McCann gets lifetime award for Bloody Sunday campaign…

IMHO, a well deserved life time award for Eamonn McCann for his long term advocacy of the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday… (not to mention a great deal else besides). Eamonn is one of the few examples we have of individuals who have been robustly determined to breach the many social silences that bedevil Irish society, north and south of the border… A grateful  H/T to erstwhile reader Rory!!


  • HeinzGuderian

    Congrats Eamon……..when will you be starting your Claudy Campaign ??

  • As you know Mick I am not a great fan of these awards thingies (Some might say it is because I never win any 😉 But with Eamonn I will make an exception. He has been a bedrock of reporting Bloody Sunday since the British army lost the run of itself on that tragic day.

    At one time he became a hate figure for almost all the main participants in the conflict, yet he ignored them all as best he could, and ‘soldered’ on. At times, on the side of justice he has been equal to a battalion of armed men.

    Good man Eamonn, thanks for your work.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, the Paul Foot award is something to be proud of. Well done, Eamonn.

  • Oh, dear. This would be the same Eamonn McCann who helped set the place alight in the late 60s. When will they ever learn?

  • pippakin

    Well done Mr McCann and well deserved.

  • joeCanuck


    I presume you are talking metaphorically. And to continue, before you can start a fire you have to have something combustible

  • Rory Carr

    I have not always seen eye-to-eye with Eamonn as indeed who has (or with me for that matter) but there can be no doubting his deserving of this award. We cannot claim, as is often the case on such occasions, that it is long overdue for it is in the nature of lifetime awards that they are given in the latter years of a man’s working life but that it was due and fitting and meet and right that he should receive it cannot be argued.

    The award was established to commemorate the lifetime work of another great crusading journalist, Paul Foot, a longtime comrade of Eamonn’s and the only tragedy is that it meant his untimely death for such an award to be established.

  • Rory

    If I may say so a very generous and comradely post.


  • Joe, it seems the existence of conservative establishments in Belfast and Dublin was sufficient so far as some socialists were concerned.

  • qwerty12345

    Arent you the guy who wrote “Bloody GOOD sunday” on a recent thread. tut tut.

  • feismother

    Just to clarify, Clare Sambrook won the actual Paul Foot award for her pieces on the detention of immigrant families. Eamonn McCann (on the shortlist) was given a lifetime award.

  • Rory Carr

    Indeed, Feismother and in linking the piece to Mick there was no intent on my part to deny information on that well deserved award to Clare Sambrook for her excellent work. It was simply that the McCann award held special attraction for this site and its visitors because of McCann’s own fame/notoriety here and especially because of his great efforts in uncovering the truth behind Bloody Sunday.

  • Sorry to rain on the parade, and I know that McCann has done much good since.

    It’s just that those of us who were in Dublin student lefty politics (circa 1965) were reaching out to the Northerners in hopes of an all-Ireland student movement. We encounteredl various degrees of obduracy and parochialism. Hence his monniker in our circles then: “Useless” McCann. It wasn’t just the Trots: there was also “Irksome” Holmes. We were fairly generous in our displeasures.

    Ah, old grievances die hard.

  • Rory Carr

    Whatever shortcomings Trots and their fellow travellers might suffer from (don’t start me!) it has to be admitted that they have managed to attract some half-decent writers during their time of influence in Britain from George Orwell to Paul Foot, James Fenton, that new-found apologist for U.S. imperialism, Christopher Hitchins and of course the bold Eamonn.

    Of course old Leon was no mean scribe himself but he rather lost himself in his 1930 My Life – An attempt at an autobiography which serves only to reveal him as the most arrogant, self-serving, ego-driven little toad an impression borne out by Willie Gallacher who when attending the Party Congress at which Trotsky’s expulsion from the Central Committee was on the agenda and spying the somewhat lonely, folorn figure of the once hero of the revolution and feeling sorry for him approached him and asked, “Are you looking for something, Comrade Trotsky?”

    “I am looking for a place to hang my hat and coat and a Bolshevik,” responded Trotsky scornfully, “but I don’t expect to find either in this place.”

    Unsurprisingly Gallacher was not inspired to vote for him after that. Even more unsuprising perhaps is that Trots I have met over the years, upon hearing me recount this tale, invariably have responded by citing it as an example of Trotsky’s principled indominability rather than as the prideful, stupid, blind arrogance which it most obviously is.

  • Rory Carr

    …or was rather.

  • Framer

    Intra-trot award.

    McCann has been unusually consistent over the decades which makes him about as imaginative and flexible as John Hume.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Well deserved indeed Eamon a man of wit and wisdom if ever there was one.

    I remember a few years back at the time of the foot and mouth when seemingly only the South was spared while the North and Britain were hit hard. Eamon was on a TV debate about or which referred to it. In the panel with McCann was a God fearing Minister who claimed it as a curse from God.
    Throwing his hands behind his head in typical McCann posture Eamon replied something along the lines;

    Well Northern Ireland has been hit by it, as has England, Scotland and Wales, while the South has barely been touched. Does this mean God hates these countries and loves the Republic?

    I’m sure this isn’t exactly what he said but it was a brilliant put down never-the-less.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Come to think of it, if I might, without being barked at like a postman in Battersea dog’s home….

    Was McCann ever accused of undermining or being a threat to the Peace Process?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hes the Bob McCartney of the Left.

  • Orwell’s Trottishness, like Mark Twain’ s death, was greatly exaggerated.

    Or, allow a tremulous Trenet moment:

    Quand notre cœur fait POUM!,
    Tout avec lui dit POUM!
    Et c’est l’amour qui s’éveille.
    Il chante “love in bloom”
    Au rythme de ce POUM!
    Qui redit POUM! à l’oreille.

  • Alias

    Eamonn McCann has provided some of the best commentary on NI, and this review of Moloney’s book is as good as he gets as the extract shows:

    Moloney rightly identifies Adams’s 1983 election to Westminster from West Belfast as one of the most significant plot points in his narrative. He might with advantage have directly quoted the new MP’s exultant first words to cheering crowds on the Falls Road: “Even De Valera couldn’t win the Falls.” De Valera had been hammered in West Belfast in the seminal election of 1918. It was one of only two seats in all of Ireland where constitutional nationalism defeated Sinn Fein. This fact, of which Adams was obviously acutely aware, might usefully be kept in mind by commentators who lazily identify the Falls, or the Bogside in Derry, as “traditional republican” areas. They are not. What gave Adams’s election its sharp significance was that he was the first republican ever elected in the area. What he meant was, even De Valera couldn’t win the Falls for the republican movement.

    The Catholic working-class anger that gave rise to the emergence of the Provos as a major player in the early 1970s did not represent a new flowering of republican ideas, an old, authentic, long-repressed tradition suddenly gushing forth again through the cracks caused by the seismic impact of the 1960s civil rights movement. It’s truer to say, as Moloney does, that the tiny republican movement of the time, embodied in Belfast in a few families, like the Adamses, the Hannaways, the Prices and the MacAirts, provided an organizational framework, a channel for expression and a readiness to fight that matched the sudden mood of the Catholic masses and offered a ready-made ideology to lend their struggle seeming resonance at a time when their communities were under siege by Protestant loyalist mobs, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army.

    One of the most revered rural leaders of the IRA in the 1980s observed a few years ago that “those fellows from Belfast were never really republicans. They were only fighting for their streets.” Fighting for your street, of course, is not necessarily an ignoble thing to do. In certain circumstances–Belfast 1969–it can be no more than neighborly duty. But the impulse to defend one’s locality doesn’t automatically harden into a clear set of ideas. What had pitched whole Catholic working-class communities outside the constitutional arena was not mass conversion to an -ism or a particular conception of history but immediate, material considerations. Most who joined or came to support the IRA did so not out of a sacred duty to “free Ireland” or in pursuit of a historic mission to vindicate the Republic but because they wanted the bigot’s boot off their necks and the British Army off their backs. If these grievances could be remedied short of the achievement of the Republic, then there was the basis of a settlement within existing constitutional structures.

    Moloney’s central thesis is that Adams and a small group around him were on to this sooner than anybody has previously suggested and have long been working to a nonrepublican agenda. His most controversial claim is that Adams, behind the back of the Army Council and with IRA volunteers kept in the dark, opened lines of communication with the British as early as 1986 with a view to eventual negotiation of an “internal” settlement. What is certainly true is that Adams and his close confidants embarked on a project to hollow out the ideology that the movement they inherited had been built around. It was no longer to be republican at its core in any sense in which Pearse would have understood the word. Instead, it was to become, or to accept that it already was, a militant nationalist mass movement, reflecting not what some may have believed Belfast Catholics ought to think but what they actually, “naturally,” thought. Moloney accurately identifies the difference as that between the United Irishmen of the 1790s, inspired by the American and French revolutions and out to overthrow the existing order, and the Defenders, a peasant militia established to protect Catholic land rights.

    Put more positively, it might be said that Adams, contrary to the conventional account of him leading a people half addicted to violence toward peace, has merely contrived a realignment of republican ideology so as to bring it more closely into kilter with the people in whose name it was purporting to act, offering no challenge to their consciousness. The reason the Adams leadership has been able to retain the support of the republican base while ditching core republican ideas is, on this analysis, that the base was never republican in the first place, that they were only fighting for their streets. This is an unwelcome conclusion to those who have held hard to the legacy of Pearse, and who rage against Adams as the latest in a litany of shame stretching back to Michael Collins and partition. But it’s the obvious conclusion to emerge from Moloney’s magisterial work, though he doesn’t himself draw it out as explicitly as this.

    The unsentimental pragmatism underlying Adams’s approach is to be seen, too, in the fact that when he veered off the path of armed struggle he veered to the right and not to the left. Having ditched the ideas that underpinned armed struggle, discarding any notion of wanting to turn the world, or even the constitutional status quo, upside down, Adams and the group around him set out to recruit the most powerful allies potentially available–the Catholic hierarchy, the Dublin government, corporate Irish-America, the White House. This has meant resiling from positions that might alienate persuadable interests. Thus, although still generally presenting itself as an anti-imperialist party, Sinn Fein has been careful in recent times not to mobilize against the planned oil war on Iraq. The party’s campaign for the release of three men recently arrested leaving FARC-held territory in Colombia has been built on a soft-liberal basis, concentrating on the unlikelihood of the three receiving a fair trial, eschewing any defense of association with the left-wing guerrilla organization.

    Most telling of all, the interparty fractiousness that led to the collapse in early October of the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement concealed a remarkable convergence around center-right economics. In their time in office, all the executive parties–Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists and David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists–committed themselves to maintaining, if not increasing, direct grants to multinationals and to a reduction in corporate and other taxes on business so as to make Northern Ireland more alluring to outside investment. All advocate fiscal rectitude. All have enthusiastically pursued policies of privatization, flogging off public services to fat-cat entrepreneurs. The general aim has been to refashion still-partitioned Northern Ireland as a viable fragment of the global market by insuring that it is competitively attractive in capitalist terms. It hardly justifies 3,500 dead. It’s hardly worth Jean McConville.

    Small wonder that Bush’s point man, Richard Haass, has no ideological complaint against Sinn Fein. He just wishes it would move more speedily toward completion of what he calls its “necessary transition.” As a matter of fact, it’s almost there. Ed Moloney’s book is the best and necessary account of the long trek across dangerous terrain that brought Sinn Fein to this point, and of the role of Gerry Adams, the political genius who, with guile and daring, has led the way.

  • Dec

    Pity we didn’t settle for our lot, eh Nevin?

  • Rory Carr

    True. Which is why I was careful to include ‘fellow-travellers’. Orwell was too much of an individualist ever to include himself in a collective of individuals masquerading as a disciplined revolutionary organisation such as POUM which, while widely regarded as a Trotskyist organisation could only fairly (and loosely) be regarded as something of a fellow-traveller group – if indeed that.

  • Rory Carr

    “Intra-Trot award.” Not so, Framer. While Paul Foot, like Eamonn, was a member of the International Socialists (later the Socialist Workers’ Party) their party association was generally regarded as very loose at best. But in any case the award itself is not decided by any group of Trots as the list of judges for this year’s award demonstrates:

    “The judges for this year’s award were: Heather Brooke, Clare Fermont, Bill Hagerty, Ian Hislop, Brian MacArthur (chair) and Katharine Viner.”

    Seasoned journalists all and not a Trot among them. Ian Hislop admittedly does look a wee bit like a Trot but appearances can lie.

  • Pity we didn’t have political reform north and south, Dec. It was also a shame that rights issues were used as a smokescreen.

  • Rory Carr

    Oh…and if anyone asks you, “What does a Trot look like?” you can always now say, “A wee bit like Ian Hislop.”

  • Dec

    Pity the rights issue wasn’t met by an RUC/B-Special jackboot. Eventually people want to kick back.

  • Jj

    Its so far fron sanity to believe that McCartney or his pseudo-journalist former vice chair, could be believed capable of writing anything like that – ever.

  • Dec, socialists, armchair and militant, were pushing rights issues, north and south.

    When the police cleared the streets in Derry in 1968 there was a very different media reaction to a similar clearing in Dublin two years earlier.

    Dr. O’Connell: Does the Minister agree that this baton-swinging democracy serves as a showpiece as suggested by the Taoiseach, when we have disturbances like this provoked by the police?
    Mr. B. Lenihan: The Deputy and certain other members of his Party appear to want to bring parliamentary democracy in Ireland into a state of anarchy in which anything might happen

    Anarchy in Dublin bad; anarchy in Derry good.

    Bloodied heads in Dublin recently didn’t appear to create much of an international reaction.

  • wee buns

    Not bad, indeed a well deserved accolade to one ‘incubated at Queen’s’.