Monday, August 21, 2006 


Searchlight Magazine has an interesting article up:
"Author: By Scott Millar | Date: August 2006

Ex-Provo gives new life to Irish clerical fascism
A former senior Provisional IRA member, who until 2003 sat on Sinn Fein’s national executive, is reorganising the extreme nationalist right in Ireland by attempting a takeover of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), the largely moribund marching organisation seen as the Catholic equivalent of the Orange Order.

Gerry McGeough, 47, from Tyrone, now living in Dublin, has been described by the FBI as a “dedicated terrorist” and “senior commander” in the IRA. He makes no secret of his Provisional IRA past and his extreme anti-gay and pro-traditional Catholic views. McGeough is believed to have served on the PIRA’s “headquarters staff” and overseen its international arms buying and military operations during the early 1980s. He has served eight years in total in American and German prisons, awaiting trial for an IRA attack on a British barracks in Germany in 1988 and attempts to purchase surface-to-air missiles in the US. Until recently he was the editor of the large circulation Irish Catholic newspaper the Irish Family.

Now he has turned his attentions to saving Ireland from “sodomy” and immigration and returning it to “Catholic Faith and Gaelic Heritage“. In May McGeough, as editor, and Charles Byrne, a 28-year-old from Drogheda, launched a monthly magazine called The Hibernian, dedicated to “Faith, Family and Country”. Seemingly well funded and run from premises in the border town of Drogheda, the magazine acts as a publicity vehicle for McGeough and the extreme right in Ireland. Some of its contributors are associated with Youth Defence, an extreme anti-abortion group, and the Society of Pope Pius X, others are those attempting to infiltrate and take over the AOH.

In recent months local newspapers in rural southern Ireland and the border area have carried advertisements for those interested in joining a revitalised AOH which is to focus on the promotion of so-called “Hibernian” values. McGeough says that a significant number of persons associated with his brand of homophobia and extreme Catholicism have now been recruited into existing AOH “divisions”, the term for local units of the organisation, and have formed new “divisions” in Dublin and other areas of Ireland. "
Fine. Just the usual run-of-the-mill letter writers to the Irish Times, surely?
"The first outing of McGeough’s new look AOH was a televised speech on 26 May by Michael McDowell, the Irish Minister for Justice, on civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The speech was interrupted when a jug of water, a number of cups and copies of the Irish constitution were thrown at the minister by eight men in the audience who accused him of seeking to pervert Irish children. The men, who were eventually escorted from the building, identified themselves to the media as members of the AOH. On the same day the website of The Hibernian carried a press release stating: “We, the General Tom Barry Division No. 1975 AOH, Cork and the Naomh Lorc O’Tuathail Division No. 31 AOH, Dublin, wish to state that we carried out today’s protest at the launch of a conference on homosexual ‘marriage’
However not all in the AOH were supportive of the actions of some of their new members. A week later Tony Carroll, the AOH public relations officer, said: “We saw the pictures on TV and everybody was amazed at what went on”. He pledged further to investigate the disruption and take “appropriate action”. However McGeough believes the days of mere charity work by the AOH are numbered. He said, in a taped interview forwarded to Searchlight: “I am part of a new group of people in the organisation who want to take a more pro-active stance on Catholic issues. If the leadership have a problem with Catholic teachings, then they should take it up with the Pope. The organisation which was moribund for years under that leadership is now attracting huge numbers of new people. We only have a convention every three years. but I believe we will see a radical shake-up at the next election.”"
We believe that Suzy has already encountered this lot. Unsurprisingly, there's also a Justin Barrett connection:
"The former terrorist first emerged as a figure on the Irish extreme right when he accompanied Justin Barrett on a lecture tour of Irish towns in March 2004 in support of Barrett’s bid for election to the European Parliament.
When confronted by video film of brown-shirted skinheads marching with neo-nazi flags through the conference on national television, days before the second Nice referendum, Barrett’s defence that he was unaware of the nature of the meetings became a national joke.

It was during this period that McGeough, then acting as organiser of the Sinn Fein anti-Nice campaign, became involved with Barrett and his cohorts. The two are still in close political contact although McGeough says he does not agree with Barrett’s vocal opposition to immigration.
So what's McGeough's current relationship to the Shinners?
Because of his IRA activities McGeough had a strong following among some Provo supporters. He was elected to the Sinn Fein national executive in 1999 while studying history in Trinity College. He became the party’s national campaigns organiser in 2001 and remained on the executive until 2003. During that time he, along with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, led Sinn Fein election campaigns and toured the country addressing republicans on behalf of the party.

The former terrorist is scathing of his former comrades in the leadership of Sinn Fein. In the Searchlight interview McGeough said: “Sinn Fein has been heavily infiltrated by homosexual activists and British double agents in recent years. A lot of republicans can’t fathom the liberal values of the leadership. They do not understand why they are pursuing a liberal British agenda. Immigration is a massive concern and there are a lot of people who are not happy with the level of immigration.” "
No love lost there, we guess. And then we were drawn to a familiar name:
"The only two websites that have links to [McGeough-edited magazine] The Hibernian are “Irish nationalism”, an openly racist site, and the “Irish Bulletin”. The second site, which has a banner proclaiming “Dispatches from the battle to defend Irish unity, culture, tradition and orthodoxy”, is the only outlet that initially promoted The Hibernian. It also carries “news” reports similar in content and style to those on The Hibernian’s website. Under the heading “European Nationalist Movements and Philosophies” the Irish Bulletin has links to the websites of Forza Nuovo, the International Third Position publication Final Conflict and the neo-nazi National Democratic Party of Germany among other extremist groups."
Searchlight goes on to further elucidate on the love-in. While there hasn't been any even half-serious fascist movement here since the days of the pre-Fine Gael Blueshirts, this lot (the somewhat further-out section of Irish wingnuttia) still bear keeping an eye on for mischief.



Dr. James Dobson's US-based Focus on the Family (more here) is a name which garners precious little recognition here in the Republic, but it really ought to. Founded by Dobson in 1977 (and of which he was president until recently, handing over to an ex-Christian Coalition activist) and closely GOP-aligned in the Age of Bush, Focus on the Family serves as a lobbying organisation and pressure group for hardcore Bible-bashers on predictable topics such as Creationism, the separation of Church and State and homosexuality (the side of the fence they fall on can be readily guessed). Dobson himself gives new definition to the phrase "fundamentalist loon":
In response to 9/11: "Question: Has God withdrawn His protective hand from the US?"

James Dobson responds: "Christians have made arguments on both sides of this question. I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality. However, rather than trying to forge a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the terrorist attacks and America's abandonment of biblical principles, which I think is wrong, we need to accept the truth that this nation will suffer in many ways for departing from the principles of righteousness. "The wages of sin is death," as it says in Romans 6, both for individuals and for entire cultures. " (FOF website,
(via PFAW)

Those with a masochistic streak can also Google for the good Dr. Dobson's beef with a children's TV cartoon character named SpongeBob SquarePants. But don't say that we didn't warn ye.

Where does Ireland fit into all this? Your humble blogger will sheepishly admit to having tagged along to an evangelical service in Cork about a decade ago (long story). This soul was long ago promised to the Divil, we're afraid, so there was no chance of even the lovely-looking girl sent over to 'introduce' herself to a stranger in the congregation being a sufficient enough temptation to lure a non-practicising Catholic boy to the Dark Side. But the obvious professionalism of the act by the two American pastors was duly noted for future reference - and just because they don't get attention from the Dublin media doesn't mean they're not out there in numbers and growing, folks.

Fast-forward a few years, and a character named Mervyn Nutley shows up in 2003 as the Director of an outfit called "Christian Initiatives", making a submission to the Department of Communications in favour of allowing religious advertising on the airwaves. Apparently already in existence for eight years, Christian Initiatives later that year got the franchise (so to speak) and became "Focus on the Family Ireland", thereby entering our little tale. Posturing as a Christian 'family support' organisation appears to be the modus operandi of FotF Ireland; they also popped up at the Joint Committee on the Constitution in 2005. But you can be sure that like the US parent organisation, that's just the thin end of the wedge for the rest of their agenda - anti-feminism, homophobia, creationism, sexual ignorance for adolescents and all the rest of it - to get in the door too.

And here's where we assign some homework to the Free Stater readership. Via the never-disappointing PZ Myers at Pharyngula, comes word of a way to exact some karmic retribution on FotF's attempts to do an end-run around their dues to Caesar - namely, selling wingnut literature for tax-deductible supposed "donations". There is, however, a weakness in this scheme... and you can find full instructions here.

Needless to say, we've already taken this opportunity to get a headstart on the Christmas shopping, ordering some Narnia goodness:

Be warned, though, that doing this puts you on the US fundie spam and junk-mail lists. We've already had invitations for Christian Dating(!) amongst other God-related offers in the Hotmail inbox (though good luck to them sending us junkmail through An Post) so caveat emptor, as they say.

p.s. Where would your neighbourhood evangelicals host their website on the Godless Internets? Why, with Godsweb, of course.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 

The sweet smell of bullshit

The BBC, yesterday:
Terror police find 'martyr tapes'

Police investigating an alleged plot to bring down airliners have found several martyrdom videos in the course of their searches, the BBC has learned.

An unofficial police source said the recordings - discovered on laptop computers - appear to have been made by some of the suspects being questioned.

Scotland Yard has refused to comment on what officers are finding.
Again, Aunty Beeb:
Terror detectives 'find bomb kit'

Police probing an alleged plot to bring down flights have found a suitcase containing items which could be used to construct a bomb, the BBC has learned.

Officers have been searching a piece of land called King's Wood in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

A police source told the BBC the case contained "everything you would need to make an improvised device".
As Craig Murray notes sceptically, "everything you would need to make an improvised device" covers the contents of the average residence:
"The idea that high explosive can be made quickly in a plane toilet by mixing at room temperature some nail polish remover, bleach, and Red Bull and giving it a quick stir, is nonsense. Yes, liquid explosives exist and are highly dangerous and yes, airports are ill equipped to detect them at present. Yes, it is true they have been used on planes before by terrorists. But can they be quickly manufactured on the plane? No.

The sinister aspect is not that this is a real new threat. It is that the allegation may have been concocted in order to prepare us for arresting people without any actual bombs.

Let me fess up here. I have just checked, and our flat contains nail polish remover, sports drinks, and a variety of household cleaning products. Also MP3 players and mobile phones. So the authorities could announce - as they have whispered to the media in this case - that potential ingredients of a liquid bomb, and potential timing devices, have been discovered. It rather lowers the bar, doesn't it?"
The 'evidence' leaked to the press by the police in this case mirrors such recent inglorious episodes as the Ricin Plot, the Forest Gate arrests, the death of Jean Charles de Menezes last year (and that of Rigoberto Alpizar in similiar circumstances in Miami). In each case, the narrative of Islamic terrorist plots placed with accommodating press hacks by the police ultimately turned out to be completely without substance. And Murray (the very same ambassador who blew the whistle on UK collaboration with the people-boiler of Uzbekistan) deals with the unreliability of evidence extracted by torture, an unwelcome slap of reality for torture fans everywhere.

But - and this is the important part - the sense of induced panic from the screaming tabloid headlines always lingers on in the public subconscious; whether as unintentional byproduct or (more sinisterly) by design on the part of the Blair and Bush governments. Which interpretation is correct, we leave up to reader discretion.

And as other people have already observed, the 'discovery' of this alleged plot couldn't have come at a better time for the Bush Administration, what with prominent pro-Iraq war Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman defeated that same week in his party primary by an anti-war candidate. As Murray notes in further posts, treat the narrative being peddled now by the Blair government with a good dose of caution. Why has no police officer gone on the record about these supposed finds of evidence?

p.s. For a detailed look at the reality behind the hype of liquid explosives, The Register provides.

(A close death in the family will continue to disrupt blogging on Free Stater for a couple of weeks. Dickie's threatened solicitor's letter has meanwhile yet to turn up on our virtual doorstep... Rest assured, We Will Return)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 

A Response emerges on Emailgate

Sicilian Notes posts a reply:
"Email Postscript

Following this post, the Sunday Independent ran this article. Much nonsense online has followed. While I regard the matter as closed, and said this when contacted by the author of the Independent piece, some clarification is in order.
First, I should not have published the name of the person who sent the email, as that put me on the wrong side of my own email policy. I'm happy to put my hands up and accept that I was in the wrong on that count. It's a remote probability that the author checked the policies or even knew they were there, but that's immaterial."
Regardless of whether or not there was a written policy, there is certainly a netiquette that private email carries some privileges. That Sicilian Notes put these principles into a written blog policies document just emphasises that Richard was aware of such custom.
"Second, the reports that the author lost his job are news to me. I know only that disciplinary processes were initiated. I neither know nor have any interest in what become of the email's author. Those presuming either way should limit themselves to known facts."
Here's a fact:

It's the same story out at UCD [helicopter noise - EWI note]. More often than not, when stepping outside there'll be one in the sky. The faint whir is audible as I type at the moment. Happily the noise inside this concrete bunker we all work in is reduced to insignificance, but the sheer number is striking. Given that helicopter traffic to UCD itself is unlikely on academic salaries, the supposition is that much of it is for the Radisson, which apparently is a favourite hideout of the helicopter set.

Posted by Richard Waghorne :: 7/14/2006 10:09:00 AM

"Third, the allegation online that I have misused IT facilities at one of my places of work is entirely incorrect."
The allegation that Richard has misused IT facilities has never been made. He has, however, been invited to reflect on the hypocrisy of castigating another person for the expenditure of taxpayer's money in a private cause while he himself clearly does likewise (UCD enjoying subvention from the public purse).
"Moreover, had I chosen to use UCD facilities to blog outside the time I allocate to fulfill my responsibilities there I would have been entirely entitled to do so, as is every other member of staff and the student body."
This is entirely up to UCD to decide, and not something that this blog concerns itself with. What does concern us is whether Richard uses any of our tax-euros to promote his views: the exact same justification ("Your taxes at work.") he used for outing the Údaras employee.
"It is possibly defamatory to report that I am in breach of contact by misusing facilities."
It is also "possibly" defamatory to falsely claim that someone else has made defamatory remarks about your own self. Richard has never been accused of breach of contract, about which we profess no opinion one way or the other: he has merely been labelled a rank hypocrite for likewise using facilities at least in part public-funded.
"I note in passing it has not been made by anybody writing under their own name. I note also that I have sought recourse to libel lawyers in the past with a 100% success rate to date. If the author is serious, I invite him or her to publish the claim under their own name. I will then refer the matter to one my lawyers (I find it a sad reflection on the world that at twenty-two I already have need of two of them). I invite those who have made or spread this claim to withdraw it. "
It is a matter for Richard Waghorne if he wishes to waste time and money pursuing a defamation case where it is abundently clear that none such has occurred. As to his concerns over pseudonymous bloggers, we suggest this little quiz for readers; just how many Waghorne-blogrolled right-wing bloggers are also pseudonymous?
"Fourth, though doubtless accidentally, Sarah Carey is incorrect in reporting that I "probably wouldn’t do it again". I would act exactly as I have with the single exception, as already mentioned, that I would not have made public the actual name of the person who sent the email. That an inappropriate and abusive email was sent from a state funded body is a matter of legitimate public interest and I would have considered myself remiss in not reporting the email, as I did straightaway, and in making public the basic facts of the matter. At the time I had no idea whether the author was a chief executive or a secretarial temp and would in any case have treated the matter in the exact same manner irrespectively. If the author did indeed lose his job the responsibility for that fact is entirely his and I neither express nor feel regret. There will be no apology. The responsibility is his and no amount of politically-motivated dislike of yours truly changes that fact."
Does Richard apologise for violating email confidentiality and publicly naming him? Apparently not...
"Fifth, Sarah Carey is in the wrong when she argued that I "shouldn’t have let the SINDO article go forward implying that [I] hadn’t complained". I supplied the journalist with all the information he requested and an accurate timeline of events on the day. I have at no point denied this and would have no reason to. If she is unhappy with the article in the Sunday Independent she should get in touch with the paper. They will, presumably, then tell her to get a life. As she is in the business of demanding apologies from people, myself included, she might consider, if not an apology, a correction at least."
In that case, there is a rather curious coincidence in that both articles forget to mention this detail; the disclosure of which might otherwise have taken the shine off Mr. Waghorne's halo in this sordid tale [1].
"Lastly, had the Irish language zealots who protested my brief piece in such inflammatory and unreasonable language across the blogosphere"
Inflammatory and unreasonable language isn't unknown to Mr. Waghorne, we fear.
"had the minimal maturity to respond in a rational fashion and desist from explicitly directing readers to send hate mail to my account, they would not have had one of their own suffer, by all accounts, a clear career setback of one type or another. You lost."
Who are the "you"? Alas, we can only speculate as to what VGLC (Vast Gael-Linn Conspiracy) Richard may have uncovered....
"And it was needless and entirely your fault."
Again, we're completely in the dark as to who the "you" is meant to be.
"Learn from it by learning to deal with disagreement as adults and not as caricatures of fringe interest lunatics. I accept no blame in the matter, reserve my right to report civil servants in the future for similar breaches of contract, and advise those who have devoted not inconsiderable time to this most trivial of news stories to find something else to blog about in what could hardly be considered a slow news week."
Have done. Back to this, now.
"The matter is closed."
So commandeth the Prince of the Internets.

[1] the Sindo reader demographic being unlikely to grasp the finer points of email ettiquette.

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The plot thickens...

L'Affaire Waghorne takes another turn:
"What I’d like to know is how the woman at Udaras found out so quickly that the employee emailed Waghorne in the first place…Did Richard ring Udaras to enquire (he very carefully says he “took” a call from an Udaras woman - is she following all web links to their website on a daily basis?)"
To which the answer apparently is:
"Someone who got in touch with me on the whole matter has told me that Waghorne complained personally to the Udaras head office on the matter; I’ve no doubt that he did as Udaras are unlikely to have noticed it any other way in such a short space of time."
This is far from over, we promise.

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Another first - Daily Ireland sets up a blog

Catch it here:

(via the Sunday Business Post)

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


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