This piece is from a regular satirical feature in Fortnight magazine. It was delivered to Slugger Central suitably wrapped in a brown paper envelope.From the Diary of Lord Falls – a slightly revolutionary constitutionalist
Who would have thought that Dinny was a tout?
I still can hardly believe it. I mean, the man worked right beside me for decades. And I put such faith in him. He was a good man, but the Securocrats even got to him.
I mind the day he first suggested the ceasefire, way back in the late 1980s. Dinny and I sat up to the early hours, night after night, arguing it out.
Dinny, do you really think that Bobby Sands died for a sell-out like that?
He said, “See me, see Bobby. We were that close. You’ve no idea the trouble I had keeping him out of the SDLP.”
Dinny says that when Bobby had hardly a breath left in him, he clasped Dinny’s wrist in his bony hand and croaked his last quavering words from a parched throat. “Dinny”, he said, “Hume’ s right. You can’t eat a flag. It’s the people that is divided, not the territory.”
You’ve no idea the impact that image has had on me. Even still, it’s what keeps me going; Bobby and his deathbed conversion to constitutional nationalism and a negotiated settlement. And many times when I had doubts, and had trouble checking my rage against the Brits and the prods, it was Bobby’s last wish, shared only with Dinny, that calmed me. That’s why I miss Dinny so much.
I tried talking to Martin about it.
“Do you not to miss Dinny?” I said.
“Och, I know what it’s like”, he said. He slipped into a deep reflective silence I have seen on him before.
People don’t appreciate what a thoughtful man Martin is. He was thinking about Willie Carlin. Now, there is some that say that Willie was a treasonous wee bastard, but I think that anyone that Martin would have wanted so close to him must have had qualities that ordinary people couldn’t see. Willie was Martin’s Dinny.
“Do you ever hear from him?” I asked him.
“It’s just that he was so thoughtful and encouraging”, said Martin. “He wasn’t just one of the grunts.”
He told me that one day he and Willie had been walking along the shore at Buncrana and Willie had said to him: “Do you know, Martin, I can’t help thinking that John Hume’s got a point.”
“That was the kind of him”, said Martin. “He could empathise. Isn’t that the right word – empathise?”
Willie had said: “When you think of John Hume, standing on the bridge at Strasbourg and realising that we could find peace across borders the way the French and the Germans had, you’ve got to hand it to him. What insight!”
“It made no sense to me at first, Martin”, I said. “I mean, I always took Hume for a brit-loving sleevin, a lick spittle and a turncoat. But the more you thought about it …”
And that’s the bit I can’t understand. Without good men like Willie and Dinny, we would still be at war. Yet men that gave so much, have been turned against us.
It only goes to show you how devious and manipulative the securocrats can be.
“Give me a hug”, said Martin.
I could not refuse him. He’s all I now have, the only one who understands me. My rock. A rock of oak.
You can find a earlier episode from the diaries, here.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty