Danny Morrison‘s latest book Rebel Columns is a compendium of his journalism, written for a range of newspapers, including the Guardian, the Irish Examiner, and the Andersonstown News.It’s reminiscent of other press gleanings like those of David McKittrick and Eammon Maillie, except that Morrison makes no pretense that his work is objective. He is unabashed in his role of political columnist. It provides a useful insight into the last six or seven years, as seen from a mainstream Republican point of view.
His account of the signing of the Belfast Agreement – witnessed from the outside in company of the world’s press corps – betrays a passion of the business of journalism and a decent eye for drama. His view of his opponents at the time – “Unionism in change is dynamic: Unionism is interesting”.
I flicked imaptiently to the section marked Unionism Misunderstood – Some Clarifications. From the reading there, it’s clear that however close senior Republicans and Unionists felt to on that morning of April 11th, it didn’t last! Ian Paisley, Garvaghey Road and Holy Cross primary school all enter the story and the pitch is queered.
The section on the 11th September disaster and its aftermath, teases out an sometimes nuanced criticism of US foreign policy. His obituaries run from the first Blanket protester to Spike Milligan. Overall Morrison is most engaging when he is freest in his storytellling. My own favourite is 145 Divis Street.
Another book from the same publishing house well worth having is Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s account of the rise of Sinn Fein in Belfast City Council throughout the 1980s and 90s, Belfast’s Dome of Delight: City Hall Politics 1981-2000.