Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

The Politics of Apologising – Sinn Féin to Regret the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and expel members who sing “Come Out You Black and Tans” – Could this be true?

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Before readers leap to their keyboards, rest assured folks – the claim is a brilliant joke. The full story is below – Source is the

Moving to a serious point – Irish public figures are regularly swamped with ignorant demands to “apologise” for any Irish ballads which belong to a rich culture of resistance to British Imperialism. The latest example is the Irish international women’s soccer team which recently secured World Cup qualification for the first time.

Some people dodge and weave around this central issue, saying they do not like the Wolfe Tones song containing the popular lines “Oh Ah, Up the RA”. One example is the Sinn Féin Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin Ó Broin who answered a direct question about this Hoo-Hah with the following words :

Asked about a recent controversy over the singing of the Wolfe Tones’ Celtic Symphony song — which includes the line ‘ooh, ah, up the ‘Ra’ by the Irish women’s soccer team, he said: “It’s not a song I would sing, it’s not a song I would encourage people to sing, and I certainly think at public events and with public and political representatives it’s something we shouldn’t do.”

Irish Times October 18 2022

Bad answer Eoin! Let’s promote a political message in another very popular rabble-rousing Irish ballad which often attracts the scorn of the right-wing fuddy-duddy apology brigade – “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” – written by Dominic Behan.

The song contains these lyrics, which are profoundly internationalist. They link the just ancient struggle for Irish independence from the British Empire with similar struggles in other parts of the world. The song mocks Irish hypocrites who proclaim their Irish identity while oppressing other victims of British imperialism in far-away lands. Let’s be intolerant against the politics of “apologies”.

Come tell us how you slew 
Them ould Arabs two by two 
Like Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows 
How brave you faced one 
With your 16-pounder gun 
And you frightened them damned natives to the marrow

Come out ye Black and Tans
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell her how the IRA made you run like hell away
From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra

Enjoy this version of a very moving song – don’t apologise.

Come Out Ye Black and Tans

A SCREENSHOT APPEARING to show a news article calling the 1916 Rising an “unprovoked attack” and suggesting Sinn Féin should apologise to Britain is fake.

The doctored image appears to show a 16 October article on The Irish Times website titled: “Should Sinn Fein win the next election, their first act must be a formal apology to Britain for the Easter Rising”.

Its summary reads: “If David Cameron can apologise for The Famine, then the party can show it has moved beyond its childish obsession with so-called ‘British imperialism’”.

The byline is attributed to “W Brittan”.

The image also shows a caption for a photo that says “118 British soldiers lost their lives in the unprovoked attack”.

A tweet featuring the image received more than 3,500 likes and was retweeted hundreds of times, with many expressing outrage at what they appear to have believed to be a real article.

Some other commenters appear to have been aware that it was probably not a genuine screenshot, but argued that it was similar to some headlines published by the Irish Times that could be perceived as pro-British, such as an opinion piece declaring: “It is time to rein in the Anglophobia“.

There is no trace of the article seen in the screenshot on the Irish Times website, nor are there internet archives or Google caches of the article.

There’s also no record of the supposed Irish Times author named in the byline, nor are there reactions on Twitter to such an article being tweeted out by The Irish Times or its journalists.

The screenshot also differs from the Irish Times style in that it omits the fada over Sinn Féin.

The Twitter image also includes alt-text, a description which is usually hidden, but appears when a picture fails to load and can be rendered into artificial speech for internet users who can’t readily see the image.

This hidden description reads, in part: “There headline is curiously missing the accent over the e in Fein, and that’s definitely not because I forgot that was the Irish Times house style and is in fact a petty slight against the party by a subeditor.” [sic]

The Irish Times did not give an official response to The Journal’s inquiries, however, some section editors did mention it on their social media accounts.

Damian Cullen, the Health & Family Editor of the Irish Times said on Twitter said the screenshot was “not real” though described the fake as a decent effort. “W(est) Brittan is a nice touch,” he wrote.

The image seen in the screenshot had been used by the Irish Times before and it is likely that the creator of the image just edited the text in the article on their computer to make the screenshot.

It is easy to fake text on internet browsers, including text on newspapers and official websites.

These regularly get spread on the internet and, although often created as jokes, they can be taken seriously when spread out of context.

The screenshot of an Irish Times article arguing that Sinn Féin should apologise to Britain for the 1916 Rising is fake. No such article was published by The Irish Times

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