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Send in the Clowns

By Niall ODowd

SEEMS that Radio Free Eireann, the dissident IRA radio program in New York, had harsh words about this newspaper and this columnist last Saturday. What a surprise!

For those of you who don’t know, Radio Free Eireann is run by a couple of “Sunshine Soldiers,” John McDonagh and Sandy Boyer, perfectly willing to be warriors in the war for a united Ireland as long as they can do it from 3,000 miles away and behind a microphone as against behind the wire.

How brave these characters might be under actual war conditions would be a fascinating proposition. A few years back I sat opposite Sandy on a Long Island Railroad train and said hello to him. He bolted from the carriage like a scared rabbit.

The week before last they had as a guest a former British spy who claimed that Martin McGuinness was an informer. The show usually operates at that level.

It is one of the ironies of the peace process that shows such as theirs have currency with those securocrats and others who seek to bring down the peace process in the North.

The good news is that the main criticism on last Saturday’s show was coming from former Noraid honcho Martin Galvin, who has dropped the phony Belfast accent he used to speak in, reverting back to good old Bronx English.

In the old days Martin could rival Gerry Adams with his “ayes” and his “whataboutyou” greetings. Why, he sounded just like one of the lads from the Falls Road.

Seems like Galvin took great issue with our report on Noraid in a recent issue, when we noted that the annual Noraid dinner was not being held this year and that the organization was restructuring to reflect the new political realities.

Galvin saw this as a clear sign that this newspaper was spreading misinformation and doing Sinn Fein’s bidding. But Martin should really know better as he himself was the original source of the story after first revealing all on Radio Free Eireann.

Martin claimed on the show that he had knowledge of a letter from “Ireland” stating that Sinn Fein was no longer having anything to do with Noraid, and that money raised here by the group was no longer to be sent to Ireland.

When questioned, however, by our reporter Sean O’Driscoll, Martin could produce no such letter. The reason, of course, was that it didn’t exist. In fact he even told O’Driscoll who his source was, but that particular person specifically did not back up his allegations.

So Martin can hardly blame us then for following up on the story that he himself created, which makes it rich indeed that we were supposedly the ones who set out to cause humiliation for Noraid.

Along the way we mentioned that Galvin himself had been forced into political oblivion because he tried to create a split in Noraid and bring the organization along with the dissident IRA — an effort that failed miserably.

Since then Martin might as well be living at the North Pole for the amount of influence or impact he has. Obviously for a man who worshipped self-promotion and publicity this is a sad turn of events. Perhaps he is now seeking to make a belated comeback as a third stringer on Radio Free Eireann.

He will have to get in line among the failed Greek chorus of embittered former Sinn Fein supporters in America and Ireland who turned against them because of the peace process.

Strange, isn’t it, that such people would prefer to continue to see blood spilt than peace talks take place? It is the kind of logic that is only explained by the fact that it is most certainly not their blood or their relatives who might be killed.

Radio Free Eireann has done its best to foment dissension among Irish Americans about the peace process. The fact that they have failed so utterly to do so must be a source of great angst to them.

Maybe that is why they are now turning to some of the fading lights such as Galvin to try and light the fire again. Like everything else they do, however, this too is doomed to failure.

Irish Americans have long moved beyond the era of clowns, catchcalls and endless self-promotion. We should all be glad of that.



 © IrishAbroad.com 2009