|Photo used with permission from Liverpool photographer David J Colbran|
But while the articles in the Liverpool Echo, Irish Times and Morning Star all had their limitations, Donal MacIntyre's work in the Irish Sunday World - a paper described to me by one veteran Irish activist as making "the British Daily Star look like The Guardian" - belongs in a category of its own. Coming from a man routinely dubbed a "hard-hitting investigative journalist", it displays piss poor investigative powers, little to no journalistic skill, and is "hard-hitting" only in the sense that its fast and loose relationship with the truth adds some 'official' punch to fascist lies. It is therefore important that his errors are corrected, before an already dangerous situation gets any worse. First, some context. As Liverpool Antifascists described in their national callout ten days ago:
"Fascists from North West Infidels, Combined Ex-Forces and Casuals United are already talking big about stopping the Flute Band from marching – and are trying to pin the “IRA” label on them, even though the band have nothing in common with the long officially disarmed paramilitary group."The march was organised by the James Larkin Society, a group which celebrates the legacy of the Liverpool-born Irish trade union organiser. The flute band was the Liverpool Irish Patriot Republican flute band, who split with the James Larkin Republican Flute Band over political differences. While these arguments are not my primary concern, the Irish Patriots are on record as supporting the "peaceful reunification of Ireland".
Glorying under the highly questionable - though to be fair, apparently sub-editor chosen - headline of "Paddy Whackery", MacIntyre's article ignores all these subtleties, instead allowing a member of Combined Ex-Forces to claim that: "This isn't a union march, it's an IRA march and we don't want the IRA on our streets."
MacIntyre was there on Saturday - I saw him - so I know he heard the chants of "IRA scum off our streets" and screams of "child killers" (a particular reference to the Warrington bombings of 1993). But far from challenging this with anything like the facts, MacIntyre merely parrots pure fascist propaganda with his paraphrasing:
"The Combined X-Forces [sic] organisation, which had a large aggressive presence on the streets, accused the marchers of harbouring members of the Real IRA and the 32 County Sovereignty committee [sic], claiming that they were not anti-Irish but anti-Real IRA".And further: "[...] he objected to the James Larkin Society band [sic] which he said appeared at Sinn Féin marches." That last sentence is perhaps (hopefully?) the worst MacIntyre will ever write. To unpack it, we have to realise that there is no "James Larkin Society band", because MacIntyre has - like the fascists - conflated the James Larkin Society with the Irish Patriots, the source of the original - and no doubt deliberate - confusion. But maybe even more unforgivably still, in an Irish newspaper, he implicitly allows the fascist to link the Sinn Féin party now gladhanding the British monarch with some kind of ongoing insurrectionist threat!
The absurdity would possibly be comical, if it weren't so damaging, not least because he gave anti-fascists all of two sentences! And I quote:
"These activists are protesting against the Irish and against immigrants," Paul Jenkins, of 'United Against Fascism' [sic], told the Sunday World. He claimed that the far-right groups would not stop the James Larkin Society and union-organised annual march."Well with the benefit of the hindsight with which MacIntyre wrote his article, 'they won't stop the march' is more than a claim; it is a fact. But leaving that aside, the author leaves no space for any thoroughgoing anti-fascist perspective.
And in the propaganda war against the kind of resurgent fascism which plagued Liverpool 8 two days ago, a bit of perspective is exactly what's needed. The fascist leaders know they could never draw out mass support if they revealed their true intention - the utter crushing of the working class - so they use a mixture of outright lies, emotive slander and distortion to stigmatise different sections of our class. They divide so that they can conquer.
On Saturday the fascists came for "the Irish". Tomorrow they will come for those they call "the Islamics". Next week...who knows? Your workplace? By allowing the fascists a generous platform, Donal MacIntyre has played right into their hands.