Belfast Telegraph

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain: Attack me, but get the facts right

By Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

I was rather puzzled to be the punchline of a piece by Ruth Dudley Edwards in this newspaper (DebateNI, October 5). She was taking Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP's Kenny MacAskill to task for their alleged "...ignorance and eejitry..." regarding 1916 and James Connolly.

I do not know Ms Dudley Edwards and she certainly does not know me. She is free to have an opinion about my opinions, but facts are sacred.

The "Scotsman", as she dubs me, is an Irish citizen and, like the Irishman from Edinburgh who injected social justice into the Proclamation, being Irish means rather a lot to me.

The United Nations recognises my nationality and in post-Agreement Northern Ireland the atavistic impulse to impose an identity that doesn't fit should be left in the Troubled past.

History remembered is a weapon and sometimes in history it has been the time for weaponry. We are now in the middle of the decade of centenaries on this island.

Across Ireland and throughout the world, the sentiments of Connolly still resonate with millions.

As the flag protests wore on, I came to the conclusion that the protesting Ulster Scots were vigorously authorising all of my harshest assessments of them.

Moreover, I believe that the analogy of the "poor whites in the Deep South" is apposite.

Rather than being "...skilful in the dark art of winding up the Prods..." my very existence appears to incense some of the chaps that Ms Dudley Edwards frets about.

My journalism on the death of Rangers and the ongoing troubles of the new club at Ibrox continue to attract opprobrium to myself, but also to colleagues.

This has led to police investigations, personal security advice from them and one Rangers chap in Scotland receiving six months in prison for threatening my book editor, Ms Angela Haggerty.

I would point out to Ms Dudley Edwards that it is the job of journalists to prise open cracks and let in the light.

Moreover, it is my intention to continue to do that, whether I am writing about the fascist underclass who gather at Ibrox, or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain is a journalist. He is the author of Downfall: How Rangers FC Self-destructed and Minority Reporter: Modern Scotland's Bad Attitude Towards Her Own Irish

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