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Well I never! December 28, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
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Whatever about the basis of the original news report – and I’m unsure what precisely the point, other than a gratuitous lash at SF, is given that the Dáil from its inception has had former members of various IRA’s in it – I had to smile when I read this on the front of the Irish Independent in Dunnes in Donaghmede today…

The detail will be hugely embarrassing for Sinn Fein, which has come under severe criticism recently because of its links to the IRA.

Recently? Hugely embarrassing? Really?

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1. Organized Rage - December 28, 2012

Remind me is there anyone living in Finglas, or any where else in the south who did not know of Dessie’s history? The heirs of William Martin Murphy are as disreputable as the wretched man himself.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

That’s it OR. It’s as if they themselves and they think their readers have goldfish memories.

I mean it’s like NEWS FLASH!!! – Gerry Adams sits beside Ellis in the Dáil!!! And is a TD!!!! Since Election 2011!!!!! At which point they run out of exclamation marks.

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2. Bartley - December 28, 2012

given that the Dáil from its inception has had former members of various IRA’s in it …

A tad ahistorical, no?

(Given the widely-accepted democratic legitimacy of the 1919-1921 IRA campaign, and the attempt in that era to follow a strategy focused more on the combatants of the opposing side, rather than indiscriminate killing of civilians).

Hugely embarrassing? Really?

Yep, really.

We`re talking 50 murders here, not one or two.

Scaled for the population size, that would put him up in the Vasili Blokhin league of mass murderers.

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eamonncork - December 28, 2012

Never mind 1919-21 then. Eamon Gilmore, the current Tanaiste, was, just over two decades back, a TD in a party successively led by Pronsias De Rossa and Tomas MacGiolla, both of whom had served time for IRA membership. That party still had a functioning paramilitary wing at the time.
As for the 50 murders claim, there’s no proof being offered here, just an assertion from the British that they have forensic evidence to this effect. At the time they were also claiming to have forensic evidence that proved the guilt of The Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four. So accepting their assertion as providing incontrovertible proof is a tad ahistorical, no?
Not that this will stop your buddies in Fine Gael continuing to use Jean McConville as a political punchline every time Sinn Fein challenge their budgetary policy. I bet ye have a good giggle about that in the evenings. ‘You trotted out Joan again today Enda,’ ‘I did, and I’ll produce her again tomorrow just to spite Mary Lou.’
As your boneheaded comment about the difference between IRA campaigns, I’m reminded of Breandan O hEithir’s observation that every time he hears someone going on about the grand clean wars we had in this country in the old days he feels like taking them down to Ballyseedy.Though you probably approve of the Ballyseedy massacre, given that it’s your lads who were responsible.
That 50 death figure, including deaths in the Republic of Ireland, seems questionable to me. It’s also striking that the British government while eager to furnish our government with details of Ellis’s depredations felt no duty then or since to share with them their files on the 1974 bombings, a clearcut case of mass murder, which are still being withheld.

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RosencrantzisDead - December 28, 2012

“Widely accepted democratic legitimacy” is a great phrase.

It roughly equates to: if you were successful, then you were justified and legitimate.

Do recall that the early years of the State, various TDs felt the necessity to carry firearms into the Dáil chamber.

Some democracy.

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Bartley - December 28, 2012

@eamonncork

Eamon Gilmore, the current Tanaiste, was, just over two decades back, a TD in a party successively led by Pronsias De Rossa and Tomas MacGiolla, both of whom had served time for IRA membership.

In fairness to Gilmore, his involvement was so tangential that he literally has no memory of the the name of the Shinner-ish party he flirted with in the early 70s. Well, at least that`s he tells Marian Finucane.

And as for Pronsias De Rossa, he was little more than a teenage fantasist when nabbed in Glencree during the Border Campaign. By the time the conflict reared up again, his branch of the IRA had largely absented itself from the fight in order to concentrate more fully on armed robbery, counterfeiting, and the sale of self-adhesive flowers.

So neither of the above have in any real sense blood on their hands, unlike some others in Sinn Fein and the ex-WP gang.

Not that this will stop your buddies in Fine Gael continuing to use Jean McConville as a political punchline every time Sinn Fein challenge their budgetary policy.

The moral gymnastics that some are capable of when it comes to Jean McConville never fails to astound.

Jean McConville wasn`t just another random victim – the manner and motivation for her murder, the subsequent actions of her murderers in denying her a decent burial for decades until her remains were discovered by accident, plus the implication of Gerry Adams by one of the perpetrators, puts it in on different plane altogether.

And in fairness to Kenny, I see no reason why he should bound by some sort of conspiracy of silence on the matter (lest those who-haven`t-gone-away-you-know might reappear on the stage), unless and until Adams comes clean about his actions at that time.

Though you probably approve of the Ballyseedy massacre, given that it’s your lads who were responsible.

Not sure what the your lads reference is all about, certainly the behaviour of the Free State Army in Ballyseedy was regrettable and probably a war crime (even if such legal concepts were much fuzzier then than now).

However I wouldn`t be alone in seeing the harsh actions of a democratically elected government, taken to preserve the state against an extistential threat, as being qualitatively different to the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

There`s a living-by-the-sword-and-dying-by-the-sword element to Ballyseedy that was certainly absent in Enniskillen and Omagh (and yes, in Greysteel and Monaghan Town, too).

Certainly I didn`t hear too much hand-wringing around this parish over Obama`s extra-judicial drone campaign, amid the back-slapping after his victory last November.

@WbS

In terms of this site being in any legal peril, I`d refer you to the pithy phrase cited by Justice Keane when dismissing the Supreme Court appeal by Beverly Cooper-Flynn against her lost libel suit:

\”The tort of defamation protects those whose reputations have been unlawfully injured. It affords little or no protection to those who have, or deserve to have, no reputation deserving of legal protection.\”

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John Joyce - December 28, 2012

De Rossa successfully sued the sunday independent and Eamon Dunphy for what Bartley has said above.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proinsias_De_Rossa#Libel_action

Of course, it would be WBS as the publisher that would be sued, not the coward Bartley.

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smiffy - December 28, 2012

The difference, of course, was the Dunphy was paid to write like a troll for the Sindo. Bartley does so gratis.

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WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2012

Do you know what gets me about this exchange? It’s not the dissent from my opinion, or that of EC or others. After all I put the post up so it’s fair game in that respect for critique. People of good will will take different views on all this – perhaps even radically different views. Christ knows there’s precious few angels in this and sins of commission and omission on all sides, including that of the population of the RoI.

Nope, it’s the fact that when it is pointed out that there might be potential legal issues we’re given sub-Politics.ie/bar room rhetoric about a single court case as if that would necessarily set any sort of a precedent. It hasn’t before it won’t definitively again.

Bartley, the thing is you do not and cannot know what the outcome of any potential legal action against me might be. Yet despite being asked to desist you come straight back with a glib response, that response being more important to you than the integrity of the site. That tells me all I need to know about what we’re dealing with.

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RosencrantzisDead - December 29, 2012

Unfortunately, it is also the sort of rhetoric that is devoid of any common sense. You would be paying through the nose, WbS, before you ever got to a point where you could claim your opposition had no reputation to protect.

Unless Bartley or another person here is willing to grant you some blanket indemnity, extreme care is required.

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eamonncork - December 29, 2012

The murder of Jean McConville was a terrible act which nobody with any sense would defend. I’ve seen nobody on this site defend it and wouldn’t expect to see them doing so.
The problem is that Enda Kenny, Gilmore et al use that murder as a catch all defence against criticism of their financial strategy, thus demeaning the memory of the woman by using her as a mere punchline, a handy in-joke to employ against Sinn Fein.
I’m not suggesting Kenny refrain from mentioning her as part of some ‘conspiracy of silence,’ I’m suggesting that he stop bandying her name around in a completely irrelevant fashion.
Interesting to see you defending the Ballyseedy massacre by revealing you as a sneaking regarder when it comes to state violence.
And loads of people on this site mentioned Obama and the drones.
But you know that well and more fool me for engaging with your usual hapless, dishonest, rag mag arguments.
There are times when I worry that some day you will deliberately libel someone on this site precisely because it will land Wbs in trouble and get the CLR closed down.

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Organized Rage - December 30, 2012

(even if such legal concepts were much fuzzier then than now)

Bartley
Bloody Sunday,etc, Rendition, 500,000 dead Iraqis, Afghan wedding parties, etc, war crimes if anything are more ‘fuzzier’ today than ever, although it still works on the bases of winner take all.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

Hallo, civil war calling Bartley… they want their anti-Treaty SF and IRA back, who were elected to the Dáil, even if they didn’t sit in it immediately. And John Bruton, Stephen Collins and a number of others might disagree with your point re democratic legitimacy of the original IRA (let alone the anti-Treaty IRA) as indeed might some who lived in the state post-1921 and took the side of the British or Unionists. I don’t, as it happens, but again wars of independence tend to operate with more than one side and those vanquished can have equally strong feelings so whatever my feelings about it others of different views would have found the acts of 1919-1921 as deeply offensive.

As for embarrassment, well, perhaps it would be sensible to not throw around allegations as if they were proven statements of fact, particularly on a blog like this whose pockets are not deep. But that said only those with their heads firmly stuck in the sand -as OR points out above – could possibly find the idea that someone who has never denied being active in PIRA and might have carried out some acts that would be problematic would come as a surprise. I also think Hank Tree’s thoughts below make a lot of sense too.

By the way, I think the man’s own words are fair enough.

https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/dessie-ellis-interview/

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eamonncork - December 28, 2012

There is a certain grim fascination about Bartley’s rantings. They’re useful in the sense that whenever you think, ‘I wonder how Fine Gael are going to play this one,’ he instantly provides the answer.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

There is that. :)

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eamonncork - December 28, 2012

Scaled for the population size. An interesting concept. Doing this would mean that the 77 political prisoners executed by the Free State government during the Civil War equate to around 45,000 killings in the Soviet Union. No mean figure that. Or perhaps this scaling for the population size is essentially meaningless.

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Tomboktu - December 28, 2012

We’re talking 50 murders here, not one or two.

Are we? The article says a memo written in the UK embassy in washington says they (the memo writer) understands he is linked by forensic evidence to 50 murders. I think the intervening “understand”, “link”, and “forensic evidence” give a much less certain picture.

(I’m no fan of Dessie Ellis, but taking the word of a carefully worded embassy memo as gospel is not a way to hang him.)

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3. Hank Tree - December 28, 2012

Hopefully, FG and FF will adhere to the spirit of GFA, whatever about the technicalities, and display some political maturity here. I say hopefully not because I think there is any political capital in this, but in the hope that i’m spared the nauseating spectacle of some pathetic diversionary circus.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

+1

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4. greengoddess2 - December 28, 2012
eamonncork - December 28, 2012

And let’s bring Gilmore before a tribunal on the Official IRA. And bring former Fine Gael ministers, they could haul Cosgrave in from Dun Laoghaire, before a sworn enquiry on the Heavy Gang and police brutality in the seventies. Let truth reign throughout the land.
Thanks be to God Fine Gael weren’t in charge during the Peace Process. The war would still be going on. And you know something, they’d be glad it was.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

I always felt circa 95ish when Spring had suddenly morphed from the supposed more dovish unionist leaning member of the FF/LP coalition into the green nationalist/republican leaning member of the subsequent FG/LP/DL coalition that we’d genuinely detached from anything that could be regarded as serious politics in this state on the North at that particular level. It was all optics and positioning while others were trudging away at the coalface of trying to actually bring around a halt to the conflict.

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eamonncork - December 28, 2012

The hallowed Fine Gael position that the IRA were a bunch of psychopaths who could not be reasoned with and would have to be defeated militarily didn’t exactly make them useful participants in a peace process. I don’t think that mentality has changed. For all their talk about democracy, there’s something fundamentally anti-democratic in their (barely) veiled refusal to accept the democratic bona fides of the country’s fourth largest, and probably soon to be second largest, party. I do think a certain element in the party would have regarded a certain amount of death in the North as a small price to pay for the continuing political marginalisation of Sinn Fein.
It’s one cynical stance though, ‘We might be running the country into the ground but they used to kill people years ago.’

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

In a way it parallels EH’s approaches which at this stage are just bizarre. The same obeisance to democracy in a formal sense while functionally something quite different is taking place. There’s also the point that they are of a piece with those who spent decades demanding the conflict should stop and then seemed to expect SF to simply vacate the stage. That ain’t the way these things work.

My other gripe is this, far too many who knew exactly what the difficulties intrinsic in repositioning paramilitary/political groups in a conflict towards political approaches spent far too long calling for that end of conflict I suspect thinking that it wasn’t possible and would break SF and now have the dismal vista (from their perspective) of far from a diminished SF, quite the opposite, one which is now a genuinely significant player island wide and increasingly so inside the RoI. None of which is to forget or dimnish what happened. But there’s a sort of hypocrisy at work in regard to that line.

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eamonncork - December 28, 2012

There is actually I think among some them a nostalgia for the simpler days of the Armed Struggle when they could make noises about how terrible it all was while doing absolutely nothing to bring it to an end. After all, it didn’t cost politicians down here very much. And the likes of EH have never satisfactorily addressed the fact that they predicted the Peace Process was some kind of Provo trick which would lead to a Balkan style civil war on the island. Those contentions were obviously deranged at the time yet the same pundits who were wrong then continue along the same discredited track now.

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WorldbyStorm - December 28, 2012

That’s very true, and something I hadn’t thought about as regards how rubbish his predictions were (and CCO’B’s were barely trotting after him). The McAleese one perhaps to an extent – not least because he recanted, but the others, not at all.

There’s also the thought – though this is perhaps reaching a little – that we’ve seen a sharper right economic turn in the absence of the conflict perhaps because there was a sense that during it there was a necessity even with the straitened economic situation it was necessary to at least have some rhetoric of inclusiveness in the state whereas now not so much. Of course it would have gone rightwards anyhow, but…

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ejh - December 28, 2012

In a way it parallels EH’s approaches which at this stage are just bizarre.

Mind you, he’s still at war, isn’t he? At war with his younger self.

(There has to be a term for that syndrome.)

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sonofstan - December 28, 2012

Mind you, he’s still at war, isn’t he? At war with his younger self.

(There has to be a term for that syndrome.)

(50 shades of) Dorian Grey?

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5. doctorfive - December 28, 2012

Sure to become a regular occurrence. Bound to a lot of new information ‘coming to light’ in direct proportion to Sinn Féin’s reach of power.

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6. CMK - December 28, 2012

I read this coverage briefly in the paper itself. The whole premise of their ‘shock horror’ tone was completely undermined by their noting that Ellis, when he did face a trial, he was aquitted. I has the ring of the Private Eye’s ‘Phil Space’ to it. As Eamonn points out, the usual suspects mounting their plinths on the moral high ground could do something useful by asking for all UK documentation on the
Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

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7. Bartley - December 29, 2012

@WbS

Well, I apologize if I caused you any worries on that score, but given the man`s own documented admissions, you really can rest easy on that score.

@John Joyce

Apart from the teenage fantasist business (which falls well within the realm of fair comment), nothing I wrote above about Proinsias De Rossa departs from established historical facts.

You seem to misunderstand the purpose of defamation law – it is not intended as a shield that can be deployed to instantly halt discussion of historical facts that you may find inconvenient.

Also one wonders why the extreme sensitivity to potential libel action only rears its head when there`s a Mick Wallace or a Dessie Ellis involved?

@eamonncork

I struggle to understand how you`ve read a sneaking regard into regrettable and probably a war crime.

The point I was making is that most of the oft-cited atrocities associated with the IRA and the Free State Army in that era (Kilmichael, Collins\’s death squad, Ballyseedy, the 77, etc.) involved enemy combatants who had entered the conflict with their eyes open.

There is an obvious moral gulf between such actions undertaken by agents of a democratic state in existential peril (even if some of those agents could be classified as war criminals within our current understanding), and setting off a car bomb on a busy shopping street without a combatant in sight.

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ejh - December 29, 2012

You seem to misunderstand the purpose of defamation law – it is not intended as a shield that can be deployed to instantly halt discussion of historical facts that you may find inconvenient.

You seem to misunderstand the purpose of reminders as to the existence of defamation law. It is not intended as a something that can instantly be ignored in order to continue speculation in which you find it convenient to engage on other people’s websites.

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EamonnCork - December 29, 2012

So, given that atrocities involving ‘enemy combatants who had entered the conflict with their eyes open,’ are less serious, I presume you’d be inclined to excuse the IRA for Warrenpoint and similar attacks on the British Army. Fair enough so you old Provo you.

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Bartley - December 29, 2012

So, given that atrocities involving ‘enemy combatants who had entered the conflict with their eyes open,’ are less serious, I presume you’d be inclined to excuse the IRA for Warrenpoint and similar attacks on the British Army.

I`d be inclined to state the obvious, that the Warrenpoint bombings did not constitute a war crime in the same way that the Enniskillen massacre did.

Now the follow-up attack on the reinforcements which included medical staff was questionable, though fortunately none of the medics treating the wounded were caught up in that second indiscriminate blast.

The problem for the Provos (and their fellow travelers) is that so few of their actions fell into the Warrenpoint category, while so much of their activity was murder pure and simple.

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eamonncork - December 29, 2012

The purpose of defamation law is to prevent people from defaming other people. That should be easy enough to understand. There are regular fierce disagreements on this site, nobody invokes defamation law to halt them. Your glib stuff about people not having a reputation to defame, which you trot out as though you overheard it in the pub some night, seems to indicate you couldn’t care less whether you defame anybody. I think your motivations in this are suspect to be honest.

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Bartley - December 29, 2012

@eamonncork

There are regular fierce disagreements on this site, nobody invokes defamation law to halt them

Though I have difficulty remembering any occasion when harsh words about Seanie Fitz, or Sean Quinn, or Mitt Romney on this site were followed by any kind admonishment about libel laws.

Do the laws of libel only apply to public figures for whom one has some sympathy?

Your glib stuff about people not having a reputation to defame, which you trot out as though you overheard it in the pub some night

I can assure you that Ronan Keane when Chief Justice was not in the habit of delivering Supreme Court judgements in saloon bars.

Though, like the rest of us, he may well have frequented pubs on other occasions. He might even have sat on a barstool, pint in hand, and caught a match or two on the telly where good old Bruce Grobbelaar inexplicably conceded some soft goals. But as far as I know, that didn`t inspire his use of Lord Bingham`s observation.

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ejh - December 29, 2012

Though I have difficulty remembering any occasion when harsh words about Seanie Fitz, or Sean Quinn, or Mitt Romney on this site were followed by any kind admonishment about libel laws.

Have any potentially libellous comments been made about these individuals? Please direct us to some examples.

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RosencrantzisDead - December 29, 2012

Don’t bother, EamonnCork; a few days ago Bartley was an expert on bolt-action rifles all because he was a weekend warrior back in the 90s or some other.

Now Bartley is a defamation lawyer extraordinaire, furnishing us with vague quotes from dated judgments and telling us that it is the end of the matter.

Personally, if he is not going to adhere to reasonable requests from the site operator, I would ban him and not look back. Then again, I lack even a modicum of WbS’s patience and am not the site operator

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EamonnCork - December 29, 2012

You haven’t, by the way, addressed the question of whether it’s acceptable for the Taoiseach and government ministers to persistently invoke a 40 year old murder when their budgetary policy is criticised, Mary Lou McDonald was four years old when the killing occurred and joined Sinn Fein after the IRA ceasefire. Where’s the relevance? It’s just a cheap shot.
One might as well say that the current coalition can’t be trusted to tackle the question of Garda corruption and the speeding fines scandal because back in the mid seventies Fine Gael and Labour turned a blind eye to systematic torture and brutality by senior Garda officers. After all Enda Kenny was a TD during the Heavy Gang era.

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EamonnCork - December 29, 2012

Actually, Bart old chum, what is your feeling on the Heavy Gang and police brutality in general. An understandable reaction on the part of the state, I’d wager. No?

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ejh - December 29, 2012

<a hrefAdvice

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ejh - December 29, 2012

Well, that went well, didn’t it? Try again the old-fashioned way…

http://openclipart.org/people/cybergedeon/cybergedeon_dont_feed_trolls.svg

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eamonncork - December 29, 2012

You’re right ejh. He takes up too much of everyone’s time. Though he is a diverting answer to the question, ‘I wonder what the stupid right wing view is on this.’

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Bartley - December 29, 2012

You haven’t, by the way, addressed the question of whether it’s acceptable for the Taoiseach and government ministers to persistently invoke a 40 year old murder when their budgetary policy is criticised, Mary Lou McDonald was four years old when the killing occurred and joined Sinn Fein after the IRA ceasefire.

Mary Lou has to take responsibility for her choice of political allies, regardless of when their crimes were committed.

She could have stayed in Fianna Fáil, but choose instead to leave and join a party led (then as now) by Gerry Adams.

That same party boasted a chairman who, a full seven years after Mary Lou flew the FF coop, announced that the killing of Jean McConville was not actually a criminal act at all, given the belief that she had been a British spy.

Whoops, apologies to all the lay-lawyers around this parish, did I just defame Mitchel McLaughlin by quoting his own words?

Well I guess I never proved that Jean McConville didn`t have that secret radio transmitter in her kitchen, you know the one disguised as an egg-timer, that Q dropped over to Divis Flats straight after kitting out 007 with the latest in exploding fountain pens?

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John Joyce - December 29, 2012

@ Bartley : “Well, I apologize if I caused you any worries on that score, but given the man`s own documented admissions, you really can rest easy on that score.”

what part of wining a libel case do you not understand?

what a child.

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Bartley - December 29, 2012

what part of wining a libel case do you not understand?

The bit where a self-confessed horse-thief accused of stealing 50 horses wins a libel case on the basis that he was only involved in robbing 47 horses, 2 donkeys and a mule.

That is to say, the type of libel case winning that could never occur in reality.

Just to reiterate, there is ZERO chance of Dessie Ellis suing ANYONE for libel in this matter.

Already the Shinners have reverted to type with their risible statement denouncing the shadowy, faceless, securocratic boogeymen.

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CL - December 29, 2012

Ian Cobain’s book gives some details of ‘the shadowy, faceless, securocratic boogeymen’ in action.

‘The security services are, with the energetic support of the government, devoted to keeping their misconduct secret for as long as possible.’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/nov/23/cruel-britannia-ian-cobain-review

Those with dirty, bloody hands are in no position to accuse others of the same.

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WorldbyStorm - December 29, 2012

Bartley, the point is that this isn’t your site, that your words could potentially cause trouble for others and that even just basic courtesy might see you tone it down a bit. But nope. Can’t even do that.

BTW. In 1992 PdeR and DL were unsuitable for FG and Bruton, who made a point about that very fact. Two years later they were suitable. No doubt those who said x y and z about PdeR thought they did so with impunity after all, the second largest political formation in the land and its then leader weren’t shy about expressing their disdain for any lash-up. Sadly, or not, they eventually discovered the error in that analysis. So you see it’s very very easy for you to opine in your detached fashion, but truth to tell you can have no certainty about future actions by anyone in these matters or what the outcome will be. I note too that DE has been rather cautious in his public pronouncements. I’d certainly be the last person to take a gamble on a judge or jury in that context. You’d do well not to in any way open the door for my facing that eventuality. Again, it’s a matter of basic courtesy.

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ejh - December 29, 2012

You really don’t seem to understand that it’s not your call to make. If you want to write as you do, why not set up a Bartley Blog and do it there? Takes just a few minutes on Blogger or WordPress. I for one wold welcome such a development.

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CMK - December 29, 2012

Dessie Ellis was acquitted in the sole criminal trial he was subjected to in the UK. In the eyes of the UK legal system he has an unblemished reputation i.e. he has been convicted of nothing – everything else is hearsay. He’s guilty of nothing. Were he to hire Private Eye’s favourites – Carter R(F)uck – he could probably knock a couple of grand out of the unwary. I wouldn’t be too sure that Dessie has no reputation to protect. Certainly, from where I’m standing if he were to give it a lash he may well find that he could be on a winner. The musings of security service operative might not survive the scrutiny of a High Court. It’s interesting that the Indo are gung ho on the ‘Ellis implicated in 50 murders’ but rather shy about WHICH 50 murders. One suspects that were they to get into that level of detail they would be giving Dessie Ellis’ lawyers plenty of work for the next few months and possibly years.

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Organized Rage - December 30, 2012

CMK
Dessie might at a push win the case, but given his membership of SF[etc] and the class and political nature of the English judiciary, and I doubt Dublin’s is much different, I doubt he would receive much in damages. I remember when Vanessa Redgrave won a libel case and received just a half penny, as the Judge concluded as a member of WRP she had no reputation to loose.

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smiffy - December 29, 2012

“Already the Shinners have reverted to type with their risible statement denouncing the shadowy, faceless, securocratic boogeymen.”

Well, given that it’s taken from a document marked ‘secret’ originating in the British Embassy in Washington relating to the possibility of Ellis’ extradition to Britain, it’s hardly a risible comment.

You may wish to recall that their response also notes that Ellis was tried and acquitted in a British court on these charges subsequent to this document being drawn up.

Still, I realise there’s no point engaging with you here. Don’t you have some Billy Goats Gruff somewhere you should be annoying?

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John Joyce - December 29, 2012

“I wrote above about Proinsias De Rossa departs from established historical facts.”

You are an idiot.

The only saving grace here is that this site is visited and read only by a few hundred people. But if De Rossa was so inclined he could sue for defamation on the same grounds as before.

Mind you, the fact that you are STILL allowed to libel De Rossa, even after it has already been pointed out that what you are say is completely libelous – De Rossa had no knowledge of the people or event you link him with, as was shown in his successful libel case – opens up WBS and cedarlounge to legal action, if De Rossa is ever so inclined.

There have been three Irish publishing house shut down in the past four years over the costs of libel cases taken against them

Hope cedarlounge is a public limited company, because if not WBS your house is potentially on the line.

Either that, or you better just hope that De Rossa does’nt come across this and take it personal.

All to allow this idiot carry on like a 15-yr old on 4chan.

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8. John Joyce - December 29, 2012

“a self-confessed horse-thief accused of stealing 50 horses wins a libel case on the basis that he was only involved in robbing 47 horses, 2 donkeys and a mule.”

This clearly refers to De Rossa.

Do I need tp point out that De Rossa is the current chairperson of TASC – an organisation funded by Chuck Feeney?

Have you any idea how serious this is? you have the chairperson of a chuck feeney-funded organisation linked with criminal activity here.

WBS all it take is one twitter to send this around.

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Bartley - December 29, 2012

Mind you, the fact that you are STILL allowed to libel De Rossa, even after it has already been pointed out that what you are say is completely libelous – De Rossa had no knowledge of the people or event you link him with, as was shown in his successful libel case – opens up WBS and cedarlounge to legal action, if De Rossa is ever so inclined.

The ‘event I linked him with’ was the IRA training camp at Glencree in May 1956. At which he was arrested. Caught in flagrante delicto training IRA members. And interned as a result.

He can`t sue anyone for pointing out historical facts.

That the branch of the IRA he was associated with went on to the ‘fund-raising’ activities mentioned is also historical fact.

The reason is Independent Newspapers came a cropper is that it made a very specific allegation about de Rossa that was not repeated here by anyone.

So please, spare me the Chicken Licken act, WbS`s house is safe!

This clearly refers to De Rossa.

Hello! Fifty horses.

50 bleedin` nags!

The clue is in the number.

That bore no relation to de Rossa.

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John Joyce - December 30, 2012

The funny thing about libel is that it is not fought out through comment boxes but through law firms.

Just ask Matt Tracey.

As I said, the marginal position of this site – the fact that relatively few people read it – is what is saving it from a solicitor’s letter.

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John Joyce - December 30, 2012

While I think of it, Matt Tracey also claimed he had historical facts on his side.

How did that work out for him?

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Jim Monaghan - December 30, 2012

I am reasonable au fait with political gossip and I never heard anything like this.

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EamonnCork - December 30, 2012

I’d have to say that I don’t see a libel in this thread and that while I’d fully agree that Bartley should have more sense, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful of John to be suggesting that the CLR is open to legal action here.
In its own way that’s just as careless as Bartley’s silly guff about people not having opinions worth defending and all that immature nonsense about horse thieves. In fairness to John Bartley does bring out the worst in people and in fact intends to do precisely that. But suggesting to Wbs that his house is at risk is unpleasant stuff even if it wasn’t intended to be so.

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John Joyce - December 30, 2012

“.. suggesting to Wbs that his house is at risk is unpleasant stuff even if it wasn’t intended to be so.”

Ok. I give up. This site deserves itself.

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WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

No reason to fall out over Bartley of all people. As EC notes he brings out the worst in us, myself included – indeed one thing I hate is the censorious stuff that my own comments devolve into when engaging with him, while as you say there’s potential serious problems for the CLR in allowing him free rein. But just to be clear we’re dealing with Bartley here on out. The last few days have been a bit much.

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eamonncork - December 30, 2012

You have delighted us long enough.

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EamonnCork - December 30, 2012

Bandying around suggestions that there’s been a libel perpetrated by someone on this site and suggesting that you could be sued is, to be kind, not very sensible behaviour. It’s macho rubbish to be honest, especially when coupled with sneers about the number of readers the site has. Just because JJ dislikes Bartley doesn’t automatically make him an ally.
Though once more I wonder if Bartley’s presence on the CLR is not detrimental to the whole site. But that is your call and not mine, I’m a guest here too.

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WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

John Joyce, it’s only reading EamonnCork’s piece that made me realise that there’s something familiar about your complaints too. The sort of ‘this site deserves itself’ schtick I’ve read before from a number of fly by night commentors over the years, which makes your supposed defence as regards concern as to my personal financial welfare ring a little hollow. Also as EC notes the stuff about numbers and influence is fascinatingly passive aggressive (particularly given that you couldn’t have a clue just how many people comment here or what our stats actually are). Perhaps I’m wrong but I have a feeling I have a pretty good idea who you are from previous appearances.

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WorldbyStorm - December 30, 2012

“Though once more I wonder if Bartley’s presence on the CLR is not detrimental to the whole site.”

I think at this stage there’s little question about it.

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ejh - December 30, 2012

You have delighted us long enough.

I’m ashamed to say I had to look that up, even though I’ve read the book more than once.

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9. John Joyce - December 29, 2012

Final point on Bartley above.

interesting to read that there is a zero chance of somebody suing for libel, written by someone who has the good sense to remain completely and utterly anonymous online.

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sonofstan - January 8, 2013

No there isn’t (zero chance, that is)

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10. Captain Moonlight - December 30, 2012

I give honour and respect to all those who fought/fight to establish a 32 county socialist republic..from the outset the republican socialist movt was betrayed and fighting a losing battle against the brits..the black and white veiw bottom line is that at diffent times good men women boys and girls have carried on the struggle for national liberation and to establish the
Vision of Connolly but we have always been the minority in every mutation of the IRA.. Brit intelligence dirty ops being the PIRA faze…

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11. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - December 30, 2012

I think Gene Kerrigan’s position below is the best to take on this issue. I don’t believe the Provos can be granted a blank slate on the basis that we’ve all moved on. But nor do I think that they should be judged hypocritically be other actors in the conflict. But Kerrigan puts it better I think.

2: The Taoiseach and Jean McConville.

Every now and then, someone from Sinn Fein corners Enda Kenny. Persistent questioning on the economy upsets the Taoiseach. At which point, he drags in the IRA.

Now, there’s a school of thought that says the Provo record is so bloody that they have no place in parliamentary politics. It is open to the Taoiseach to take such a position. He does not. Some people persistently probe Gerry Adams’s IRA record – a valid activity, given his implausible answers. The Taoiseach does not do so.

But, when he is cornered, it is his habit to figuratively hold up the corpse of such victims as Jean McConville, and behave as though this is a trump card that invalidates all Sinn Fein questioning on the economy.

The murder of Jean McConville remains a live issue. It is legitimate to pressure Adams or anyone else to speak on the matter. To hide behind Jean McConville, when questioned on the economy, is simply wrong. The Taoiseach – a man who runs from debate – should be stopped from using this victim in this manner.

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Starkadder - December 30, 2012

“The murder of Jean McConville remains a live issue. It is legitimate to pressure Adams or anyone else to speak on the matter. To hide behind Jean McConville, when questioned on the economy, is simply wrong. The Taoiseach – a man who runs from debate – should be stopped from using this victim in this manner.”

Bang on target. +1

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RosencrantzisDead - December 30, 2012

Brilliantly put and a great insight from Kerrigan. +2.

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12. John Joyce - January 8, 2013

Declan Ganley successfully sues for comments on Barrington’s blog and twitter.

http://barringtonkevin.blogspot.ie/2013/01/blog-post.html

You know, you really should hope that this site remains a backwater, because it is the only thing stopping it from the radar of people like this. And the courts are on their side.

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smiffy - January 8, 2013

With contributions as substantial and insightful as yours, a backwater it shall surely remain!

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eamonncork - January 8, 2013


Oh hang, on a second. BACKWATER? Damn.

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13. kevbarring - January 8, 2013

What is ‘substantial?’

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smiffy - January 8, 2013

Don’t worry about it. It was a dig at ‘John Joyce’ in relation to his snipey comments about this blog, rather than anything about the story he linked to.

No doubt ‘John Joyce’ is an internet titan, whose own website attracts hundreds of thousands of readers each day, the kind of numbers the owners of the CLR could barely imagine in their wildest reveries.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 8, 2013

smiffy, “owners of the CLR”, is that not a bit,eh, bourgeois?

Oh I meant to ask, how deep are CLRs’ pockets, I’m pretty sure some of Mark P’s attacks on commentators here might be considered defamatory. Where’s my lawyer, RiD where are you, are you taking no win no fee cases?

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smiffy - January 8, 2013

The owners are those who contribute and comment, of course. Collective ownership of the means of production.

Actually, that’s probably WordPress. :-/

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RosencrantzisDead - January 8, 2013

Calling someone an ‘arsehole’ (which has been defined as “a person obdurately marked by stubbornness or stolidity who tries to frustrate another”) is probably not defamatory.

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RosencrantzisDead - January 8, 2013

That was to LATC.

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John Joyce - January 8, 2013

I don’t understand the sarcasm. And given Ireland’s libel laws, I don’t understand the flippancy. If my use of the word “backwater” has caused offence I apologize. However, if this site ever does enter into the radar of people like Ganley etc, well, your flippancy may cost you. At the moment I doubt they know of its existence. De Rossa doesn’t that’s for sure.

That’s all I’m saying, but if that has offended you I apologize.

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CMK - January 8, 2013

Yeah, Ireland’s ‘Best Political Blog’ 2009 & 2011 would be completely outside any lawyer’s purview. Particularly nowadays when social media, blogging are such obscure little known areas. ‘The Chairman’ has been an ongoing object of, eh, ‘study’ here for almost as long as I’ve been following CLR and nothing bad has happened yet. I think John is shitting stirring but I’m not sure why. It’s defintely not motivated by any consideration for those who run CLR or those how post. What is your motivation with your motivation, John, with your ceaseless focus on libel threats, real or imagined, half-baked or otherwise?

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John Joyce - January 8, 2013

“for almost as long as I’ve been following CLR and nothing bad has happened”

Yeah well could be said about twitter until yesterday CMK. Nothing happened, until it did.

I’m trying to be helpful because nobody else in this discussion seems to really grasp the nature of Ireland’s libel laws and how they apply to online comments.

But yeah, if all I’m going to get is abuse and sarcasm for pointing that out, well ,what’s the point really? I think you’re right, CMK. nobody else was saying it. I thought it was worthwhile pointing out. Very quickly the collective response has been sarcasm and flippancy.

you’re right. Why should I care? you don’t.

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John Joyce - January 8, 2013

@{ CMK, regarding this:

“Ireland’s ‘Best Political Blog’ 2009 & 2011 would be completely outside any lawyer’s purview. ”

What? do you think lawyers has a list of Irish blogs that have won awards given out by Mullally and his friends?

There’s a couple of million people in Ireland online every day, and a few hundred of them read blogs. That’s the reality.

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ejh - January 8, 2013

Maybe. Or maybe the hit count is a touch higher than that. I imagine the siteowners would know.

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WorldbyStorm - January 8, 2013

Well that’s it precisely ejh.

I don’t know John, you make such a point in your comments of mentioning the size of the readership of this blog (something you clearly have no idea about whatsoever, whatever that I have no illusions about its influence at a political level) and it’s marginal position that for all your much avowed concerns for our welfare one might have the suspicion that you don’t much like us at all.

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14. John Joyce - January 8, 2013

Oh, least it be thought that I’m advocating 1984-esque restrictions on discussion here. I entered this discussion regarding Bartley’s comments ojn De Rossa. I got accused of hyperbole by eamonncork. now ganley has succesfully won an out-of-court settlement in an Irish court relating to deflamatory remarks on twitter. I point that out. And smiffy calls me “snide”.

You’ve got to ask yourself, am I really the enemy here? A call for a bit of common sense around remarks, that’s all, and what response do you get? Fingers in ears and LA LA LA.

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RosencrantzisDead - January 8, 2013

I think you are going a little overboard on the ‘We’re all doomed!’ rhetoric, John. Such enthusiasm can be misinterpreted as schadenfreude or an attempt to foment legal unpleasantness.

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John Joyce - January 8, 2013

Well that wasn’t my intention. But as I said nobody else was saying it, and I thought it needed to be brought up.

For my troubles I get abuse. Cheers lads.

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CMK - January 8, 2013

Well, I think attempts to get grown adults (I presume most who post here fall into that category) to modify their behaviour through insinuations that they are exposed to possible legal consequences, is almost guaranteed to get a strong to abusive response. It’s nice that you’re so worried about the CLR that you keep mentioning legal action nearly every time you post here but, really, people are grown up enough to look after themselves and all seem to know what they’re about.

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15. Joe - January 8, 2013

I dunno. I remember a couple of particular comments last year, which the minute I saw them, alarm bells rang. And they obviously rang for WBS or whoever too because they were taken down pretty quickly. Those comments were by someone who I haven’t seen commenting on here for a while.
I was talking too to another commenter here who told me that he’d stopped commenting at one stage because he found he was saying stuff online in a different way (e.g. more agressive, or possibly more put downish, I think) than he would in a face to face conversation. That made me think about how I comment. I often count to ten now and oftener keep schtum.
So no harm for us all to be careful on here. It’s a great forum and it would be an awful pity if it got stymied by an avoidable legal threat or action.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 8, 2013

While I’d agree somewhet with the difference in communication on-line vs face to face it seems far less of an issue here on CLR than it would be on 99.99% of the internet. If anyone’s mining for comments for legal purposes I’d imagine the lode would be a lot richer on other sites.

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CMK - January 8, 2013

Fair points and I have seen some, swiftly removed, comments here that were seriously dodgy. The bulk of comments here are never libellous; they might be sectarian, abusive, unpleasant or otherwise nasty. But to be constantly reminded, in effect, to ‘be careful what you say, boys and girls, because you never who’s looking’ seems calculated to unsettle.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 8, 2013

In fairness they do say that one should never write something in an email or on the internet that one wouldn’t be happy enough with it being printed out and pinned to a public noticeboard to be read by anyone and everyone. Or this is what we tell the teenagers in our household anyway. We all slip from time to time of course.

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ejh - January 8, 2013

Email is private communication, surely? Twitter, Facebook, not so, but email?

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LeftAtTheCross - January 8, 2013

It’s only private until the wrong eyes see it.

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ejh - January 8, 2013

Actually a little research suggests that even a private email or letter may indeed be considered defamatory. Heh.

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smiffy - January 8, 2013

Joe is absolutely right. Everyone who comments here has a duty to avoid posting anything that could reasonably be considered actionable, and WBS and others have an absolute right to protect themselves by taking down anything which contravenes that. And if people don’t like it, there’s nothing stopping them setting up their own sites.

But there’s very little posted here that ever falls into that category, even the trolling stuff.

“John Joyce”‘s ‘who, me?’ astonishment at being accused of being snide, and his pleas of innocence – that he’s only trying to be helpful – might carry a bit more weight if his past warnings weren’t always accompanied by a passive aggressive dig at the number of readers this site attracts (which, of course, he doesn’t have the first clue about).

It’s almost as if he had a different agenda when posting here. But, no, surely not …

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16. EamonnCork - January 8, 2013

I’d just like to say that I’m sorry to see Kevin Barrington being sued. I think libel is something too often threatened and resorted to in Irish society, often by fairly unsavoury people who hope to silence other critics as well as those they’ve taken to court. It’s a kind of compo for people who claim they’re suffering from reputational whiplash.
And I still think that banging on constantly about the possibility of the CLR being sued borders on the sinister, particularly coming from someone who doesn’t seem to post on anything else.

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RosencrantzisDead - January 8, 2013

It’s a rich man’s tort, EamonnCork. Always has, always will be. The classic example is Robert Maxwell using it as a tool to suppress investigations into his company. Private Eye published some of this and were promptly sued (Hislop’s famous quote about giving a ‘fat cheque to a fat Czech’).

Of course, it turned out all the ‘baseless’ allegations were completely true and came out after Maxwell died.

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ejh - January 8, 2013

Hey, I got threatened by Maxwell’s solicitors once. Maislish & Co. I might even still have the letter.

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RosencrantzisDead - January 8, 2013

Nice. Do you recall what it was for?

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Martin Savage - January 8, 2013

John Joyce you are a seriously odd bloke

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ejh - January 8, 2013

Years ago there was a strike at Pergamon Press, Maxwell’s publishing company in headington, Oxford. Or perhaps more accurately a lock-out, since all the strikers were immediately dismissed and spent the next couple of years outside the gate, as was the way with a lot of strikes at the time in the UK.

Maxwell also owned Oxford United, the team I support, and this was the time when football fanzines were starting to happen in the UK, and ours had been going about a year. I happened to hear that Pergamon employees had been offered free tickets to matches, and we did a cartoon with a Maxwell head saying something about offering match tickets to scabs.

Anyway, not long after, we got a letter from his solicitors complaining that we had falsely alleged that tickets were being offered as an inducement to break strikes. It didn’t directly theaten to sue us for that, but it said something to the effect that if we persisted “action will have to be taken to curb your excesses”.

We printed the letter with no comment and when he died a couple of years later we were able to produce what we thought was an amusing parody.

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Starkadder - January 8, 2013

Jeffrey Archer is another example,although his case
against the “Daily Star” eventually came back
to kick him in the behind.

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ejh - January 8, 2013

And of course it’s what Jonathan Aitken was trying to do.

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17. WorldbyStorm - January 11, 2013

Just further to the ‘predictions’ on this thread as regards imminent danger from legal action due to anything said above… interesting to note the following, given that the specific case was raised as a precedent:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2013/0111/1224328673250.html

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EamonnCork - January 11, 2013

Damn, you got there before me.
Of course with the way the property market is going, maybe your house will only be worth fifty quid when the dread day comes.

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Organized Rage - January 11, 2013

While we are on the subject of libel, does anyone know whether the information already being in the public domain is a defense?

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RosencrantzisDead - January 11, 2013

The information would have to be true or attract a form of privilege (fair and accurate report of Oireachtas proceedings, reports of a court etc.).

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LeftAtTheCross - January 11, 2013

“attract a form of privilege”

That’s a bit of legalise I presume? Could you translate it into plain english RiD please? Thanks.

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EamonnCork - January 11, 2013

There are forums which are regarded as enjoying ‘absolute privilege’ which means if you report exactly what was said there, no matter how abusive or questionable, Court cases and Dail proceedings fall under this heading. Local authority meetings come under ‘qualified privilege’ which means you can report all statements without fear of libel but you must subsequently correct them if they’re proved wrong.
As regards OR’s question, if the information already in the public domain is libellous, then repeating it just means you’re repeating a libel which means more money for the person being libelled.

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EamonnCork - January 11, 2013

‘Which means if you report’ above should read, ‘which means you can report.’

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RosencrantzisDead - January 11, 2013

What EamonnCork said.

I would add: absolute privilege is a defence that applies to statements made in the course of, typically, official state business. A TD making statements during Leaders’ Questions or during a debate is protected from defamation proceedings, although they may be subject to censure by the Ceann Comhairle or another Oireachtas disciplinary body.

Qualified privilege is a bit wider. It attaches to statements which the communicator has a duty to disclose and to which the recipient has an interest in receiving. The duty or interest may be a legal, social, or moral one.

The Defamation Act has added bits and pieces about statements which can be made subject to explanation or contradiction (i.e. if you publish these statements the ‘wronged’ party may request that you publish a sentence saying they deny the claims or some explanation by the ‘wronged’ party). A failure to do so will mean you lose the defence of qualified privilege. This last part only applies certain kinds of statements (primarily those made by a body such as a local authority as EamonnCork has noted above).

By the by, if you are concerned abut something in particular, you will need to seek proper legal advice. Do not come back here if you get a solicitor’s letter.

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ejh - January 11, 2013

Just to clarify, do you mean “information” or “allegation”?

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ejh - January 11, 2013

So that’s €50050 with lawyers’ fees…

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18. Organized Rage - January 11, 2013

Ok , but what if the information comes from what society regards as an authoritive voice, a national broadcaster for example, is that a defence if when you find out it was not true you print a retraction.

Where does public interest come in all this, for example in the Savile case many people believed they new what he did, but these fears failed to see the light of day. Yet if they had it may have helped those he abused come forward whilst he was still alive. That must be in the public interest.

I find those who threaten to sue for libel over a single or handful of tweets little more than extortion, pay me 50 quid or I will sue you.

I do not know the law but I have no doubt libel was first placed on the statute book to protect the rich and powerful and little has changed.

By the way, not sure how a politican can sue for libel and gain large damages, as in this day and age the common consenses is they do not have a reputation to loose, surely?

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ejh - January 11, 2013

I wouldn’t count on it.

In fact, politicians don’t usually sue, for a variety of reasons including

(a) they’d always be doing it
(b) their reputation would suffer more from being thought of as somebody who sues easily, than it would ffrom letting things lie.

But it’s not unheard of.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 11, 2013

Speaking of national broadcasters, I wonder will Hugo Chavez sue Hector Ó hEochagáin for the latter’s comment on his RTE radio show yesterday in which he referred to Venezuela as the country of “the dictator Chavez”?

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eamonncork - January 11, 2013

In the eyes of the courts, everyone has a reputation to lose. And this is a particularly litigous society. There are many threats of legal action which never become public but succeed in silencing people because hardly anybody wants to put up with that sort of hassle.

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eamonncork - January 11, 2013

If you are thinking of doing something along those lines OR get legal advice. The last thing you want to be doing is forking out money to some scoundrel.

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CMK - January 11, 2013

Sometimes, though, if you have the guts, you can bluster away a threat of legal action for libel. In the one example I’m aware of a solicitor’s letter was sent that was nearly four pages long and which detailed all manner of consequences for not complying. A firm response was issued back and that was the end of it. Many threatening letters are sent by thin-skinned well heeled chancers. Some of whom know well that they would be skinned alive by any competent barrister in an actual court case. The ability to fling round libel threats and solicitors letters is a privilege of class here and it is used as a marker of class. Many letters are issued to assert dominance and with no intention of going further. Many of those who are zealous about their ‘reputations’ are acutely aware that anyone prepared to dig hard enough could probably find dirt on them that would severely compromise their reputation.

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Organized Rage - January 11, 2013

The threat to sue can can also act as a shot across the bow, and stop the mainstream media digging to deep, as they conclude the trouble which ‘may’ come their way is not worth a candle. I’m thinking of the north Wales care home case, which as far as the MSM is concerned has gone totally off the boil. Despite the man who was wrongly named; not being the only prominent citizen who was alleged to have been involved.

Thanks for replies and advice comrades.

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19. CMK - January 11, 2013

Looks like this has some more milage in it!!

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