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The Bobby Storey enigma: separating myth from reality and a hypocritical divide between Ireland's north and south

Martina Devlin


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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (left) and Michelle O’Neill at Bobby Storey’s funeral. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (left) and Michelle O’Neill at Bobby Storey’s funeral. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (left) and Michelle O’Neill at Bobby Storey’s funeral. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

WE IRISH are a people enamoured by plucky underdog myths. Cúchulainn defending Ulster against Queen Maeve’s Connacht hordes. King Billy on his white horse saving Ireland from Rome Rule. Ulster’s blood sacrifice at Gallipoli and the Somme. Modern Ireland rising like a phoenix from the death throes of the 1916 revolutionaries.

A myth is open to a plethora of meanings, some paradoxical. “A myth is like a gun for hire, a mercenary soldier: it can be made to fight for anyone,” according to distinguished American scholar Wendy Doniger.

In life, as with myths, some things simultaneously can be true and untrue. For example, someone might be a paramilitary leader – and also take risks for peace.