Joe, as one concerned about rewriting history,i suggest you check out Kevin Rooney's excellent review of Myer's book Watching The Door,you will find it on The Spiked Review of Books.
Depoliticising the war in Northern Ireland
With its lurid descriptions of the 'feral youth' and fat 'toothless slatterns' of Belfast, Kevin Myers’ vicious attack on Irish Republicanism is an attempt to rewrite the history of the Troubles and absolve Britain of colonial guilt.
by Kevin Rooney
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Books about the conflict in Northern Ireland often divide opinion; not so with Kevin Myers’ book. The British press, from the Tory Daily Telegraph to the liberal Observer, has fallen over itself to heap praise on Myers’ new work. Likewise, figures as diverse as Christopher Hitchens, Frank McGuinness and former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern provide ringing endorsements on the front cover.
Watching the Door recounts journalist Kevin Myers’ time in Belfast in the 1970s reporting on the ‘Troubles’. It’s a mixture of politics and biography. The title comes from the common practice in Belfast pubs at the height of the Troubles of drinkers keeping one eye on the door in case a gunman burst in to spray the bar with bullets or leave a bomb.
Sadly, I have to depart from the consensus about the merits of Myers’ book. Aside from the fact that a substantial part of it is dedicated to Myers’ puerile sexual exploits, the abject hatred he displays towards most of the Belfast-based working-class people he encountered is genuinely shocking. Yet his revulsion seems to have been either ignored by reviewers, or indeed endorsed: ‘Kevin Myers recreates the moral and political slum that was Belfast’, says Hitchens on the dustjacket.
In common with many of the mainstream journalists who reported on the Irish conflict throughout the 1970s, mostly from the bars of Belfast’s plushest hotels, Myers offers us that well-worn narrative of an irrational sectarian bloodbath with Britain as the honest brokers caught in the middle. Rather than being understood as a national, political conflict, with Britain and its allies on one side and the Irish Republican Army on the other, Myers, like so many other British observers, depicts the conflict as a mad bloody rampage by horrible Republicans. His book might, as all of the reviewers have claimed, be a stonking good read - but you don’t feel good after reading it; the fact that Myers’ bitter anti-Republicanism doesn’t prevent him from gleefully describing having sex with the wives of IRA men is just one of many unappetising aspects of this objectionable work.
Myers wears his anti-Republicanism as a badge of honour and makes no pretence of any kind of objectivity or neutrality when discussing the different sides in the conflict. Though he deals with Loyalist and British army atrocities, the thrust of the book is very clear: it is an assault on Republicanism, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and, more broadly, the Republican community. Myers’ hatred for all things Republican is palpable. He sets out to remove any sense of principle, ideology or ideals behind the Republican community or its political struggles. Time after time, the IRA campaign is described as ‘tawdry, narcissistic, tribal, clinically insane and not ideological’.
“Myers tells us this struggle was nothing to do with politics, ideals, justice, or even God”
In the preface, Myers tells us very clearly that this struggle was nothing to do with politics, ideals, justice, or even God: ‘I witnessed the bloody chaos that results when the tribe is exalted over the individual, and when personal morality is abandoned to autonomous ethos of some imagined community, independent of God and law.’
Now that the Irish conflict is over (it ran from 1969 to 1994, with some isolated outbursts of violence in the later 1990s), the IRA has disbanded and the Republican challenge to British rule is defeated, there is no prospect of a united Ireland - indeed, the IRA’s political counterpart, Sinn Fein, now shares power in the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, a partitionist institution which they previously pledged to destroy. But none of that, it seems, is enough for Myers and his ilk. For them it is also necessary to bury any semblance of legitimacy behind the IRA’s challenge to British rule. While British army atrocities are ‘stupid, misguided and mistaken but never murder, Republicans are bullies, bigots and murderers’. While Myers asserts that young men joined the Provisional IRA for financial gain, a slice of the rackets or because they were simpletons, British soldiers were honest, decent, young men.
The book’s long list of bombings and shootings reminds us of the scale of death and suffering experienced during this intense and brutal war - all the more so given the small population of the six counties of Northern Ireland. As a comparison, if the same proportion of the population of the UK had died in such a conflict, the death toll would have been approximately 150,000. In a sense, this past tragedy is made even wor
Den ... as my granny would have said ..what do you expect from a pig but a grunt
I think the dissidents will give Myers his answer he shouldn't write THE END to his book just yet