploding on same day.

Thursday 5 April 1979
item mark Two British soldiers were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) while standing outside Andersonstown join Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army base in Belfast.

Wednesday 11 April 1979
item mark Two British soldiers died as a result of a gun attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Ballymurphy, Belfast.

Monday 16 April 1979
item mark Michael Cassidy (31), a Prison Officer, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he left a church in Clogher, County Tyrone, where his sister had just gotten married.

Tuesday 17 April 1979
item mark Four Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded an estimated 1,000 pound van bomb at Bessbrook, County Armagh. [This was believed to be the largest bomb used by the IRA to this date.]

Thursday 19 April 1979
item mark Agnes Wallace (40), a Prison Officer, was shot dead and three of her colleagues injured when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a gun and grenade attack outside Armagh women’s prison.

item mark A member of the British Army was shot dead by the IRA in Belfast.

Sunday 6 May 1979
item mark An undercover member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and an undercover member of the British Army were both shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh.

Saturday 2 June 1979
item mark An off-duty member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and a Protestant civilian were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Ballinahome Crescent, Armagh.

Sunday 3 June 1979
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed by a landmine bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Cullaville, near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.

Thursday 2 August 1979
item mark Two British soldiers were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a landmine attack at Cathedral Road, Armagh. [These deaths brought the total number of British Army soldiers killed in Northern Ireland since 1969 to 301.]

item mark A Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot dead by the IRA in Belfast.

Tuesday 7 August 1979
item mark Eamon Ryan (32), a civilian in the Republic of Ireland, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a bank robbery in Strand Street, Tramore, County Waterford.

Monday 27 August 1979
item mark 18 British soldiers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack at Warrenpoint, County Down. This represented the British Army’s greatest loss of life in a single attack in Northern Ireland. The attack began when the IRA exploded a 500 pound bomb at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint, as an army convoy was passing. Six members of the Parachute Regiment were killed in this initial bomb. As other troops moved into the area a second bomb was detonated in a nearby Gate Lodge killing 12 soldiers – 10 members of the Parachute Regiment and 2 members of the Queen’s Own Highlanders (one of whom was the Commanding Officer). The explosion also damaged an army helicopter. A gun battle then broke out between the IRA who were positioned in the Irish Republic and British Army soldiers in Northern Ireland.

item mark An innocent civilian was killed on the Republic side of the border by soldiers firing from the north.

item mark Earlier in the day Louis Mountbatten (79), a cousin of the Queen, was killed by a bobby-trap bomb left by the IRA on a boat near Sligo in the Republic of Ireland. Three other people were killed in the explosion, Lady Brabourne (82), Nicholas Knatchbull (14) who was Mountbatten’s grandson, and Paul Maxwell (15) who was a crew member on the boat. Mountbatten had been a regular visitor to the Mullaghmore area of County Sligo each August and never had a bodyguard. He was on a fishing trip and was accompanied by a number of people on the boat when the bomb exploded. [During the Second World War Mountbatten had been supreme commander of allied forces in south-east Asia. He had also been the last British Viceroy of India and oversaw Indian independence. Thomas McMahon was charged with Mountbatten’s murder and later sentenced to life imprisonment.]

Tuesday 2 October 1979
item mark In a statement the Irish Republican Army (IRA) rejected Pope John Paul II’s call for an end to the violence in Northern Ireland. The IRA declared that it had widespread support and that Britain would only withdraw from Northern Ireland if forced to do so: “force is by far the only means of removing the evil of the British presence in Ireland … we know also that upon victory the Church would have no difficulty in recognising us”.

Sunday 28 October 1979
item mark A British Army (BA) soldier and a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer died as a result of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) gun attack on a joint BA and RUC mobile patrol at Springfield Road, Belfast.

Sunday 16 December 1979
item mark Four British soldiers were killed by a landmine bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Ballygawley Road, near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

item mark Another soldier was killed by a booby-trap bomb at Forkhill, County Armagh.

item mark James Fowler, a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), was shot dead by the IRA in Omagh, County Tyrone.

Tuesday 1 January 1980
item mark Two undercover members of the British Army (BA) were shot dead by other undercover members of the BA while there were setting up an ambush near Forkhill, County Armagh. item mark

Sunday 6 January 1980
item mark Three members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) where killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a land mine attack near Castlewellan, County Down. [These deaths brought the ‘official’ death toll, as compiled by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), to over 2,000. RUC figures do not count those killed outside of Northern Ireland.]

Thursday 17 January 1980
item mark Three people were killed and two injured when a bomb, being planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), exploded prematurely on a train at Dunmurry, near Belfast. One of those who died was a member of the IRA and the other two people were civilians.

Monday 11 February 1980
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed in a land mine attack at Rosslea, County Fermanagh.

Saturday 16 February 1980
item mark An off-duty colonel in the British Army was shot dead outside his home in Bielfeld, West Germany.

Monday 5 May 1980
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the North-South electricity link at Crossmaglen. The British and Irish governments had been attempting to re-establish the link following an earlier explosion.

Tuesday 20 January 1981
item mark Maurice Gilvarry (24), a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was found shot dead near Jonesborough, County Armagh. He had been killed by other members of the IRA who alleged that he had acted as an informer.

item mark A British soldier was shot dead by the IRA in Derry.

Wednesday 21 January 1981
item mark Norman Stronge (86), a former speaker of the Stormont parliament, and James Stronge (48), his son, were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA)in an attack on their mansion, Tynan Abbey, near Middletown, County Armagh.

Friday 6 February 1981
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombed and sunk a British coal boat, Nellie M, off the coast at Moville, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland.

Saturday 9 May 1981
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at an oil terminal in the Shetland Islands. A quarter of a mile away at that time the Queen was attending a function to mark the official opening of the terminal.

Tuesday 19 May 1981
item mark Five British soldiers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) landmine attack near Bessbrook, County Armagh. The soldiers had been travelling in an armoured vehicle when the bomb exploded.

Thursday 28 May 1981
item mark Charles Maguire (20) and George McBrearty (24), both members of the IRA, were shot dead as they approached a car on the Lone Moor Road in Derry. The car contained undercover members of the British Army.

item mark A member of the RUC was shot dead by the IRA near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

Wednesday 10 June 1981
item mark Eight Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners on remand escaped form the Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. The prisoners used three handguns, which had been smuggled into the prison, to hold prison officers hostage before taking their uniforms and shooting their way out of the prison.

Saturday 13 June 1981
item mark A booby trap bomb was planted on a car being used by Lord Gardiner during a visit to Belfast. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack failed when the bomb fell of the car and failed to explode.

Sunday 2 August 1981
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed in a landmine attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Loughmacrory, near Omagh, County Tyrone.

Wednesday 5 August 1981
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of car bomb and incendiary bomb attacks in seven areas of Northern Ireland including Belfast, Derry and Lisburn. The attacks caused serious damage to property and minor injuries to a number of people.

Saturday 10 October 1981
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on a British Army (BA) bus close to Chelsea Barracks in London. The device was believed to be a romote controlled bomb hidden in a parked van, close to the junction of Ebury Bridge Road and St. Barnabas Street. The bomb was detonated when the bus carring the soldiers passed. Two British civilians were killed in the blast and 40 other people injured, including 23 soldiers.

Saturday 17 October 1981
item mark Steuart Pringle, then Commandant-General of the Royal Marines, was badly injured when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb under his car.

Monday 26 October 1981
item mark Kenneth Haworth (49), a police explosives officer, was killed when the bomb he was trying to defuse exploded in Oxford Street, London.

Friday 13 November 1981
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the home of Michael Havers, then British Attorney-General, in London.

Saturday 14 November 1981
item mark The Reverend Robert Bradford (40), then an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at a community centre in Finaghy in Belfast. Kenneth Campbell (29), a Protestant civilian who was a caretaker at the centre, was also shot and killed.

Tuesday 23 February 1982
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) sunk a British coal boat, the St Bedan, in Lough Foyle.

Tuesday 2 March 1982
item mark Lord Lowry, then Northern Ireland Lord Chief Justice, was attacked by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he paid a visit to the Queen’s University of Belfast. The IRA fired several shots at Lowry who was not injured but a lecturer at the university was wounded by the gunfire.

Friday 5 March 1982
item mark Seamus Morgan (24), a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was shot dead by fellow members of the IRA who alleged that he was an informer. His body was found near to Forkhill, County Armagh.

Monday 15 March 1982
item mark Alan McCrum (11), a Protestant boy, was killed and 34 people injured when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Bridge Street, Banbridge, County Down. An inadequate warning had been given.

Thursday 25 March 1982
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed three British Soldiers during a gun attack on Crocus Street, off the Springfield Road in west Belfast. Five other people were injured in the attack. [It was believed that an M-60 machine gun was used in the attack.]

Thursday 1 April 1982
item mark Two undercover members of the British Army were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as they drove a civilian type van from the joint Army / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base in Rosemount, Derry.

Tuesday 20 April 1982
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of attacks in Northern Ireland. Wilbert Kennedy (36) and Noel McCulloch (32), both Protestant civilians, were killed in a bomb blast at the Diamond, Magherafelt, County Derry. An inadequate warning had been given. A further 12 people were injured in the attacks. Bombs exploded in Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Bessbroke, Derry, and Magherafelt, and caused an estimated £1 million pounds in damage.

Friday 16 July 1982
item mark Colm Carey (28), a Catholic civilian, died from loss of blood following a ‘punishment’ shooting carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at his home on Strabane Old Road, Gobnascale, Derry. Carey had been shot in the knee.

Tuesday 20 July 1982
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs in London, one at South Carriage Drive, close to Hyde Park and the other at the Bandstand in Regent’s Park, resulting in the deaths of 11 British Soldiers. The first bomb exploded shortly before 11.00am when soldiers of the Blues and Royals were travelling on horseback to change the guard at Horseguards Parade. Three soldiers were killed instantly and a fourth died of his injuries on 23 July 1982. A number of civilians who had been watching the parade were also injured. One horse was killed in the explosion but a further six had to be shot due to their injuries. The bomb had been left in a car parked along the side of the road and is believed to have been detonated by a member of the IRA who was watching from within Hyde Park.

item mark The second bomb, which exploded at lunch time, had been planted under the bandstand in Regent’s Park. The explosion killed 7 bandsmen of the Royal Green Jackets as they were performing a concert at the open-air bandstand. Approximately two dozen civilians who had been listening to the performance were injured in the explosion. It is thought that the bomb had been triggered by a timing device and may have been planted some time in advance of the concert.

Trump The Snake Oil Salesman, Foreseen In 1958!

Some Questions For Sinn Fein (And The Media) About Martin McGuinness’ Illness

When a visibly ailing Martin McGuinness submitted his resignation from the post of Deputy First Minister (DFM) in the Stormont Executive last week we were all told that this was entirely an act of protest at the pellet fire shenanigans of his colleague, DUP leader Arlene Foster.

But now it seems that this was not the full story at all. McGuinness is suffering,  we learn, from a rare wasting, genetic disorder which according to some medical websites can be fatal within one or two years of the symptoms appearing.

mcguinness

This new intelligence prompts a couple of questions: Did Martin McGuinness really quit because he is seriously ill, and not because of Arlene? Or put another way, was he was going to resign for health reasons anyway but some bright spark in SF suggested ‘why not squeeze some political advantage out of the tragedy by telling the media he is going because he really has had enough of the DUP woman?’

We know that McGuinness will never darken the Executive’s door again because already Sinn Fein underlings are openly speculating about who is going to take over as DFM if, or rather when, Humpty is put together again.

The names of Conor Murphy, Gerry Kelly and someone called Michelle O’Neill, apparently the Health Minister, are in the hat. And poor Marty is not even a week out of Stormont! Would they be doing that if there was a realistic chance of his recovery?

As a result of this speculation, some in the media are going so far as to wonder whether Gerry himself might be tempted, a line of thought so detached from all that we have learned and know about the GBO that it almost brings tears of frustration to the eyes.

So it looks as if, once more, we have all been played by Sinn Fein.

None of this would have been possible of course without a credulous media. Could they not see what the viewers immediately saw when McGuinness’ gaunt features and lifeless eyes appeared on their TV screens? A man at the edge of existence who had probably only one thought in his mind as he signed the resignation letter for the cameras, and that was: ‘When am I going to be able to get home to my bed?’.

12-news-mmg-631334486

During their many years in the political wilderness, the Provos learned one valuable lesson about the media. This is that cowardice is the defining characteristic of my profession.

The Provos very quickly discovered that nothing brought the more stubborn reporters to heel more quickly or effectively than a combination of bullying and McCarthyite intimidation; of particular potency is the slur that journalist A opposes the peace process, or journalist B is a dissident fellow-traveler.

They never had to do this on a widespread basis, just with a select few, in the knowledge that the message would spread to all their colleagues. So most in the media learned that to avoid the same fate the prudent course was to go to SF press do’s, write down what was said and just repeat it on air or in their newspaper – nothing more and nothing less.

Over here, in the US, the American media is beginning to discover what it is like to have to cover someone whose press strategy is remarkably similar, although with one difference; Donald Trump is scatter gun and very public in his attacks on the media, whereas the Provos have always been much more discreet, even secretive, and selective.

That someone is, of course Donald Trump, whose press strategy was on display last week at Trump Tower at a press conference called in the wake of the breaking of the ‘Golden Showergate’ scandal.

The story was first reported the night before when CNN revealed that Trump had been briefed on the scandal by the heads of America’s major intelligence agencies.

He refused to take any questions from, and insulted the CNN reporter dispatched to cover the press conference. It was clearly an act of revenge for CNN’s ‘Showergate’ report and a warning to the rest of the media of what to expect if they behaved in similar vein.

Trump berates CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing him of being 'fake news' and refused to take a question from him. He instead turned to a reporter from Breitbart..

Trump berates CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing him of being ‘fake news’ and refused to take a question from him. He instead turned to a reporter from Breitbart.

The rest of his colleagues, or at least most of them, sat quietly, waiting their turn to ask a question. Not a voice was raised in protest.

Since then there has been a lot of brave talk in the American media about the need for reporters to band together, to show a united front against Trump’s bullying.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Trump ‘Blackmail’ Document In Full

Sinn Fein Will Never Risk Losing The Good Friday Institutions

A brief word or two about the latest ‘crisis’ to hit the Good Friday institutions, viz the pellet fire scandal which, the media panjandrums confidently tell us, brought about Martin McGuinness’ resignation as Deputy First Minister yesterday.

When I watched McGuinness on the BBC’s website yesterday afternoon my overwhelming thought was that this man isn’t quitting because he is fed up with Arlene Foster, the DUP and their little scheme to enrich their farmer friends (at least those with large empty sheds to heat), although I am sure he is.

No, my thought was that this man wants to go home to be with his family for his last days in this world. McGuinness is a devout Catholic, the sort who daily wears a scapular – so I am assured – and so he would also want to make peace with his God, something that promises to be an interesting exercise. Both would take precedent over Arlene and her tricks, methought.

Call me cynical but I have had more than two decades of dealings with Martin McGuinness’ comrades and so my second thought, based on that toilsome experience, was that what we were seeing was another Provo bunco game designed to make us believe the unbelievable.

The unbelievable in this case is that the Provos would really do something to endanger the Good Friday institutions. Let me explain carefully for slow learners. The Provos gave up their guns, their armed struggle and their republican ideology in return for getting their bums on seats around the Cabinet/Executive table up at Stormont.

They justified ending their war on the basis that a political deal which gave Sinn Fein the leadership of Northern Nationalism and which obliged Unionists to sit in the same room as former gunmen also had the potential to lead to Irish unity (although others would argue that it is more likely that the prime effect would be to reconcile Nationalists with the existence of the Northern state).

Whatever the truth of all that, the Assembly and the Executive, especially the Deputy First Minister slot, are all that the Provos have to show for ending their war. If they truly and seriously endangered the 1998 institutions then that would be an acknowledgement of failure.

It would be a little like that moment at the end of the children’s fairy tale when the King is naked and now everyone can see that.

It would be an admission that constitutional methods do not and can not work in the North of Ireland and an invitation to the gunmen to resume their grisly business.

I suspect that the Unionists, the DUP in particular, know this full well and it helps explain why they have, at times, treated their partners in government with near contempt. The fact is that they have got away with it now for the best part of a decade.

This can, of course, be a risky thing to do. Sometimes you can push people so far or so hard that inevitably they topple over. That Martin McGuinness’ resignation may be something of a shell game does not detract from the reality that unease and anger at the grass roots level of the Provos forced this on their top brass.

But there is another factor that I believe will prevent a crisis becoming a collapse. It is called Gerry Adams’ legacy.

The peace process is overwhlemingly the creation of one man. Gerry Adams began it way back in 1982 when he began talks with the Redemptorist priest Alex Reid (some will argue, justifiably, that it really started with the sabotage of the effort to resolve the 1981 hunger strikes), and slowly, patiently and at great risk to himself, he steered the Provos towards the Good Friday Agreement a full twelve years later.

It will take time but I am confident that history will recognise Adams’ achievement, not to discount what one commentator called ‘the smell of rotten cabbage’ that surrounds him.

I do not believe for one moment that Gerry Adams would countenance a course of action that would seriously endanger an agreement and a set of institutions that will define his role in Irish history.

We shall find out soon enough.

Donald Trump Lied About Disabled Reporter

trumplied

The photos above show what a compulsive liar Donald Trump is.

On the left is Serge Kovaleski, a prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. He suffers from a disease known as arthrogryposis, a rare muscle disorder which makes it difficult to flex the muscles and to stretch affected limbs, and which can impact over 80 per cent of the body. It often causes limbs to be distorted and twisted.

On the right is a screen grab from the video of a campaign speech made by Donald Trump, during which the President-elect ridicules and mocks Kovaleski over a dispute between them over claims from Trump that he had seen ‘thousands’ of people celebrating the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers on rooftops in Jersey City, a place with a large Arab-American population.

The incident was at the centre of a critical speech made by actress Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe awards in Hollywood on Sunday night, during which she castigated Trump, whom she didn’t name, for his assault on Kovalesky:

….there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head….

In a series of Tweets calling the Hollywood star ‘over-rated’ and a ‘Hillary flunky’, Trump specifically denied that he had mocked Serge Kovalesky:

trumptweets

The photos above, and the video below, contradict Trump. The photo shows Trump imitating Kovaleski’s disability almost exactly. Below the video is an explanation from Wikipedia of the dispute between them.

From Wikipedia:

After candidate Donald J. Trump’s assertion (made in a speech delivered on November 21, 2015) that

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down, thousands of people were cheering, so something is going on. We got to find out what it is. I do want surveillance”

was met with widespread disbelief, the Trump campaign pointed to Kovaleski’s September 18, 2001 report for the Washington Post (co-authored with Fredrick Kunkle) that “law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation” as substantiation of the claim.

Kovaleski issued the following written statement in response to the Trump campaign’s adoption of his report as factual basis for their candidate’s assertion that thousands of Muslims in the U.S. publicly celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center, a claim Trump has used to support his call for the surveillance of mosques and the establishment of a registry for U.S. Muslims: “I certainly do not remember anyone saying that thousands or even hundreds of people were celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember.”

This statement by Kovaleski prompted Trump to remark in a November 25, 2015 speech given in South Carolina, “You’ve got to see this guy: ‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember,’ he’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.'” Trump bent his wrist severely and flailed his arms repeatedly as he spoke giving many viewers the impression that his intent was not only to ridicule the reporter’s words but also to mock the physical appearance of Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis.

Trump later stated that he could not have been mocking Kovaleski’s disability because he did not know what Kovaleski looked like. Kovaleski responded by claiming that he had been on a first-name basis with Trump and had had perhaps a dozen face-to-face encounters with him, including interviews and press conferences, while reporting on Trump for the New York Daily News.

Meryl Streep Speaks Truth About Trump

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes ceremony in Hollywood last night says it all about the monstrosity about to lead the United States, the calamity that is about to overcome the world. When you read this remember, before Hitler went for the socialists, communists, liberals, gypsies and Jews, he went for the disabled. He did that because they were the weakest in society, he calculated few would protest and that would make his pursuit of his other enemies easier. There was method in his madness:

Please sit down. Thank you. I love you all. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve lost my voice in screaming and lamentation this weekend. And I have lost my mind sometime earlier this year, so I have to read.

Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press. Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said: You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places. I was born and raised and educated in the public schools of New Jersey. Viola was born in a sharecropper’s cabin in South Carolina, came up in Central Falls, Rhode Island; Sarah Paulson was born in Florida, raised by a single mom in Brooklyn. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of seven or eight kids in Ohio. Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. And Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Where are their birth certificates? And the beautiful Ruth Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in London — no, in Ireland I do believe, and she’s here nominated for playing a girl in small-town Virginia.

Ryan Gosling, like all of the nicest people, is Canadian, and Dev Patel was born in Kenya, raised in London, and is here playing an Indian raised in Tasmania. So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

They gave me three seconds to say this, so: An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us, and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that. Breathtaking, compassionate work.

But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose. O.K., go on with it.

O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing: Once, when I was standing around on the set one day, whining about something — you know we were gonna work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?” Yeah, it is, and we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art.