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Date: Sat, 19 May 2007 23:49:09 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Connor
Subject: National Archives - Correspondence with Conor Cruise O’Brien


I think you were a colleague of Conor Cruise O'Brien's in the Labour Party in the 1970s? I have just lodged the following material (among a host of other documents) in the National Archives and I am hoping that a student of History (or Law or the Sociology of Modern Witch-Hunts), will take an interest and write a thesis. (As a last resort I will do it myself but I am not a good writer and my few longish essays each took me months to write).

I would actually like to approach Conor Cruise to check a couple of issues with him but it is impossible. I phoned him about 1996, he behaved like a snooty thug and I blew my top. (I am not known for my tact but I supported many things he was doing - especially in relation to Northern Ireland. I did not intend to engage in a row with him when I phoned.)

The items I am not certain about are in Section 7; Did he support P. De Rossa when the latter called Archbishop Clifford a liar in 1995?), also Section 10; Am I correct in assuming he never followed up his article dated 15 May 1999 re Mary Raftery? (I suspect his "Catholic archivist" friend told Conor Cruise that he was talking rubbish and that instead of apologising, Conor Cruise evaded the issue).


Rory Connor
087 675 1169

25 April 2007

National Archives
Bishop St,
  Dublin 8

Correspondence with Conor Cruise O’Brien – also Conor Cruise and Bishop Comiskey, Conor Cruise and Mary Raftery etc
Dear ,

This is about some correspondence I had with Conor Cruise O’Brien between December 1992 and July 1999. The correspondence itself is not very bulky (ref items 1, 2 and 11 on the attached index), but I also include Dr O’Brien’s views on Dr Noel Browne, Professor William Binchy, Finance Minister Ruairi Quinn, Bishop Brendan Comiskey AND Mary Raftery and her ‘States of Fear’ programmes (see item 10 regarding the latter). Hopefully this is not just a mixed bag of disparate items but does make some significant points about Dr O’Brien’s intellectual views and about his ethical standards.

I am also enclosing relevant articles from the ‘Alliance Support’ website regarding Conor Cruise O’Brien, Bishop Comiskey, Ruairi Quinn, Prionsias De Rossa and the 1995 Divorce Referendum. These are basically my comments on the newspaper articles I include in items 4 to 7 and were published on the website in October 2006.

Finally item 3 includes an article from the Sunday Tribune dated 22 February 1987 entitled “Noel Browne Looks Back in Astonishment on Flourishing Soviets” and contains Browne’s explicit endorsement of Stalinism as a method of government. This episode is not quoted in John Horgan’s biography “Noel Browne: Passionate Outsider” published in 2000. There is unlikely to be another biography of Browne who was an embittered an therefore uninteresting character (however wait for the forthcoming biographies of John Charles McQuaid!)   Accordingly this episode could fall off the historical register altogether. Yet it not only throws light on Browne but on other Irish Stalinists like Sean O’Casey and George Bernard Shaw. What motivated them all was their antagonism to the Church and Irish society. Since Ireland was a Catholic democracy our disaffected intelligentsia supported an atheistic foreign dictator.

Best wishes,

Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15

Correspondence with Conor Cruise O’Brien – also Conor Cruise and Bishop Comiskey, Conor Cruise and Mary Raftery  -  INDEX

(1)        My essay “Hatred, Love and Death” composed about January 1992 (?) and covering letter to Conor Cruise O’Brien dated 14 December 1992. One important theme of the essay is the behaviour of left wing intellectuals who supported mass murder in the Soviet Union, then China , then Cambodia and who retained their reputations as “liberals” while so doing. I quote George Orwell in support of my contention that they were motivated by hatred of the Church and of their own society.

(2)        My letter to CC O’Brien dated 12 January 1993 and 2 attachments (from George Orwell’s essay “Raffles and Miss Blandish” and A.N. Wilson’s biography of C.S. Lewis), his reply dated 3 February and my final letter dated 15 February 1993. Since CC O’Brien agreed with my quote from George Orwell the exchange was quite friendly.

(3)        Dr Noel Browne and Stalinism. Article from Sunday Tribune dated 22 February 1987 “Browne Looks Back in Astonishment at ‘Flourishing’ Soviets”. This ends with Noel Browne’s comment: “Also changing a society that is a sub-continent is not something that can be done overnight and I expect terrible things to happen on the way such as the Stalinist period”. Also letters in Sunday Independent dated 12 May 1996 under heading “Diverging Views of Browne’s Legacy” that also deal with his support for ‘socialist’ dictatorships.
After the fall of the Soviet Union Noel Browne claimed that the late Archbishop McQuaid had been a homosexual paedophile. Browne had no dictators to support any more and it was just another way of expressing his hatred of the Church!

(4)        Gay Byrne and Bishop Brendan Comiskey, October 1995. On his morning radio show after Bishop Comiskey went to the USA , Gay Byrne said “I don’t believe now that Bishop Comiskey has gone to America because of stress, nor do I believe he’s gone because of alcohol, nor do I believe he’s gone because of his alleged protection of a priest who’s up on charges. I think there’s something else. I haven’t the faintest idea what it is, but I think there is something else and I think it is something dreadful and I’m almost afraid of what it might be.” (Sunday Independent, 8 October 1995). The obvious implication is that Bishop Comiskey was a paedophile!
            An allegation like this from a middlebrow entertainer was far more significant that similar ones from a high brow like Conor Cruise or a fanatic like Noel Browne. The barbarians were no longer “at the gates” but in the Citadel itself! [Conor Cruise made no comment (imagine what he would have said if a Catholic priest slandered a humanist!) However see no (5) below]

(5)        Conor Cruise O’Brien, Bishop Brendan Comiskey and Veronica Guerin, October 1995. After Bishop Comiskey went to the USA to be treated for alcoholism, Veronica Guerin claimed (falsely) to have traced him to the Hazelden Clinic in Florida . (She later apologised). On her fantasy Conor Cruise built an even more ludicrous one. “That Bishop Comiskey is kept in isolation, and any reporter seeking him out is denounced for invading his privacy, is very convenient for the hierarchy” – Sunday Independent, 29 October ‘95.

(6)        Conor Cruise O’Brien, Ruairi Quinn and William Binchy, November 1995. In the course of the Divorce Referendum campaign the Minister for Finance Ruairi Quinn compared anti-divorce activist Professor William Binchy to Hitler. He quickly apologized but Conor Cruise then penned an article comparing Professor Binchy to Goebbels! (Irish Independent, 18 November 1995).

(7)        Prionsias De Rossa and Archbishop Dermot Clifford. Minister for Social Welfare Prionsias De Rossa called the Archbishop of Cashel a “liar” because the Archbishop quoted statistics that indicated that second marriages had a higher breakdown rate than first marriages. (I think Conor Cruise supported De Rossa although I can’t find the reference. He certainly did not condemn him.)

(8)        Extracts from biographies by Ruairi Quinn (‘Straight Left’ published 2005), Barry Desmond (‘Finally and In Conclusion’ 2000) and Fergus Finlay (‘Snakes and Ladders’ 1998) regarding the 1995 Divorce Referendum. The interesting thing is how little they say. Nothing about the ‘fascism’ of William Binchy or the ‘lying’ of Archbishop Clifford. This is not a question of shame but evading the truth. Ruairi Quinn writes about “our increasing pluralist society” (as evidenced by himself) and the “deep-rooted prejudices and fears” of those who were opposed to divorce (page 334). Fergus Finlay writes, “ Ireland possesses some of the most skilled and experienced practitioners of the politics of fear there are” (page 296 and he is not referring to the Minister for Finance’s allegations of fascism). Barry Desmond quotes the “obdurate” Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel as warning that divorced people who remarried were likely to divorce again but makes no mention of Prionsias De Rossa’s allegation (p 294).
(9)        Extracts from “Memoir: My Life and Themes” (1998) by CC O’Brien, pages 152 to 156 and 320 to 325 concerning Noel Browne. Conor Cruise makes it clear that he regarded Noel Browne in the 1970s as “half-mad and dangerous to know”.  Yet when Browne published a “savage polemic against the clergy….in which he expressed the opinion, as a psychiatrist, that many priests were homosexuals” CC’s comment was “if he had said quite a few were child abusers, he would have been on the right track as appeared much later” (page 323). A couple of pages later CC describes how “At the [Labour] party’s annual conference I spoke in favour of a motion ….to expel [Steve] Coughlin for anti-Semitic statements”. So Conor Cruise regards anti-clerical hatred as just fine and dandy but objects to anti-Semitism. This is not only gross hypocrisy; it is also self-defeating. Today those in the West, who support boycotting Israel , or who make excuses for Palestinian suicide bombers, are nearly all anti-clerics as well.

(10)      Conor Cruise O’Brien and Mary Raftery. Article in Irish Independent by CC O’Brien on 15 May 1999 “Child Abuse Issue must be Fearlessly Confronted Now”. Conor Cruise compares the treatment of children by the Catholic Church with the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis. “The holocaust took six million lives, mostly over a three year period. The abuse of children took few actual lives, it did take some but it inflicted great suffering on many thousands of children over several centuries.” Again “the celibacy of the clergy an institution which needed to be protected from general information about the deviation had been around for centuries. So I suspect these abuses and accompanying cover-ups have been going on for about 600 years: since the middle ages.”
            So the great friend of Israel and scourge of anti-Semites makes allegations that could have come out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion .

            Conor Cruise wants to “fearlessly face up the past” and ends by saying that  “Catholic archivists, for some of whom I have a great respect, could play a central role in that. I hope to discuss this with at least one of them and then return to this important subject.”

I have been unable to find any follow up to this article. Conor Cruise seems to have written nothing in the period November 1999 to January 2000 when Breda O’Brien demolished Mary Raftery’s lies about the death of Patsy Flanagan.  He was similarly silent during the hysteria surrounding the exhumation of the body of William Delaney in April 2001. And again silence when Mannix Flynn claimed that there had been a “holocaust” at Letterfrack (Sunday Independent, 22 December 2002). Did the Cruiser realise that his allegations were rubbish but instead of apologizing, decided to evade the issue? His anti-clerical friends were happy not to ask him any awkward questions. What a pity that some are anti-Semites as well!

(11)      My correspondence with Conor Cruise O’Brien dated May 1996 and July 1999 copies of which I forwarded to a representative of the Child Abuse Commission on 30 July 1999 (includes copies of my correspondence with the Dail Committee of Procedures and Privileges from January to April 1995). I don’t think I knew about the Cruiser’s article in the Irish Independent of 15 May 1999 at the time but it would have only fuelled my determination if I did.

In my letter of 30 May 1996 I referred to a junior Minister in my Department who appeared to choose his staff on the basis of religious bigotry, my own experiences in the same Department as a target of sex slander, Dr O’Brien’s support for Ruairi Quinn’s slander directed against William Binchy etc. I also predicted that our anti-clerical bigots would soon turn into anti-Semitic ones. (Note the current group of liberals who want to organize a cultural boycott of Israel . The only State in the world they want to boycott is also the only Jewish State in the world; some sort of co-incidence perhaps?)

Liberalism is a set of dogmatic formulas to which it is necessary to adhere in order to be tolerated by Liberals. This situation is not (as sometimes stated) a parody of Catholic dogma. In order to be considered a good Catholic it is necessary to adhere to ethical standards – orthodox beliefs are not enough. Liberals however can make false allegations of child abuse and child killing and even compare Catholic clergy to Nazis and their friends will applaud them for so doing!