Black Watch – swearing like troopers

I was fortunate enough to get a couple of tickets to the National Theatre of Scotlands production of the multi award winning play  Black Watch.

The play, based on interviews with former and serving soldiers in the regiment during it’s two deployments to Iraq is a masterpiece of theatre and it’s easy to see why it has won so many awards (10+).

Clever staging and at times mesmorising and innovative choreography are used to great effect, reinforcing the idea of team work and regimentation throughout.  In one particular  scene where Ross Anderson as Rossco, tells a potted history of the Regiment, the actor is  changed into the various uniforms by the other cast members all the while reciting it’s history. It’s a breathtaking piece of acting, with the ensemble cast working in unison like a well oiled machine.

The writing does not shirk either and the realism of the writing appears to have upset the Culture Minister Nelson McCausland, who attended the opening night. The phrase swearing like a trooper was made for this play. The use of vernacular and the cadence of the Taysiders reminded me in parts of Begbie in Trainspotting (links to video and swearing). From start to finish there is a barrage of foul language which, after the initial shock of hearing soon fades into the background as you become accustomed to it, understanding it to be part of the everyday speech of the soldiers.

The play raises questions as to the after effects of war and like the film  Restrepo which i watched recently, leads me to think that former soldiers are being left to their own devices when it comes to treatment for the  psychological effects of war.

Aside from the Ministers (predictable) personal view of  profanity and swearing i find it curious that he should be mentioning (in the comments section) a legal case against Factotum brought by Belfast City Council.

Is he hinting at the possible censure of an organisation in receipt of funding from his department ?

Anyway i thoroughly enjoyed Black Watch which is as prescient now as it was when commissioned in 2005.

Perhaps there could be a similarly commissioned piece telling the story of the Royal Irish Rangers. The accents might not be the same but i’d hazard a guess that the story and language would be similar.

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  • Carson’s Cat

    I’d stick to taking piccies moochin….

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Moochin,

    Was there any political message regarding the Iraq invasion and perhaps of more local (Norn Iron) interest anything to back up the competing views of the army here best-in-the-world/bad-dogs-on-tour?

  • sam

    It is indeed sad we haven’t had a play produced which was sympathetic to plight of British soldiers serving in Northern Ireland during the troubles. It is all the more amazing considering the numerous ones we have had portraying the IRA terrorists as victims!

  • Thanks for that insightful comment Cc
    Sammy the background to the war was painted with fairly broad strokes, only really commenting on the second invasion of Iraq with the familiar ‘finishing what we started’ line.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Moochin,

    And what of the portrayal of the troops? Just doing their job or any illegal/unsavoury goings on?

    I suspect that those arriving will not be handing in their prejudices with their coats.

  • edgeoftheunion

    I went with Sheena on Thursday night and then to the discussion on Friday night. Nelson’s blog is wonderful. I’m not sure if it was part of the discussion or in a later conversation but someone remarked on the awesome ability of Sergeants to interpose swearwords between the syllables of a word, some of which was demonstrated in Black Watch. Somehow I think that observation is nearer the truth than Nelson’s blind eye.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I think Nelson McCausland is suffering from Tommy Atkins ism. He supports “our boys” but probably wouldnt want one of them calling round to his house to ask his daughter out.
    As I understand it Minister McCausland should just be pleased he didnt invent any swear words when he was inventing Ulster Scots.
    Yet curiously the Minister gave the play a standing ovation. Walking out did not seem to cross his mind.
    In general this kinda play is “soft focus”. No hard questions to be asked. A celebration, a feel good production for “us” whover “us” happens to be at the time.
    In fairness I shouldnt comment on this particular play but am reliant here on the “broad strokes” observation above.
    But reflecting on other stuff I have actually seen, the local “arts” community appears to be dumbing down and does not yet seem to have found a means of acknowledging “ordinary” people without being patronising.

    On the broader question of Funding. I am all for Funding of the Arts (as long as it a form of art of which I approve…….drama certainly) but its difficult to argue for Arts funding against a background of people losing more fundamental benefits. Subsidising the middle class should not take priority.
    But it seems to me that any Arts group reliant on public funding should have the decency to be grateful or at least the intelligence to appear grateful. Biting the hand that feeds you might not work in times of economic hardship and people normally sympathetic will be less so.
    Anyway artists are supposed to suffer and starve.

  • edgeoftheunion

    FJH
    All on Youtube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4cIV-e1wcU&feature=related

    If you can find the soft focus let me know.

  • Stephen

    Just to let you know, the actor and the character who did the historical scene, is wrong in your article. The actor is Jack Lowden and plays Cammy.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    “In general this kinda play is soft focus”…….was my point.
    The “Troubles according to my Da” Lynch rubbish, the new Belfast Celtic play, the Busby Babes one, Dan Gordons shipyard one, one on Bill Shankley, the musical on George Best………are among plays which attempt to bring ordinary people into the theatre by being relevant. A good thing.
    Too often they are patronising.

  • optimo

    Arts funding doesn’t extend only to artists… funding for the arts also includes very real jobs. Take for example the Black Box, funding cuts mean that that venue will struggle to stay open costing jobs to the people who work there.

    I understand the need for cuts – I don’t like the idea of money being thrown at artists willy nilly but that’s not the issue. As someone who works within the arts – I found Nelsons column (heh heh) alarming. Here is a man who is clearly so out of touch culturally that it begs the question, is there actually anyone in Government more unsuited to his role as he.

  • optimo

    Also, if the hand that feeds simply isn’t feeding I think it’s more than reasonable to have a little nibble on it.

  • Johnkingii

    Unfortunatley it is a fact of the British loyalist identity in Ireland that the arts are distrusted as a left wing communist republican area. The only playwright of note Gary Mitchells situation being a case in point. This in turn leads to frustration within the wider unionist community as they think their view is not getting across. Plus factoring the North Down syndrome within unionism ie: we are out of the back streets and we are not going back lets join the golf club rugby club rotary club lions club etc means that their is a artistic chasm within loyalism by the way Garys play ‘While the beast sleeps’ is one of the most honest portrayals of a community I have ever seen

  • optimo

    The problem with Lynchs plays are the quality. The plays you list here are in no way relevant to us. Not anymore. The amount of money thrown at Lynch, Marie Jones et al is disappointing. Here are playwrites living squarely in the past – because it pays. Theatre in Northern Ireland is some of safest, most diluted nonsense going. There has to be a balance struck between putting bums on seats and creating an environment in which real quality work (artists work) is supported also. I don’t see that balance. There are some fantastic playwrites in Belfast many may never have heard of who are ten times the writer Lynch is but their work won’t see the light of day – or at least invested in enough to allow enough people to see it.

    Northen Ireland is not a good place to be an artist at the moment. Too much money is spent on crap because it appeals to broad sensibilities. Theatre is, at its heart supposed to be representative of the people and the society in which they live. Theatre should be current. Ours is not. Someone like Lynch can snap his fingers and his play will get green lit. It makes it hard for the new generation of writers to break though.

    Our theatatrical output is shockingly safe, utterly limp and rooted in our past.

    If our theatre represents us, then we’re all still living in the 1970s.

    It may make economical sense now, but in ten years the Troubles according to your Da, George Best, John Higgins, One Night in November claptrap will have run its course and there’s not going to be playwrites waiting to become the next big Northern Irish playwrite because they are not being supported now… they’ll all be dead – probably of starvation.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “I am all for Funding of the Arts (as long as it a form of art of which I approve”

    I suspect that is the Minister’s position as well. It’s one in complete contradiction with the very point of the arts.

    Like the cuts to scientific research funding that were proposed, you can’t absolutely determine in advance the value of the project being funded. If you want to be competitive in tourism, as NI seems to be hedging on, you have no choice but to fund the arts. Making NI into a museum is an alternative idea, but there are better, cheaper museum destinations.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Excellent post.
    To some extent the Arts is regarded as vaguely Nationalist as well as lefy commie types.
    The “Ulsterman” traditionally sees himself as a hard headed business type and the poetry/music etc has been left for default to the Nationalists. Arguably art depends on oppression/suppression/repression/depression and plays into Nationalisms self image.
    If we look at Brian Friels “Translations” the English soldier and the Irish woman are metaphors for pragmatism and romance.
    I recall an article by one of the English journos from the 1970s/80s. on the Europa Hotel, in which he said the security men were all Protestant and the waitresses all Catholic……and info on loyalism came from the security men while info on republicans came from the waitresses.

    but going right back to the early days of UTV, the 30 minute Half Door Club introduced by a very young Frank Carson was thought a bit “iffy” in some circles.
    In a different way Sam Thompsons “Over the Bridge” was beyond the Pale.

    IN keeping with unionisms 1980s discovery that they too are an oppressed minority, Graham Reids “Billy” trilogy got accepted but of course the format was parodied so much that the parody leaves a stronger impression than the original. Likewise the invention of Ulster Scots has been ridiculed so that unionists……..latecomers to “official culture” fall back on Scottish country dancing and orangeism and remain overly sensitive to the whole culture thing as a conspiracy against them.

    Rather like science challenges religion……and fundamentalism…….the arts challenge political dogma….and unionism has traditionally been very dogmatic.

    “Popular culture” within the nationalist community (music/dance/drama) converts easily into the high brow culture beloved of the “official artsy set” in McNeice House. To some extent nationalists have monopolised the word “culture” thru Gaelic language, Cultúrlann and Féile na Phobail. The whole Arts Festival at Queens (another nest of Republican vipers) does not do it for the unionists.
    Its the downside of not being interned enough in the 1970s.
    At least every other Republican released from Long Kesh had a career in drama and the arts to take up.
    Loyalists got…….Michael Stone.
    And there is a need to fall back on the comfort food offered by plays etc showing salt of the earth East Belfast types like George Best and…….er CS Lewis.
    But the great and the good from McNeice House are just as happy getting their photographs in the Ulster Tatler at a wine tasting at a charidee gallery show or open air Opera fest.
    Perhaps the sheer pretentiousness of the artsy crowd is repulsive to unionist politicians.

    But is there a case for saving that Nationalist revival has been the natural extension of a cultural revival……..on the lines of Yeats, Synge etc a century ago.
    And has unionist retreat been a result of a perceived lack of culture?

    I doubt it. If Yeats, Synge, MacDonagh, Pearse, Gaelic League, GAA etc indirectly brought about 1916…..then we must look forward to Bono, Michael Flatley and the Corrs taking over the Post Office in Belfast.

    So with their culture slow to get off the ground…..

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I think my remark about “a form of art of which I approve” might be seen more as tongue in cheek rather than an actual statement of fact.

  • Damian O’Loan

    It’s more Nelson McCausland I was referring to. In his case, I don’t think there’s any sarcasm, unfortunately.

  • Granni Trixie

    Two years ago I was in the audience of a discussion of Black Watch chaired Fintan O’Toole. Because I viewed it as one of the most innovative works I had seen in a long time I thought they would discuss the innovations. But no, the whole discussion focused on its “meaning” in relation to Iraq etc not on discussion of its artistic merit. I mean how could you not find it nnot noteworthy that somebody had the idea to have soldiers in full uniform burst out of the baize of a green pool table where other soldiers were in recreation mode? Also, you could guess from its authenticity that the script had the input from POV of actual soldiers.

    Re Factotum/Vaccuum – I enjoy its deviant type satire v. much.Though I agree it bites the hand, in an ideal world I would expect funders to encourage anyone who does something in a clever imaginative way even if they do not agree with it. In normal times that is for I agree with FJH, much as I want support for the arts, not at the expense of people who have not the basics in life. As for the cost of the case – they should wise up on thhis kind of thing,on all sides.

  • Blair

    Fitz,

    I don’t know if it is a subconcious thing with you, or you are totally aware of what you are doing, but ridculing the ‘culture’ of your enemy is all a part of the dehumanising that makes attacking them so much easier.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ok….I am actually ridiculing the near “invention” and hyping of a culture.
    It stretches things to say this is de-humanising.
    And certainly stretching things beyond reson to suggest that this makes them easier to “attack”. I need hardly add that I would not dream of attacking anyone or encourage anyone to do the same.
    You will also note that I have oft commented on 200,000 plus people retrspectively endorsing a terrorist campaign by voting for Sinn Féin.
    Others here….perhaps yourself……have also wondered aloud about that.
    Perhaps taken to the extreme of believing that these 200,000 people are in some way flawed for so doing would be de-humanising and make them easier to attack.

    But you and I can have a clear conscience…cant we?

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    For the love of God you have to pity the poor deluded Northern Prod. If only they could throw off the Albion’s mental shackles and be reborn as the Oirish they really are.

    Welcomed into the warm embrace of the Celtic Mist they too could begin to keen ballads about the bhoys fighting for Mother Ireland. With their arms firmly locked by their sides they could dance the night away dreaming of the stick-fighting that the morning will bring.

    Féile na Provo, open the door and put a pint of the black stuff on the bar! Culture’s day has come we’re on our way!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    That is of course the irony with Factotum.
    There has always been a tradition where the court jestor is “allowed” to laugh at the King.
    So certainly Factotum should be allowed to laugh at Nelson McCausland.
    That Nelson McCausland actually hands Factotum money to so do….is of course very funny.
    But the economic climate allows McCausland to turn off the money supply. Frankly you cant justify cutting off money for education, health care, Disability Living Allowance and hand over money to Factotum.
    The fact about “subsidy” is that the middle class benefit quite a lot from subsidy……and despite all the outreach from the good folks at McNeice House…..Arts subsidy benefits the middle class.

  • Blair

    Fitz,

    My conscience is certainly clear. There is some helpful advice in the IRA’s Green Book about the use of ridicule to further their war aims.

    I absolutely agree with you about the 200,000 retrospectively endorsing terrorism. No one who objected to that terrorism would even consider voting for Sinn Fein.

    I’ve commented myself in the past about the sort of moral compass possessed by people who vote for someone that they now know was moving a paedophile from youth club to youth club, and then lying through his teeth about it. If they are happy enough with that then no doubt they saw murdering Prods, Brits and non line toeing catholics as being a laudable exercise.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Didlee D O’Squat,

    To return to the topic in hand.

    Perhaps no Féile na Provo for the Prods – but they do have Armed Forces Day where millions of British can celebrate what most people now view as an illegal war in Iraq (Right wing Tories and Ulster Prods excepted of course) and what most people are now accepting included much killing/murder and torture by Coalition troops not to mention the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqis by the brave ac of bombing them form a great height.

    No queasiness there supporting that type of state thuggery which makes the Provo insurgency pale by comparison and which at least was carried out to remove unwelcome foreign influence from their own country.

    Must make the UnionistPaddies proud to get the Union flag out for a good wave.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    The British involvement in the invasion of Iraq was of course ordered by a Labour government. The lies and spin which were used to get Conservative support for that war were issued by Labour spinmeisters and the King of all liars Tony Blair. The pretty straight kind of guy who was so popular with Irish nationalists and republicans, but not so much with Unionists.

    Armed Forces day is about celebrating our armed forces. It has nothing to do with glorifying Blair’s ego driven Wars.

  • Johnkingii

    I think this post sums up the Irish question in a nutshell most northern nationalists have little or no knowledge of armed forces day, the eleventh night, orange parades, marching bands etc the same way most northern unionists have little or no knowledge of Easter lilies, feast of the assumption, Fenian uprising etc and neither side has little or no interest in finding out that way it’s easier to excuse people driving round in black taxis with butchers knives or planting bombs at cenotaphs. We work side by side but inhabit different planets.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    Ah the old just following orders line or is it the dumb squaddy line? Still it was only killing the fuzzy wuzzies and the squaddies would have learned from their history books that there was no problem with type of stuff. All good clean British fun although apparently they dont appear to like it up em.

    Incidentally the Tory position was one of support for the war – irrespective of the non existent weapons of mass destruction – but the Tories love that kind of stuff – again you only have to open one of the British history books boasting about cutting down natives carrying spears when faced by brave chaps carrying machine guns.

    Unfortunately Ireland’s good name internationally as a peace keeper (and ocassional insurgent) has been besmirched by the involvement of some troops from Ulster

    Get those flags a waving and lets not mention the hundreds of housands of deaths in Iraq. Brave boys indeed.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Johnkingii,

    ” think this post sums up the Irish question in a nutshell most northern nationalists have little or no knowledge of armed forces day”

    Is that a fact? I thought it was about celebrating the contribution and sacrifice the soldiers have made on behalf of Birtian? Or have I got that wrong?

    That does not mean that Nationalists can not suggest, like I am doing, that there should also be reflection on the deeds they have carried out and the sirpatrickmayhem they have caused throghout the globe. Or perhaps to ask if the brave chaps for example in their wonderful flying machines had any misgivings about bombing the shit out of civilain areas. That must really take some courage dropping cluster bombs from a great height.

    Or is there another day set aside for asking those awkward questions of the brave armed forces?

    Or do we just all pretend it was all just jolly japes?

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    Er, the British army went to war in Iraq with the support of the Conservative Party because Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell concocted a tissue of lies about Iraq posing a credible threat to the United Kingdom. Therefore the soldiers went to war in good faith believing that they were defending Britain from horrendous attacks from WMDs.

    The Iraqi army were armed with T65 Main Battle Tanks and not spears.

    Ireland’s name has been besmirched internationally for decades due to the actions of the various terrorist morons who operated here. Were you aware that the Irish army currently has troops in Afghanistan? Presumably that must horrify you.

    The troops are indeed brave boys. If you want someone to blame for Iraq then you need to set your sights on Tony Bliar. I doubt if you will find many Unionist or Conservative objections to him facing a war crimes court in the Hague.

  • perhaps of more local (Norn Iron) interest anything to back up the competing views of the army here best-in-the-world/bad-dogs-on-tour?

    Yeah that’s right. Fighting an unprecedented insurrection in the Middle East and they thought shoehorning a sectional political issue into it would be of interest.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    “Er, the British army went to war in Iraq with the support of the Conservative Party because Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell concocted a tissue of lies about Iraq posing a credible threat to the United Kingdom. ”

    Are you suggesting that the Tories were in not in favour of the war irrespective of the presence of weapons of mass destruction?

    We now have proof(it was obvious to anybody who bothered listening to Iraqis) that the coalition troops were involved in torture and murder. We also know that they dropped cluster bombs and bombed civilian targets.

    Whatever the RAF chappies are they are not stupid and like the millions of people in Britan would have realised that the war was illegal any yet opted to bomb Iraq often killing many innocent civilians and dropping cluster bombs. How brave do you think that was?

    Ireland has a history of insurgency, not attacking other countries, and to most poeple outside of Britain I would suggest that the Provo campaign would be regarded as having more justification than the British campaign in Iraq. I suspect that probably a large percentage of British people probably now share that view.

  • Johnkingii

    Sammy I was asking a wider rhetorical question not attacking your little green foxhole. On a wider historical viewpoint which I know irishmen both orange and green find hard to understand since the universe rotates around the Boyne or Long Kesh depending on your viewpoint. In WW1 their was no victors all it lead to was Hitler and Stalin and misery and death for tens of millions and eventually the rise of America as the worlds only superpower. But to stand against the forces of darkness brought to life in Auschwitz and Dachau should be remembered.

  • Armed Forces Day is a bit redundant in my opinion – 11th November ceremonies is for me Armed Forces Day.

    About this imagined mayhem being ’caused’ throughout the globe. Your rush to hate is pretty cringeworthy to be honest. There’s a fine line between murder and killing under rules of engagement for conventional forces no doubt but those who manage to deserve our utmost respect and it’s embarrassing to listen to those who attempt to taint the majority with the actions of a few.

    The ultimate irony of course is if terrorists had those carpet bombs in their arsenal, then you’d be more circumspect, and about scum who set out with mayhem and murder solely in mind each and everytime they carry out their deeds.

    Adding further to this contradictory mess you’d likely also lump the republican dissidents of today into some kind of common criminal category – which in conclusion makes any frothings of the mouth from you pretty much invalid.

  • Johnkingii

    Exactly if Hizbollah or Hamass get the bomb and if the USA seaboard and London are to well protected Shannon airport will do fine lets see you walk through Dublin shouting stop the war then

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Johnkingii,

    Your own contribution is hardly ideology free and my – green foxholing – is in direct response to foxholing of an Orange hue.

    A play about Her Majestys force in Belfast is interesting in how it plays with an audience who have competing views as to the army’s role in the insurgency here. Dont you agree?

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    The Conservatives supported the invasion of Iraq because the Labour Prime Minister of the day, Tony Bliar, stood up in the House of Commons and told Parliament that Iraq posed a serious threat to British cities. That was a lie, but the Conservatives cannot be blamed for believing it. Bliar was a master at telling pork pies.

    You are arguing that everyone knew there were no WMDs because Saddam Hussein said there were none. Is that a serious basis for an argument?

    Ireland has a history of disgusting, barbaric acts of terrorism. I don’t think you will find much support for that outside of Kilburn.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    st etienne

    “Your rush to hate is pretty cringeworthy to be honest”

    If you cant deal with the point then you have to make things up.

    Most Republicans, Nationliasts dont take being lectured at by supporters of those involved in British overeas adventures and will respond in kind. They appear keen to dish it out but in their own parlance dont appear to like it up ’em.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Johnkingii,

    “Exactly if Hizbollah or Hamass get the bomb and if the USA seaboard and London are to well protected Shannon airport will do fine lets see you walk through Dublin shouting stop the war then”

    This precisely the type of loose jibber-jabber that led to the invasion of Iraq, linking unconncected threats to force through a political agenda and an invasion, supported by both main British poliitcal parties that most neutral commentators believe has made the world must more dangerous and boosted the very groups they were pretending to be fighting against.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    The Tory postion was that they supported war even if there were no weapons of mass destruction – do you not accept that?

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    I don’t accept that at all. Without the WMDs there was no justification for invading Iraq. Bliar told Parliament that they existed and consequently the Tories backed the invasion. They would not have supported the invasion if there were no WMDs. Regime change was not a justifiable reason for the invasion.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    I’m afraid you are simply wrong about the Tories.

  • Sammy it’s really a play about the journey of boys to men and the reality life in an extremely stressful and dangerous situation and the effects on them. There was one scene as the soldiers watched footage of US air strikes. They all took time to take in what they were looking at, even mentioning that the town had literally been wiped off the face of earth.Of course the real poignancy of the play is when they lose members of their own squad.
    Regardless of political affiliations you’d have to be pretty hard nosed to not be moved by the play. It really is a masterpiece and deserving of the 22 awards it has garnered to date.
    As for the swearing i think it was/is an integral aspect as the play is based on the words actually spoken by the interviewed soldiers.
    Having had more than a few late nights drinking in Glasgow,Ayr Prestwick and Troon the language used is true to life.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    MP,

    It does sound really good – ceratinty one I intend to see, personally speaking I would prefer to see it outside of Norn Iron – free of local distractions.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    Since the alternative was not tested you have no way of knowing that. The facts stand for themselves. Tony Bliar and Alistair Campbell convinced the majority in the House of Commons, and the land, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could potentially rain down hell on British cities within forty five minutes.

    They did so by the simple expedient of lying.

  • Johnkingii

    Saddam was bad he had to go at sone point what was wrong was we did not need lied to to do it. That has weakened the wests resolve against the people who really have to go Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe you cannot defend Sharia law, Germaine Greer, Gay Marriage and arranged marriages under the same banner at the moment western liberals have more or less signed the 1939 Hitler Stalin pact and we know which road history led us down there.

  • sam

    Contributors seem to have forgotten that the Royal Irish Rangers are fighting in Afghanistan at the moment. More than half of the troops come from the ROI. Surely both sides of the community can help support the soldiers whether they approve of the war or not.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    Since the alternative was not tested you have no way of knowing that. The facts stand for themselves. Tony Bliar and Alistair Campbell convinced the majority in the House of Commons, and the land, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which could potentially rain down hell on British cities within forty five minutes.

    Well apart from the fact that the Tories actually said so.

    Would that be proof enough for you?

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    Did you expect them to weaken the position of British soldiers who were in the middle of a war situation? The only test of their position that could be properly trusted would have to have taken place pre war.

  • Blair

    Sam,

    The Irish army are there as well. People seem to be unaware of that.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Johnkingii,

    I see. Just the little matter of a little porky eh?

    Well most commentators (Tories and Unionists aside of course) now view it is a disatrous mistake and a reversal of the largley sensible post-Suez British foreign policy which has been based on pragmatic common sense .

    One exception to that sensible foreign policy was their support for the sectarian Northern state – before they belatedly came to their senses.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    Who was it that actually said there were no Irish troops in Afghanistan?

    You are either in denial about the Tories or you are just not keen on admitting you are wrong. The Tories have said they think Iraq should have been invaded irrespecive of the presence of WMD.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    I’ve already explained why. They would never dream of saying anything that would jeopardise the position of our troops or encourage their enemies. They inherited Bliar’s mess and they have the job of cleaning it up.

    How do you feel about the Irish army operating in Afghanistan?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Sam,

    Would it be fair to describe the RIR as being made up in part from the deeply sectarian UDR who were disbanded in disgrace becuase of their appaling behaviour and involvment in numerous sectarian killings many of which have yet to be investigated?

    I have no doubt many of them are decent chaps (in spite of loyalist tatooes) and perform a brave role in Afghansitan – but I wouldnt expect you to attend a hunger strike commemoration so dont expect me to wave my flag for those guys. Geddit?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Theres actually six members of the Irish army in Afghnistan.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    British troops have withdrawn from Iraq – Obama has spoken out against the invasion – but not the Tories. You are wriggling like a good-un.

    Re. Afghanisatan. The siutation there is much more complex than Iraq as the invasion was based on justifiable self defence – at least until 2005. Iraq has made the sitaution there and in Pakistand (with actual WMD) much more difficult and Britian (Labour and Tory) share the blame with the Republican neo-crazies.

    I have no problem with Iirish troops fighting anywhere as long as they are there for justifiable reasons – Afghanistan is borderline.

    The current policy of telling the Taliban the country is theirs in few years is symptomatic of the muddle of that policy when Britain and the US pretended they were going into Helmand to educate/train the locals in 2005.

  • Blair

    Fitz,

    I thought it was eight. Do the numbers matter?

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    There are still British troops in Iraq. they have withdrawn from frontline duties, but they are still there. I can assure you that I am not wriggling. It would be very unwise indeed for a serving British government to declare that they did not support a war which their troops were caught up in. Ludicrous in fact.

    The Irish troops aren’t fighting btw. They are pretty well dug in at Camp Bastion.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    The UDR were not disbanded in disgrace or otherwise, and they were an entirely seperate entity from the Royal Irish Rangers (Now the Royal Irish Regiment) whose military lineage stretches back to the Siege of Enniskillen in 1689.

  • karlopolo
  • Johnkingii

    I am sorry Sammy I apologise you are obviously not in a green foxhole you are in a green bunker in the middle of a green forest surrounded by green fields with a orange and golden sunset overhead waiting for the ghost of James Connolly to lead you to paradise. World events do not revolve around the junction of the Falls and Springfield roads it’s about time some people realised this

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    Ok not disbanded – removed, ceased-to-be, they are extinct, they-are-no-more, gone to meet the great sectarian-soldier-in-the-sky, shuffled-of-this-mortal-coil etc.

    It is a great tribute to the British army and the RIR in particular that the UDR fitted seemelessly into their ranks.

    Of course the army had previously welcomed in the UVF -no strangers to a bit of good honest-to-goodness sectriainism themselves.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Johnkingii, Blair,

    Obfuscating and trying to justify the Iraq war or the continuing Tory support for the invasion whilst playing the man (ie jabbering on about green foxholoes or whatever) doesn’t wash I’m afraid.

    Here (below) is what Obama has to say – something you wont hear the Tory leader (or most Unionists say)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7658219.stm

    Cameron is now perhaps unique amongst western leaders in his continuing defence of the invasion.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Blair,
    I dont see much difference between six and eight….well mathematically there is a difference of two.
    But six or eight is a token……rather than anything meaningful.
    As far as I am aware their role is non combatant.
    I still think its a “challenge” as I would much prefer neutrality but arguably in the Afghan situation, a person cant really be “neutral”.

    Unlike Iraq or Falklands/Malvinas . As no Irish troops were involved, it was much easier to be neutral or supportive of the “other side” without being treasonable.

  • UlsterScotty

    I think it’s called expletive infixation.

  • Blair

    Fitz,

    Exactly my point. The Irish army may have a miniscule presence in Afghanistan, but they are there none the less. Therefore anyone who wants to launch into a rant about British/American imperialism etc needs to lump the ROI in with their ranting.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    The UDR amalgamated with the Royal Irish rangers to form the Royal Irish Regiment. Three battalions of which were disabanded when Op Banner ended and they were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (second only to the VC).

    The 1st and 2nd Battalions are still going strong.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    bLAIR,

    It obvioulsy suits the British(Tories and Milliband Senior and Blair* etc) as the lone supporters of the Iraq invasion to try and pretend their is no disctinction between Iraq and Afghanistan.

    *ie you and Tony

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    I certainly didn’t support the invasion of Iraq. Do you support the invasion of Afghanistan?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Blair,

    You are trying to link the 2 together and are presumably still in denial about continuing Tory support for the invasion – hiding behind Camneron needs to support our boys line -when Obama has managed to criticise the invasion and support his troops.

    I did support the invasion of Afghanistan – I have serious reservations about the operation in Helmand post 2005 which the Englezes and Yanks have made a peoper pig’s Mickey out of.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I know I know.
    The Irish presence…..all six of them in Afghanistan …have made me restrict my anti imperialist rants to amere one per day.

  • Blair

    Fitz,

    Still a tad hypocritical though eh? All or nothing.

  • Blair

    Sammy,

    Obama isn’t doing very well unless you hadn’t noticed.

    I’m glad that you don’t see the invasion of Afghanistan as an unjustified imperial adventure. I hope you weren’t influenced in your decision by the presence of Irish army troops though.

  • dwatch

    ‘Perhaps there could be a similarly commissioned piece telling the story of the Royal Irish Rangers. The accents might not be the same but i’d hazard a guess that the story and language would be similar.’

    I doubt if Lord Maginnis would be worried about the language of the RIR had he not been prevented from visiting them in Afghanistan because he is too fat. Indeed he may have used a few choice words himself for the MOD Nelson McCausland would not have approved of.

    Politicians too big for body armour
    Wednesday, 3 November 2010

    The Ministry of Defence does not have body armour big enough to fit Lord Ken Maginnis

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/politicians-too-big-for-body-armour-14994691.html#ixzz14Fywuq9l