Calling a shocking crime, a crime…

This Village editorial from last week’s issue is worth noting, if only for it’s forthrite condemnation of the murder of Jean McConville. It’s vintage Vincent Browne at his ‘let’s cut the crap’ best:

Amid the recent controversy over whether Jean McConville was or was not an “informer”, the central issue is obscured. A woman was murdered without trial or due process or justification by people who had no authority to administer justice of any kind. This was, and remains, a shocking crime and everyone associated with that crime – those who perpetrated it, those who ordered it, those who knew of it and remained silent, those who gave even a semblance of justification for it – are guilty of an enormous wrong. The argument about whether she informed the British army about IRA operations or affairs is an irrelevance. Even if she had informed – and even if she had informed on a regular, persistent and egregious basis – her murder was and is still an abomination.

  • harpo

    ‘Even if she had informed – and even if she had informed on a regular, persistent and egregious basis – her murder was and is still an abomination.’


    Unfortunatley, many folks who are cheerleaders for the Provos will argue with this clear statement. They don’t see anything wrong with killing her.

    Even beardy Gerry wouldn’t be drawn into answering that direct question – was her killing wrong? – so he’s obviously in the camp of those who think that it was OK. If he actually believed it was wrong, nothing prevented him from saying so.

    He preferred to avoid the issue of the actual killing, and instead stuck to the script that the only human rights violation involved was the disappearing of the body.

    And this man wants to be taken seriously as a man of peace and worthy of people’s votes? He’s firmly in the camp of not upsetting his constituency – the constituency that thinks that Jean McConville got what she deserved, and that her killing was OK. The man is morally bankrupt, and that assumes that he had a few morals on deposit at one time in his life.

  • na
  • Gum

    Is there much point in asking Adams at every press conference whether this murder was wrong? Is it not great that he know says there is no moral basis for republicans to use violence? Putting these questions to Adams or Ferris does not serve any useful purpose. The questioners like doing it because they know SF have difficulty answering them, not because there is anything to gain. If we are to ever make progress we are just going to have to let cases like Jean McConville and Jerry McCabe go, as ugly as it may seem.

  • Mick Fealty

    Saw that earlier, na. It’s a fascinating contrast of views within the same paper. To quote Berlin imperfectly:

    Men make values, they do not exist without us, and the values they choose may clash like tectonic plates. One may choose justice, another may choose equality or happiness, and so on. Berlin’s solution of conflict is trading off, say, a bit of justice for a bit of equality. But such a compromise may be impossible.

  • na

    Browne is a fascinating character and seems genuinely committed to free speech as the Village and these two articles demonstrate. I find it hard to believe FG targeted him as a potential candidate (especially after bugging his phones for years), Ó Murchú is interesting too and it’s welcome that English speakers now get to hear from him. Does anyone know if Eoin is still a communist?

  • harpo

    ‘With the possibility of establishing powersharing and mutual respect between political factions receding in the face of unionist obscurantism, do those who are rushing in to use the tragedy of Jean McConville to attack Adams even bother to think what their sordid hypocrisy could lead to?’


    Mutual respect through blaming the other side for any delays in what you think should happen?

    Please explain this to us.

    And where is there any sordid hypocricy in attacking Adams on this issue? The man won’t answer direct questions about the killing. How does that involve hypocricy? The only thing it involves is the lack of morals that this man has. He wants to be one of the political leaders of NI, yet he can’t answer a straight question about a killing?

  • na


    ‘Please explain this to us.’

    Was that rhetorical? Eoin Ó Murchú of RTÉ wrote it not me. I thought his reasoning was pretty clear but open to challenge, it seems his editor agrees and gave greater prominence to another view on the subject. That’s one of the reasons I think the Village is an excellent magazine, diversity and competing views – something I love in publications and rarely get in the MSM.

  • spice girl

    the point of asking this question is to remind us what planet Gerry and his buds live on!!! only a total nutter would come out with the crap he comes out with – not a crime!! what a joke and shame on anyone who sticks up for this hypocrisy!!!

  • harpo

    ‘Is there much point in asking Adams at every press conference whether this murder was wrong?’


    Yes there is. People would like to hear this political leader say that killing her was wrong. He won’t do this. Presumably because he thinks it was fine to kill her.

    ‘Is it not great that he know says there is no moral basis for republicans to use violence?’

    No, that isn’t great. In the past he has said that there was a moral basis for such violence, but now he has changed his mind. What if he changes his mind again, and suddenly the moral basis for the violence returns? That’s what worries people, especially when he won’t address questions about the past, such as the case of Jean McConville. This man wants to be a political leader, but can’t be honest about the past. And if he can’t be honest about the past, why do we think he is being honest now, in the present.

    Forgive me for this, but I’d rather consider someone like John Hume great – a man who never decided that there was some supposed moral basis for IR violence. The problem with a supposed moral basis for violence is that you can turn it on and off, depending on circumstances. Thus tomorrow Adams could change his tune again and say that the moral basis for IR violence has returned.

    ‘The questioners like doing it because they know SF have difficulty answering them, not because there is anything to gain.’

    There is something to gain. It’s seeing these psychos refuse to answer questions about issues of true morality. Decent people see them trying to avoid straight questions, and see them for what they are. PSF only have difficulty answering them because if they were honest they would have to say things like ‘Jean McConville was an informer and informers need to be shot’ or ‘policemen who guard money and end up being shot during a PIRA robbery deserve it’.

    PSF/PIRA people are moral vacuums. That’s why they have difficulty answering questions. They don’t want their true opinions to be displayed. And they don’t like being in the position of being asked for their true opinions, because they know it would upset decent people if they told the truth.

    So instead of answering straight questions, they prefer their fantasy world of oft-repeated cliches, where everything is explained away by stock phrases that give the impression that there was a war on, and that it was all about fighting for freedom. They don’t want details examined, and prefer to deal in generalities. Vague generalities that they know are untrue. So when they are challenged, that’s why they squirm. It would be contradictory to tell the truth, so they stick with the cliches and issue avoidance. And they look stupid as a result.

  • harpo

    ‘Was that rhetorical?’


    No – I was asking you to explain it.

    ‘Eoin Ó Murchú of RTÉ wrote it not me.’

    Yes – I understood that.

    ‘I thought his reasoning was pretty clear but open to challenge’

    I don’t see any reasoning, but the message is certainly clear.

    If you think the reasoning is clear, please explain it. And no, this is not rhetorical.

  • tom kelly

    This is classic Vincent Browne – a much admired champion of freedom of speech – he should ask Adams in person about Jean Mc Conville -after all he is a columnist. Vincent has great integrity lost in a mire of misguided integrity. He is not diminished by it – just more human – a quality he sometimes forgets in him and others.

  • Nic

    That Vincent Browne swings both ways should be clear to everyone by now.

    That he sometimes (by accident rather than design, unfortunatley) hits the right note is to be expected, and this is such a case.

    As unpalatable as it is, the much reviled Kevin Myers put it much more eloquently, and in tune and consistent with his previous diatribes, in an article in the Indo recently (unfortunately not available online).

    The main point in this argument that needs to be hammered home again and again is that the discussion about whether she “informed” or not bears no relevance to the fact that the IRA have no jurisdiction either in the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and some fictious justification on those grounds needs to be laughed out of court loudly and with conviction. Indeed, it behoves every patriotic Irishman to inform on the subversives in our midst so that we can be rid of them once and for all.

    Asking Gerry Adams time and time again to condemn the murder as such is the least we can expect from defenders of our freedom, and his evasion sends it’s own message to an otherwise unknowing public that may have voted for such a monster after a few pints of cider and Wolfe Tone ballads.

    Sadly, Bertie Ahern doesn’t do conviction on the Big Issues, and so simple straightforward hacks and half-drunk columnists have to take his draught of courage for him.

    Which leads to the startling conclusion that the much reviled fourth estate, and possibly the fifth estate of Blogdom is our only hope.

    A State, as the man said, of chassis.

  • Mick Fealty

    In some respects it could be said that the problem with the Village is there is not enough of Vincent’s own cussedness in the rest of the writing team.

    We are left with two entirely divergent accounts here. I may be wrong, but Browne’s piece appears to place O’Murchu firmly in the dock with the IRA. A clash of moral tectonic plates if ever there was one.

    On a slightly different tack, both the Spectator and the New Statesman have undergone revivals recently by tightening their focus on news rather than opinion.

    It makes for a tighter product and does something the niggardly management of the dailies often can’t afford. The Village could do worse than head down that route.

    It’s notable that the previously comment led Guardian is spending money beefing up its news content.

  • na


    I’m at a loss on understanding your post.

    On one hand you commend ‘cussedness’ then tout news over opinion as the way forward.

    Vincent doesn’t seem to place Eoin, or any of his contributors anywhere (certainly not in any dock with any IRA) you are the only one doing that. Vincent gives space to competing narratives and opinions.

    The Village is a political weekly, you may want it to be a newspaper, some of us like it as it is and don’t want singular view news driven partial narrative. (I am stunned you don’t get it)

    It’s an Irish weekly and it should not model itself on the Guardian in any way. (With or without comments)

    (I doubt Browne would share your view on Ó Murchú or Ó Murchú himself. He ain’t in the dock with the IRA and the use of the phrase ‘in the dock with’ when referring to a respected journalist that doesn’t stick to the anti-SF narrative says a good bit about you as a ‘journalist’ IMHO)

  • Mick Fealty

    na, it’s too late for me. But here’s a couple of things.

    Peter Preston’s take on the strength of the British weeklies yesterday (,,1826658,00.html).

    The Village is the best there is on the Irish market. It says a lot for Vincent’s tenacity, and determination and sheer journalistic instinct that it has driven through some rough patches.

    There are two aspects to the paper, the news end and the opinion end. IMHO, the introduction of John Waters has improved the variety, and Harry Browne generally finds an interesting line on the media.

    But the rest doesn’t particularly grab me. Although I readily concede that I’m not a great fan of pure opinion in general.

    Maybe my wording was a little colourful. But I was struck by the equal and opposite force of the word obscure in Vincent’s piece and Eoin’s choice of the word obscurantism.

    If not in the dock, then surely a clash of tectonic plates?

  • na


    You had Eoin in the dock. With who? The IRA? Browne?

    That’s your narrative.

    Browne doesn’t seem to work within those limitations and enforced narratives while retaining/stating his own views.

    I think you’ve demonstrated Ó Murchú’s point better than he did.

  • Skintown lad

    Harpo and Nic have explained brilliantly on this thread what I am frustrated in trying to express myself.

    It is important that Adams is asked these questions. Repeatedly and in the full glare of the world’s media. Let us see the man and what he stands for. The killing of Jean McConville goes to the heart of the whole matter. Here you have a man who talks about democratic mandate, travels the world being feted as a statesman and man of peace, but when questioned on the very subject, the very detail and public manifestation of democracy, he falls short. In fact he never stands in the first place. He resorts to mealy-mouthed excuses because he knows that the Jean McConville story is representative of the true horror of the republican terrorist campaign. He knows that that the campaign does not stand up to scrutiny in terms of behaviour, moral and democratic standards expected by the broad consensus of the world’s guardians of such principals. He knows that Jean McConville was dragged from her family and shot, and that the body was never returned. He knows that republicans had no right to do this, and that it cannot be justifed. He knows that this is just one story in a litany of similar horrors and to talk about them is just to remove his sheep’s clothing. It is just a shame that decent Catholics have been and continue to be so blinded. Let our representatives be truly representative. Let us know who, and what, we are voting for.