from Church & State Magazine, No. 73, Summer 2003)
War-Fevered Anglophile's Diary
Throughout the Iraq War Kevin Myers, a member of liberal advanced
guard, used his position as the main author of the An
Irishman’s Diary column in the Irish
Times to deliver a series of diatribes defending the US
and British forces. Myers is regarded as one the best known writers currently
on the staff of the Irish
Times. He is also a champion of the Liberal Agenda in Ireland.
Here’s a representative extract from his column of April
11th, the day after the symbolic pulling down of the statue of Saddam in the
centre of Baghdad:
where are you all now, you Not In My Names? Freedom is spreading across Iraq,
and what have you NIMNs to say? Will you write contrite letters to this newspaper
admitting that you were wrong, and that you apologise? Or will you find some
excuse, yet again, to rail at the US, which is what you NIMNs do the entire
D. Higgins’s condemnations of the IRA disqualify him from full membership
of NIMNdom: but his recent tones have been steeped in NIMNery at its sickliest.
I can see him now, finger in the air, in the Dail shrieking Not In My Name,
Not In My Name, NOT IN MY NAME, NOT IN MY NAME. And his mirror image in the
Seanad, David Norris, has been NIMNing away to beat the band….
are pathetic people, about a pathetic purpose, one that survives in Ireland
because of the extraordinary numbers of NIMNs and NWFOs [No War for Oil, DA]
in the Irish media. They were wrong on the first Gulf War, wrong on Afghanistan,
wrong on this war. They’ll be wrong on the next one. You see [sic].”
This rant is undoubtedly colourful but it contains no serious
thought. In passing it might be noted that Michael D. Higgins made some very
useful contributions to the debate for the simple reason that he was well informed
about Iraq (he hammered home that most telling point that the weapons inspectors
withdrew from Iraq in 1998 in response to US rather than Iraqi pressure). And
he single-handedly forced the Labour Party leadership to adopt a position in
which the Party opposed the war whether or not it was sanctioned by the UN.
This point apart, the column is hardly worth commenting on. What is noteworthy
about it and other similar pieces however, is the number of contributors to
Times letters page who clearly consider them to be worthy
of serious consideration.
And readers of the Irish
Times are not the only ones taking Kevin Myers seriously.
The April 11th edition of the The Phoenix devotes two articles to him, one of
which is a two-page profile under the Pillars
of Society heading. The main opposition party, Fine Gael,
has also had reason to publicly reject his criticisms of its principled support
of the UN. In media terms Myers had a very good war (in other words he received
a lot of public attention), and he didn’t have to put his neck on the
line like Lara Marlowe who made a valiant attempt to cut through the war propaganda
of both sides.
Than A Maverick
The author of the Myers profile in The
Phoenix is afraid to face the fact that his subject is a
popular and influential opinion maker. He states:
“Like Eamon Dunphy, Myers is aware that much of his audience
is composed of readers who despise his opinions, and he is a journalist that
republicans, feminists and socialists love to hate.
Myers is more than a controversialist—he writes out of real conviction.
He favours social and economic liberalism: the stances he takes on issues
over the full spectrum of social commentary are all New Right stances. New
Right influence in contemporary Ireland is not a negligible quantity that
can be so easily dismissed. On the contrary, at the least it can be measured
by the influence enjoyed by the Progressive Democrats which, despite their
unpopularity at the polls, is extensive; arguably it is the predominant influence
in the present Government.”
It is a cop-out on the part of the nationalist-leaning Phoenix
to portray Myers as an isolated maverick. In the Sunday
Independent Eoghan Harris blazed a trail of hawkish support
for the US, and in the aftermath of the war a number of his fellow hacks trumpeted
how Harris had got it right while the dire predictions of journalists like Vincent
Browne had been disproved by events. Likewise on RTE Radio’s talk-in programme,
there was a clear majority of callers favouring the US/UK position. Myers and
Harris are representative of a changing climate of opinion in the Republic.
While they may not represent the core of the society they have given encouragement
to a latent, long-dormant element in the body politic which identifies with
the Anglo-Saxon worldview. The French are not far wrong in describing the contemporary
Irish as ‘Catholic
But what is unique about Myers’s columns is his unbridled
Anglophilia. Several months ago he devoted a column to vilifying Louis XIV of
France. The monarch who supported James II at the Battle of the Boyne and who
fashioned France into a modern state is described by Myers as one of the great
tyrants of history. This is surely too Anglocentric even for the British. When
Jacques Chirac opposed the US/British push for war at the UN, the French were
excoriated in An
Irishman’s Diary as miserable ‘worms’
with their ‘reptilian
It is notable that Myers is pro-American only when the British
establishment is pro-American. When the British Government was having doubts
about US plans for invading Iraq, Myers ruminated over whether Bush’s
judgement had been nobbled by ‘fevered
war toxins’, and then, when the British realised that the Americans
were unshakable in their determination to invade, and when they dutifully rowed
into line, Myers equally dutifully demanded, Send
In The Tanks (31.1.03).
It was not surprising that a troubled Irish
Times reader recently admitted with reference to Myers that
she was having difficulty overcoming a prejudice, acquired in childhood, of
viewing the Irish
Times as an agency of the British Secret Service!
In a dreadful novel published two years ago called, Banks
Of Green Willow, Myers gave us an insight into his core
values. The mother of his heroine’s lover works for British Intelligence
and his father is an SAS member of the Royal Ulster Rifles. Both these individuals
are portrayed heroically while the Irish Catholic characters are invariably
Kevin Myers certainly acts as though he is a British agent but
it is extremely unlikely that he is. For a start his rants are too fulsome.
MI6 would probably view him as a loose canon. Secondly, despite being educated
at an English public school, he is not actually English. Eoghan Harris revealed
some years ago that Myers’s father was a member of the old IRA. In the
early part of his career as a journalist Myers was reputed to have republican
sympathies. The awful truth about Kevin Myers is that he is a reformed Irish
leftie who once had republican sympathies! He has travelled a well-worn path
of disillusionment with Irish Catholic-nationalism and like many other intrepid
wayfarers on the good ship Irish
Times, he has lost his bearings. Unable to come up with
a vision for Ireland he has gone over to the other side. His solace now is to
fantasise about working for British Intelligence.
At the end of the day, however, once you know where Myers is
coming from, An
Irishman’s Diary is hardly worth reading. If we need
to know the British slant on specific developments we can access the British
media; if we need to know what the New Right are thinking on certain issues,
there are calmer and more thoughtful sources to check out (The
Business Post, the Sunday
Independent, etc etc). Being charitable, I am inclined to
say that his column has a certain entertainment value if you like that sort
Over the last thirty years the Irish
Times has opposed political corruption, championed artistic
freedom, countered narrow sectarianism with pluralism, fervently espoused women’s
rights, exposed the exploitation of the Third World, railed against social exclusion
at home, and generally encouraged a greater openness and questioning in Irish
society. But the pursuit of these worthy causes, sometimes summarised for convenience
as the Liberal Agenda, has been more apparent than real.
If we take just one area—‘countering
sectarianism with pluralism’—the producers of Church
& State know better than most how the Irish Times actively
hindered efforts to break the social stranglehold of the Catholic Church, e.g.
the attempt by Irish
Times staff to suppress Annie Murphy’s story about
her relationship with Bishop Eamon Casey until Murphy out-foxed them (see Forbidden
Fruit by Annie Murphy).
Times has been good at making a show of virtue. The advocacy
of apparently radical causes has been a façade and behind the façade
a less edifying agenda has been followed whenever opportunities have arisen.
I am referring to the erosion of the national tradition. It is no accident that
the effective owner of the Irish
Times, Major Thomas McDowell, is a retired British Officer
with unreconstructed pro-British loyalties. And it is no accident that Irish
society has moved inexorably towards assimilation into Ameranglia while the
Times has been its most influential public media.
Undermine the national tradition by discrediting nationally-minded
politicians; promote the economic doctrines favoured by the New Right in Anglo-Saxon
countries; cultivate associations with Western international bodies that will
help to break down Irish ‘insularity’;
bring Irish practices into line with Anglo-American cultural norms. It is not
difficult to map out the hidden agenda that has underlain the Liberal Agenda,
but it is difficult to substantiate.
Without hard evidence how can I be sure that the Irish
Times has used the Liberal Agenda to inveigle Ireland into
the camp of the Anglo Saxon war mongers and globalisers? Because of the effect
that Agenda has wrought on the mind of its most faithful correspondent—Kevin
War-Fevered Anglophile's Diary
Of The Protestant Population In Ireland.
Robin Bury (Letter)
For Protestant Decline Over The Centuries.
Pat Muldowney (Reply)
Rule And Protestant Decline
Pat Walsh (Report)
Bible And Its Consequences
Report: Victoria Clarke
Report: Nicky Blackburn
Christian Socialist—Karl Lueger
Buchan on Vienna
Esme Geering (Letter)
The Irish Discriminated Against In Britain?
W.J. Haire (Letter with Reply, SmcG)
Of Fr. Berrigan.
Action And The Catholic Workers' Movement.
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