In an October Periscope column, Niall O’Dowd can be found making the same foundational error that unfortunately has long beset his commentary on the North of Ireland. His initial mistake, relying on the most dubious of sources for his information, leads to an unthinking right-down-the-line replication of the falsehoods the revisionists feed him.
Read More: Boston College Irish tapes - the truth about Ed Moloney’s book and letting the cat out of the bag
This is all the more unfortunate because the peace process, while a wet blanket as far as open discussion is concerned, being a stranger to principles such as those contained in the US First Amendment, is not an Iron Curtain. Its fallacies are not beyond the penetration of determined intellectual investigation. The Periscope, as its name suggests, should probe beyond not pander to. It just takes a bit of research. But hey, we don’t want to go there now do we? Research might just discover something that is not helpful to the peace process. And then the accusations of being out to get some prince of peace will fly Katyusha-style.
The Periscope-guided flak that has come my way is to be found in the utterly disingenuous allegation that I either currently function as or in the past have acted as a ‘dissident spokesman.’ While I will not complain that the Periscope is out to get me, it remains beyond its author to name one group on the dissident spectrum that I have been a spokesman for. I have always spoken for myself and no one else. But again pejorative labelling is a convenient device for smothering inconvenient voices.
Despite his protestations that Boston College’s Belfast Project was a hoax purpose-built to bamboozle Irish America, it is through the opaque vision panel of his Periscope that Irish American readers will glimpse less rather than more. Niall O’Dowd frequently alleges that the project was out to ‘get’ Sinn Fein caudillo Gerry Adams. Perhaps self-induced impaired vision prevents him from ever seeing why Adams might be considered worth ‘getting’ to begin with.
‘Getting’ the role of contentious figures at the heart of political violence such as Gerry Adams, Serbia’s Mlađo Radić and El Salvador’s Roberto D’Aubisson is a meritorious research endeavour. Their histories should always be sought, and where possible ‘got’, by researchers. It ceases to be meritorious only when research is pseudo, conducted for the purpose of a stitch up. There is nothing apart from Adams's own account of never having been in the IRA (even Niall O’Dowd refuses to believe that) which lends itself to the stitch up fiction.
A more egregious transgression than researchers ‘getting’ knowledge lies (pun intended) in constructing a falsified revisionist history that wilfully strives not to ‘get’ that knowledge, that for political rather than intellectual reasons airbrushes key figures out of their historical location by putting others in their place. Those inserted into the frame are, by deliberate calculation on the part of the revisionists, left to carry culpability for actions they did not wage, or if they did wage certainly did not do so alone.
Forgetting that ‘fools enter where brave men fear to tread’ O’Dowd relies on an interpretation by the implausible Danny Morrison to show that the Belfast Project was out to get former Provisional IRA army council member, Gerry Adams.
Morrison, better known in Irish America for flipping the bird at the reputation of the late Ted Kennedy whom he labelled a criminal, than for the quality of his mind, discovered ‘evidence’ contained in a conversation between Ed Moloney and the journalist Walt Ellis. The damning comment would appear to be "outing liars" which according to O’Dowd ‘by his very own words, meaning Adams, was Moloney’s main intent all along.’
Ironically, Niall O’Dowd ‘outed’ the same ‘liar’ that Moloney refers to when he dismissed Gerry Adams’ claims never to have been a member of the IRA.
It hardly follows that the Periscope is always and only ever raised in search of Adams. Shake it, move it, turn it upside down and inside out, try as we all might, it is a difficult one to spin ‘outing liars’ to the point where it explains the Belfast Project. Hence O’Dowd is reduced to saying that Moloney just ‘seems’ to admit it. Even an English judge from the 1970s would find it unseemly to convict on seem.
Without having any means of knowing O’Dowd has asserted that the only people interviewed for the Belfast Project were ‘IRA figures who hated Adams for various reasons.’ Again he would appear to rely on the unreliable Danny Morrison for this. Morrison, without providing one iota of supporting substance, has claimed the identities of the interviewees are well known in West Belfast. I would suggest only in those parts of West Belfast where it is also known that Gerry Adams was never a member of the IRA or where Morrison is known for the accuracy of his commentary, the reliability of his foresight and the length of his hair.
The problem in relying on Belfast revisionists like Danny Morrison is graphically depicted in a different context by a cartoon in the New Yorker. Up Periscope and take a long hard look.