The Mountains of Mourn

The leading stories of the main ‘news’ bulletins produced by BBC TV for public consumption, the 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock programmes, are seldom worth watching. Most of the time they are non-stories – i.e., zero stories: designed to divert public attention away from things the public really ought to know about. Sometimes the headlines will be nothing more than overt propaganda promoting some government initiative (or that of the government’s controllers in Washington – the British Brainwashing Corporation is, after all, a government department). Sometimes, however, the story that’s chosen to lead the ‘news’ is worth thinking about – not necessarily for the story itself, but why it’s been selected for its leading role. Take the 24.8.2010 headline story for example.

Last night the ‘news’ led with a story that in 1972 the Roman Catholic church conspired with the British government to transfer a priest, Fr James Chesney, from his church in Claudy, Northern Ireland, south into the Republic. A bomb had recently killed nine people in Claudy, and the suggestion is that Fr Chesney had something to do with it.

Now, all the main players are long dead and buried, and almost certainly the real truth behind that particular atrocity will never be known. So whilst it would indeed be interesting to learn the full story, the fact is we’re unlikely ever to do so.

The question is, why did the Beeb choose to lead its so-called ‘news’ with something that happened almost forty years ago? The story was brought into the light of day as a result, we’re told, of a report released by the Northern Ireland ombudsman. But reports by civil servants are being churned out daily, so why does this one, about a forty year old incident, which has attracted zero national ‘news’ coverage in recent times, and was dead ‘news’ within twenty four hours, suddenly deserve such prime-time prominence? Its effectiveness as distraction ‘news’, a primary purpose of the BBC, goes without saying, but why was that particular story chosen from what must have been several hundred alternatives?

I’ve long found the timing of Northern Ireland’s most recent peace agreement interesting. That tragic little region provided employment and profits for Britain’s police-military-industrial-intelligence communities for the best part of thirty years leading up to the new millennium. Throughout all that time peace was a castle in the air, Irish mist on a warm summer morning. Peace? Never in our time. We’ll never surrender. We’ll never talk to terrorists. Then all of a sudden, almost overnight, implacable enemies were suddenly making a government together. The timing was fascinating: war in the Middle East was inevitable – having all your armed forces tied up in the backwaters of Northern Ireland must have been seriously inconvenient.

Today, Britain’s police-military-industrial-intelligence communities find themselves no longer useful in the main region that has occupied their attention for the last ten years. Iraq is now a peaceful, stable democracy (lol); and the public are getting seriously pissed off with the number of body bags returning from Afghanistan. There are promising signs of a new ‘cold war’ building up, and no doubt we’ll be off to play in Iran fairly soon, but what are the boys going to do with themselves in the meantime?

Perhaps in thirty, forty, or fifty years time, when the documents about the curious timing of Northern Ireland’s tortured ‘Peace Process’, which for now must be bolted behind closed doors… ‘in the nation’s interest’… are finally declassified, some of the truth might emerge. Perhaps a dusty ombudsman will write a report, and some junior mandarin in the British Brainwashing Corporation might think it makes a great piece of distraction ‘news’. But I wonder how many people will pause to think about the given proof of government conspiracies thirty, forty or fifty years earlier, and ask themselves… ‘I wonder what are the bastards up to today?’

John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. His latest booklet is entitled EnMo Economics. Other Non-Fiction books by John are: The People's Constitution (2018 Edition); and The School of Kindness (2018 Edition); and his historical novel The Road to Emily Bay Read other articles by John.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on August 25th, 2010 at 10:16am #

    I think I’ve had a little chuckle before at Mr Andrews’ description of himself and at the contents of his website but what strikes me here is that, once again, the BBC is attacked but the private broadcasters are given a free pass. If that were just one article, I wouldn’t have noticed, but we’ve had a plethora of British articles recently all doing the same thing. Since when did Rupert Murdoch become a paragon of journalistic virtue?
    As for the precise argument here, the NI peace process began in 1998, at a time when no “war in the Middle East was inevitable”. Thus, idea that the BBC’s Fr Chesney story was a sort of code announcing a new cold war or an attack on Iran or something similar is just nonsense.

  2. John Andrews said on August 26th, 2010 at 12:01am #

    I’m always pleased to read Mr Kenny’s comments. No really – sometimes he makes a good point.

    It’s true, this piece refers only to the BBC. But that does not mean I trust/respect/admire the so-called ‘independent’ media. They’re mostly as bad as each other, for pretty much the same reasons.

    It’s a bit like Media Lens which has in the past mostly targeted the Guardian newspaper and the BBC. That doesn’t mean they think the journalism of News of the World say, or Channel Five , is therefore beyond reproach. But if you spent your time scouring every single newspaper or TV station for how they cover a particular story you’d never get anything else done.

    Also the BBC sets itself up as the icon of professional journalism. Commenting on something that appears in the Daily Mail, say, is a bit like mugging grannies. The beeb has long enjoyed a reputation of if-it’s-on-the-BBC-it-must-be-true, whereas it has, of course, frequently been used for quite cynical purposes.

    However, Mr Kenny loses the plot a little after that.

    He believes ‘the NI peace process began in 1998, at a time when no “war in the Middle East was inevitable”‘.

    Well most of us know that war for western control of the Middle East has been in progress since at least 1948, if not earlier (First World War?). The Iraqi phase of the War started in 1990 (i.e. the bit when the west became directly involved anyway – Iraq-Iran had already come and gone), and hasn’t ended yet.

    But Mr Kenny missed the main point I was trying to make (I don’t know if he really missed it or was simply being his normal provocative self).

    I don’t think the story about Fr Chesney was any ‘sort of code’. My point is that it seems to me that Britain has always used Northern Ireland as a sort of reserve occupation for its vast police/military/’intelligence’ community. Northern Ireland seems to be retained as a sort of simmering pressure cooker on a back burner that can be brought to the brink of explosion when it suits Whitehall to do so, or cooled down when we want to go to war somewhere else. With a police/ military/ ‘intelligence’ community as powerful as that of Britain’s you have to ensure they have something to occupy themselves. A peaceful world is the very last thing they want.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on August 26th, 2010 at 4:18am #

    It’s interesting that this non-story is played up,but I recollect little attention was paid to the revelation of English ‘intelligence’ complicity in Loyalist death-squad murders. Indeed I suspect that what we have been allowed to know about those atrocities is but the tip of the iceberg.

  4. mary said on August 26th, 2010 at 5:36am #

    Apart from carrying the war propaganda, the BBC love their spooky stories which are shovelled out like so much farmyard manure by Gordon Correra and Frank ‘I was there’ Gardner. If it’s not something about the mythical cave dwelling Osama Bin Laden, it’s something about MI5 or MI6.

    The latest fascination for them is the unfortunate MI6 ‘codebreaker’ whose remains were found inside a holdall in a bath. It is said that he had been dead for two weeks. They speculate as much as any of Murdoch’s rags do, usually under the guise of the ‘newspaper review’ in the late evening broadcasts.

    This is their piece on MI5 operations in the 40s and the 50s. Then it was ‘reds under the bed’ stuff and the hounding of ‘communists’.

    Good piece Mr Andrews.

  5. mary said on August 26th, 2010 at 5:43am #

    See what I mean. Ms Rath, whose name is new to me, is obviously doing a series of this trash which has been picked up and sensationalized here.