I don't know what brand of republicanism `independent' councillor Tony McPhillips thought he was representing at the recent meeting of Fermanagh District Council, when he passed snide and racist comments at the recent by-election success of Stephen Hugget. Anglophobia was never part of republican philosophy, nor should it be. Tony McPhillips should be ashamed of himself, but his ego will hardly allow for remorse.
The same McMcPhillips is a man of strong, if ever-changing, views. I remember in the early 1980s while selling An Phoblacht in Clones, being berated by him. Of course, in those days he was an aspiring SDLP politician (but he will probably tell us that he was a closet republican). In light of last week's remarks, I wonder if his opposition to the paper was grounded in the fact that the then editor was Michael Timothy who, like myself, was a Mancunian, born and bred, while the chief sub editor was a Cockney, with not a trace of Celtic blood coursing through his veins. English they may have been, but there there can be no doubting their commitment to the Irish revolution.
Before his untimely death, Mick Timothy (besides being a fine journalist and an exceptional satirist) was a key strategist in the Republican Movement and played a central role in the evolution of the Sinn Féin electoral strategy. That didn't mean that he forgot his deep roots in Manchester and staff in An Phoblacht at the time recall with amusement that production of the paper would grind to a halt during the latest test cricket match from Lords or the Wednesday episode of Coronation Street.
Nor was Timothy exceptional. If Tony McPhillips had been a republican back in the 1970s, he would have remembered the role of one John Stephenson, an Englishman who was better known to his revolutionary colleagues as Seán MacStiofán, chief of staff of the IRA.
Indeed, Irish revolutionary history repeatedly throws up the names of English-born people who have played an active role in the cause of Ireland: Rose Dugdale, Erskine Childers, and Roger Casement, to name just a few of the better known and, of course, in recent years there was young Diarmuid O'Neill. There were a fair few Scottish-born rebels also, the most prominent of whom was James Connolly: in addition to his background in Edinburgh, Connolly had been a member of the British Army (as had Seán MacStiofán before his conversion to Irish republicanism). Enough said?
When he failed to get an SDLP nomination, Tony McPhillips experienced a road-to-Damascus conversion to Sinn Féin. And when he failed in his ambition to be selected a republican candidate, he took the first opportunity to leave. The issue upon which he and some other Fermanagh Sinn Féin members left was on the removal of the abstentionist ban on taking seats in an Irish parliament. This was a bit rich coming from people who fought Westminster elections on a non-abstentionist basis, whether as members of the SDLP (as in Tony McPhillips' case) or as supporters of Frank Maguire (in the case of the others).
Since then, I and others have watched in amazement as Tony McPhillips has tried to carve out a political career on the back of a struggle to which he was a late convert. And his new-found friends amongst the dissenting `republicans' can be quite sure that in the unfortunate event that there ever is a return to conflict, the same Tony McPhillips (for all his militarist rhetoric) will not be found lying at the end of a command wire, no more than he was before.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Councillor Hugget and I earnestly hope that the sense of political maturity displayed by the electors of Erne West is reflected on the next occasion by the people of Erne East and that they remove this pseudo-republican from his bigoted soap-box.
Clones Urban District Council
Chechnya and Ireland
A representative of the Russian government, dubbed by the Russian press as ``Russia's answer to Jamie Shea'', has told foreign journalists of the connection that exists in the mind of the Russian authorities between Ireland and Chechnya.
``Unfortunately, Aslan Maskhadov [the Chechen President] has failed to become a Russian Gerry Adam,'' he said.
What he meant was that the British can trust Gerry Adams and the Russians can't trust Maskhadov.
There is, of course, a direct connection between Ireland and Chechnya. These are both two brave and proud nations who have fought over the centuries for a real independence from the major colonial powers. But that's exactly the link that both the Russian and the British authorities do not like to see! The Russians - because they are still denying being a colonial power, even in the past, never mind the present. The British - because they are dreading that the world might see the parallels between their ``civilised'' approach to the North of Ireland and the Russian barbarities in Chechnya - exactly something that the Russian side insists on while trying to justify their actions!
Aslan Maskhadov doesn't have to become ``Russian Gerry Adams'', but I believe it is time to express more solidarity with the Chechens from the Irish republican side, especially at this time, when the world is hearing less and less about what is going on in Chechnya and is apparently losing interest.
Meanwhile, the very existence of the Chechen people is under increasing treat, and the war is going on and will go on for a very long time.
Russian President Putin has just recently taken over direct rule over Chechnya. The republic of Chechnya is now under direct Russian presidential rule. There is no need to explain to Irish republicans what that means in practice.
Hello, is there anybody out there?
With executive approval in an attempt to turn IRA guns against Protestants to divert the IRA from its primary function of removing the British presence from Ireland, British soldiers, armed, trained and paid men and women of dubious character to murder defenceless Catholics and wreak havoc in their `own' communities.
In a lot of cases, the British establishment used terror, intimidation, threats, fear of prison, the lure of money and basically preyed on the criminal elements within society to achieve their goal - the defeat of republicanism. In the main, the IRA refused to be drawn into this war of British design and for the most part steadfastly followed their basic principles that have been laid down since 1916.
The principles of the British (not only her army), also steadfastly adhered to by its army and from a long time before 1916, were graphically shown to us in Peter Taylor's `Brits' on BBC over these last few weeks. There can be absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind now as to the ferocity, immorality and the official involvement of sanctioned British Army operations against the nationalist population in the North of Ireland.
Unfortunately, when you consider the lack of response from the local and international news gatherers, the various human rights agencies, the churches and the vast majority of elected representatives both here in Ireland and `across the water', it look like in the Brits' `Dirty little war', they got away with murder.