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Saturday 23 August 2014

McFeely the little brute stripped bare: afraid to see who he truly is

Tom McFeely will forever be running from his own shabby reality and hiding behind excuses

Niamh Horan

Published 02/03/2014 | 02:30

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DENIAL, ANGER AND HATE: Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely photographed outside his former house on Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4
DENIAL, ANGER AND HATE: Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely photographed outside his former house on Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4
Tom McFeely seconds before he brandished a broken glass at reporter Niamh Horan

A COWARD. That's what I saw when I watched the Tom McFeely interview on Tuesday night.

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A scared little man in a brute's body.

A man who hides behind excuses and denial, anger and hate, because he is terrified of confronting who he truly is.

If he had to admit it, if he had to face the person who committed all these horrific acts – from car bombs and attempted murders to the death trap of Priory Hall – wouldn't that be the most horrific thing of all?

So instead he ducks and dives, lies and lashes out at everyone around him. Contorted inside with an intense anger at the world. Directed at the media, the Irish, the banks, the Government. Everyone but himself.

He is constantly running away from his own shabby reality.

Two years ago in Portugal, I held up a camera to take a snapshot of a man who was at that moment on the run from a summons issued by Dublin District Court over failure to pay his debts.

A cowboy builder, an ex-convict, was fleeing again from yet another dud milestone in his life. And he didn't like me taking a photo.

He lashed out, smashing a glass off the table and lunging at my face with the broken shard. There is no doubt in my mind that he wanted to slice open either my face or throat – and he would have done so if I hadn't acted as quickly as I did.

You don't need to use much imagination to realise that an incident like this never leaves you.

At the time, a small handful of people made the extraordinary move of questioning the part I played in being attacked. They felt I had provoked him. But most people don't need me to point out that confrontation is part and parcel of journalism. Week in, week out, journalists chase stories that certain people don't want printed. To expose the truth about what's happening in the world around them.

And most people don't react like Tom McFeely.

A colleague recounted last week how he once door-stepped a chief science adviser with a document proving that the man had faked his own doctorate.

In that split second, the adviser knew his entire career was over. Yet he didn't scream or threaten the reporter, or try to stab him.

No, it takes a certain type of person to do that – and to a woman in particular.

A man like Tom McFeely.

A scumbag and an animal. But who, more than anything else, is gutless. I saw that same cowardice on his face when I confronted him shortly after the glass attack.

It seemed fitting that it was in the Four Courts in Dublin, our house of justice, where I received mine. His back against the wall, he skulked down to make himself appear smaller; the only thing he had the courage to show was a sinister smile. The cat had got his tongue.

Maybe he needed to be full of booze like he was that night in Portugal. Or have the broken glass once again in his hand.

But when he was stripped of it all I saw what was left. And last Tuesday, McFeely was laid bare once again.

Even though he tried to hide behind the excuses, pouring hate, the public saw through it. Saw him for what he really is.

"I'm not going away you know," McFeely said. Probably the only true words he uttered on the night.

Because at the end of the day, you can never run away from who or what you are.

Sunday Independent

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