Thursday, 17 January 2013
Pseudo gangs, the media and the dark legacy of Frank Kitson
On Sunday January 6 Republicans from throughout Munster and other parts of Ireland gathered in Limerick for the annual Seán Sabhat commemoration organised by Republican Sinn Fein. Little did we think that the scene was being set for the playing out of a Kitsonian melodrama, but more of that later. To begin with a very fitting ceremony was held at the Republican Plot in Mount St Lawrence including a fine oration delivered by Geraldine McNamara of Co Tipperary, the National Publicity Officer of Republican Sinn Féin. All in all it was a dignified tribute to the memory of a noble Irish patriot. Sadly the day was marred by the activities of a small gang who have, since May of 2010, been actively attempting to steal both our identity and good name. I am conscious of the accusation that to talk or write about them is to give them an attention that they do not deserve and indeed some would say an attention they crave after. It is a point I would largely agree with but there are times when certain facts need to be placed on the public record. This we have not flinched from doing in the past and indeed will do so again in the future if we deem it necessary to vindicate the good name of Republicanism and in protecting it from the calumny of such groupings. However, it is the actions of the media that I wish to discuss here and their collaboration with this gang in an act of identity theft. I will begin by giving a brief account of the events as they unfolded in the days following the commemoration. The Irish Independent on Monday January 7 in its print and online editions gave prominent position to the event staged by the Limerick gang, smearing the good name of Republican Sinn Féin in the process. A phone call to the newsroom of the Irish Independent was followed by an email. However instead of simply returning our call, in what appears to have been a rather convoluted process, our email was passed on to the Limerick Leader, who did at least have the courtesy to contact us. That evening RTÉ television’s main news programme Six One News carried what was essentially the earlier report of the Irish Independent. The RTÉ newsroom was immediately contacted and informed that the event reported in their news bulletin was not organised by Republican Sinn Féin. A statement was also sent to RTÉ as well as all other national print, broadcast and online media. Despite a demand that the later nine o’clock news bulletin carry our statement, the only concession to truth made by RTÉ was to drop the name of Republican Sinn Féin from the later bulletin. It took them a further two hours to amend the report on their website, and this involved merely including a couple of lines referring to a comments made by a “spokesman” from Republican Sinn Féin. The rest of the report persisted with the lie that Republican Sinn Féin had organised the event. The online news service, The Journal.ie, carried the statement in full. Despite this wide dissemination of our statement, the Irish Independent, the Irish Times and the Evening Herald all continued to spread the big lie in their editions on Tuesday, January 8. Once more the Irish Independent was contacted and a statement and letter released. It was only at lunchtime on the Tuesday that the Irish Independent even deigned to contact us. Over the course of two days the Irish media displayed an almost total disregard for truth or accuracy in their reportage. Based on previous experience if the media really believed this event had been organised by us they would have been more than forthcoming in seeking comments, interviews etc. The fact that the only contact made by the media was in response to contact we made with them, and that largely of the token variety, is itself very telling. The most disturbing aspect of this entire charade is that the media were willing to propagate this lie for days while paying little or no regard to the principles of accuracy, truth and balance. Gangs such as the one at the centre of this story fit the criteria of the infamous ‘pseudo gang’ concept, first devised by General Frank Kitson of the British Army. They made their first appearance in British occupied Kenya in the 1950s. Since then their effectiveness has been honed and perfected by the British in various theatres of operation, from the Six Counties to Iraq. The South African apartheid regime used such gangs to discredit the ANC. These state sponsored gangs work to an agenda designed to both discredit the true revolutionary movement in the eyes of the people and at the same time sow seeds of doubt and division in the ranks of the legitimate movement. Frank Kitson has indeed bequeathed a dark legacy to the world and in Ireland it seems there are those who are all too willing to implement his strategy. Vigilance and care are called for as seldom before.