Sunday 11 December 2016

I'll happily take a guy with a gun over the clown with the clipboard any day

A foreign correspondent's life can be terribly boring, but there are moments when a small victory over some jumped-up jobsworth makes it all very worthwhile

Fergal Keane

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

'The greater pressure on the free press these days comes from the limitless noise of the net where online thugs hound any journalist they disagree with' (stock photo)
'The greater pressure on the free press these days comes from the limitless noise of the net where online thugs hound any journalist they disagree with' (stock photo)

If I counted the hours of waiting, they would take up a good part of a lifetime. The depths of frustration involved have been fathomless. I have lost count of the times I solemnly declared: "I am too old for this nonsense." Of course, I keep doing it. I am no longer fit for anything else. The habits of cunning, evasion, despair and the transient elations of the road are too deeply engrained for a change at this point.

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But I make this declaration: Give me the straightforward sound of the guns any day before the devious murmurings of the bureaucrats. Give me a sniper-infested suburb before slick bullies behind desks.

My first experience of bureaucratic torment was on a trip to Sudan and Eritrea with a group of MEPs in the 1980s. I recall the late Niall Andrews of Fianna Fail, a fine travelling companion, putting up a particularly spirited defence of the free press when we were held in a stifling police hut in the desert. Andrews had courage aplenty. He was an easy man to like.

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