By Anthony Sheridan
It appears from a number of recent articles by Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole that he is suffering from a very special form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD].
His PTSD is special because it is, apparently, only triggered by flashbacks to republican violence during the Northern Ireland conflict which ended 24 years ago.
Fortunately, Fintan is not burdened with memories of the violence carried out by unionists and agents of the British government.
He recently expressed his anguish to Irish Times colleague Deirdre Falvey.
I can’t vote for Sinn Féin, because I remember too much stuff, that was so cruel, so inhuman. Planting bombs in cafes and pubs just to kill as many young people randomly as you possibly could. I just can’t deal with it, until they’ve dealt with it.
It seems that PTSD has also affected Fintan’s memory because, to my knowledge, the IRA never pursued a policy of blowing up as many young people as they could. The IRA did, in common with Unionists and British government agents, carry out acts of violence but the age of victims was never a specific policy.
Cynics might say that Fintan was engaging in a strategy practiced by other less sensitive journalists of portraying Sinn Fein as evil incarnate to young voters in the hope of halting the ongoing decline in support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
Of course that just couldn’t be true because, according to Fintan, the Irish Times is the most unbiased newspaper in the entire world. In an astonishing revelation he says:
I don’t think there’s any other journalist in the world who can say what I can say now. I’ve worked for 34 years for a newspaper, and nobody’s ever told me what to write, or what I couldn’t write. The lawyers might get involved. But an editor has never said to me, stay away from that, or we don’t agree with that, so you’re not allowed to say it. Never, ever, ever. That’s really precious. l don’t know of any of my colleagues in America or Britain who could say that, even people working for really good respectable newspapers
So, you see, nobody can accuse Fintan’s Irish Times of political manipulation because, as he says, it’s the most perfect newspaper in the whole world, a newspaper that would never, ever, ever tell a journalist what to write.
In another article Fintan again revealed the absolute torment he continues to suffer as a result of the war that ended 24 years ago when he strongly suggested that Sinn Fein TD David Cullinane shouting ‘up the Ra’ after the 2020 election could lead to renewed slaughter on the streets of Northern Ireland.
Shouting “Up the ‘Ra” is not a performance by historical re-enactors – it is a live device, primed to explode into contemporary reality.
Surely there’s no better argument for outlawing Sinn Fein, introducing internment and tearing up the Good Friday Agreement.
Ok, that would probably have the side effect of saving Fine Gael/Fianna Fail from political extinction but that would not be Fintan’s intention. His only wish is to recover from the trauma he has suffered throughout the decades.
He wants to be in the same place as the countless thousands of actual victims who have accepted that the war is over, that Sinn Fein is not planning a return to war, that it’s ok to vote for the party.
He longs to join with the United States of America, the United Nations, the European Union, the vast majority of citizens of the Republic, the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland and even the British Royal family, who were direct victims of the conflict, in accepting Sinn Fein as a legitimate political party.
But Fintan can’t deal with the pain, not even after 24 years of peace, not yet – he remembers too much.