by the editor
YOU’VE GOT to give them nine out of ten for effort. No, not the Shinners or the Greens or the handful of progressive independents and socialists elected to the new Dáil in Dublin, and who will hopefully provide a more radical and effective opposition over the coming years.
No, what we're referring to are the combined efforts of Messrs Blair, Ahern and Bush, represented for the most part by the denizens of their respective security, intelligence and establishment underworlds -- not forgetting their trusty, indispensable, and in some cases just plain lazy, friends in the media -- at influencing the Irish electorate in May.
It will not have escaped the seasoned observer of the conflict that the last few months in particular have seen something of a media frenzy of anti-republican propaganda. Throughout this period -- one which has included a second act of IRA decommissioning -- the the public has been asked to believe that republicans, and the IRA in particular, have been responsible for a whole host of misdemeanours ranging in scope from the break in at the top security establishment at Castlereagh through to the targeting of senior Tory politicians.
The media, which have been encouraged to have a field day over unproven allegations of IRA involvement with Columbian rebels, have even commented on the ‘remarkable similarity’ between pipe bombs found by the Israelis in Jenin -- as if these extremely crude devices bear any significantly different characteristics wherever they are made.
Some of us have been waiting to be informed that back issues of Republican News, signed in person by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness along with the entire IRA army council, have been discovered stacked an Al Qaida arms dump in Afghanistan.
Of course, with the prospect of elections to the Stormont assembly next March now clearly on the political horizon we can expect, as our northern correspondent points out elsewhere in this issue, much more of this in coming months.
In this respect at least the starting pistol has already been fired in the form of an admission by Downing Street press officers that Tony Blair recently endorsed and attended a fund-raising event at which some of Britainís wealthiest capitalists were encouraged to dig deep for the so-called moderate parties of the north.
While the initiative will undoubtedly serve as an example of what our most senior member of government considers to be an ‘even-handed’ approach to affairs in the six counties, the intended beneficiaries, the beleagured Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP, both of which face the prospect of political eclipse at the hands of the DUP and Sinn Féin respectively, may however wish to reflect on the effectiveness of the efforts of three governments, a host of intelligence agencies and their myriad media conduits in stemming support for the republicans at the Dublin election.
It’s safe to say that while the anti-republican propaganda war will remain a factor in generating artificial crises within the Irish peace process for many years to come, it has come up against a distinct credibilty gap. The signs are clear. Decreasing numbers of people believe or are influenced by what they read in the newspapers and even where they do, the political reality on the ground mitigates against an overriding negative effect.
History refuses to stand still and it will take more than a a few bungs from the over-privileged to rescue either the UUP or the SDLP from their likely fate --whatever other interventions are made on their behalf. Under the circumstances it is tempting to quote the words of Bob Dylan to Mr Blair and co: “Something’s going on here but you donít know what it is, do you, Mr Jones.”
There’s no better time to wise up.
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