I am a big boy – I can live with criticism – By Eamonn Mallie


It has been ‘defenestration’ week for me at the hands of many SDLP members up and down the country.

I am being singled out for exercising my editorial judgement on (@eamonnmallie.com) for using a photograph of John Hume, (the very embodiment of Northern Ireland’s Civil Rights movement) in an article authored by Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney.

Gladly many people contribute to my website, including SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and as a broad church and democrat, I welcome alternative opinion on the site – be that from loyalism, Unionism, Sinn Féin or from whomever regardless of persuasion, conditional upon each contribution not being libellous or defamatory.

I too was intellectually challenged by some aspects of Declan Kearney’s reading of the history of the Civil Rights movement.

As a student of that era I accept Kearney’s contention that some republicans were involved in the CR movement. I interviewed several of these down the years.

The SF chairman’s bold claim however that the CR campaign was inspired ‘also directly by the strategic decision of the IRA and Sinn Féin leadership’ startled me.

I turn now to my decision to use a photograph of John Hume in the Declan Kearney article.

Being affronted by some elements of Mr Kearney’s Civil Rights comments regarding the alleged drivers behind it and what I viewed as his gracelessness in appearing to studiously avoid mentioning John Hume’s name, I decided to put an image of the former SDLP leader at the heart of the article as a reminder to all that some facts of history were indeed being reinterpreted by Sinn Féin.

Of necessity it is not my remit to write or re-write the substance of any contributor’s copy on my website. This is a truism.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood was acquainted with my raison d’être for using John Hume’s photograph as soon he raised his concerns about its inclusion with my colleague Brian Rowan. Brian is a valued regular contributor to my website.

On Monday at 23.46 Tanya McCamphill, press officer for the SDLP advised me in writing, former party General Secretary Bríd Rodgers wanted the right to reply to Declan Kearney on the website.

I agreed to that. Níor scrióbh Bríd rud ar bith fós ar an suíomh idirlín. Tá fáilte roimpi sin a dhéanamh fós.

I bear no grudge against my critics.

5 thoughts on “I am a big boy – I can live with criticism – By Eamonn Mallie

  1. You are a good man.

    From the Wee Lad at Hughies side to the Soldier in CT gear to the Business man to the ………

    It is a journey.

    God bless, always.

  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Niall_O_Dochartaigh-NUI_Galway/publication/322245387_What_did_the_Civil_Rights_Movement_Want_Changing_goals_and_underlying_continuities_in_the_transition_from_protest_to_violence/links/5a4e05cea6fdcc3e99d234e9/What-did-the-Civil-Rights-Movement-Want-Changing-goals-and-underlying-continuities-in-the-transition-from-protest-to-violence.pdf

    “Maney’s analysis of more than 200 civil rights events has established that republicans were involved in organizing almost 80 per cent of them (2007: 20). These findings are unsettling for those who seek to put clear blue water between the civil rights movement and the IRA.”

  3. My understanding is that the inaugural meeting of the CRA took place in January 1967 and that republicans, communists and others were centrally involved. Clearly people who were to become involved in the SDLP and the (Official and Provisonal) IRA in later years got involved especially as it became active in protesting and marching in 1968. It seems to me that it was a mixture of a range of people from a range of backgrounds ( including at least one unionist representative in the early days) who had a range of political and apolitical futures ahead of them. I think it is also clear that the then republican leadership backed it and was instrumental in organising it in line with the then post 1956-62 policy of ‘going political’,though in order to promote a broader base of support republicans usually took a backseat when it came to publicity. To say republicans were not centrally involved is just silly and flies in the face of historical fact. The sad thing was that the CRA was beaten off the streets before it could show that peaceful methods could deliver real and meaningful change. Despite commitments to change being forced on a reluctant Unionist Govt and unionist support in 1968 and 1969, by the then British Labour Govt in the face of protests, the slow pace of change and the violent unionist reaction meant the CRA was shortlived. Local Govt reorganisation and the removal of discriminatory control over social housing only came in in 1972 ( the worst year of the Troubles), while weak fair employment discrimination legislation was only introduced ( again with unionist opposition) in 1976, seven years after the start of the Troubles. In actual fact it took until 1989 to get serious anti-discrimination legislation in the North, twenty years after the start of the Troubles. I have no doubt that all those involved in the CRA (republican, nationalist, communist, reformers, progressives, or whatever) genuinely wanted peaceful protest to work. The response to peaceful protest however was violence from the state and its supporters and any reforms were too little too late.

  4. Seán, the statistic that “Maney’s analysis of more than 200 civil rights events has established that republicans were involved in organizing almost 80 per cent of them” means nothing unless we know how much republicans contributed to each and every event, not to mention if they were contributing as concerned citizens, or at the behest of republican organisations.

  5. After years of pain and hurt which northern Ireland people had to endure during the conflict Declan Kearney is trying to hijack the civil rights history to promote the shinners to their voters.
    Hope any democratic persons reading Eamonn mallies views on the civil rights history will focus on the fact that it is a truthful version and these democratic people whether young or old
    Will see the way forward and hence know which box to tick in any future voting.
    Only then will such a beautiful country blossom to a fine place which a least will have truthful elected reps ironing out the best way for their people

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