Shut your mouth, or get out…

The Broom picks up something from the Irish News that seems so far to have had little impact in the wider media. Belfast playwright, Gary Mitchell, has had to leave his home after being threatened by Loyalist paramilitaries. As she points out, freedom of speech in Northern Ireland has come at a terrible cost for quite few people in the past, and continues to be a problem for some more outspoken members of the mainstream media. Adds: Here’s Susan McKay’s take.

  • fair_deal

    On a point of accuracy The Broom of Anger and the writers letter yesterday have got this story wrong. The ongoing intimidation of the Mitchell family is nothing to do with Gary’s plays.

  • Harry Flashman

    As far as we know an anonymous group of thugs attacked the home of a young family, if you have any further information Fair Deal we’d love to hear it, as well as how exactly you know what the motives of a bunch of wee gobsh!tes atacking a home in the dead of night exactly are.

    Care to enlighten us?

  • Oh, well, that’s alright then, carry on, go ahead and put the man and his family out, and his parents, too, while you’re at it.

  • Jo

    There was a discussion about this last evening on RU. Susan McKay, a woman frequently attacked here as “a self-loathing Prod” condemned the attack commenting on the irony that so much more now is known about Loyalism because of the Gary’s insights and work.

    An example of the ignorant preferring the rest of us to stay that way and acting against their own best interest?

    Those who verbally attack people like Susan McKay should be well aware of the potential and actual links between such attacks and physical assault – there are plenty of examples littering our history.

  • fair_deal

    Flashman et al

    1. If you will all get off your high horse about it I did not condone nor did I deny it was happening I simply stated the claim it was because of his plays was wrong.
    2. I heard about the intimidation of the Steve Nolan show yesterday morning and rang a political rep and a non-paramilitary community worker in the area to vent my spleen at them about it. They filled me in on what the motivation behind the attacks was and what had been done to get it stopped (unsuccessfully) and what support they had been giving the Mitchell family.

  • WTF

    Can you fill the rest of us in.

  • fair_deal

    Very little as one of the main factors involved is subjudice

  • Donnie

    You were able to find a non-paramilitary community worker?!

  • fair_deal


    We do exist.

  • ahh c’mon fair-deal
    “The ongoing intimidation of the Mitchell family is nothing to do with Gary’s plays.” and you give subjudice as a duck n dive.
    This is the god-damn problem in the first place, under-the-carpet-brushing.
    You’ve planted doubt, now you must back it up.
    Don’t add to it, please.

  • P Ring

    It makes sense that Gary Mitchel’s plays were not the catalyst behind the intimidation. I have seen 5 or 6 of his powerful dramas and they are mostly sophisticated, no holds barred, engrossing takes on militant Loyalism. And if I were to make any kind of negative point I would suggest that Mitchel’s portrayal of the UDA etc does not criticise them enough. The last one I saw, ‘Loyal Women’, at the Royal Court in London illustrated pretty much that he had exhausted the supply of material that is working class protestant subculture. I’m glad Gary is looking at other subject matter and am saddened that he and his family have had to go through this.He is a decent talented guy.

  • fair_deal

    Spirit level

    1. I would have thought I have a reasonable reputation of not putting spurious material on slugger.
    2. I have no desire to give thugs paramilitary cover.
    3. The reasons for the thugs’ campaign of violence are equally as mindless and corrupting to decent norms even though it isn’t about the plays.
    4. I have no desire for mick to be brought before a court.
    5. I would also point that the timeline doesn’t fit nor does the pattern of intimidation to substantiate the claim it is about the plays. The plays were mostly written years ago so why has the campaign started in the last six months? If it was about his plays why were other members of the Mitchell family targetted first?


    Could you confirm for spirit level that I have reasonable grounds not to state the cause?

  • Animus

    Fair_deal: put up or shut up. If you don’t want to share your proof, don’t offer it up as a reason if you expect anyone else to believe you. After all, it’s not like the paramilitaries to lie, is it?

    I wonder if it’s not the plays themselves, but the fact that Mitchell is “rising above his station.” He has been writing plays for years, but he hasn’t been particularly well-known for years. How does that fit the timeline?

  • Betty Boo

    What is subjudice? Neither my spell check nor thesaurus recognize it.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think some people have jumped to the conclusion that the intimidation was based on artistic difference between Mitchell and the people who have chased him from his home.

    I cannot say if that was in the mix, but it seems unlikely that that would have been the case. The other cases cited on The Broom are probably more pertaintent to the headline of the blog than the Mitchell story.

  • Mickhall

    Even Hitler did not come along and say im an intellectual cretin, burn the books. These type of thugs when they wish to force someone out don’t say to people, force this guy out he works for the BBC or heavens above writes plays. Mostly, being unimaginative chaps, they use the tried and trusted method, he is a tout or even better mugs old ladies pensions or gives drugs to kiddies at the school gate so they will become addicted and thus regular customers and finally if all else fails, he is a pedophile. This one always sends the wolfs to the door.

    Never forget in their warped minds, these thugs see themselves as the protectors and saviors of the community, so when forcing someone out they wish to be portrayed as doing it for the communities benefit, hence they come out with the above crap. If I have missed out something perhaps fair-deal can enlighten us.

    The important thing to remember is that Gary Mitchell’s family have been living there for 50 years, thus their neighbours know exactly what they have been up to down the years, good or bad.
    That none of them seems to have had any major gripe with the Mitchell’s prior to the current event makes one believe it originated in some thugs mind who wished to flex their muscles.

  • fair_deal

    Betty Boo

    Subjudice (spelling may be shaky) means a related matter is before the courts. Therefore, if the reason enters into the public domain it could be used to claim the case has been prejudiced. If you want to help some thug get off fine, I don’t.

    Animus and Mickhall

    My sources are non-paramilitary. The paramilitaries are denying they are involved but their members are.

    “He has been writing plays for years, but he hasn’t been particularly well-known for years. How does that fit the timeline?”

    Now you are trying to re-write history. He has been well-known in Rathcoole for his plays for years and one was adpted for television. His success has been a source of pride for many in Rathcoole especially when Gary had to overcome an anti-unionist attitude in the local arts establishment especially during his early career.

  • P Ring

    As far as I recall Gary Mitchell got his break outside Ireland because the literary manager of the National Theatre in London saw one of his plays in Dublin. He had been produced in Belfast before that, notably by Tinderbox theatre company. His later plays about Rathcoole and the UDA were lapped up by London critics and audiences because it was about things they knew nothing about. Truth is, plays about paramilitarism/troubles/sectarianism don’t get people out of their houses in Belfast. I wonder why? Mitchell’s big challenge now is to see if he can open up the vista and show that he can dramatise a bigger picture.

  • Betty Boo

    Thanks again, Fair Deal for helping out with information.
    Such incidents reflect very poorly on the community where they occur and there doesn’t seem to be any community without prejudices, without harming its own members, driving them out, even destroying them. I fail to grasp the reasons behind such small mindedness but it leaves all of us trapped and tortured.

  • James

    He believed “rogue” paramilitaries were involved and that the attacks were as a result of how he depicted loyalism and also because of a domestic event that had got out of hand. “I do know that there are petty jealousies and people want to settle, maybe, scores [ at] how they were depicted or how they feel loyalism is depicted, he said.

    “But I think this is more to do with a domestic situation that has gone very, very wrong, and this has escalated now to rogue paramilitaries threatening my whole family who are not involved in this in any shape or form.”

    That is the Mitchel quote carried in Gerry Moriarty’s article (subs) in the Irish Times that I sent to Mick on December 1.

    This is thus old, old news, a story about a muse that held a mirror up to your lives, a story nearly buried with George Best. Connect the dots…..