“There was nothing in what Martina Anderson said that anyone could have taken exception to.”

And so, to the latest incident of the false rage contagion, which spread to Donegal yesterday, where a group of protestant youths stormed out of a cross-community gathering because of the fact that Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson had been asked to speak.

Whilst Turgon’s thread contained the Newsletter version of the story- complete with false allegations of an IRA speech- the truth would appear to be a lot simpler than that and considerably less comfortable for the loyalist protestors involved.

On today’s Nolan Show, one of the event organisers, former garda PJ Hallinan , dismissed the idea that there had been an IRA speech and appeared completely perplexed as to why anyone could have objected to the content of the speech.

“There was nothing in what Martina Anderson said that anyone could have taken exception to.”

Most tellingly, he stated that he’d been told the loyalist protest was a reaction to the Mayor/ cadet story in Belfast, and that some of the loyalists had left the premises prior to the speech which was supposed to be what had offended them.

The objection to Martina Anderson’s presence on the basis of her republican background is most interesting, not least since one individual long associated with the cross-community Messines Project is former UDA Leader, Glenn Barr, whose own loyalist credentials are well known.

As another caller to the Nolan Show also pointed out, youths from nationalist and unionist inner-city areas regularly attend meetings where former republican and loyalist activists speak as part of efforts to defuse tensions in interface areas.

Objecting to the use of Irish (in Donegal no less!) is straw-clutching at its worst and is clearly a face saving exercise by those who had jumped the gun in their haste to indict Sinn Fein’s Junior Minister on what is clearly a bogus charge.

The link with the Cadet story in Belfast City Council is also noteworthy, not least for the precedent the protesters would appear comfortable with setting. As we’ve noted here on Slugger, there were three notable incidents in the past week involving politicians acting or speaking in a manner which was inconsistent with the culture of reconciliation and tolerance most political parties are purportedly interested in developing. To date, but one of those political figures has expressed remorse, a position confirmed by leading colleagues in his own party.

Alas,his fellow Belfast City councillor, David Browne and, perhaps more importantly, Member of Parliament and Executive Minister Sammy Wilson, have yet to follow the Mayor’s lead and express remorse for their words- indeed, Sammy Wilson has even boasted about his ability to annoy the ‘other’ in an Assembly reply when the matter was raised on the floor of the House.

Ironically, Mr Wilson recently paid a visit to a catholic post-primary school in West Belfast. Were nationalists to catch the false rage contagion, presumably cars belonging to unionist councillors attending the next City council meeting would be attacked by tricolour-waving mobs chanting republican songs in objection to the description of the Irish language as ‘gobbledegook’ by a unionist councillor, whilst catholic kids would walk out of schools when DUP representatives set foot in the doors.

But that’s not likely to happen, nor would nationalist and republican politicians appear interested in rubbing that bottle.  

And that’s a worthwhile story in its own right.

  • fordprefect

    Mary Anna, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but Martina Anderson was never charged nor convicted, or as far as I know, never had anything to do with the Brighton bombing.

  • Neil

    A little bit more info here:

    http://www.derryjournal.com/news/local/hallinan_rejects_claim_ira_speech_led_to_walk_out_1_3325914

    According to the article, Hallinan and Anderson confirm that the IRA was never even mentioned in this ‘IRA speech’:

    When asked was it an IRA speech he replied: “That’s ridiculous. It’s way off the mark.”

    The same response was given by Martina Anderson when contacted by the ‘Journal’: “I did not make ‘an IRA speech’. At no time did I even mention the IRA.

    Of course some folks here say that’s all well and good, but what contribution could Martina possibly make to a World Was discussion?

    P.J. Hallinan confirmed that Martina Anderson has visited Messines in Belgium as part of a reconciliation trip. It was here that 36th Ulster Division and the 16th Irish Division fought and died together in the First World War

    Ah right, so that explains it then. She was making a speech to a cross community group after having been involved in a reconciliation trip to Messines. Good enough? No? Thought not.

    Face up folks, these people left over an ‘IRA speech’ which never existed – if they’d had the gumption or courage to face a debate where they might have heard a non-Loyalist opinion (shock horror!) they might have realised that.

  • sliabhluachra

    So that is settled. Ms Anderson admits that, a Belgian junket excepted, she was not qualified to talk and that she should have kept for views, such as they are about the Great War, and her criminal past a secret as they had no relevance to the meeting.
    As a gesture of goodwill, she should promise to stay away from all future meetings and perhaps donate some of her salary to Help for Heroes and/or the Royal British Legion via their Enniskillen branch.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Neil,

    it is now clear that the UVF for whatever reason, possibly funding, tried to up the ante with the BCC street protests. As Hallinan stated this was the reason given to him for the walk out.

  • Mary Anna

    @ ford prefect- IRA bomb plotter is police watchdog | Mail Online
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/…/IRA-bomb-plotter-police-watchdog.ht...
    Block all http://www.dailymail.co.uk results
    23 Apr 2007 – Martina Anderson was jailed for her part in a plot to murder … We want to see very clear evidence that this woman has put her past behind her …

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “We want to see very clear evidence that this woman has put her past behind her …”

    Who is this ‘we’ you are referring to? Also, why are you linking to an article from The Apprentice? Also, (part 2) why are you spoofing about Anderson putting someone in a wheel chair?
    Go away, read up and then come back.

  • babyface finlayson

    Mary Anna
    I think Martina Anderson was convicted of conspiring to cause explosions.
    I’m sure she hoped that they would not result in any injuries.

  • john

    I was just about to post a link to the letter sent by Martina Anderson to the News Letter but its seem to have a disappeared off their site. Do they not like it when someone accuses them of sloppy journalism by printing a headline story on the basis of what a friend told a friend.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    I WOULD appreciate space in your paper to totally refute the inflammatory headline in your edition of Wednesday, December 7, and the totally unfounded allegations in the article.

    To put the record straight I did not make, as your headline claims, ‘an IRA speech’. At no time did I even mention the IRA! The event was organised by the Inishowen Development Partnership and I participated in my capacity as an MLA.

    The event theme was the Battle of the Somme and the involvement of thousands of Irishmen from all over the island of Ireland who took part and perished in WW1. As part of my introduction of who I am and the perspective from which I was coming I gave a short outline of my background, including the fact that I spent time in prison. At no time did I mention the IRA or attempt to ‘glorify’ the conflict from which we are all still emerging.

    When I began to speak, a small minority of people from the unionist community staged what I believe was a predetermined walk-out. Others from unionist communities remained for the entire presentation and I believe enjoyed the experience.

    The organisers of the event have been in touch with me to assure me that nothing that I said could be construed as offensive and that it was their understanding that, rather than taking offence at anything that I had said, the walk-out was planned in protest against unrelated events in Belfast in recent days.

    If this is in fact the case, then I find it very sad that those adults who were chaperoning the youth participants would have approved or even condoned such action.

    Although disappointed that such an ill-mannered action has overshadowed what was an otherwise positive and enjoyable event, it will not deter me from participating in future events of a similar nature. I would urge others to take a mature and forward-looking approach to these gatherings and accept that there will be divergent views expressed by people with different reflections of any given subject.

    I would also urge the media to take a more responsible approach to reporting such events rather than persistently chasing controversy to sell papers or inflate listener/viewer numbers.

    Martina Anderson MLA (Foyle)

  • sliabhluachra

    What an ill-tempered and badly-written letter. Does this woman not understand that Protestants do not want to have her life story rammed down their necks and that they go to Great War talks to learn about the Great War, not about a has-been bomber?
    If Ms Anderson wants to make a “mature and forward-looking” approach to such events she should clearly stay away or at least shut up until she has something of note to contribute.
    In apologisg for her past career as an indiscriminate bomber, she might mention that babyface finlayson is “sure she hoped that they would not result in any injuries”.
    Her flat mate, who was convicted of the indicriminate Brighton bomb might want to do the same.

  • Mary Anna

    When people do bombs and killing they do not hope to to injure anyone -catch your self on – that is why they go out and blow people to bits ! It is a crime to hurt and harm anyone -all for what? I know that there is many suffering today from PSTD wreck lives from the past troubles war- bombings limbs lost and there is people left scared for life in wheel chairs dead murdered But their war is big business. No excuses please.

  • babyface finlayson

    sliabhluachra/Mary Anna
    Re my comment that Martina hoped no-one would be injured.
    I thought it was fairly obvious I was being sarcastic. Clearly not.
    As for the topic, I agree the News Letter seems not to have done much investigation of this story. Who else did they interview?
    Why no sign of the speech still?

  • Mary Anna

    They are in hiding – like everything else. I am very sorry picked you up wrong. They can’t take their oil and when they are under pressure they keep their heads down and they know that they are wrong full stop. Only thing that they are good at is controlling bullying and having big egos! They could lie for Ireland Scotland Wales England, sociopaths that is something they really are experts at!