Thursday 13 December 2018

Leo and Micheal must soon get down to good government

Cartoonist: Jim Cogan
Cartoonist: Jim Cogan
Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

Last Sunday, I did a solo interview with Ivan Yates on Newstalk concentrating on three issues.

First, not being a fence-sitter, I told Ivan that if I were a Fine Gael member I would support Leo - and throw him out after four years if he did not deliver.

Second, I showed why Sinn Fein's new strategy posed serious threats that only Micheal Martin seemed to fully grasp.

Finally, I told Ivan I had no problem with RTE in general, but do have a problem with the political culture of its current affairs.

All three positions proved to have legs as the week went on. Let's look closer at each of them in turn.

First, Leo's strong lead will bring its own problems. Bored media mandarins will be gagging for gossip disguised as high-minded testing of the candidate.

Better if they probed the chief task facing him as Taoiseach with two budgets to run: creating a good working relationship with Micheal Martin.

Brian Hayes on Sean O'Rourke rightly spoke about the huge importance of "generosity of spirit" between Leo and Micheal.

Both men have the charismatic X factor. But, more importantly, they understand the Y factor - as in why. Why it's important that the centre parties close ranks against the forces of nationalist anarchy.

This brings me to the second issue I raised with Ivan Yates. Sinn Fein's new strategy to get into government in the Republic, while not seriously negotiating to restore the Northern Executive.

Provo puppeteers then hope to create a crisis, pulling in the Brits behind a pan-nationalist push in the lunatic expectation this might lead to an enforced "unity" when it can only lead to disunity and civil strife.

The proof of the southern strategy is the syrupy and sinister interest Sinn Fein takes in both the Garda and the Defence Forces - they have tabled more Dail questions on the latter than any other party.

The proof of the Northern strategy is how angry Sinn Fein gets at any attempt in the Republic to portray Arlene Foster positively.

And that was proved by the irritated reaction of Michelle O'Neill to last Monday's leader in The Irish Times titled "Divining Sinn Fein's Intentions", which had simply noted that on both the Irish language and Brexit, Arlene Foster had recently adopted a "noticeably more conciliatory approach".

The leader logically went on to ask whether Sinn Fein wanted a deal or "whether its strategy is to abandon the Belfast Agreement in pursuit of a united Ireland".

Possibly Michelle O'Neill felt betrayed after a long run of articles on Irish unity in The Irish Times, culminating in a front-page photo of Gerry Adams and Prince Charles shaking hands in the sunshine.

Supporting Sinn Fein's "normalised" status was a big colour ad for The Irish Times Economic Summit 2017, topped by a photo of Michelle O'Neill, promoting her as giving the prestigious closing address.

In a bizarre touch, The Irish Times's slogan for the summit summed up what I believe to be Sinn Fein's new strategy: Opportunity from Uncertainty.

As I told Ivan Yates, Sinn Fein's talk of unity polls broke the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement - which had satisfied most Irish nationalists, even Sinn Fein supporters.

But it had not satisfied Sinn Fein godfathers who began to use Brexit as a trojan horse to talk up Irish unity and frighten unionists.

This I compared to giving a woman a lift and talking about rape during the trip.

Sinn Fein's new stress on unity was what Lenin called "excitative terror", blustering, bullying, evil rhetoric that could easily end in bloodshed.

Significantly, the IRA agenda has always attracted psychopaths and perverts including the late serial killer, Ian Brady.

In a letter written from his Ashworth bed, Brady said: "I hope the IRA is reactivated as promised for a united Ireland."

Am I saying all Sinn Fein members are psychopaths like Brady? No, but they are sitting at the other end of a see-saw from the heavy gang, in danger of slipping down to the dark end.

Sinn Fein's campaign of "normalisation" depends on demonising the DUP, clouding the Provo murder campaign and constant charges of collusion against the RUC.

But it is also helped by a hinterland of bad history of the "Bloody Sunday every bloody Sunday" sort - a burst pipe pouring out a narrative that justifies IRA murders of innocent civilians during the War of Independence.

Professional historians should be the first line of defence against this green degradation of history.

Last year, however, Gerard Murphy, author of the Year of Disappearances, felt compelled to publicly challenge the UCC database on alleged "Cork spies".

Murphy gave grounds for believing that the large number of alleged spies (and Protestants) shot in Cork owed something to the warped mentality of the Cork IRA's chief intelligence officer, Florence O'Donoghue.

To my mind, O'Donoghue and the grisly Martin Corry were not far from the Brady end of the spectrum.

Last week, UCC issued a second database, 'Cork's War of Independence Fatality Register', with "details of 528 individuals who died between 1919 and the Truce of July 1921".

Emeritus Professor James S Donnelly Jr's blurb for the register in the Irish Examiner, far from contesting the IRA's position appears to accept it.

You can make up your own mind from the final sentence of the following paragraph, where he seems to imply that any of the 49 executed civilians must have been a British spy.

"The register documents 49 disappearances in the county. A significant finding is the sizeable minority of victims who were members of the Crown forces. Among civilians who disappeared, a large number were ex-soldiers. This underlines the prevalence of Crown force networks among those targeted for secret execution by the IRA."

Finally, let me turn to RTE. Answering a pointed Yates question, I denied I had an agenda against RTE as such, but agreed that, going back to Section 31, I am out of sympathy with its political culture.

This culture strikes me as combining naivety about Sinn Fein plus a tendency to pin a ridiculous right-wing label on politicians like Leo Varadkar who don't share the right-on shibboleths of those who live in the Montrose bubble.

Last Monday, the Claire Byrne show polled people on two questions.

They were asked whether they wanted a united Ireland and whether they agreed with Leo Varadkar's naming and shaming of those convicted of dole fraud.

Any regular reader of this column could have predicted that support for a united Ireland would be lukewarm, but that backing for Leo's line on scammers would be hot and high.

But clearly that result came as a bit of a shock to the Montrose bubble, with Claire Byrne admitting in advance that "you might be surprised by the result".

Translated: we in the RTE bubble were surprised to find most of you are neither mad nationalists nor share our PC concern for dole scammers.

Let's hope RTE doesn't waste the next two weeks waffling about X factors and finds out whether Leo and Micheal can work together to give us good government.

Sunday Independent