Tuesday, 17 December 2019

The Boston Tapes Revisited: An Interview with Anthony McIntyre

Following the acquittal of Ivor Bell, I conducted this extensive interview with Anthony McIntyre exploring the trial, the judgment and the ongoing legal battle to prevent further PSNI access to the Boston College Belfast Project

Anthony McIntyre

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Be Like Lyra: A Legacy

I became friends with Lyra McKee through our mutual close friendships with Anthony McIntyre and Ruth Dudley Edwards. That alone will tell you a lot about Lyra: she was a woman of extraordinary empathy and a relentless desire to understand and to befriend. It was what made her a great journalist, one of the outstanding of her generation. Somehow she still managed to be deeply humble, heart-warmingly funny and a tremendously good friend.

Despite our many years of online contact and cheerful banter, one of my greatest regrets is that Lyra and I only met once in person, a moment captured in the treasured photograph above. Foolishly, I presumed we had all the time in the world, and so life inevitably got in the way. A silly boy’s bullet proved me wrong.

I can think of no better legacy than the advice of our mutual friend Carrie McIntyre: "Be Like Lyra!" Rather than indulge in the self-soothing comfort of woke self-righteousness or right-wing arrogance, try to be generous with whomever you disagree. Try to understand “others” and “opponents” rather than to caricature them, especially when you dislike or indeed hate what they stand for.

That is one of the many things that Lyra McKee taught me. Along with her profoundly insightful journalism, that is what she should be remembered for.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

When the Biter is Bit: Further Reflections on the Downfall of Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers speaking to Seán O'Rourke on RTE radio yesterday
By many accounts from across the political spectrum — including that of my great friend Anthony McIntyre Kevin Myers is decent and friendly in real life. I am willing to accept that this is true.

The problem with Kevin Myers as a journalist, though, is not that he has, by his own admission, "a weakness for facile terminology." Rather, the problem is that his style of argument is making casual inferences from isolated observations and intuitions to utterly glib, unfounded conclusions, many of which are indistinguishable from sneering fascist bigotry. Myers’s recent column was not an aberration. Pseudo-intellectual shock-mongering has been his modus operandi for decades.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Retracting MyArse: A Cynical, Censorious Cop-Out

Yesterday's retractions of articles written by Kevin Myers for the Sunday Times and the Irish Independent (8 years after publication in the latter case!) reek of hypocrisy, cynicism, and cowardice.

Myers's piece in the Sunday Times was his typically noxious plat du jour -- a smug, facile, bigoted Colonel Blimp rant. This, in itself, was nothing new, for it has been his stock in trade for decades now. Of course, Myers normally prefers safer, easier targets — single mothersMuslimstravellersgay peoplefeministsetc. The only reason he finally got his comeuppance yesterday is that he just happened to indulge in the "wrong kind" of bigotry and it just happened to go viral.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Myth & Countermyth

Flag of the Irish Republic, GPO, 1916

I like Ruth Dudley Edwards a lot. We became friends in recent years through email and the internet. In my experience, she is a very kind person and is remarkably generous with her time. Politically speaking though, we are poles apart. I also find her analyses of Irish history deeply problematic. This is especially true of her perspective on the Easter Rising. Indeed, it seems to me that in challenging the ambiguities and contradictions of 1916, Ruth engages in some anachronistic myth-making of her own.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Injustice Ignored: The Christy Walsh Case

Christy Walsh
Today, an Irish man will embark on the 26th day of a hunger strike in protest against his treatment by the British justice system in Northern Ireland. This man was framed by the British Army in 1991 and spent 7 years in prison. After several appeals, his conviction was finally overturned in 2010 after it emerged that one of the soldiers had retracted his testimony and that the prosecution service had suppressed evidence that would have undermined its case. Astonishingly though, the authorities in the North have refused to apologise, admit wrongdoing or pay compensation.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Killing Palestinians: The "Combat-Age" Excuse

In modern propaganda, excuses are the weapon of choice. As the Palestinian death toll rises above 1000, apologists for the IDF's brutal war of choice against Gaza have come up with a rather clever excuse indeed: the age and gender of the Palestinian dead.