05 December 2008

‘Prize for the most magnificent act of hypocrisy’

Patrick Comerford

It is still impossible to beat An Phoblacht, the propaganda mouthpiece for Sinn Fein and the IRA, for sheer hypocrisy and sick comment.

In an anonymously-penned article headed “Dublin 4 darlings, the poppy – and Lisbon 2,” an anonymous commentator managed to attack all his or her usual victims, and included these two paragraphs of bile:

“A deluge of newsprint and air-time has been devoted to the poppy celebrations in the last few weeks, coupled with sermons about our great shame in ignoring the fallen Irish servicemen who fought for the British Army over the decades. Prize for the most magnificent act of hypocrisy in trying to have it both ways at once must go to long-time Irish Times journalist and man of the cloth, Canon Patrick Comerford, director of spiritual formation at the Church of Ireland Theological College.

”Comerford described last week how his Dublin grandfather joined the British Army the year before the Rising and returned home just afterwards with three British Army medals for service rendered, dying shortly after from illness incurred in that service.Deploying all his theological skills, Comerford described his happiness in wearing the poppy and in the same sentence claimed to be ‘a pacifist’. It is likely that Comerford learned such theological, double-jointed dexterity in The Irish Times newsroom rather than any theological college.”

It will take many decades before I allow anyone who supports Sinn Fein and the IRA to question or challenge my pacifism, and many more decades before people who stooped to sectarian violence in advancing their irredentism should dare to question my theological credentials. While they were bombing indiscriminately, I was marching against all bombs. And all the writer had to do was to check out my blog or my Facebook page to discover that I received my theological education at the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin, Kimmage Manor, Maynooth and the Church of Ireland Theological College.

But then, those people were never the sort to allow facts to get in the way of a good story.

My grandfather was a real hero. I don’t need to express my disdain for those people who stooped to carnage as they hijacked the name of my country.

I am reminded of the former Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, who once accused an EU colleague of trailing his coat-tails through the blood of European minorities who had been the victims of ethnic cleansing. People who do that should stay silent when the guns are silent.

An Phoblacht has long scooped up all the available prizes for the most magnificent acts of hypocrisy. When I upset people like that, I should just smile benignly.



I think what columnist Frank Farrell* was challenging was the extolling by a professed pacifist of wearing the Poppy which commemorates ALL military personnel who waged war in the British armed forces - in Kenya, Cyprus, Aden, Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq, not just in Flanders in WWI; SAS, Paras, et al - and not just idealistic young men of whom your grandfather and my relatives (hopefully) are included.
In other words, the Poppy stands for all veterans (SAS, MRF, Paras, etc)- not just 'the good guys'.
I acknowledge your antipathy to republicans but they've never claimed to be pacifists. Nor is the British war machine which you (unintentionally?) show support for when you wear the Poppy.
* The piece was actually bylined in the An Phoblacht print edition but not in the online edition.

Patrick Comerford said...

I've never supported war machines of any sort, and anyone who knows me knows that. I have stood consistently against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against all wars. My grandfather was a victim -- not a perpetrator -- of war, and Sinn Fein and people like that denied me the oppotunity to remember him with dignity. Current British policies in Iraq or Afghanistan do not diminish him. He died in pain because he was a victim. All victims should be remembered with the dignity they deserve and ended, and were denied by Whitehall and by our arm chair "republicans". The republicans in Greece, who supported Venizelos against the pro-German king valued men like my grandfather and what he died in Thessaloniki; why can't people here do likewise?