The British Press and Northern Ireland
Date:1971
Organisation: Northern Ireland Socialist Research Centre
Author:Eamonn McCann
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

24th February 2014

This document was published in 1971 by the Northern Ireland Socialist Research Centre, of which there is on information available, although presumably it was connected closely with the Socialist Workers Movement founded that same year.

It covers a range of issues concerning the British Press and Northern Ireland from “The Press & the IRA”, “The Press and the British Army” and “The Lie Machine”.

Its contents is wide-ranging, engaging with a variety of examples of what it considers to be breaches in journalistic standards in the British Press, but the Introduction gives an impression of the contents:

British newspapers are wont to congratulate themselves on their high journalistic standards. The British people are encouraged to believe that their press is the best in the world. Phrases such as the ‘guardians of liberty’ have been known not to stick in the throats of leader-writers.

During the past three years while editors and higher executives have whiled away the time in contemplation of their own ethical purity, the job went on of managing and mangling the news from Northern Ireland. Most British people have a distorted view of what is happening in NI. This is because they believe what they read.

There have been honourable exceptions. But examination of reports reveals a clear pattern of distortion. The news has systematically been presented, consciously or not, so as to justify the assumptions and prejudices of British establishment and to serve the immediate political needs of British governments.

It notes that the press was ‘generally favourable’ to the Civil Rights Movement. ‘Editorially ever paper backed O’Neill, who was portrayed as a ‘cautious crusader’. There was little or none of the cruder distortion which was to come later’.

And it agues that:

The real, sustained and systematic distortion began when British soldiers came onto the streets, and by the middle of 1970 when the troops were in almost constant conflict with Catholic working-class neighborhoods most papers had in effect stopped carrying the news. They were vehicles for propaganda. Some incidents were ignored. Others were invented. Half-truths were presented as hard fact.

Interestingly it does not distinguish between what it terms ‘different wings’ of the IRA.

In the Postscript it argues that:

A free press would be one disentangled from the whole system of private ownership. Recently some journalists… have become disenchanted with the manipulation of news…no longer content merely to feed their unused stories to Private Eye, they now seek to remedy this situation by demanding a ‘democratic’ press. By this they mean some form of ‘journalists’ control’, the right of journalists to sit on company boards or to have a say in formulating editorial policy.

This is trendy nonsense. As shown above, the newspaper industry is an integral and necessary part of the capitalist system. It cannot be detached form it and its problems dealt with in isolation by some minor internal restructuring. The fight to free the press to tell the truth is the fight to end the system which needs to destroy truth.


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  • By: John Goodwillie Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:01:31

    There was certainly no formal connection between the Northern Ireland Socialist Research Centre and the Socialist Workers’ Movement. To the best of my memory the SRC was a small group of people who aimed to be independent of political parties.

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  • By: gracchus44 Mon, 24 Feb 2014 13:20:00

    If you want to hear the pure voice of fenian labourism from this period you can skip eamonn – he was trying to play catchup with hibernianism – instead read ‘ A House Divided’ by none other than the Home Secretary and later PM of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – James Callaghan. you’ll travel many’s the mile to find better fenians than this ex sailor , whose people came from Cork , or the ex soldier , Denis Healey , british army minister, whose father was from Carrick on Suir .

    let me give a few snippets:

    re catholic attitudes . p.2
    ‘They excluded themselves from any share in government and , in addition, they were deliberately excluded by the Ulster Unionist majority’.

    re catholic representations for British control of the RUC . p 19
    ‘Bernadette Devlin also asked me to put the RUC in the hands of senior British police officers’.

    re separatist or unionist approaches. p24/25
    ‘I had no confidence that if the Ulster Unionist Government were replaced British intervention in Irish affairs would make the situation better in the long run. These are quicksands for the British and I adhered steadfastly to the view that the people living in Ireland had come to terms with each other about the basis on which they were going to live together’.

    re Catholic / Protestant relationships p. 36
    ‘So neither side could give way for neither side had any confidence in the other. It was a tragic situation. Each was convinced that the other meant violence and that to give way would be a disaster’.

    re his reception in Catholic areas p. 71
    ‘Some of the newspapers reported that I was greeted as though I was a savior’.

    re a post prandial little chat he had with James Chichester Clark – Stormont PM p 97
    ‘ “Yes, what is more, James, I did not know when I came whether I would have to arrest you”. .. He (i.e JCC) did not say anything but puffed reflectively on his cigar and we turned to something else’.

    re Conservative party attitudes to Labour’s/ Callaghan’s handling of matters. p 108 – Quentin Hogg / Lord Hailsham ( Tory shadow Home Secretary speaking –
    ‘ “I am backing Callaghan for all I am worth,” he said adding, “Any Unionist who thinks he will get a better deal out of me than out of Jim (Callaghan) is an ass’

    *********
    The specific catholic disabilities that were encapsulated by the slogan ‘British rights / standards for British subjects’ were comprehensively redressed by James Callaghan and colleagues.
    The IRA (s) went onto the offensive against the British army / establishment NOT because they were hostile or unsympathetic. Far far from it. The British establishment was eating out of the hand of the catholic civil insurgency. The IRA went into offensive mode BECAUSE the British were so sympathetic. The IRA interpreted British sympathy for weakness and sought to press home their moral advantage to gain a decisive victory over the Orangemen WITH THE COOPERATION OF THE BRITISH STATE / ARMY. They remind me of the bullying truculent tinker at the door trying to push past what he considers a soft touch.

    There was no separatist or self reliant content in the IRA campaign. And they made an especially focussed effort to physically intimidate such labour organisation as existed out of existence.

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  • By: Ed Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:00:50

    In reply to gracchus44.

    “They remind me of the bullying truculent tinker at the door trying to push past what he considers a soft touch.”

    A nice bit of anti-Traveller racism there to give your rancid comment an extra bit of stink.

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  • By: BB Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:57:21

    In reply to Ed.

    + 1

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  • By: roddy Mon, 24 Feb 2014 16:43:41

    Don’t listen to the clown,i’ll bet he never set foot in the north in his life.

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  • By: shea Mon, 24 Feb 2014 18:53:22

    In reply to gracchus44.

    often the way. show the locals to much compassion and they wage a guerrilla war against you, don’t show them enough and they wage a guerrilla war against you. if only people could respect the monopoly of violence of certain powers then it would all be grand.

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  • By: gracchus44 Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:29:11

    Surely there is someone who wishes to defend the nationalist credentials of PSF ? i.e. to find fault with the substance of my piece ? I’m saying the ‘nationalism’ of Sinn Fein (post 1918) is a false flag; it is not engaged in separatist nation building; instead it is hibernian, catholic restorationist; it is uber violent and conservative and destructive of the labour cause.
    Equally I’m saying the ’empire loyalism’ of the orangemen is a false flag. It goes out the window unceremoniously when it conflicts with its communal interests at home. Take the orangemen out of the reckoning – and the ‘nationalism’ of the hibernian SF disappears. Take the hibernians out of the equation – and the unionist loyalism of the protestants vanishes (just as in deep presbyteria pre 1798)

    roddy
    Yes it is imperative to have experience of the north up close if you want to evaluate matters. But it is equally imperative to stand back and get an overall perspective. A complete life-long immersion in the north doesn’t necessarily give you wisdom ; it tends to give you half the truth and half the untruth.
    The north is divided into Catholica and Presbyteria – two mutually exclusive societies – opaque to each other, two virtual territories superimposed on the same physical territory. They do no see ‘eye to eye’, they look past each other, they do not engage, they regard each other with wariness and apprehension. It is wise therefore to examine things up close AND in the round.

    ed
    When pray did travellers and ex-travellers become a distinct ethnic group (i.e. a race) different to the rest of us? Who is saying that travellers are tinkers.? The itinerant tinmaking trade is long gone. I find more apt nominees for the proverbial appellation ‘tinker’ among the luminaries of politics , church and finance. But please, if you cannot or will not defend the SF indefensible, and will not attempt to refute the substance of my piece, please spare me the sanctimonious hit me now with the baby in my arms smokescreen.

    shea
    To counterpose the issue (as you seem to do) as a stark choice between an orange monopoly of force/ arms and an all out Al Qaeda – like blockbuster bombing offensive is obviously vacuous. There was the obvious expedient of an explicitly catholic defence force with a credible deterrent and defensive capability and outlook ; that had no political role or ambition ; that sought to return to ‘barracks’ as soon as it was no longer required.
    The IRA signally failed in any of this: they publicly flagged their unpreparedness, they were unready at the crucial time – generating a mass panic at a time of sustained civil insurgency. This mass panic developed into a counteroffensive that provoked and served to justify further persecution of the catholic population in an increasingly uncontrolled perpetual positive feedback loop.

    ***********
    Again I plead with my interlocutors to point out a flaw in my reasoning. Else, I have to conclude they are unable to do so and are reduced to being (not to coin a phrase) mere seagulls following the trawler.

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  • By: Ed Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:32:17

    In reply to gracchus44.

    “When pray did travellers and ex-travellers become a distinct ethnic group (i.e. a race) different to the rest of us? Who is saying that travellers are tinkers.? The itinerant tinmaking trade is long gone. I find more apt nominees for the proverbial appellation ‘tinker’ among the luminaries of politics , church and finance. But please, if you cannot or will not defend the SF indefensible, and will not attempt to refute the substance of my piece, please spare me the sanctimonious hit me now with the baby in my arms smokescreen.”

    Worthy of Ian O’Doherty at his sleaziest. I have no interest in engaging with your trash. Take a hike, please. And I’m being more polite than you deserve.

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  • By: roddy Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:36:35

    If advancing the labour cause means attacking welfare recipients and travellers,then you’re welcome to it. I’ll stick to the Connolly version.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 25 Feb 2014 18:33:52

    In reply to roddy.

    +1 roddy.

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  • By: gracchus44 Tue, 25 Feb 2014 20:00:31

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    Roddy
    Should that read the Connolly House version ?

    James Connolly is referring to the abolition of proletarianism – tilting the balance of power in favour of labour . That removes the necessity for Lady Bountiful welfare. – giving you back your own money. The conquest of Ireland created proletarianism and the division between catholic and protestant in the privatisation / appropriation of the commons – the land. restoring the commons to the public benefit creates the material basis for a united people / nation.
    there is no possibility whatever of the north ever getting a halfpenny from the south .Conditions north and south are much the same economic level. Therefore the north and south both have to be viable for national unity. Increasing exchequer transfers, for whatever purpose, from England are fine by me – and are very much Sinn Fein and Unionist policy. But they are increasing your dependence on england – they are steps towards greater union not steps towards independence. At the last election the figure of 78% was quoted as the part of NI national income coming from across the water .(Incidentally FF etc in the south 30s and 40s were highly indignant at what they called ‘the british subsidy for Stomont’ and deemed it an interference with Irish affairs). I say get all you can – so long as you don’t continue to claim that you are separatists. Or cause damage that must be of similar magnitude to the bank bailout . You will sometimes read of Sinn fein talking demogogically about James Fintan Lalor James Connolly Patrick Pearse – but you never see proposals and you never will. Sinn fein stands for catholic restoration (to themselves as much as possible) – not for commons restoration ;a secession of the conquest not the undoing of the conquest; they stand for poverty relief (paid by Britain) not the abolition of poverty.

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  • By: Jonas MacFarquhar Sat, 01 Mar 2014 15:52:47

    Marco Polo formalized the Sineurabia Code with Magog Kublai Khan a century after the Fourth Crusade partitioned Greece with Venice and Russia with Poland. Then imposter Polish clergy concocted the Uniate Eastern Rite. That is why there are Magog Muslim Lipka villages still in Poland. Marco Polo Korcula Croat family were part of Venice force occupying Byzantium. Poland persecuted Protestant Jan Amos Komensky of Torun and burned Leszno under the leadership of Jan Dziedzic banning Protestant Socinians in 1658. Polish laws of 1717 and 1733 barred Protestants from parliament, public office, higher military ranks, and free worship – including Evangelicals of Stanislawow, Calvinists of Wilno and Volhynia, and Lutherans of Silesia – justifying Partition of Poland. They ate glis glis yet blamed others for their pestilence. Polish Jesuit Felix Dzerzhinsky was the Bloodiest Bolshevik. Hitler was a Catholic Altar Boy. Hilter was protege of von Papen, Catholic who directed Armenian Genocide and Black Tom, NJ megaton WWI sabotage – which is why Churchill called them Magog Huns. Pogroms against Jews began with Warsaw decrees of 1570, 1580, and 1633 from tracts of Marcin Czechowic against Isaac of Troki. This is why worst Nazi camps were in the lands of the former Lithuanian-Polish Empire. Magog massacred Little Bighorn, Pearl Harbor and Boston Marathon. Crimean War against Photius Heresy avenged humiliation of Louis Napoleon uncle because Czar Alexander marched on Paris, demanding food Bystra. Do you remember Franco one hundred fifty thousand muslim Moors proclaiming Death to Intelligence? Or Hitler Mufti in Jerusalem and Bosnia spawning the PLO. Greece was neutralized during the Crimean and Cold Wars by P5 Sindona and Venice nobles masquerading as Greek Shipping Families who pay no tax because of Liberian Registry. Clinton embargoed photographs vindicating Serbia because Choochtown had his crotch files. Carolingian Brzezinski spawned Zia al Haq, Khomeini, and bin Laden and breaks up superpowers via Aztlan and Kosovo as per Joel Garreau Nine Nations. Schindler Unholy Terror shows 9/11 was Yugo Crimean Blow Back. Greece 2008 riots incited to stop Russian pipeline. Putin tax, gay and oil policies are almost like Sarah Palin. Putin did not violate constitutional term limits like Bloomberg. CNOOC was not allowed to buy Unocal just like Exxon and Chevron tried to buy Yukos. Hermitage Browder grandfather was FDR chief red. Cuomo environmentals even exterminating Tchaikovsky swans. Anyone who knows the cruel, vindictive ending of Vercingetorix, Spartacus and Carthage can only blame Rome for the death of the Messiah. Let them off to Argentina where Croat and Arab Nazis pork for lore enforcement, casuistry and pestilence instead of thinking!

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  • By: Bob Smiles Sat, 01 Mar 2014 17:45:53

    In reply to Jonas MacFarquhar.

    I sort of lost you there

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  • By: roddy Sat, 01 Mar 2014 20:45:25

    Don’t quite grasp the point myself either.

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  • By: Eamonncork Sun, 02 Mar 2014 10:57:55

    In reply to Bob Smiles.

    I prefer his columns about father’s rights and gay marriage myself.

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