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20 March 2017

Thank you for all the laughs, Martina, and for showing us a side Sinn Fein tries to conceal

We should be grateful when republicans reveal their true face, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Martina Andersonís comments in European Parliament have caused uproar
Martina Andersonís comments in European Parliament have caused uproar

Well, I’ve had another look at Martina Anderson’s performance in the European Parliament on Monday night, and when I stopped laughing I tried to take it seriously.

Having done so, all I can say is: “Calm down, dear. Read a bit of history and embrace reality.”

“My generation,” she told the chairman and the only other person in that vast empty chamber, “went to war over discrimination, inequality, lack of civil rights and the denial of human rights”.

No it didn’t, Martina.

It murdered for a united Ireland.

I can see that you wouldn’t want to admit that to your EU friends, so you normally pretend the IRA killed almost 1,800 people because you were groaning under British oppression.

Actually, from the tone of your remarks last Monday week, any day now we can expect to be told that you went to war for the European project, although the truth is that Sinn Fein was fiercely anti-EU until very recently.

But enough of this.

I want to talk about your language.

I’ve been observing with interest for years the difference between what Sinn Fein spokespeople say in public and in what they think in private.

I still shudder when I remember the anti-police hatred I used to hear when, in the 1990s, I mingled with IRA sympathisers at parades and in cemeteries.

I wasn’t at this Sinn Fein event, but an RTE reporter was when in 1997 Gerry Adams — who talked publicly of peace and shook his head over Orange aggression — congratulated the activists who had spent three years fomenting trouble over parades — the “type of scene changes that we have to focus on and develop and exploit”.

These days the focus has changed.

As he explained privately in 2014, what was now going to break “these b*******” was “equality”.

“The Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality.”

Or, these days, Brexit.

Ms Anderson is putting a brazen face on her embarrassing rant, but her masters must be furious.

In the view of Sinn Fein it is the role of the “b*******” to be rude and crass.

Shinners are supposed to demonstrate their moral superiority by hiding their hatred and avoiding any crude language in public.

They’re certainly not supposed to be recorded saying things like: “Theresa, your notion of a border, hard and soft, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine ’cos you’re not putting it in Ireland.”

That’s why clever republicans try to control their more unruly supporters.

One of my minor pleasures is reading the colourful abuse I get on social media from those who feel aggrieved at my opinions.

It becomes a major pleasure when I see a serious Sinn Fein player ticking them off because they’re letting down the side.

It was, I think, the use of the C-word to describe me that caused Danny Morrison to rebuke a tweeter some time back.

The other day, Jim Monaghan of Colombia fame weighed into an energetic debate — which Facebook kindly alerted me to — about my appearance on the long list of the Orwell Prize.

I had never heard of Tom Stokes, the chap who had written an indignant post about this being positively, yes, “Orwellian”, but he was very cross.

His friends shared his distaste for me: “Horrible human being”, “spoilt academic who never, like her peers had to work for a living”. What? “Washed up aul hag”, “brazen hypocrite”, “most hated woman in Ireland” and so on.

And they recommended that my book be burned or used as cat litter and I should be dispatched to a gulag.

Mr Monaghan then posted: “Good grief. Do some of you not realise what you are doing to Irish Republicanism with the over the top and vulgar remarks.

“The way to combat the many wrong things written by Dudley Edwards is calm and rational analysis. Rational debate.

“Shouting and roaring and their written equivalent does no good for any cause.”

He’s right, Ms Anderson.

But I’m glad you trangressed.

And thanks for the laugh.

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

The paperback of Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic will be published on April 23.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards