William Wall reviewed by Joe Horgan

WILLIAM WALL, HEARING VOICES SEEING THINGS , DOIRE PRESS 

I don’t get William Wall. I don’t get why, if there is a top table of Irish writers, William Wall isn’t sitting at the head of it. I don’t know, maybe he is, but I sure as hell hear much lesser writers mentioned a lot more than I do him. I don’t know why because I don’t know William Wall. Is he particularly difficult or something? Which in a way would be nice as I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing the primacy of the career, establishment hugging writer passing. Is he too political because I don’t think that sits well either, does it? I remember when my first book came out being told by one person of influence that I should watch some of the things I say on account of my ‘career.’ Does that incorporate even far, far finer writers like William Wall? I only digress like this because with this short story collection, Hearing Voices Seeing Things, William Wall has shown yet again that he is one of the finest writers we have. Ah, let’s forget the ‘we’ bit of that because I think Wall’s excellence goes way beyond any category of Irishness. Take the story I Am Lost In This House, probably my favourite in the book. Like most of the stories in this collection it really is quite short in that it is only some five pages long yet in that span Wall deals with class, emigration, age, and gender with a moving, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic touch that a four hundred page novel might struggle to reach. Wall also has that great knack of throwing away lines that stick long in the reader’s mind. So a mouse stuck on a glue pad trap, The Trap, becomes a ‘tiny beautiful skeleton at prayer.’ The disposal of an estranged husband’s ashes, Paper and Ashes, is described as being ‘like someone had thrown a fire away.’ Now William Wall is a poet too but it is rare that the two forms are so wonderfully intermingled, rare that the language is up to that. These stories are often both dark and humorous with a survivor’s sense of comedy. They are often about people in somewhat desperate situations that on second glance become just situations that are a part of most of our lives. True, Wall has often a twist of strangeness but only of the kind we find in the wonders of everyday life. Warming too is reading fiction so effortlessly socially aware, so that people with chaotic lives or stranded by inarticulacy are given voice in an unforced, almost joyful way. Even when Wall is treading the well-worn paths of small town Irish life, The Mountain Road, and a woman despised for not knowing her station in life he brings something new and challenging by framing it within the extremes of a father who has killed his own children. It’s a gruesome tabloid headline made art and even here he throws in an inconsequential but arresting line. Leaving the funeral parlour is captured by a tiny sigh escaping as the door closes ‘like the seal opening on an air-tight jar.’ Your there, aren’t you? Writing with the exactness of painting. So much so that in the story, Unedited Transcript Re. Fear, Wall presents us with a superb parody of official speechifying that encapsulates modern Ireland in an off-kilter story about a tragedy at an amusement park. Listen, this review could be very short and would basically consist of saying read this book because William Wall is a masterful writer and a master of the short story form. I’m still bewildered as to how publishing works and as to why William Wall isn’t up there at the front but I’m just glad there is a writer over there in Cork writing fiction of this standard and that over in Galway there is a wonderful little press publishing it. It’s pretty good, you know, we have writers of this calibre and we have these wonderful independent presses bringing them out. Now I get that.

Joe Horgan 

#Repealthe8th London 2016

The sun kindly shone in London for the Repeal the 8th gathering of about 300 people.  The demo was in two parts. One a performance of 77 women wheeling suitcases, to symbolise the 77 women a week who travel abroad from Ireland to access abortion services.  The rest were out in support.

Meeting at Belgrave Square
Meeting at Belgrave Square

There was a small police presence and they liaised with the organisers.  The demo was entirely peaceful.

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77 women with suitcases did a circuit of the square and over to the Irish Embassy
77 women with suitcases did a circuit of the square and over to the Irish Embassy

During this, the entire crowd remained silent, in solidarity with the silence women in Ireland face, when trying to access abortion services or aftercare.

One of the most creative signs. The text inside the number eight is women's stories as published in the media
The text inside the number eight is women’s stories as published in the media
The travelling women stood and faced the Irish Embassy in silence
The travelling women stood and faced the Irish Embassy in silence

The Irish flag is absent outside the Irish Embassy.  There was some speculation as to whether this was due to the Ambassador not being in residence.  Also conspicuously absent were any Pro Life campaigners.

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After facing the embassy, the travelling women turned and faced the rest of the crowd who had come out in support
After facing the embassy, the travelling women turned and faced the rest of the crowd who had come out in support
Great turnout by the men
Great turnout by the men
This lady gave a very moving speech
This lady gave a very moving speech
The Polish are also facing a big fight with women's reproductive rights there moving backwards
The Polish are also facing a big fight with women’s reproductive rights there moving backwards
The demo made the Irish Times too
The demo made the Irish Times too

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#repealthe8th #repealLDN #riseandrepeal #freesafelegal #mybodymychoice #ldn #prochoice #global8 #ARCMarch16 #repealLondon #repealthe8thLDN #londonirish

Barbara O’Donnell

Daze & Confuse – A response to 66 Days by Oisín Ó Fágáin

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Apparently Bobby Sands was an individualist performance artist; one who disarmed the Provos via self-mutilation and who used his body as an art piece, a blank canvass on which people could project whatever they wanted. Somehow or other, this caused the peace process, because Irish people’s inherent blood lust was quenched by sacrificing a young man to mythology.

This is, unpacked, what 66 Days has to say to us about the H-Block hunger strikes.
It is a very ideologically sophisticated film. It has been praised as ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ and it probably is, if balance is based off the consensus emerging from those who don’t care, or who don’t want to think about things like context, torture, extrajudicial murder, colonialism, poverty, discrimination, or the women of the period who organised the entire movement around the H-Blocks.

The film’s ideological centre, the decontextualising black hole that sucks everything into it, is Fintan O’Toole. He opens and closes the film and his message is how this film is to be perceived; it is his message that is what this film means, and all the other parts of the film are structured, edited and directed around his analysis. He comes across as fluent, charming, reasonable, moderate, which of course he is. But if you remember O’Toole’s slew of articles around that period, his life’s defining work, which you’re not supposed to, the whole mirage breaks into what it is: a mere partisan viewpoint, and a manipulation based on what is excluded.

The messaging he proposes, the non-context that frames the non-existent debate had by this film, is several words spoken by Terrence MacSwiny, Cork mayor, who went on hunger strike in 1920. He said that the legitimacy of struggle comes not from the suffering you inflict, but the suffering you suffer (and, even then, MacSwiney is lightly, and repeatedly, dissed by O’Toole). The only other options the film gives us for historical context is 1916, and some Irish bards who went on hunger strike back in the day, as though bards from a millennium ago had even a tangential impact on the republican struggle in the 1980’s.

What is not given as context is the material conditions of the Northern Irish. This renders these people as extremists from a distant, alien society, rather than people who were reacting to their circumstances.

There is, undoubtedly, some sympathy for Sands here, but it is a trap to draw you in. It is so individualised that identification with him becomes meaningless, and nearly entirely unrelated to the republican struggle. Because what you are supposed to relate to is Sands’ body, the idea of his body. The body, and its meaning in suffering.
So what is this suffering ideology that the film promotes set up against? What is it supposed to work on, and against? Well, the answer to that is very easy: Provo violence. You can’t miss it. They keep saying it. Everyone keeps saying it. If you believed this film you’d think nothing else ever happened in Northern Ireland, and that no one else, in this decontextualised and unhistoricised land, has any blood on their hands. It frames everything.

The Provo’s body count is mentioned three times. The violence of the British state, the UVF, the British military, goes unmentioned. The torture inflicted by the British state is also unmentioned. The wider movement around the H-block is unmentioned. The civilian shootings are, by and large, unmentioned. The targeted assassination of key republican organisers around the time, who organised peacefully and against violence, is unmentioned. Civil liberties get 30 seconds. And by the end of this onslaught of misinformation and selective framing, the film packs in a little sucker-punch: Bobby Sands paved the way for the peace process.
I, for one, did not see that coming.

History in this documentary is a tool used to enshrine the present and control the future and Bobby Sands has to become an empty signifier of peace and sacrifice, because, God forbid, he represented the Northern Irish working class who wanted to be Irish, a dogs-body of the IRA, a spokesperson for a communal dedication to a shared struggle, a tactically-astute mid-level leader, and God forbid he was the most visible expression of all those young men’s bodies, those unspoken-of bodies, not mentioned in the film, who were tortured by a messy, rogue state machine for merely living on the wrong street and having the wrong surname.

If someone did want to make a documentary on the body, a genuine documentary on the body, not one that uses the body as a depoliticising and individualising tool, one could look to those Northern Irish bodies that the British military honed and modernised their torture techniques on. That communal, intergenerational body that stretches to the victims of Abu Ghraib who were tortured using techniques the British military trialed in Northern Ireland, techniques they so generously shared with their American counterparts.
We’re still waiting on that documentary on the body, and we’re still waiting on a documentary of Bobby Sands, but, unfortunately, as has been made clear by this documentary, this will not happen until the archives of our history have to be made free.

There is something very repugnant about it costing hundreds of thousands of euros to access the history we ourselves created, footage of us suffering and being shot and teargassed, and then having it sold back to us at prices we cannot afford. This price tag means that this period, and any prior one, will always be mediated by a greater body whose idea of balance is to make a pacifying instrument of our living history.
At least, in regards to public access to archives, that is something the BBC has gotten right over the last 50 years.

Oisín Ó Fágáin is the author of Hostages

This Week In Eternal Damnation, by Rev. Joe Jack Sarsaparilla,

 

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Some Irish guy in a pirate hat asked me if I’d write a regular religion column for something called The Bogman’s Cannon. The only bit of it that made any sense to this bounty hunting preacher in rural Nebrahoma was “cannon,” because if we know anything in these parts, it’s weaponry. But I said yes, mostly because a combination of peyote and adrenalin from putting a few holes into a stage coach robbers had me thinking about all the people who should rot in Eternal Perdition. I’ve got more of these than a hare has five-second orgasms.

Writers of contemporary church liturgies–As a circuit-riding minister for the Church of the United Brethren–Schismatic, I know that sometimes, church music can leave something to be desired. The choir in my congregation in Krusty Crack, Nebrahoma consists of an accordion, a she-goat, and an illiterate farmhand who can’t read music or words and makes them up as he goes along. The bigger churches have no such excuse. Badass pipe organs, minor keys, and brutally patriarchal language are a religious person’s alternative to heavy metal. May you join your Indigo Girls CDs in the cacophonous pandemonium of Hell!

Hillary Clinton–Accepting, nay boasting about the endorsement of all-around war criminal and sinister rapscallion John Negroponte gives the campaign a suitable whiff of brimstone for those who get hard-ons at public hangings. Oh, and the Bushes like her, too. Never trust a Yankee with a drawl. It stinks worse than a North Dakota pigpen in February, a cold Plains state whose winter weather is an ironic counterpoint to the searing flames of Hell!

Joan Burton–She’s from Ireland, so normally I wouldn’t give a pile of mutant bison dung, but going after kids like this. Sure, I track down and regulate on scofflaws for money all the time, but scurrying away from peaceful protesters? Wyatt Earp would shit himself laughing faster than a prairie dog with the Tuscaloosa juicies! May she spend eternity trapped in a car in Hell!

Pretentious craft beers–This ain’t East India, and your waistcoat ain’t fooling anyone, you hipster drink-slinger. That waxed mustache makes you look like some kind of fancy-talking city slicker lawyer, only not as successful. You call yourself a bartender? If someone shot the piano player over a game of cards, you’d soil your pants smellier than the nastiest spittoon in a Bozeman whorehouse. Get me a goddamn lager, because oppressively hoppy beers are the beverage of choice for the weeping tooth-gnashers in Hell!

Literature reviewers in leading newspapers–Everybody who’s ever dusted a trail knows that a good book by the camp fire is essential when Curly’s supply of magic mushrooms runs out. So why do the hacks at The New York Times, Irish Times, etc. ad nauseam keep giving glowing reviews to millennials who couldn’t ford the Pecos if they were chased by the world’s slowest cougar? You know what gets a man’s mind off his genital warts when he’s two hundred miles from a doctor and out of semi-poisonous mercury solution? Not Ocean Vuong’s poetry, that’s for dang sure! May God Damn You, literary critics in major newspapers, to beat reportage of the monotonous torments of Hell!

Brangelina–It’s not a divorce thing. Or a vanity thing. They just suck, and may demon whores feast on their messy parts in Hell!

By Rev. Joe Jack Sarsaparilla, Poet/Preacher/Gun-for-Hire

The Flying Column #24 – A Dirty War

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A BBC Spotlight investigation has again raised questions about the scale of British infiltration in the IRA.

With characters such as “Larry the Chef” and “Stakeknife” it has all the makings of a conspiracy dreamed up by an over-doped paranoiac in an attic somewhere, except that it’s real.

The new allegations come from an unnamed source, “Martin” who claims to have been a long-term British agent within the IRA and Sinn Fein. He turned after the beginning of the Peace Process. This unrepentant traitor claims moral authority citing the prevention of “another outbreak of violence” as his primary motivation. Because the best way to stop violence is to collaborate with one of the most murderous and destructive regimes on the planet. How much is Special Branch paying these days, “Martin?”

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One allegation is that Gerry Adams “sanctioned” the assassination in 2005 of Dennis Donaldson, who was also a British agent. Adams has – of course – denied the allegations, as he has denied every allegation ever – I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out tomorrow and said, “Gerry Adams does not, and has never existed. He is a fictional character. I repeat, he does not exist.”

Donaldson had been recruited by RUC Special Branch in the 1980s and was one of their highest placed agents within the IRA and Sinn Fein – an “agent of influence.” In 2003 it was also alleged that the agent known as Stakeknife was Freddie Scappaticci – former head of the IRA’s internal security (!!) unit. Donaldson was shot. Freddie was not. (Freddie Scappaticci denies being an agent. He also denies being the invention of Mario Puzo.)

There were, by an apparently conservative estimate, as many as “800 informers at any one time” in Northern Ireland (in all groups). That’s a helluva lot of agents for a land with a population under 2 million. According to estimates by CAIN, IRA membership peaked at around 1,500 in the mid-70s. What proportion of the declining membership through the 80s and 90s were informers or agents?

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A Dirty Peace

The peace-process is based upon foundations that are proving more and more to be bogus. The “men of peace” tried to flush too much bloody laundry down the toilet and now it’s gushing back out and flooding the house on the hill.

The larger question is to what extent the British state was “running both sides.” What involvement in or prior knowledge of IRA and Real IRA atrocities – for example, the Omagh Bombing – did intelligence agencies have? How many agents in the pay of the British State were involved in murder, torture, brutality or organised crime? How many agents are currently active in Northern Ireland? Could there be more high profile agents to be revealed in SF or the IRA? Whatever the answers, the growing evidence of widespread collusion and infiltration is proving the regime at Stormont to be a fraud – repeating sweet-sounding, flimsy myths about reconciliation and moving forward, all the while festering in a mass grave of collusion and cover-up. It would make you wonder how these paramilitary reconciliation sessions function! A former British agent hugs a former British agent and everything’s ok now? A session on comparing and contrasting MI5 handlers? Or perhaps they play a game called Which Atrocity? Guess which bombing or shooting was orchestrated by the Brits.

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Dispatcherama

The national equivalent of Spotlight, BBC’s Panorama, decided to make an investigative piece on the Labour Party organisation Momentum. Channel 4’s Dispatches – also allegedly an investigative exposé program – ran an almost identical show the same night. Dispatcherama focused on finding out information through covert, investigative cleverness, which they could have found out by just asking someone…..anyone….the man down the pub even. Painting the absurd left grouping the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) as some sort of secret society that means to take over the Labour Party, the “exposé” descended into screaming McCarthyism. The idea that a raggle-taggle handful of leftists would be able to “seize control” of Labour is laughable. The greatest revelation was that people who describe themselves as left-wing tend to have left-wing ideas. Scoop!

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The same day, the national press went into melt-down with allegations that Momentum now planned to indoctrinate children through their new vehicle “Momentum Kids.” Contrary to the Jonestown Massacre allusions, what Momentum actually did was set up a crèche. This would alleviate pressure on parents (particularly women) who want to attend the ‘World Transformed’ conference, and provide a safe and fun space for kids over the weekend. Downright deviant!

As the Labour Party Conference comes to my city of residence this weekend, I plan – being a commie plotter – to attend some events and see how crazy these Momentum people really are. Watch this space.

Requiem for an Ice Cap

On a lighter note, funeral arrangements are being prepared for the Arctic, which, after a long battle with carbon dioxide, has died. Warm tributes have been flooding in for the much loved region. Danny from Roscommon said, “I mean, the Arctic was always there, I remember it on TV as a child. It’s been like, a real part of my life I suppose.” Sad to see it go, the BBC plan to make a special episode of “Strictly come Dancing – On Ice!” According to sources close to the Arctic, intensive care facilities were too expensive, so world leaders agreed to “just let it die” and were hoping it would “get on with it.”

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Arctic Sea Ice extent (geographically) is at its second lowest on record – though its volume may also have declined by a substantial figure meaning there could potentially be less ice overall than the 2012 record low. But of course there’s nothing to worry about folks! Sammy Wilson was talking about climate change this week and Sammy knows his stuff. According to him, we’ll be grand.

 

 

Connor Kelly

please unadd me as a friend, by  Oisín Fagan 

If you don’t end all of your posts by saying please unadd me as friend, please unadd me as a friend.  
And if you’ve never done that thing on Facebook where you write a dialogue between two people and one of them is you, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you’ve ever unadded me as a friend, please unadd me as a friend. 
And if you’ve ever added me as a friend, please unadd me as a friend. 
And if you’ve ever talked to Samantha about me behind my back and I could even hear everything cause the bar was practically empty and it was my fucking birthday so how dare you on that day of all days, you knew how I felt about her, you two-faced, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you’ve ever played acoustic guitar, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you don’t think Kanye West’s new album is fire, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you haven’t tried this sandwich I am eating right now, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you are from middle Ireland, please unadd me as a friend.
And what’s a middle Ireland? please unadd me as a friend.
And if you ever had a friend from middle Ireland who lost his driving license, fell into crippling depression and emigrated, please unadd me as a friend. 
And I always thought middle Ireland referred to the midlands until yesterday, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you’ve never disparaged anyone who used a language form that you yourself were unaware of until you went to college, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you’ve never gone to college, please unadd me as a friend.
And if you’ve never unadded all your friends and then created 712 facebook profiles that all bear your own name and your own photo and then added them all as your friends so you live in a facebook mirror world made up of hundreds of yourselves, liking and commenting on hundreds of yourselves, please unadd me as a friend.
This is not a protest song, this is a love song to my unadded unfriends. RIP, you fucking snakes, I unadded you at the end of the day and now it’s my timeline to shine.

Juror 791 on her exclusion from the fake trial of Seanie Fitz

Editor’s note – If what is going on the children’s court in relation to the Jobstown Protest is a show-trial, it seems what Seanie Fitzpatrick is getting from our crooked state is a fake trial – with  a Jury stocked exclusively by people who have no problem with the austerity caused by the actions of him & his friends. Applying the same logic to the showtrial in the children’s court would mean anyone who campaigned for austerity – i.e Joan Burton & the whole of the irish ruling class – should be excluded from participation. Logically, Judge Aylmer’s exclusion of those who conscientiously object to a crime from juring that crime also means that anyone who thinks robbery is wrong should be excluded from a robbery trial; that those who dislike kidnapping be excluded from a kidnapper’s trial, that those among us who have a problem with murder be disbarred from a murder jury…in other words it is a formula for letting ruling class criminals like Seanie Fitzpatrick off scot fee, & of course that is the whole idea of it. The Irish Ruling class is quickly becoming the most obviously corrupt in the world. Time for all decent people to start standing up to it.

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Juror 791 & her Suspect Device
RTE reported today on TV and radio, on the selection of a jury for trial of Seanie Fitzpatick . The report referred to a woman selected for the jury panel, who said loudly in court that she “most decidely was not neutral in the case of bankers”. Had I known RTE would carry my comments, I’d have made more of them. I might have said for instance, that the criteria used to out-rule potential jurors is preposterous, excluding as it does anyone who may have “..expressed themselves in public…whether on the internet, on social media, including FaceBook…concerning Anglo Irish Bank PLC, or the banking crisis or bankers in general..”. (These are the judges words, not mine!). The judge also explained that a fine of up to 2000 Euros could apply if you failed to exclude yourself from the jury if any of the following applied: if you had been strongly affected by the banking crisis, if you had “been active in any campaigning groups, either formal or informal”, if you had “..been involved in protests….anti austerity protests and such like..”.

So who is left? Who has not been affected by FEMPI, or USC or cutbacks in public services, and might feel that these were connected to the banking crisis and have strong feelings about bankers as a cosequence? Or suppose you ‘liked’ a post on Facebook put up by one of those hundreds of thousands who campaigned against Water Charges or other austerity measures, or supposing, heaven forbid, you were one of those protestors. Well sorry, you just couldn’t possible be a juror then, now could you?

Does this not seem to be a very serious flaw in our justice system? If having a sense of outrage at the wrongdoing of the banking elites, or a sense of social responsibility such that you protest about injustice, or simply disagree with government policy and protest about that, that if any of this applies to you, then you are unfit as a juror. It put me in mind of a great song years ago by the punk band Stiff Little Fingers, called “Suspect Device”. The suspect device was… a brain – you got one, don’t apply for jury duty.

Mary Smith is a member of People Before Profit