Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Patricia MacBride - republican commentator

This morning I was interviewed on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster, along with Patricia MacBride.

The presenter was Vinny Hurrell and he started the interviews by saying: 'Let's discuss with the commentator Patricia MacBride and the former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland.'

How contributors are introduced on the programme is something I had raised before with  the presenter and so today he very courteously asked me if I was content to be described as 'a former DUP MLA'.  'Nelson, I can't remember, do you like it or not like it when I refer to you as a former DUP MLA?

I replied, 'Well I'm not a person who would have any difficulty with that, obviously.'

Vinny then responded by saying, 'I think you told me off before.'

I responded, 'I did but we should give everyone's political background and I think it would be fair to say that if I was described as a unionist, Patricia MacBride might well be described, I'm sure she wouldn't disagree with it, as a republican.'

Vinny asked Patricia MacBride, 'Are you happy with that?' and she replied 'Oh, absolutely.'

Vinny said, 'Oh, fair enough' and I added, 'That perhaps shows a better approach in future.'  This part of the exchange ended with Vinny saying, 'Note taken, thank you Nelson' and I also thanked him.  So there it was, a 'unionist' commentator and a 'republican' commentator, and that's balance.

The word commentator is a neutral word that carries no political connotation.  It is a soft and neutral term that almost suggests impartiality.  So the original introduction suggested 'unionist politician' versus 'neutral commentator' and that was of course a misrepresentation of the situation.  In reality it was a 'unionist' commentator on one hand and a 'republican' commentator on the other.

On her twitter account Patricia describes herself as 'Law and policy, political commentator.  Working on human rights, refugees, victims and policy/public affairs.  Fond of horses and hurling.'  

Indeed down through the years she has been introduced on BBC radio and television programmes in various ways, as a 'commentator'. a 'legal affairs consultant' and a 'former victims' commissioner'.  So I hope that the message will spread across the BBC that Patricia is indeed a commentator but she is a republican commentator.

Antoine Mac Giolla Bhridghe (Anthony MacBride)
Patricia grew up in a republican family.  Her brother Anthony MacBride, also known as Antoine Mac Giolla Bhridhge, was a member of the Provisional IRA.  He served a prison sentence for terrorism and was shot dead by the SAS on 2 December 1984 when he was a member of an IRA gang 'on active service'.

Another brother, Lughaidh Mac Giolla Bhridghe, was a Sinn Fein councillor and according to an article in  An Phoblacht Anthony learned his republicanism from his grandmother, who had fought in the War of Independence.



  1. Nelson, it is evident that from reading this article and from reading others by you in the past, that you regard those you were members of the provisional IRA throughout the troubles as being terrorists-plain and simple. I am curious then to know if you regard those who fought against the British during the Anglo-Irish War as being terrorists?

  2. I do indeed view the Provisional IRA as a terrorist organisation. Most folk would regard the organisation that developed the car bomb and the proxy car bomb , organised Bloody Friday and incinerated people enjoying a meal in the La Mon restaurant as a terrorist organisation. As regards those who fought against the British in the Anglo-Irish War or Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) I have not had the opportunity to study this in detail. Some years ago Sinn Fein published The Good Old IRA in which they set out atrocities carried out by the 'old IRA' of that period, presumably to justify the terrorist campaign with which they were associated. There is also the fact that there was a strongly sectarian angle to the IRA campaign of that period, one which many republicans attempt to deny.

  3. Perhaps you are unaware of the Mcmahon murders, Arnon street killings, and the Cushendall three of the same period. There was a somewhat "sectarian angle" to those aswell.

  4. An interesting period indeed and one that has yet to be researched properly. However it is clear that across the island there are conflicting narratives. Yes I am aware of events in Ulster at that time, including Arnon Street and the McMahon murders - not so well informed about events in the South but in the process of reading up. There were many terrible things on both sides and often it became a retaliatory cycle of violence. Moreover attacks on Protestants in the South led to retaliation against Roman Catholics in Ulster and so the situation needs looked at in a holistic manner. The role of the IRA in Ulster is also significant. My reading has generally been about events in Belfast and surrounding areas, as well as Londonderry and Fermanagh. I was not aware of the Cushendall three but will look at that. I can assure you that I have read books written from both a unionist and a nationalist perspective and also at contemporary newspaper reports.


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