independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Eoghan Harris: We should honour those who work in the hurt locker

Saturday

sit stoically through the Ifta awards. Stoically, because I no longer drink. Listening to losers is a lot harder when you are sober.

I am there to back up my colleague, Gerry Gregg. His expose of the Shell to Sea campaign, The Battle for the Gasfield, is the TV3 finalist against Pat Kenny's The Frontline.

We have no chance against Kenny. Just as well. Given the mawkish politics of most film luvvies, if we win we are likely to be booed.

After Kenny gets his gong, I take a look at the luminaries. This does not take long. Having hung out in Hollywood with the heavy gang, my bar is set a bit higher than the local luvvies at the Burlington.

So I sit there thinking about a dinner in Paris with Michael Cimino during which he said not one word; about taking Kevin Costner through west Cork on the track of Tom Barry's flying column; about a week with Marlon Brando during which he perfected his Cork accent to such deadly effect that I was ejected from the Beverly Wilshire for apparently calling the front desk and demanding a cheap call girl in a cheap Cork accent.

Actually I can't see anybody in the Burlington whom I would ask for an autograph -- with the possible exception of Brendan Gleeson who did a brilliant Churchill in Into the Storm.

Besides, I have the best of company. I am sandwiched between Paul Williams, the crime correspondent, and Shane Deasy, who pulled focus on The Tudors and will soon be shooting films like his famous father, Shay Deasy.

Paul texts non-stop. He has a hunch that a major story about a Green minister is about to break. Naturally I dismiss this as nonsense. Too soon after O'Dea to be true.

While Paul pulsates, Shane and I divide the movies into three categories, based on the first five seconds of the trailers: shite, pure shite and looks okay.

My old sparring partner Neil Jordan has made a movie about a mermaid. No matter how well it does at the Iftas, Neil should have more sense. Irish mermaids are moany stalkers.

Shane tells me he has worked on another film which also featured a mermaid. And? "Never work with animals, children or mermaids."

Suddenly I stop talking. A star has stopped at our table. Detective Inspector Gerry O'Carroll, formerly of the so-called Heavy Gang, bends to have a word with Paul. And I wonder if I can ask him for an autograph.

He straightens up, gives me a nod, and then the only award I want that night. He says he never misses me in the Sunday Independent. And I tell him, possibly more truthfully, that I never miss him in the Evening Herald.

Gerry goes his way, one of the stalwarts of the thin blue line. Back in the 1980s, Gerry and the 'Heavy Gang' were all that stood between us and the Provo hitmen. We will need them again, now that the bullies are back, stripping, torturing and shooting in the head.

In recent months a raft of academics have raised their cowardly heads to criticise another thin line -- the tiny handful of journalists, like Gerry Gregg, who supported Section 31 in RTE. So what's their position if the political wing of the Real IRA wants to get on RTE? Kick to touch, is what. Tuesday

It's all about Trevor Sargent. Like Willie O'Dea, he is another victim of a right-on culture of resignation which we require as a consolation prize for the recession. And I am against it for the following reasons.

First, there is an anarchic anger against flawed but fundamentally decent politicians, fomented by shows like Liveline and The Frontline. Second, politicians who abuse public office for money should not resign -- the Taoiseach should take them out. Third, no amount of regulation will restrain human beings from doing new bad things: it's the nature of human nature.

But while I wish Sargent did not have to step down, a chat with Willie Kealy, of this office, clarifies some of the differences between O'Dea and Sargent. Willie O'Dea made a mistake: Trevor Sargent broke a law. Willie O'Dea was hounded by Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein: Sargent resigned before anybody reached for a bugle to raise the hue and cry.

Again: although O'Dea's sin had been in the public domain since the dark ages, nobody took a blind bit of notice of it. But while Sargent's sin was also old, it did not reach the public domain until the Evening Herald reported it.

Finally, nobody objected to the hounding of Willie O'Dea. But the Opposition leaped to defend Sargent against alleged hounding by sinister leakers. And in a mad mood they leaped to the lunatic conclusion that the leak came from the Department of Justice.

God help them when they move into the glass house of Government.

WEDNESday

The large anti-Israeli lobby in Leinster House has worked itself into a major wrath about the alleged abuse of Irish passports by Mossad. You would think we were the only country singled out in what Jackie Healy-Rae calls the whole wide world.

We were not so precious about the abuse of Irish passports when it benefited Arab sheikhs. From 1988-98 the Irish government sold passports to Middle East investors. In 1990, Charles Haughey personally handed over 11 passports to a Saudi banker, Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz.

On Prime Time, former Irish Army officer Declan Power provides a pragmatic explanation of apparent Israeli indifference, pointing to the hinterland of the Holocaust, and reminding us that Israel might well ask what Ireland had ever done for the Jews and for Israel?

Not a lot. We only saved a tiny handful of Jews from Hitler. We were one of the last states to recognise the state of Israel. Today our politicians take a hard line on the democratic state of Israel while smarming at dictatorial Arab states.

Sin Beth, the forerunner of Mossad, modelled its methods on those of Michael Collins. And Collins had no compunction about taking out British intelligence agents he deemed to be at war against his country. Would we be so worked up if Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh of Hamas was called Colonel Starkadder of the Auxiliaries?

* * * * *

The Hurt Locker also won best film at the Bafta awards. Another small sign that PC pacifists may be out of touch. Because The Hurt Locker honours the physical courage of soldiers who risk their lives for the common good.

Democratic societies will always have to use lethal force, even if only in police actions. All states are founded on force. We will always need men like Detective Inspector Gerry O'Carroll to take on thugs and terrorists.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." The man who wrote that was not some raving right-winger. It was George Orwell.

Sunday Independent

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