Was Micheal Martin the only ‘sane’ one, refusing to get involved in #Aras11?

The front page of The Phoenix sums up the orgy of self destruction the Irish Presidential race is becoming… ‘De Nile’ is not just a river in Africa… On Twitter, Frank FitzGibbon of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times summed up last night’s Prime Time debate, rather succinctly…

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  • Nunoftheabove

    Liking the Dana speech bubble.

  • John Ó Néill

    I’ve now identified the format – it’s Mock the Week – spontaneous responses that you will find in the individuals own stand-up routines. Last night was a carbon copy of the previous debates – a spat between the presenter and Martin McGuinness, the Norris/letters, Gallagher/FF, Davies/quango issues, why nobody likes Mitchell, with some occasional deference to Michael D who gets to act like a pundit rather than a candidate (suggesting that, as far as the media are concerned, there is simply nothing in play here as a contest).

    Dana’s sudden introduction of a prepared statement about some allegation that has/is being made (the reasons for which are still unclear) was just surreal. There are a series of suggestions on Twitter (#danarumours) but nothing of substance around.

    It’s hard to believe there is still two weeks of this to go. I’m not too sure being out of the race is that sane for FF – a recurring theme is denials of involvement with FF, which repeatedly translates as that being something to be ashamed of … (with no-one there to challenge that). That surely isn’t a vote winner?

  • unionistvoter

    For my sins I watched the debate last night, for my sanity I will never do that again.
    Frank has it right change the law, McAleese another 7 (or 70 if this lot are still champing at the bit next time)

  • Drumlins Rock

    God Save The Queen.

    They certainly know how to make a monarchy look attractive, I hope the Auzzie, Canadian and the few crackpot British Republicans can see how pathetic this race has become, I used to find it amusing, now it is pitiful, how long have we left to endure it?

  • FuturePhysicist

    Well Gay Mitchell has suggested rejoining the Commonwealth, maybe he’d abdicate and let the Queen in if elected.

    I would prefer an all Ireland election where Unionists could nominate the Queen, they have enough councils to do so.

  • wee buns

    All seven are absolutely barking. Not funny anymore. The two referenda on which we are expected to vote on the 27th Oct are of more importance (& behold crazy ice-cream van lady that is the TV ad!) so where is the debate on these issues happening?
    This insanity is a distraction guaranteed to stupefy as to the real issues including quell anger at economic policy, as banks are also due to receive further cash hemorrhage at Oct’s end. The long awaited referendum on Children’s rights has been pushed back into obscurity & whatever happened to the whistleblower referendum? Pah.

  • Eglise en bois

    Why didn’t we get a Unionist to stand, someone unconroversial with evident skills to match those already in the race – you know Paisley Snr, or Trimble or Bob McCartney infact anyone, for the laugh

  • Look at the hands. Is a raised right hand a sign of a feminine trait and a raised left hand the sign of a dedicated right hand?

  • SimonLong

    No raised Red Hands there, Nevin.

  • I can see two Ulster Red Hand candidates – both are from Derry, Simon – one being tinged with blood.

  • Into the west

    I think what would really liven it up, would be
    a knock-out format like X-factor, leading to 2 finalists.
    can you imagine?

  • SimonLong

    Are people still claiming Dana’s from Derry when she was born in England, only lived a wheen of years in Derry, then moved to Galway and represented that area in the Euro Parliament, lived in the US and took out citizenship there ? How long have you to be gone from a place before you’re no longer linked with it ?

  • I still think of her as Dana from Derry, Simon. Her father was a Derry man and she grew up and became famous there from the age of five. She moved to Rostrevor, Co Down, when she got married but I don’t associate her with it or any other places she subsequently moved to. If asked to choose which of the four provinces she’d most identify with I think she’d probably opt for Ulster. IIRC she was an MEP for Connaught-Ulster.

  • SimonLong

    McGuinness launched his presidential campaign at Free Derry Corner as well, which I thought was strange given that he’s the MP for Tyrone having been repeatedly rejected as an MP in his home town where the natives favoured Hume and Durkan.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Simon Long wrote: McGuinness launched his presidential campaign at Free Derry Corner as well, which I thought was strange given that he’s the MP for Tyrone having been repeatedly rejected as an MP in his home town where the natives favoured Hume and Durkan.

    Strange, I thought that Mitchell McLaughlin and later Martina Anderson were the SF candidates for the Westminster seat in Foyle.

  • SimonLong

    McGuinness contested Foyle for SF in 1983, 1987 and 1992.


  • Nordie Northsider

    Interesting. I wonder what would happen if he stood there now?

  • Simon, Martin is the MP and MLA for Mid Ulster; he was formerly an MLA for Foyle. If he fails the Aras test and with all this new Unionist support and the decline in SDLP fortunes he might well be tempted to return to Foyle. However the new boundaries have also to be taken into account – but that’s a different story.

  • SimonLong

    Yes. I guess we’ll never know.

  • Harry Flashman

    She’s a Derry girl and we are very proud of her.

  • It looks as if FF did well to stay out of the cat-fight!

    Martin McGuinness has claimed that last night’s Prime Time debate amounted to “trial by television,” saying it was unfair and totally out of order.”

    He said that after the programme he asked for a one-to-one meeting with [Miriam O’Callaghan].
    He described it as a very low key encounter, saying there were no raised voices and he expressed his disappointment at the way the debate was handled.
    It was, he said, unfair and totally out of order.
    “I was accused of being a murderer. That was wrong,” said Mr McGuinness, adding that he was then “subject to a show trial on television.”

  • Highs and lows – according to the Irish Times.

  • Alias

    “I was accused of being a murderer. That was wrong,” said Mr McGuinness

    And just when you thought it couldn’t be any more surreal…

    The interesting aspect is how being a member of FF is now seen as being more morally indefensible than being a member of PIRA. Funny old world…

  • Alias, I didn’t see the programme but the IT link at 5:46 pm does have a quote:

    Having to rebut a suggestion by Miriam O’Callaghan that he was involved in “the murder of many people”. He described the suggestion as “disgraceful”.

    That’s not pinning the blame on Martin exclusively for the deaths that have been attributed to the PRM; it was a responsibility shared by the management and those who carried out the bombings, shootings and iron-bar attacks. Martin seems reluctant to admit how high he rose in the ranks of the PRM.

  • john

    Why would he contest Foyle when Mid Ulster or the new Glenshane would return with ease!!

  • Jimmy Sands

    “I was accused of being a murderer. That was wrong,” said Mr McGuinness

    To be fair to the man, he has a point. It’s like calling Georgie Best just a footballer.

  • Jimmy Sands

    …and as Malcolm Tucker said: “Don’t ever call me a bully. I’m so much worse than that.”

  • Jimmy, the man seems to have gone soft. A ‘show trial on TV’ is nowt compared to “I’m a celebrity; get me out of here” – or a paramilitary trial.

  • Donal Davoren

    McGuinness and the rest of the SF leadership seem to have problems accepting they can no longer get away with heavies growling threateningly from the background to ward off critics.

    Gone are the days when the boys would have paid a visit to inform those who disagree to keep their opinions to themselves or else.

  • “Gone are the days”

    Not completely, Donal. According to various sources the friends of one candidate in our recent elections leant on a business owner who was contemplating bringing a prosecution, backed up by solid evidence. It’s quite likely that this was a local initiative, rather than one emanating from HQ.

  • Limerick

    heavies growling threateningly from the background

    When the murdered soldier’s son confronted McGuinness you could see the heavies champing at the bit in the background.

  • Donal Davoren


    So they haven’t gone away then?

  • Martin seems to be cracking up under the pressure. Here he slips into ‘shock and awe’ mode:

    I am not going to tell you what I did because the public aren’t interested. Why don’t you keep your mouth shut?

    You’re rapid-firing all sort of questions at me and you’re not even giving me a chance to answer. I stand in elections and I think I represent more people than you. .. Daily Mirror [jpg]

  • 241934 john brennan

    SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has welcomed the visit of Irish presidential candidate and former Culture Minister Michael D. Higgins to Derry today, where he voiced his opposition to dissident IRA violence and offered his personal support to those who are building towards City of Culture 2013.

    Like Herman Goring saying “when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun,” there are dissident IRA republicans in Derry who, on hearing the words ‘UK city of culture’ plant an IED in an Arts Centre

  • Martin in Dublin’s Mansion House yesterday:

    Change can start here – let it begin with me (not).

    Patriotic Dublin, which was the cradle of modern Irish republicanism, home to the Easter Rising of 1916. Dublin that stood up to empire and against injustice and inequality.

    Dublin that sustained the workers during the Great Lock Out.

    It was the same Dublin patriotism that in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s drove Dublin communities to campaign for decent housing and tenants rights, to face down the drugdealers, to challenge the developers and landlords. That demanded better for the children of this city.

    It doesn’t seem so very long ago that some SF councillors invited me to blog their side of a superstore development. When I invited them to supply the name of the developer they lost interest …

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Fantastic of Miriam O’Callaghan to catch him when he’s bleating on about his faith and ask: “How do you square with your God that you were involved in the murder of so many people?”

    Then the priceless response: “I think that’s a disgraceful comment to make.” I mean, he was actually angry that she’d said that. You couldn’t make it up. What planet is he on?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Meanwhile, having largely ignored Irish politics until this McGuinness thing, I hadn’t quite realised how much of a kook Dana is. Bloody hell. Mind you, I’d take any of them over McAleese.

  • Henry94

    RTE’s obsession with the role of Martin McGuinness sin the 70s and 80s is completely at odds with their failure to cover those decades and SInn Fein’s part in them when they were actually happening.

    Section 31 was designed to isolate northern nationalists and the RTE approach to McGuinness is designed to do the same thing.


    Fantastic of Miriam O’Callaghan to catch him when he’s bleating on about his faith and ask: “How do you square with your God that you were involved in the murder of so many people?”

    It’s a sign of how badly O’Callaghan did her job that it leads to reactions of demented ecstasy like that. Far from bleating about his fait he said he was a Catholic but if he had been born in another part of the city he could have been raised a Protestant. Instead of letting him develop that interesting point O’Callaghan demanded to know if he went to confession! It was an extraordinarily inept intervention by any standards.

    The mistake her defenders make is in assuming that people won’t see it for what it was.

  • Martin is making life very tough for the SF apologists 🙁

  • “if he had been born in another part of the city he could have been raised a Protestant.”

    Was he born in a stable, Henry94? He’s been making a right ass of himself.

  • Jimmy Sands

    RTE’s obsession with the role of Martin McGuinness sin the 70s and 80s is completely at odds with their failure to cover those decades and SInn Fein’s part in them when they were actually happening.

    Murder a couple of thousand people and they never let you hear the end of it. Sure God love him we’ve been so mean to him I wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to stay up north where he gets more respect. We really don’t deserve him.

  • “We really don’t deserve him.”

    Is Chico the only gunman in your Magnificent Seven, Jimmy?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Seriously Nevin, it’s like doing the Crosaire with you.

  • Sorry, I thought you were the Coco man, Jimmy …

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “It’s a sign of how badly O’Callaghan did her job … It was an extraordinarily inept intervention by any standards.”
    Yes, how dare she think his being a mass murderer was worth a blunt question or two … inept of her really. And it’s terrible to see an unrepentant terrorist godfather wrong-footed by a straight question about his past. She should be ashamed of herself.

  • Thanks for putting up the context of Miriam’s challenge, Henry94; the Pope in 1979 challenged Martin and others on that point.

    It seems strange that many who rightly condemn those who abuse children for sexual purposes are much more reluctant to challenge those who abuse children for paramilitary purposes – riots and organised crime come to mind.

  • Henry94

    Yes it was inept. The fact that so many people with extreme anti-SF views are applauding her proves the point. She was completely lop-sided in her approach.

  • Jimmy Sands

    The fact that you feel able to describe opposition to murder as “extreme” demonstrates the need to confront these attitudes.

  • Henry94


    If you accept what happened was confrontational then you make my point for me. You confront your opponents and That is how the supposed moderator of the debate acted. You applaud the confrontation because you don’t care about the debate and full marks for consistency there.

  • Jimmy Sands

    To make your point for you I’d have to know what it is. What exactly is your objection to the question? Are you arguing that he is not a murderer or simply that what candidates do for recreation is private and off limits?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Best line from Miriam: “How did you leave the IRA? Did you write a letter?”

    Votail O’Callaghan!

  • Alias

    Terry Prone provides a good breakdown of the consequences of Marty McGuinness’ breakdown:

    Terry Prone, Ireland’s most prominent PR and communications expert, said she believed McGuinnness had made a fatal error: “His core vote will be solidified by a sense of injustice. His floating vote, on the other hand, would have begun to ship water and the episode radically reduced his capacity to attract transfers. Not so much because of his rage on screen, but because, after the programme, he attacked ‘one of our own’. Irrespective of your view of Miriam O’Callaghan, she is a respected constant in the minds of the Irish public – their representative on TV, and a woman. An enraged McGuinness demanding – and getting – a post-programme private meeting with her argued a coercive sense of entitlement which did him no good at all.”

    Incidentally, despite the Shinners sending an email to party hacks instructing them to complain to RTE, only 100 of them were foolish enough to obey the command.

  • The pressure from the victims of PRM atrocities continues to build against Martin McGuinness:

    ‘Michael’s colleagues were very supportive but, aside from them, we were given no support.

    ‘We, as a family, were hoping to confront McGuinness but we missed him.’

    Garda Clerkin’s relatives are hoping the families of 10 other gardaí killed by republican terrorists will join together to confront Mr McGuinness.

    ‘We are now hoping that all the various families get together and confront him,’ Peter said. ‘That would send a deeply powerful message. I myself, if the opportunity arose, would ask a few awkward questions.’

    Garda Clerkin’s brother-in-law Paddy, who is married to Assumpta, told of their ‘shock’ when they first found out Mr McGuinness was running for the presidency.

    ‘We were on holidays in France and we just could not believe it,’ he said. ‘I personally think that this run for presidency is simply to test the waters in the south. And I am worried that young people who didn’t live through it will vote for him.’ Debbie McCann, Daily Mail

    Pressure from the media is one thing but the surprise on Martin’s face when he encountered David Kelly and his brusque response to David would indicate that this reaction was not factored into PRM calculations when they decided to run Martin for the Aras.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Moderators are not expected to be morally vacuous.

    You can see what’s happening here. Republicans have allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security about their Troubles guilt. People in the Republic preferred not to pursue Republicans after the GFA – due to having other fish to fry, some sympathy with being up against us and a feeling that whatever happened, all’s well that ends well. “They’re all crazy in Northern Ireland.” But the McGuinness candidacy is pushing them out of their comfort zone.

    They seem to be saying, we can live with you moving on, but that doesn’t mean we’ve all had lobotomies.

  • What ever you say, say nothing – to a journalist:

    “In the 2002 interview, Conan said: “Thirty years ago — I’m sure you forget this — we actually met at your house in Derry at a time when you were the Provo or Provisional IRA commander in Derry and in fact at the time there was a campaign of car bombing going on and I asked you about that and here’s a question and the answer you gave to it: “Inevitably some civilians are going to be hurt in these explosions?”

    McGuinness, whose voice was nowhere near as modulated as it is now, replied in a sharp Derry accent: “That is quite right you know but we have always given ample warning and anybody that was hurt was hurt through their own fault, being too nosey, sticking around the place where the bomb was after they were told to get clear. It’s only been their own fault that they’ve been hurt.”

    In the 2002 interview, Conan then asked: “Their own fault that they got hurt? A lot of us said things 30 years ago that we probably want to have back. Given that reflection, is there anything that, have your thoughts changed on that subject since then?” .. Jim Cusack, Sindo

  • Alias

    Brendan O’Connor has a good article in today’s Sunday Independent on moment when the mask slipped and the street thug behind it came back into view:

    Where it all fell apart for Martin McGuinness in the debate was in his use of one very simple word, a word he used twice — “Miriam”.

    It was that barking of “Miriam! Miriam!” and the flash of anger that crossed McGuinness’s face as he said it that was the real moment his mask slipped. It was very, very revealing and very, very stupid. Suddenly McGuinness looked like a man who was capable of being involved in a murder, a man whom you wouldn’t want to make angry, because you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

    When we subsequently heard that McGuinness had confronted Miriam O’Callaghan in a dressing room afterwards, that raised voices were heard, and that O’Callaghan, a tough woman who has dealt with the vicious politics not just of RTE but of the BBC too, was very shaken afterwards, we weren’t surprised. Because we had seen that bark, that “Miriam, Miriam”. And in that moment, even more so than when he told Private Paddy Kelly’s son David that his dad’s murder was in the past, and that David should essentially get with the programme and move on, Martin McGuinness screwed up.

    By demanding to follow it up afterwards — by which time he should have cooled down — with a dressing-room confrontation with Miriam O’Callaghan was even more foolish of McGuinness. You mess with Miriam O’Callaghan at your peril. Not because of her as such, but because of the regard in which she is held “down here”, as McGuinness, on Wednesday night, called the country of which he wants to be President. Attempt to bully Miriam O’Callaghan and you attempt to bully all of Mna na hEireann, all the mothers, all the working mothers. Not a good move. Just doesn’t look good. But then, maybe Martin doesn’t get certain things about down here.

    It is telling that despite a concerted campaign by Sinn Fein to deluge RTE with complaints after the debate , only 100 were received in the 24 hours or so after the Prime Time programme. Sinn Fein can normally generate much more of a response than that. But maybe even the Shinners knew in their heart of hearts that it was not O’Callaghan who stepped over the line on Wednesday, but McGuinness.

    What Miriam O’Callaghan apparently did wrong was to suggest that Martin McGuinness may have had an involvement with murders in the past. This was apparently an outrageous slur on McGuinness’s character. Except that we all know that Martin McGuinness had an involvement with murders in the past. So what is so outrageous about Miriam O’Callaghan asking him about it? What would be outrageous is if Miriam O’Callaghan didn’t ask him about it.

  • Harry Flashman

    “It seems strange that many who rightly condemn those who abuse children for sexual purposes are much more reluctant to challenge those who abuse children for paramilitary purposes – riots and organised crime come to mind.”

    Good point, it’s funny how the same people looking to lynch octogenarian priests and nuns for sins committed forty or more years ago are so blase about electing a man with Marty’s history to the highest office in the land.

  • Alias, there’s a great article from Terry Prone in the Examiner on the danger of dropping lit matches during a presidential campaign:

    Human beings, all day, every day, share gossip about scandal, disease, betrayal, greed and crookery. They buy media for an extension of that. Not for uplifting sermons about the righteous. They get that bit in the editorial. Can you quote a recent editorial from any paper? Didn’t think so.

    It’s media’s job to provide counterpoint and contrast to ubiquitous PR sunshine, so you’d better work out what’s the worst they might find out about you, or be told about you by someone you got drunk with/slept with/were horrible to 30 years back, or some employee you fired or some relative who believed you did them out of something to which they felt entitled.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Nevin: “ Human beings, all day, every day, share gossip about scandal, disease, betrayal, greed and crookery. They buy media for an extension of that. Not for uplifting sermons about the righteous. They get that bit in the editorial. Can you quote a recent editorial from any paper? Didn’t think so.”

    THE IRISH News editorial is about the presidential election. Its headline reads “GALLAGHER LACKS GRAVITAS”

    It also says “McGuinness has dropped back to 13% …. a long way behind the level which would make him a realistic contender for the presidency. He is entitled to wonder if his advisers were correct to encourage him to refer to the endorsement from some victims of IRA violence, which he cited from his first intervention. This decision to put the record of the IRA at the top of the agenda was never likely to prove to be of advantage to Mr McGuinness with a Southern audience, which is still assessing its wider attitude towards Sinn Fein”

    So there you have it! Sinn Fein itself and Martin McGuinness himself are to blame for the media spotlight and direct questions relating to his IRA past.

  • Mary Anna

    “This Must Never Be Allowed To Happen Again”

    A young man, David Kelly, from the Republic of Ireland had the guts to come out and speak out against the injustice that was inflicted upon him. He confronted Martin McGuinness about the murder of his father, Patrick Kelly. His father was a 35 year old private in the Irish Army who was killed by the IRA when he and others tried to rescue businessman Don Tidey who had been kidnapped by the IRA. Private Kelly was gunned down along with Garda Gary Sheenan in the rescue attempt in Co. Leitrim in 1983.
    The question is why are there not more David Kellys in Northern Ireland ? – people who are willing to confront the people and organisations responsible for their loss and pain. Perhaps there is a clue in McGuinness’s response to Mr Kelly – “that was 30 years ago”. In Northern Ireland, people are being constantly told to move on and draw a line in the sand by the very same people that perpetuated the violence and hatred. Bringing up the past is looked upon as somehow being against the peace process – it is not – it is merely victims and victims families looking for the truth of what happened to their loved ones and for those that inflicted that pain to face up to their responsibilities.

    Before history gets rewritten let us remind ourselves of just how many victims there were. In our conflict between 1969 and 2001 a total of 3526 were killed and those organisations responsible are listed below.

    Responsibility for killing[125]

    Responsible party No.
    Republican paramilitary groups 2057
    Loyalist paramilitary groups 1019
    British security forces 363
    Persons unknown 82
    Irish security forces 5
    Total 3526

    Now back to David Kelly and the lack of people like David Kelly in Northern Ireland. We in the North have been brow beaten and bullied into keeping quiet – exhausted from a dirty war and only too glad that there is some semblance of peace – the majority think it better to keep quiet and allow the perpetrators to rewrite history. A recent example of this type of bullying was when Martin McGuinness threatened to reveal secrets about Frank Hegarty that would embarrass the Hegarty family. Frank Hegarty was the MI5 agent that McGuinness was alleged to have lured back to his death in Derry.
    There has been much talk – well that is not entirely correct – some talk about the need for a truth commission. In my opinion this is just a smoke screen and a device for those who inflicted the pain to avoid facing up to the pain they caused – they don’t expect a truth commission or its terms of reference to ever be agreed but can deal with embarrassing questions by pronouncing their support for a commission. The nearest we had to a truth commission was the Bloody Sunday Enquiry and even then we never got the full truth – the Ministry of Defence stalled and obstructed the enquiry whenever they could and the IRA, in the form of Martin McGuinness, refused to tell all citing IRA confidentiality.
    I believe that if victims want truth and justice then they have to demand it because the vested interests in Stormont and Westminster are only concerned with self interest and self interest excludes truth and justice. There is a risk that victims will become forgotten and the reality of the conflict blurred and romanticised – increasing the risk that the denial of the past will doom us to repeat it. Take a look at the new young recruits to the UVF or dissident Republicans who are too young to have ever experienced the nastiness and heart break of troubles but are intent in reproducing them – romantic notions of being heroes for Ulster or Ireland.
    That is why victims have to take things into their own hands and confront those now in power and responsible for the pain.
    I believe that it would be a very powerful thing to do if relatives of those killed in the conflict, come together, each with a picture of their murdered love one and display them on mass.
    We have an, early, excellent opportunity presently, with the race to be President of Ireland. Martin McGuinness brought the northern aspect to it . The majority of the population in the Republic have no real idea as to what it was like to live through the troubles and the real consequences of it.
    The sight of so many of the victims from the troubles, in one place, with photographs of their loved ones, will bring home the enormity of the loss and pain, and shame the politicians into doing sometime meaningful about truth and justice.
    Families can take back their lives by standing up for their dead. Take our campaign to Stormont, Westminster and the Dail bring a picture of a loved one. Never forget the damage that has been done by a futile war. We do not need to forget or draw a line in the sand, what is needed is convictions, justice, and then true peace will follow. If we do not make a stand now, then we teaching the next generation it is ok to take a life and to hurt and harm because no one will ever be held accountable.