Rum doings at the Andytown News this past little while, as the West Belfast paper has been the site of a short-lived rebellion against King Gerry. Nobody has come out of this looking particularly good.
The story, in brief, is this. Popular Andytown News columnist ‘Squinter’ writes a column critical of Adams, asking what exactly he has managed to achieve for West Belfast in his 20 years as the area’s MP. The criticism was polite, but unmistakeable. The occasion for the criticism was a recent rash of anti-social behaviour culminating in the murder of former republican prisoner Bap McGreevey, an event that’s genuinely shocked the community.
It was the anti-social behaviour aspect that grabbed people’s attention, and not surprisingly. Anyone with eyes in his head knows that West Belfast is a den of criminality, and that the police have been frig all use in dealing with the problem. But more wounding, perhaps, was Squinter raising the question of the lack of investment in West Belfast. Wounding because our intrepid columnist drew attention to the way Grizzly has been feted in Irish America, and asked where was the payoff for his constituents.
This had some significance, not least because Squinter was only saying what lots of other folk are saying, and, more to the point, this was all in a paper that has a long history of verbally duffing up Grizzly’s critics. The words “hornets” and “nest” come to mind. This, presumably, was why members of King Gerry’s court sprung into action – Maskey popping up on Talk Back and Gibney in the Irish News in defence of the Great Helmsman.
So the current Andytown News was awaited with bated breath. Guess what? There was no Squinter column. (The offending column has also been removed from the Andytown News website and Squinter’s blog. You can however read it at Slugger, which has been indispensable on this.) What’s more, the controversy seems to have generated no comment whatsoever on the paper’s legendary texts page.
But you would be wrong to assume that the story had simply disappeared down the memory hole. No, it makes the front page, in the form of a letter from Grizzly himself, saying how shocked and hurt he was that the people’s paper would publish such a scurrilous attack on him. This was followed by an abject apology from the editor, saying, in effect, We’re very sorry Gerry and we won’t do it again.
It’s funny, isn’t it? We’ve just seen the Himalayan Buddhist backwater of Bhutan – a place that could be described as Tibet’s Tibet – take a significant step away from absolute monarchy. Yet, amongst Irish republicans(!), it seems the monarchical principle rules supreme.