There is a moment in 1970, the fourth episode of the BBC drama series “Our Friends in the North” when the anarchist group, to which Nicky, the leading character, belongs, launch a machine gun attack on government buildings in London. Nicky believes this will be a major news story only to find that the security services have successfully completely suppressed the story.
Perhaps in 1970, such an attack in reality might have been kept from the media. Four decades later and the suppression of stories has become impossible, everything from the humble mobile phone in an individual’s pocket to the all embracing world wide web ensures that events can be around the world in seconds. Of course, just because a story is told does not mean that it is true, human beings are fallible both in their recall and in their interpretation of events.
Perhaps the memory has become very fallible, but was there not a news report in late August 1982 that the Irish military were contemplating intervening if the general election anticipated for that autumn proved indecisive?
There had already been elections in June of 1981 and in February 1982 and the expected poll would have been the third time in which the country had voted in eighteen months. The government seemed mired in controversy and the opposition certainly perceived the election campaign they were to fight in terms of a crusade, but was there really a story about the army?
Anyone familiar with the Irish army would have known that the suggestion was not credible, but, if there was such a story, where did it come from?
In the memory, the story is printed in The Observer, a British Sunday paper that circulates in Ireland, and I read it sitting on the grass close to the fort at Summer Cove outside of Kinsale in Co Cork. It would seem odd to have a clear recall of a story that never existed in the first place? Why imagine a story that one’s college education would have said couldn’t have been?
Maybe the story was no more than a piece of Paddywhackery by an English journalist who thought it fun to suggest that the Irish might have a coup, but why, when I searched for the story, is it nowhere to be found?
Is the truth out there?