Irish National Congress and gaslighting


Sir, – As a member of the National Executive Committee of the “outfit calling itself the Irish National Congress”, I wish to respond to Fintan O’Toole’s distorted portrayal of the INC and, by association, of Mary Lou McDonald (“The enigma of Mary Lou McDonald”, Weekend, February 15th).

His 2,340-word article gaslights your readership in relation to Irish republicanism.

O’Toole argued that IRA leader Seán Russell sought to “establish” a Nazi “puppet state in Ireland”. He would have been as big a fan of that as of the British version in the Six Counties. In case of doubt on that score, long-time Six County prime minister Sir James Craig explained in May 1934: “We have the Orange Order, the Black Brethren and the B Specials, and they constitute all the Fascism that Ulster wants”. That is not the sort of comparison of which Fintan O’Toole approves.

A banner, reportedly at an INC protest in Dublin comparing the Orange Order to the Ku Klux Klan is given short shrift: “that can most charitably be attributed to utter ignorance of the history of African- Americans”. Not so. The Orange Order attempts to claim the streets where its potential victims live, in the same manner as does the Klan. The KKK thrived in vast swathes of US territory where no African American lived. There, Jews and Roman Catholics sufficed as enemies of the white, Protestant organisation. Pushing the Orange Order back required, as in the US, mobilisation of communities against incursions. O’Toole refers to McDonald possessing “a tribal urge to confront the Orange Order”. Were African-American leaders protesting the Klan described in that manner, it would rightfully be called racist. Why is it acceptable terminology here?

O’Toole thinks protesting unnecessary because the Order “was hardly the greatest oppressive force in Dublin in 2000”. It was on the Garvaghy Road. Admittedly that is in another part of Ireland. Is there a problem pointing this out in Dublin? Should we, similarly, ignore oppression in parts of the planet further than Armagh? – Yours, etc,


Irish National Congress,

Áras an Phiarsaigh,

Pearse Street,

Dublin 2.