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10 September 2012

So Edwina Currie and I are 'two barmy bints'. Never mind: I quite enjoy green ink

Ruth and Edwina Currie?
Edwina and Ruth?

There are a fair few misogynists among my readers, but they generate some laughs. Some quaint, old-fashioned commentators seem to think that one woman criticising another constitutes a cat-fight. I enjoyed being linked with Edwina Currie as "two barmy bints”. Robert Hagan’s disclosure that he had never liked me and never found me sexy did not cause the distress he might have intended, for it was mild stuff compared to what I’m used to.

My journalistic career began in the early 1990s when criticism of the IRA caused terrorist supporters to get out the green ink. My favourite was the indignant letter responding to some article where I had doubted the sincerity of an IRA ceasefire. "I can’t wait for the boys to get back to work and shoot your ugly fecking (I’ve hibernicised the word to avoid asterisks) head off," it explained. The boys did indeed go back to work but they had more important people to kill.

Irish republicans then went through training in political correctness and eschewed sexism. There was a period of some confusion over their attitude to homosexuality. Nationalists had spent decades alleging that the wicked Brits had forged sexually explicit diaries by Sir Roger Casement, sentenced to death in 1916 for treason, in order to make his hanging less controversial. He was a hero, so he had to be heterosexual and pure.

There was a disagreement over this in Republican News (Sinn Fein’s Pravda). A letter about Casement repeated the accusation that what were known as the Black Diaries were dasdardly British confections. There drew a response from the newly constituted Sinn Fein Gay and Lesbian sub-committee, collective, workshop or whatever. If Casement had written the diaries there was nothing wrong with them, it explained. Homophobia was bad and had been exported to Ireland by the Brits.

Anyway, over to you.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

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