From Irish Political Review: January 2006
The Dictatorship Of The (petty) Bourgeoisie
Michael McDowell has declared that as Minister for Justice he is entitled to use Garda Criminal files to prosecute a political campaign against Frank Connolly and Sinn Fein. The Minister believes that Connolly and Sinn Fein are intent on overthrowing the State and therefore the normal democratic procedures such as 'due process' must be set aside.
When we first heard this we thought that the Minister had finally succumbed to paranoid delusions brought on by the pressures of high office. We shook our heads sadly and remembered earlier signs such as his attempts to deport a leaving certificate student and his hysterical denunciation of Daily Ireland as a Nazi publication.
But what do we know? We don’t have access to Garda or Special Branch files and the Taoiseach of our country, Bertie Ahern, does not think that his Minister is a fascist fantasist. The Taoiseach has not, no more than the Irish Political Review, direct access to Garda files. That privilege is reserved for the Minister for Justice. But perhaps Ahern is on McDowell’s circulation list. If so, it would be interesting to know where the Taoiseach stands in the pecking order in the midst of this state crisis. Was he consulted before McDowell read the Garda files or did he have to stand in line behind Chuck Feeney the financial benefactor of the Centre for Public Inquiry, the organisation that Frank Connolly works for? Or perhaps the Taoiseach had to wait until after Irish Independent journalist Sam Smyth had been given the details?
But whatever about the procedures for dealing with the crisis, it cannot be denied that there is a crisis. Not only does the Taoiseach support the Minister, but also the 'democratic' opposition does, or at least the 'democratic' opposition has not called for his resignation. Fine Gael believes that Connolly, not McDowell, has "questions to answer".
But what questions has Connolly to answer? Indeed what is Connolly being accused of? His alleged subversive act was travelling to Colombia on a false passport. It is difficult to know how this represents a threat to the Irish State unless the interests of Columbia and the Republic of Ireland are so close that a threat to one state is a threat to the other. Frank Connolly has denied this 'heinous' crime in unequivocal terms. But apparently others know better.
In an interview with Eamon Dunphy the journalist Sam Smyth said that he "believed" that Connolly had travelled to Colombia on false documentation. He then produced "evidence", which consisted of a copy of a passport application not in Frank Connolly’s name. He claimed that the passport application had a passport photo, which looked like Frank Connolly. But he had not seen the original picture: only an A4 copy. Even though Smyth has known Connolly for nearly 20 years he could not say for certain if the person in the A4 copy was Frank Connolly, but other unspecified people "believed" that the person in the photograph was indeed Connolly.
Dunphy said that he knew of other journalists working for Independent newspapers that also saw the A4 copy and did not think that it was Connolly. And isn’t it interesting that a valid passport photo (the application was successful after all), allegedly of Connolly, accompanying a passport application in another name is not sufficient to convict Connolly of a criminal offence?
But perhaps such notions of 'evidence' and 'due process' are the mere 'props' of the judicial system of a bygone era. They have no place in the new revolutionary era ushered in by Michael McDowell. The Irish Times columnist Kevin Myers has described such a notion as "due process" as a "folderol" and a "mare’s nest". The job of journalists in the new era is the revelation of 'truth' and 'truth' does not need to be filtered by evidence or due process. Any journalist who does not recognise the 'truth' is an "enemy". Myers has announced that Frank Connolly travelled to Colombia on bogus documents and the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery. Anyone who does not recognise these 'truths' is either a "dupe or a mole". All distinctions between the roles of the Minister for Justice, journalists, policemen, judges and juries have become irrelevant. The citizen is either for the state or its enemy. Indeed it appears that the past and present have also become blurred. The Special branch files on Connolly have been made public and they indicate that Connolly was a member of a group called "Revolutionary Struggle" twenty years ago when he was a student and therefore he is a member of "Revolutionary Struggle".
In a bygone era we might have dismissed Myers as a reactionary windbag, the court jester of the West Brit coterie that runs The Irish Times. But not anymore! Kevin Myers has joined the main stream. The Minister for Justice has decreed at a press conference at which he refused to answer any questions about the Frank Connolly affair that all journalists should paste Myers article to the wall and learn it by heart. Myers represents the new orthodoxy.
The Minister, who is a member of a party representing about 3% of the vote and with two Cabinet seats, believes that Sinn Fein along with their proxies—the Centre for Public Inquiry and Frank Connolly—are part of a conspiracy to overthrow the State. We have said in the opening paragraph that McDowell is intent on prosecuting a 'political campaign' but this doesn’t quite describe the essence of the campaign. His political opponents are not just people he disagrees with but criminals.
How could the Republic of Ireland have arrived at such a perilous state requiring such extreme measures? The economy has been booming. The war in Northern Ireland has stopped and the IRA has been de-commissioning its arms. Twenty years ago unemployment was nearly 20%. There was a war in Northern Ireland. Thirty years ago bombs were going off in Dublin and Monaghan. And yet no Minister for Justice felt it necessary to use criminal files to try in public his enemies: not Sean Doherty, not Jim Mitchell, not Michael Noonan, not Paddy Cooney, or any other Minister for Justice.
We are impressed by McDowell’s energy and revolutionary zeal, which has carried the state’s largest political party in its wake. But we cannot avoid the conclusion that the people who allowed the State to reach such a degree of vulnerability in the most favourable circumstances imaginable are unfit to govern. Since it appears that we now have to be either for or against the current McDowell led regime we feel we have no alternative but to declare ourselves on the side of the revolutionary opposition!
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