“the well-behaved witness”

Fionnuala O’Connor, in today’s Irish Times [subs req], opens with a short paragraph which makes me wonder whether she thinks the “well-behaved witness” is also obliged to avoid asking ‘stupid’ questions?

New eras do not arrive fully formed. The first period obliges the well-behaved witness occasionally to widen eyes, lodge tongue firmly in upper cheek, whistle softly.

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  • Lazy

    I’m an italian guy,who has been falling in love with Eire and Irish People,history and culture since he was a child.My best ambition is living and working in Eire to obtain the Irish citizenship.Above all,I’m really interested in Northern Ireland’s situation,having always supported Sinn Féin.But I’ve read a notice that has dazed me:a co-operation between Sinn Féin and PSNI members,at Derry,to arrest IRPWA’s volunteers.I still can’t believe Sinn Féin members have done it.Please,write on this blog the explanations that Sinn Féin leadership has given to justify an apparently non-sense action.I’d be very grateful if you could answer me.Thank you and ecxuse me to have written about an other topic.

  • lazy I’m sure peteb will be able to help you out here. He is wise and prudent.

  • Lazy

    Peteb,could you answer me?However,I accept an answer by everyone…I have to know!

  • SuperSoupy


    The only reference made to this supposed incident and the very unusual claim of SF working with the PSNI to harass members of the IRPWA was released by the 32CSM.

    Most people in the Ireland would take 32CSM claims with a large pinch of salt.

    Unless you have heard this claim from another verifiable source I wouldn’t treat it as anything like an accurate presentation of facts.

  • SuperSoupy

    Here’s a possible explanation that the 32CSM wouldn’t give – maybe mainstream Republicans recognising dissident Republicans outside the Credit Union engaged in post electoral gloating or mockery over their abysmal performance at the elections. After that the police became involved in some petty harassment over what they would probably define as an illegal street collection.

    The 32CSM would then in their little screwy world link the two events and spin it into a joint SF/PSNI operation against IRPWA members.

    Just a thought.

  • Lazy

    Thanks so much to everyone who helped me.I’m glad to have found this blog.My ideas are nationalists.Could I write on this blog in further occasions?

  • I dare say your perspective from a unitary state with small separatist movements in various parts could cast an interesting light on some local questions – so long as you haven’t just picked a side, and swallowed some party’s propaganda more or less unquestioningly, like the rest of us 😉

  • Back to the article… is Finnoula saying something like everything is different now, even if most stuff hasn’t actually, er, completed the process of change? Or even started to change, in some cases?

    It’s hard to tell when you can’t read the article. Bah! Humbug!

  • Pete Baker


    Personally I’m not convinced that there’s any excuse for a journalist “to widen eyes, lodge tongue firmly in upper cheek, whistle softly.”

    But here’s the end of the article, where it appears to me that she’s saying “if the people aren’t worried, don’t worry them!”

    Yet to judge by the mood on the streets, on radio phone-ins and newspaper letters pages, the bulk of people in Northern Ireland are neither nauseated nor horrified that embattled ideologues have become willing collaborators. On the contrary. Many seem remarkably relaxed at the prospect of this unlikely administration, hopeful that against the odds old enemies may learn to work together.

    Few in the North may relish a governing combination of Paisleyites and erstwhile violent republicans. Most recognise that both those groups have moved on, as they were constantly urged to do. The two extreme parties wrecked all previous attempts at agreement between moderates, but both have begun to transform themselves. All four significant northern parties will share power, with checks and balances – arguably a more representative governing structure than elsewhere.

    Sinn Féin and the DUP were moved by the hands of history. Things may not have changed utterly but they are certainly in transit. Only those of ineradicable ill will or insuperable self-regard, surely, can find in that nothing but cause for complaint.

  • seanzmct

    Pete Baker: I am pleased that the Paisleyites and Provos have finally arrived back at the future that was Sunningdale, albeit via three decades of murder and mayhem.

    The people on the streets that I have encountered just want Stormont to work for the good of all and are giving the new dispensation the benefit of the doubt, secure in the knowledge that the safety net of direct rule is there if and when Sunningdale Mark 111 collapses.

    However, surely it is not “ineradicable illwill” to resist the sanctification of those most cognitively-challenged of dilatory political learners who now run the show.

    Also, surely it is not “insuperable self regard” to be fearful that a sectarian carve up of the north by the belatedly re-invented communal knuckle-draggers will ensue.

  • Pete Baker


    You appear to be under the misapprehension that I agree with the paragraphs quoted from the article.