Preloader image
First Post
Robin Percival, A Clear Day, Blog, Derry, Prior's Court School,
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-63,single-format-standard,stockholm-core-2.3.2,select-theme-ver-9.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1500,qode_footer_adv_responsiveness,qode_footer_adv_responsiveness_1024,qode_footer_adv_responsiveness_two_columns,qode_menu_,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.7.0,vc_responsive

First Post

If you google my name, the first thing you will see is a reference to an article written by a Shane Paul O’ Doherty, entitled “Robin Percival: The Englishman who colonized Bloody Sunday.”  Like everything that Shane now writes, it is a hatchet job, an unrelenting stream of sarcasm and abuse directed at myself for the political work I have done, and have consistently done, over the past 50 or so years.

I learnt about this article not from the author himself who has never made contact with me.  A friend texted me to ask whether I had seen it and, of course, I hadn’t.

The lack of any contact from the author shows.  Most obviously there are the factual errors.  There are two whoppers at the very beginning of his piece.  I was not born in Prescott and I did not go to the non-existent Kings School in Bath.  Had he asked me, I would have told him the correct facts which are to be found, available for everyone to see, on my Facebook page.

Shane Paul O’ Doherty for those of you who do not know him is a convicted IRA bomber.  As a result of his activities there are people today who are without limbs, who have been permanently blinded and left mentally scarred.

As Shane was successfully destroying people’s lives through his letter bomb campaign in the mid 1970s as an Explosives Officer in the Derry Brigade of the IRA, I was quietly working with children who lived in the Brandywell, the most impoverished community in Derry.  Less quietly I was a member of the group which establish the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign (BWINIC), 14 of whose members were tried (and acquitted) at the Old Bailey for trying to “seduce” British soldiers from their duty in Northern Ireland.  The day the trial opened in the Old Bailey, I and three friends distributed the same leaflets to soldiers on the streets of Derry.  A fact which O’ Doherty refers to with some surprise as if it is incongruous for a pacifist to seek to persuade soldiers not to get involved in a conflict which is not of their making.  It was one of the main stories on the BBC National News that day.

One of the most striking things about O’ Doherty’s article is not just his nastiness.  That is a trademark of all he writes. It is his ignorance and lack of knowledge of what he writes about.  He clearly doesn’t know the first thing about the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR), a Christian pacifist organisation, to which I belonged at that time.  He knows nothing about Quakerism other than a clichéd version and that they ran a visitors centre outside Long Kesh prison.

He misdescribes the FoR as a Quaker organisation.  It is not.  Indeed when I was a member of the organisation it had relatively few Quaker members.  Quakers tend to work inside their own organisations such as the Friends Peace and International Committee, based in London, or the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia.

And as for “neutrality” with regard to the Irish conflict, Shane is clearly unaware of the graves of dead UDR members in the Quaker cemetery attached to the Grange meeting House in Tyrone, or the origins of the Orange Order in Portadown.  Or the role of Bulmer Hobson, a Belfast Quaker, in re-establishing the Irish Republican Brotherhood at the turn of the 19th/20th century.  And though not a Quaker, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, murdered by the British during the 1916 uprising in Dublin, is a perfect of example of how one can be both a pacifist, a socialist and a republican.

Another example of his methodology of trying to present me in as negative light as possible is his extraordinary dishonest sleight of hand in which he says “It’s odious to refer to a person’s nationality in a way that casts him as an outsider..” and then proceeds to do exactly that, claiming that I was guilty of the same by blaming “outsiders” for the problems associated with the Apprentice Boys Parades in Derry.  But the outsiders I was referring to and which everyone in Derry who was familiar with the parade would know I was referring to, were Loyalists from outside Derry such as Portadown, Ardoyne, North Antrim etc who would arrive steaming drunk to the parades, get involved in altercations with local people, would clamber on top of the walls which overlooked the Bogside to chant and shout abuse at the people who lived there, a problem which, unlike O’ Doherty, the leadership of the Apprentice Boys were aware of and wanted to do something about.

I could go on and deal with the whole article but I wont, at least not now.  But clearly whom I am and what I have done over the many years I have lived in Ireland is of interest to some.  Perhaps even more people after O’ Doherty’s article was published.

So the thought of a website where I could write about my experiences in Ireland and elsewhere began to take shape and this is what you see.

Over the coming months I shall post somethings which will be about my role in the Bloody Sunday campaign, the Bogside Residents’ Group, BWINIC etc.   It will also contain my musings, such as they are, on contemporary events and matters Irish.  I just hope it is a pleasant experience and that occasionally I may give you some food for thought.

No Comments

Post a Comment