A step too far by McDowell?

Justice Feargus Flood, chairman of the Centre for Public Inquiry, has come out in support to the group’s executive director, Frank Connolly.

In an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that every citizen is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in a court of law (Audio file available at bottom of article).

The comments follow Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell’s admission that he supplied documents to the Irish Independent for their story on allegations that Frank Connolly had applied for a false passport.

Atlantic Philanthropies, founded by Irish-American billionaire Chuck Feeney, announced it was ceasing funding for the Centre for Public Inquiry following the revelation.

The opposition parties have been quick to condemn McDowell with Sinn Fein’s Justice Spokesman, Aengus O’Snodaigh TD, has called on the Minister to resign.

It’s all a far cry from 2003 when McDowell felt whistleblowers to the press should be slapped with a five-year jail term following a leak by a Garda when his son was assaulted.

At the time, the Star ran a campaign against the minister’s excesses, with a logo featuring a picture of a bespectacled McDowell in Islamic headdress, alongside the legend: “Mad Mullah McDowell . . . No to Police State.”

McDowell responded by labelling the paper as `the methane gas rising from the pond life of Irish journalism’.

Update from today’s Irish Times (Carol Coulter):

He also repeated his claim that he was defending the State against subversion, stating: “I will not be put in the position that as Minister for Justice I cannot fight subversion of the State.”

Asked how the Centre for Public Inquiry was a threat to democracy and the State, he replied: “I am not saying that. I am saying Mr Connolly himself has questions to answer.”

While stopping short of stating that Mr Connolly was a threat to the security of the State, the inference was clear.

This, and the statement at the weekend in which he said that a person’s constitutional right to fair procedure and due process took second place to the need to defend the State from subversion, raises very fundamental questions about individual rights, state power and the role of the minister for justice.

The publication of information gleaned from Garda files is only justified, under the Official Secrets Act, by a threat to the security of the State, which has now been invoked by the Minister.

But nowhere has he set out how and where the the security of the State is under threat from Mr Connolly….

Visiting areas in Colombia controlled by the FARC guerilla group may be regarded as suspicious, but is not one of the scheduled offences under the Offences Against the State Act; nor is it prohibited by any other statute. Associating with members of the republican movement is also not a crime.

It appears from McDowell’s statement that what constitutes a threat to the security of the State is the opinion of the current Minister for Justice that a specific person or act is such a threat, and that this opinion justifies the suspension of that person’s right to due process and his good name.

This may not withstand judicial scrutiny.”

, ,

  • Ringo


    How many would agree with the following statement?

    Using your powers as the minister for justice to attack your politcal opponents is a bigger threat to the integrity of Irish democracy than travelling abroad on a false passport?

    I wouldn’t. Since when do investigative journalists who work as chief executives of an independent think tanks constitute political opponents? Has he ever stood for election?

    Surely you are not suggesting that Frank Connolly is inextricably linked to McDowell’s well known political foes in SF and the wider provisional movement including the IRA? Because that would make a mockery of his self professed impartiality wouldn’t it?

    Bottom line is that there are those that have stood by this state through the decades and there are those that have sought to undermine it. Trying to portray republicans as defenders of the State would be very funny if it wasn’t so serious.

    Pat –

    Are you saying that Frank is innocent, but because he’s such a decent man he has deceided against skewering McDowell? Or are you content with stonewalling?

  • Betty Boo

    “Trying to portray republicans as defenders of the State would be very funny if it wasn’t so serious.”
    If I replace republicans with critics and defenders with those who want to better the system, i.e. the way the state is run, then I have exactly what happened in East Germany in 1989.
    To call critics subversive to subdue their efforts is more then serious. But this whole controversy looks to me like the convenient and reliable call of undermining the state to get rid of uncomfortable critics.

  • Richard Dowling

    PAUL, you’ve hit the nail on the head. One of the saddest
    sights from Colombia was a picture of those worshippers lying
    dead after another IRA-FARC cowardly assault with those new
    mortars. One picture also showed a native Indian, whose
    ancestors lived in South America for aeons before even the
    Spanisn conquistadores arrived all those years ago, lying dead
    in a Bogota Square, his shoddy footware turned towards the
    heavens, as if in hope or supplication.

  • Ringo

    Betty –

    Criticism is one thing – the destruction of the state as expressed in the IRA consitution is a completely different kettle of fish. I have no issue with anyone who criticises whose ultimate aim is to make the State stronger.

    Are you of the opinion that republicans are interested in seeing a longterm healthy and vibrant future for the Republic?

    Do you think that they are also interested in growing a healthy and stable state in the North that would be viable in the long term?

    If you answered yes to either of them, please explain how this fits in with their whole raison d’etre – the abolition of the Republic and NI and the creation of a UI.

    And what exactly are your grounds for comparing the Republic in 2005 with the DDR in 1985?

  • Betty Boo


    I don’t know enough about republican agendas or the IRA constitution, that’s the reason I didn’t use them and I will not make any presumption on this (lack of) basis.
    My grounds for the comparison: let me say it this way. It feels like home, every little bit of it and most certainly Mr. McDowell’s way of reasoning. I was more then once accused of it.

  • Lorenzo

    Northern Ireland’s problems are insignificant compared to Columbia’s and deciding who to oppose in Colombia based on them being friends or associates of your political enemies here is unwise.

    I would tend to agree and I certainly hold no candle for the Columbian regime. But the question is why did members of republican movement go there in such a secretive fashion? It is *they* who appear to have taken sides, in this case FARC’s. Whether it was because they felt themselves to be ideologically similar or just did it for the money is irrelevant.

    Put it this way, if a known arms dealer known for supplying certain types of weapons was found with a false passport coming back from a combat area where one side had recently started using his weapon of speciality, what conclusion would be made?

    Apologies if I offended you by calling you a supporter of Sinn Fein.

    FARC operation are funded by cocaine; they produce it themselves and/or tarriff those that do. That’s the ‘narco’ bit. Anyone who saw the aftermath of the church attack should be able to explain the ‘terrorist’ bit to you. Just because their opponents may also be odious and the situation there generally far from simple does not mean condemnation should not be made of those who have aided FARC.

  • spartacus


    such a sentimental soul you are; and with such sympathy for indigenous people in south america. but spare us the crocodile tears. you and paul, broadminded and widely read as the two of you are, are of course right that it was ASSERTED by all the usual suspects (trimble and donaldson prominently, to my memory) that farc has made use of ira technology, but what else do you expect them to say? more credible sources with no brief for republicans have treated this derisively: farc, with a massive and sophisticated arsenal at their disposal and more than ten thousand fighters under arms, have nothing to learn in technological terms from rm.

  • spartacus


    i didn’t say you offended me. i said that you exposed your narrrow-mindedness and the weakness of your own assumptions.

    i see you have ducked the narco-terrorist issue again. why not label ‘narco-terrorist’ the forces most heavily involved in the trade–us, colombian government, and right-wing paramilitaries: the very people who conspired to bring charges against the three? answer: because despite the ‘plague-on-both-your-houses angle you’ve now retreated to, you are essentially a defender of the status quo in colombia, and in ireland.

  • Richard Dowling

    It’s time to demolsh the sophistries of the Provos (and fellow
    travellers like Spurticus) as they desperately try to impose their
    materialistic, mythological narrative on society.

    The Colombia Three (including Mortar Monaghan) greatly
    enhanced the technical expertise of the FARC and earned over
    $5 million for their troubles. More than the so-called Centre for
    Public Inquiry (a very PRIVATE organisation) got from Chuck
    Feeney for their trouble — and ours.

  • spartacus

    recommend spell check for you richard. otherwise, though: ho hum.

    the problem you and yours face is that in order to ‘demolsh’ the arguments you wish to bury you will have to provide some evidence for your assertions (only $5m? why not $50m?).

    this you cannot do, and so the desperate resort to the collective smear, the ‘fellow-traveller’ shite, the infantile misspellings, all of it. and on a government level, of course, it means colombian death squads, serial attempts at coup in venezuela, guantanamo, rendition, etc.

    commiserations, poor tortured soul. i wouldn’t want to carry that burden around either.

  • Lorenzo

    i see you have ducked the narco-terrorist issue again. why not label ‘narco-terrorist’ the forces most heavily involved in the trade–

    Because I wasn’t talking about the Columbian military because they weren’t the ones being visited by (the) Connolly(s), Monaghan, et al, FARC were. You said the term narco-terrorist was bogus and hypocritical, I explained why it apt. You may well prefer the more romantic terms of freedom fighter, rebel guerrilla or even insurgents for them but none of those terms capture that a) the EU officially classes them as terrorists and b) they largely finance themselves through drug trafficking (as well as extortion and kidnapping).

    Faced with this, does a rational person a) side with FARC b) side with the Columbian military or c) stay the hell away from both? I chose c). The Columbian visitors chose a) for reasons that were never explained. What do you choose Sparticus?

    As for status-quo here, well it’s not perfect but I certainly prefer it to a 32 county marxist socialist republic with Aengus O’Snodaigh as Minister for Justice. [shudder]

  • Paul

    Spartacus, “Jane’s Weekly” published a report, month’s before the Columbia 3 furore erupted, about the near identical makeup of the FARC mortars had started using and PIRA models, specifically about the timer – previously unique to the PIRA. The report noted that Columbian + US military intelligence had concluded that the technology had been sold to FARC by the PIRA, there was no other plausible explanation.I don’t think David Trimble wrote the piece and I am not aware of any Columbian interest in scuppering the peace process. A few weeks later the Columbian 3 (including two known bomb makers) were apprehended as they returned from their bird watching trip on false passports. Get real.

  • Shay Begorrah

    Oh dear.

    The Colombia three may have done something morally wrong but they were acquited without any evidence of unfairness before being reconvicted in a secret and universally derided second trial under heavy government pressure from within Colombia aand possibly from abroad.

    It is flat out absurd to suggest that they were sharing sophisticated IRA technology with backwards South Americans. To say this you either have to be a fool or think everyone else is. (It seems more likely to me that the three could have been involved in passing on tactics for negotiating a ceasefire than giving hints on the best churches to shell.)

    Finally not only are FARC not narco terrorists, they are not terrorists – they are one side in a vicious and long running civil war.

    You might as well describe the Colombian administration as narco-fascists and claim that the support they received from the UK and Irish security establishment against the three makes us all complicit with AUC death squads.

  • Shay Begorrah

    Firstly Paul I forgive you for getting this one wrong, read on the end to see why.

    You can actually read the forensic testimony about the very marked lack of similarity between the FARC’s sophisticated mortars and the IRA’s very crude ones which led to the case against the three being dismissed.


    I might add that the Internet is astonishingly full of articles quoting various “intellignece sources” claiming that the IRA were involved in an international technology smuggling operation with FARC so it is not easy to locate information on the trial in a sea of US propaganda about the international web of terror that justifies pretty much anything they want to do.

    Interestingly there is a news snippet in the Guardian today about the Pentagon’s three hundred million dollar budget for planting unattributed “news” stories in various news sources. I wonder what the black budget figure is and how much effort they spend on the web?

    Now who were those useful idiots again?

  • Lorenzo

    Finally not only are FARC not narco terrorists, they are not terrorists – they are one side in a vicious and long running civil war.
    .. who use terror tactics and are funded by drug trafficking, hence the term. Yes the other side may well do so as well, but why take sides in this conflict? Fraternal solidarity?

    It seems more likely to me that the three could have been involved in passing on tactics for negotiating a ceasefire
    Were any of them involved with the Sinn Fein negotiating team in any significant capacity? Or were there skills more of a, um, practical variety?

    It is entertaining watching people twisting themselves into ridiculous shapes to try to reconcile impossibly competing facts. Entertaining but a little saddening too.

  • Mickhall

    FARC operation are funded by cocaine; they produce it themselves and/or tarriff those that do. That’s the ‘narco’ bit. Anyone who saw the aftermath of the church attack should be able to explain the ‘terrorist’ bit to you.

    posted by lorenzo,

    On a point of interest, do you consider the US armed forces who bombed Bagdad main market or the Najaf Mosque to be Terrorists.

    Mr Dowling,

    I have no idea where Mr Connolly was during the disputed period, nor whether republicans were paid a large sum of money by FARC for advice over armaments technology. Yet you do, without having seen any documents in either case, simply having read certain stories in the media, which you have decided to take at face value.

    We all do this at times, as we all make subjective decisions when reading the papers. But you seem to have taken this a step further and propagated it as if you are certain that the Provos received millions and Frank Connolly was there bagman, without I might add providing one iota of evidence.

    You may well feel I’m mad to express an opinion on what is happening in Columbia, that is your right I suppose, but it is hardly compensation for your failure to offer any arguments against what I wrote. In return, I would just ask you what support you have given the victims of violence and oppression in Columbia, besides shedding tears when watching the likes of Fox TV newscasts.

    Incidentally, I would not criticize any non Columbian national who values her/his health and is a known opponent of the US satrap who currently rules that vibrant but currently sad land, if they decide to travel there incognito. Having said this im not implying Mr Connolly did so, as he has been clear about never having been to Columbia.

    Happy Christmas

  • Baluba

    Mc Dowell’s a disgrace, always was. If Bertie had any cohones he’d P45 the @$*” tonight.

    Then again, Bertie’s a tool too.

  • TnnaG

    In a US Senate debate on 30th June 1999 the senators were told The [Colombian] insurgents [FARC et al] have their own armament capabilities and are manufacturing high-quality improvised mortars If high quality improvised mortars were already being used by the insurgents prior to 1999, why did they need a visit from “experts” whose technology was at least 4 years out of date by then? And how does this square with the May 2002 request by the US based Human Rights Watch charity to FARC that they stop using gas-cylinder-bombs as they were impossible to aim with accuracy and were thus violating international humanitarian law by causing avoidable civilian casualties. A repeat of a request they made in July 2001, before the arrest of the three “holidaymakers” whose presence in the region doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the use of these weapons. Hardly worth $5m. And hardly providing the kind of smoking gun evidence proving their involvement as alledgedly quoted in a Janes’ Defence publication.

  • Shay Begorrah

    Lorenzo on so called narco terrorists:

    “.. who use terror tactics and are funded by drug trafficking, hence the term.”

    Firstly blowing civilians up to further your military aims as a tactic extends sligthly beyond terrorists. (Did the twentieth century pass you by?)

    Secondly FARC have a large standing army and control (and effectively govern) parts of Colombia. They just aint terrorists.

    Thirdly the Columbian military themselves came up with the term “narco guerillas” in the mid nineties to garner US support. The move to the phrase “narco terrorists” came a few years later as a result of PR market research in the US to justify the miltary component of Plan Colombia.

    As for my (admitedly wild) guess about the Columbia three bringing political rather than military expertise to FARC it has the virtue that, unlike the antique mortar theory, it is not contradicted by all of the available facts.

  • Richard Dowling

    The Provisional IRA denied that Niall Connolly was their ‘man’
    in Havana, until the Cuban authorities outed him. They denied
    that their members had killed Garda Jerry McCabe in Limerick
    until they were exposed there too. They denied the killing of
    Robert McCartney, the subsequent cover-up, the destruction
    of forensic evidence, etc. It doesn’t take a genius to know that
    two convicted Provisional bombers (including Martin McCauley
    and Jim Mortar Monaghan) were not eco-tourists in Colombia,
    but had plausibly sinister motives in being there on false

    Of course, I have no way of knowing if they made 2 million or 5
    million pounds sterling, or whether they were just interested in
    helping to kill people for ideological reasons like in the good
    old days, eh? But, you’d need to be an imbecile to believe the
    Provos take on events — in other others, to swallow the
    Provisional narrative which is (and always has been) self
    serving, ideologically corrupt and, FRANKLY, unbelievable.

    And if you buy a copy of the Irish Times today, you might see
    how a decent journalist like Kevin Myers tackles the problem.

    Have a very Happy New Year, Mick.

  • Joemomma

    “And if you buy a copy of the Irish Times today, you might see how a decent journalist like Kevin Myers tackles the problem.”

    Kevin Myers is not a decent journalist, he is rather a talented polemicist, and his piece today was an example of how ideological prejudice can prevent a writer from dealing fairly with an issue.

    Myer’s main point was a rehash of everyone’s favourite logical fallacy, “you’re either with us or against us”, i.e. if you don’t fully support McDowell you are obviously an apologist for Connolly and his republican friends.

    Everything else in the article has been said before and said better, by Vincent Browne in last week’s Village for one.

  • Betty Boo

    “narrative which is (and always has been) self
    serving, ideologically corrupt and, FRANKLY, unbelievable”
    sounds to me like every political party I ever came across. And they usually form governments.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It is impossible not to feel a certain amount of admiration of how right wing extremists come on to sites like this and lie their little heads off and pass it off as fact. Repeating the lie seems to be the order of the day. But their attempt to brow beat people into toeing their line is doomed to failure.
    Thankfully there are still those prepared to stand by due process, especially when that process is undermined self serving gob artists.

    Firstly, in an open court and under the gaze of the media and independent legal opinion the case put before the court in Bogota was destroyed to such an extent that the men were found not guilty.

    A major British forensic scientist, who had dealt IRA devices before, dismissed the similarities between the IRA devices and those in use by the FARC.
    So we are asked to compare the experience of this eminent scientist with the bar room experts on Slugger, um I wonder who will carry the day?

    The guilt of the men was offered up in camera, given that the Colombia government has a penchant for leaving thousands of it’s opponents; labour activists; lawyers and journalists murdered such a verdict was predictable.

    So those extremists on this site are natural allies of the death squads of Colombia who are themselves major narcotics suppliers. Yip these people sure are consistent.

  • Richard Dowling

    Connolly, McCauley, Wilson, McConville, Monaghan, etc… no
    takers anyone? No plausible explanations? Just smear the
    messenger, I guess. Your problem, though, which seems to be
    going over your heads, is that you are going to need to win the
    votes of people like me (and another sizeable chunk of the
    electorate) here in the South. Insults won’t do it. Bully boy
    tactics leaves us cold. And any friendly persuasion is hugely
    overshadowed by the vivious and abusive campaign of lies,
    manipulation and murder carried out by so called Republicans
    in the North.

    The veil is slowly being drawn away. And people just don’t like
    what they see. Remember, that even when Gerry Adams star
    was shining bright in this country, Sinn Fein could manage only
    9% of the vote. And now that his credibility (and yours) is in
    tatters, what odds on the crackerjack Provos EVER getting into

    But I see you are are in a hurry to get to on to a new page.
    Good night, guys and gals.

  • Henry94


    Sinn Fein don’t really need the votes of people like you. No offence but it is not necessary to win all the votes. A party with 20% of the vote could be the second biggest party if the two main parties continue to lose support. Sinn Fein are on 10% now according to most polls and I would say the party is capable of building on that in the coming years. Of course the party will need to change but no party I’m aware of is better able to handle change.

    Coalition governments of one sort or another are inevitable. Sinn Fein will be involved sooner or later.

    What will be interesting in the next election is to se how effective the anti-Sinn Fein campaign has been for those involved. McDowell will hold his seat but FGs Hayes in Tallaght and the PDs Minihan in Cork South Central have become the poster boys of the Sindo/Reform movement.

    Their fortunes will tell a lot about how much real political effect all the anti-Sinn Fein noise has had.

  • Mickhall


    Im sure many of the comrades who support SF would be only to willing to debate with you, however this thread is not about the inadequacies and criminality, real or imagined of Sinn Fein, but of Michael McDowell TD. I understand your wish to take the pressure off your man, but you cannot really expect us to help you, now can you.



  • Lorenzo

    Pat did say:

    So those extremists on this site are natural allies of the death squads of Colombia

    Hmm, lets see if I can follow Pat’s logic here.
    Those on this site who think McDowell was right to expose Frank Connolly’s (alleged) trip to Columbia are, obviously, rightwing fellow-traveller extremists.
    The Republican’s movement favour the FARC side of the Columbian bitter civil war.
    The rightwing fellow traveller extremist followers of McDowell obviously oppose the republican movement.
    Therefore they must be against FARC.
    Why, therefore they MUST be FOR the Columbian military, who, significantly, are also rightwing extremists. It all make senses when you think about it.
    Come to think of it, the Americans also support the Columbian military. The very same Americans daily bombing orphanages and mosques in Iraq! And they too are rightwing! I really think I’m on to something here.

    Did I miss any part of Pat’s vast leaps of imagination?

    It is probably p*ssing in the wind but even so I’ll point it out anyway.
    There is no criminal case with Frank Connolly. The DPP has decided he is not to be charged with anything. No trial or prison time awaits him. Due process in regard to any travels he may or may have not made has come to an end.

    There is however the possibility of a civil case not to be taken against Connolly but to be taken BY him. His reputation has taken something of a bashing because of what has been said. But if what was said was untrue and unfairly damaged his reputation he can sue for libel and get lots and lots of money. Sure he can’t sue McDowell but he can sue Independent Newspapers. If they lost, McDowell should and would have to resign.

    I know it is confusing for some of you when there is a switch from the criminal world to the civil world but you must realise that different rules apply.

  • Richard Dowling

    No offence taken, Henry.

    You’re right in many ways. The PDs have six seats with 4% of
    the vote. But it’s very concentrated in certain constituencies.
    Besides, their vote transfers very easily because it is not
    ideologically driven and not seen as a threat, in theory at least.

    Sinn Feins core vote may indeed hold up, but it transfers very
    badly. And even when it targets a seat, it would usually be
    fighting for the same scraps as Fianna Fail, many of whose
    members (in the marginals, at least) are very nervous of any
    party’s encroachment on their hallowed Republican turf.

    Besides, the Government can afford another very
    generous budget before election day rolls round. But, you can
    bet your bottom dollar that Labour (under Pat Rabbitte) and
    Fine Gael (under Enda Kenny) will be giving a good account of
    themselves right across the land. And that’s not something that
    can be said of Sinn Fein. The vast majority of voters, from
    every colour of the spectrum, just don’t trust the political wing
    of the Provisional movement. And who could blame them?

  • Henry94


    Is that how you are calling it or how you are hoping it goes?

    I don’t think anti-Sinn Fein feeling is as widespread as you believe.

    By the next election the party will already be in government. In the north. That will change perceptions in the south.

  • Richard Dowling

    When a man like Kevin Myers asks us to read a passage from
    Lost Lives every day, do you still imagine him to be just a
    polemicist or a sophist?

    Or rather, having waded your way through David McKittricks
    classic on the Northern troubles, would you not be inclined to
    wonder why so many hundreds of innocent people died, for no
    other reason than to satisfy the political ambitions of spiritually
    psychotic men (in both Republicanism and Loyalism)?

    So who exactly is the enemy here? One thing’s for sure: it isn’t
    Kevin Myers and it isn’t Michael McDowell. And despite all the
    might of the British Empire, and the reputation of the old RUC,
    despite the evil bastards in the Loyalist gangs and the murders
    by other Crown Forces, Republicans (led by the Provisional
    IRA) killed more than any of them.Killed more than ALL of them
    combined. And you wonder why we are sceptical of the
    Colombia Three and the Connolly connection?

    Bird watchers indeed. What do they take us for?

  • Henry94


    It is my firm belief that when future generation of historians look at the troubles the people you mention will not come well out of it. McDowell and Myers that it.

    They represent the partitionist mentality in the south which found the easiest way to deal with the situation was to join the British in defining it as a security issue and blaming republicans.

    When the great Albert Reynolds abandoned that policy everything became possible. It could have all happened so much sooner.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    I was unaware that an American motion picture company was involved in a bitter civil war. BTW scarcasm works much better when you get it right.

    Better luck next time.

  • Paul

    Jeez, Pat, a misplaced vowel, is that the best you can do?

  • joemomma

    “When a man like Kevin Myers asks us to read a passage from Lost Lives every day, do you still imagine him to be just a polemicist or a sophist?”

    Um, yes, that sounds like a classic polemical trope to me. It certainly isn’t journalism. The people who wrote Lost Lives are the journalists, Myers is simply piggy-backing on their work to make a polemical point. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against polemic, but being able to write entertainly in this mode doesn’t qualify you as a “decent journalist”.

    “And you wonder why we are sceptical of the Colombia Three and the Connolly connection? Bird watchers indeed. What do they take us for?”

    Assuming your post is in reply to mine (and it certainly started out that way) you appear to have completely lost the plot here. Perhaps the black-and-white world view you share with Myers doesn’t allow for the existence of people like myself who don’t support or believe Connolly and yet remain outraged by McDowell’s actions.

    I suspect you didn’t read the Vincent Browne editorial I linked.

  • Ringo

    By the next election the party will already be in government. In the north. That will change perceptions in the south.

    I wouldn’t overplay the significance of SF entering an administration in the north. There isn’t a whole lot of extra milage to be got out of photocalls in Stormont and stately handshakes. I’d be interested to know how many people in the Republic actually know that the Assembly is suspended.

    I think that southern perceptions are influenced by a greater degree by how SF comes across in the south. What is interesting about this is that your average SF councillor appears to be little different from the rest. And rather than being punished for this, I think they will be rewarded. I don’t think people want a ‘radical’ alternative, and it would appear that the SF councillors are giving them what they want, rather than trying to change the status quo.

    As for the future historians – there is simply no way that a future society with less tolerance of the barbarism that punctuated the troubles is going to look favourably on any of the main actors – and that excludes the Republic. I think it will be similar to the way the WWI in particular is seen as a completely senseless waste of lives.

    And when they do their revisions, the likes of McDowell and Myers won’t even be footnotes. The so-called partitionist stance taken by the Republic is much more likely to be viewed with the same sort of widespread acceptance as Dev’s neutrality in the emergency. At the moment only SF supporters don’t accept this, and I think that given time they will; grudgingly.

    As for Albert and his magic wand making everything possible? That is a bit simplistic isn’t it?