Jude Collins

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Pants on fire?

LONDON - AUGUST 04:  Martin McGuinness speaks to the press outside Number 10 Downing Street, August 4, 2005 in London.  British Prime Minister Tony Blair has had seperate talks with Sinn Fein and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) who said that they would require a 'prolonged period of assessment' .  (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

So Martin McGuinness told a lie. Or forgot that he’d met Fr Jim Chesney. If it’s the second – that he forgot -  then no blame can attach to him. I travelled over fifty miles yesterday to check if my laptop would work with a data-projector, and when I got there I discovered I’d forgotten to bring the laptop. Stupid. Incompetent. But not blameworthy.

And if Martin McGuinness told a lie? Well you know, I do that all the time and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. I lie about how I’m feeling, I lie about my reasons for doing things, I lie about how big people’s bum looks in this. Discreet lies, lies that protect people from boredom or disappointment or disillusionment. Maybe just lies that avoid my appearing an even bigger jerk than people think me already.  How about you – do you always tell the truth, regardless? Mmm, I thought as much.

But but but, you say. This was Martin McGuinness lying about something very important – whether he’d ever met Jim Chesney. Oh really? What was important about that?  It tells us nothing new about Fr Chesney or the Claudy bombing. Not a solitary single thing.  That didn’t stop the Venerable Organ giving it front-page coverage today,  or BBC Radio Ulster’s  ‘Good Morning Ulster’ (yes, Virginia, the impartial BBC really does like that word ‘Ulster’) was breathless with excitement as it broadcast Martin McGuinness’s ‘admission’ that he’d met Chesney.

There are three points here. The Claudy people affected by the bomb are not going to get their loved ones back whether or not Fr Jim Chesney is found to have been among those who planned and executed the bungled Claudy bombing. And the efforts to implicate Fr Chesney are notable for their total absence of evidence that the priest was involved in the bombing or even a member of the IRA. And the attempts to make Martin McGuinness a part of the Claudy bombing picture are politically motivated -  a frantic attempt to dent the Deputy First Minister’s widespread popularity, even among some unionists, in the run-up to next Spring’s Assembly elections.  

Whatever you do, don’t for a minute think that the dead are at the centre of this controversy. It’s the living and how they can best be damaged. 


  1. Sure it was Gerry Adams a few months ago that was the target of the mud slinging over his brothers alleged abuse.
    We were told how Adams was going to suffer at the polls and what happens? he cake walked it.
    The times they are a changing but some people ae slow learners.

  2. While it may be OK for the blog author to admit to habitual lying, I'm not sure that it is a quality to admire in a senior politician. If Martin is prepared to admit to this now, why not in 2002?

    Does anyone really believe that McGuinness somehow forgot being at the deathbed of a dying priest? It doesn't strike me as something you'd forget in a hurry. And if he's prepared to lie about this, what else is he lying about?

    Another question to consider is: if McGuinness genuinely had no knowledge of the Claudy bombing, then what kind of IRA leader was he?

  3. Mmm...Very interesting, Gonzo. Although are you faulting Mr McGuinness because he wasn't a good enough paramilitary leader? That's an unusual charge I haven't heard before, particularly from his critics. Full marks for originality, then. And yes, you're right, I do lie habitually, in the ways I've described. Don't you? Ever? If the answer is yes, then the words 'stones' and 'glass houses' spring to mind. Finally, of course, those who say Fr Chesney was in the IRA or that he was involved in the Claudy bomb are lying, since in fact they don't know whether he was or not. Because former RUC people or British politicians (or Catholic bishops) say something, it don't mean it's necessarily so.
    But thanks for your comments - very thought-provoking.