Talking of ‘The Troubles’ and Trauma

This interview with New York based podcast Irish Stew looks at the motivation for a novel set in Liverpool and Ireland in the 1970s. Click on the lick below to hear it in full.

Click on the link below to buy the book.

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Set in 2020 facing police violence and climate change a cast of young characters find they need to change themselves before they can change the world.

I am revising this novel and would love to hear what you think of this opening- You can comment here or email. If you are interested in reading more email me at

Chapter 1

January 7th, 2020

Matthew packed his bag to protest the death of the planet unaware that his own death would come that day. He pressed the button on the megaphone and a shrill feedback screech cut through the air.

“Mathew, what the hell are you doing?”

“Sorry mum,” he shouted at the wall. His mum was a heavy smoker but a light sleeper, he should have guessed she was awake by the tobacco smell that had crept in under his door. He checked his watch, Julia would be here any minute, she had assumed an unrequested but not unappreciated maternal role in his political life.

The dichotomy between his actual and political life was as real as the cancer that ate away at his biological mother’s lungs, she had given up, and was prepared to cough her way into an early grave. Matthew was beyond the point of anger, a grim fatalism pervaded the household as they prepared for the known death of a mother, the unknown death of her child and the almost certain death of the planet.

Bag packed, he placed it by the door. He checked his watch, he had time. He went into the kitchen, weighed the kettle, it was empty, he filled a mug from the tap and transferred it before flicking on the switch. The blue light of the kettle was all he needed, to put an egg on to boil. Never a big eater his mum would waste away if he didn’t make sure she had the barest of sustenance. A boiled egg for breakfast, soup for lunch, tomato or cream of chicken, he alternated to keep it interesting, and boiled potatoes with a slice of ham or a couple of fish fingers for tea. He put a slice of bread in the toaster, she never took more than a bite, on most days not even that, but he prepared it anyway.

He gazed out of the kitchen window, a few sparrows pecked at the ground hopping from one spot to another, until a blackbird swooped down scaring them off, the blackbird was more methodical and it’s search rewarded, it took off with a struggling worm in its beak. Matt watched it take flight into grey mist aware of the cruelty and inevitability of nature. He was no romantic, death was part of life, but life was the force that gave meaning to everything, we had to nurture and protect it while we had it.

The toast popped up and Matthew moved into action, pouring the tea, spreading the margarine, he scooped the egg out of the boiling water and placed it in an egg cup then lopped off the top with a small spoon. He sprinkled a little salt over the runny yolk and carried the whole lot on a tray up the stairs. He popped his head round the door. “Breakfast.”

His mother shifted in bed, pulling herself up. She moved the ashtray aside on the bedside table, “Put it here.”

“No,” He placed the tray in front of her and she shifted again to accommodate it. He lifted the tea off and put it next to the ashtray. “Now, I want that egg gone by the time I get back.”

“Where are you off to at this time in the morning?”

“Never you mind, eat.” Matt turned and was on his way out.

“Off to save the world again are you?”

“Bye mum.” He shouted the words as he slung his bag over his shoulder and opened the door to damp morning.

A couple of miles to the south low cloud had merged with the river Mersey and the thick air wet everything it touched. He looked up to the light in his mum’s bedroom, it would go off very soon, he knew that.

For an environmentalist Julia drove a disaster of a car. He watched as the blue apparition chugged its way down the street.

“Morning.” he slid into the passenger seat. “You know, I could have got the bus.”

“Might as well carry two people as one.” Julia’s eyes were bright. “Anyway, I wanted to make sure you got there safe and sound.”

“I can get to town on my own.”

“You could catch your death, in this. Goes right through you that damp, ten minutes standing in that and your bones’d be rusty.”

“Ok well, thanks.”

Julia turned to smile at him, her silver grey pony tail swishing as she did so. She was alone, except for her dog, and climate activity was her attempt at making sure the grandchildren she rarely saw, had a planet to grow up on. She waited for a gap in the traffic and threw the car around in a U turn.

“New start today. You excited?” Julia looked across at Matt.

“More nervous, I hope they turn up.” Matt had been to speak to the Rail Maritime and Transport workers union the week before.

“They said they would?”

“Yeah, we had a good chat, they were a bit sus’ at first, but when I said it was a straight up protest, no direct action, they were fine.”

Julia gave him a quizzical look. “How many are you expecting?”

“Just a couple, I think they want to check us out.”

Julia joined the stream of commuter traffic and for a mile they crawled along Halewood Road, before turning off into Hunts Cross train station. Julia opened the hatchback and sorted among the paraphernalia of protest, she took out two big bags full of hand made signs, “Andy said he’d bring the banner.”

“OK, as long as we have enough flyers.”

“Yeah, here can you take these?”

Matt swung his rucksack free and balanced it on the car and packed a box of flyers into it.

“They made their way through the ticket office and down the ramps. Schoolkids and commuters clogged the open platform, coats and hoods pulled tight against the damp morning air. Somewhere the sun was getting out of bed and its bright rays were breaking through the mist. The train appeared down the track and the waiting passengers shuffled toward the edge of the platform.

Within ten minutes they were part of the stream of humanity flowing from the trains up escalators, funneled through the electronic barriers and onto the station concourse. The station had three exits a sharp right to a set of steps out onto a side road, the two busier exits were to the left a slight incline out onto Bold St and one straight ahead onto Street. Bold St was the best spot, with people leaving the station and the foot traffic on the street down toward the centre. Matt was surprised to see Andy and the others on the station concourse. Andy’s dreadlocks swung as he turned and twisted handing out flyers.

“Why are you here?” Matt was pissed. “We were supposed to be outside the station.”

Two people held the banner and half a dozen others were mingling with the commuters handing out flyers.

“Oh great you brought the megaphone.”


“It’s fine don’t worry about it.”

Emma a key member of the team bounced over and gave Julia hug. Matt nodded.

They were stationary in a sea of movement, the flow streamed passed them.

“Fuck.” Matt grimaced. Two men in high-viz vests came in against the stream from the street and were approaching them.

“Do you know these?” Andy pointed.

“Yeah, they’re from the union.”

Matt stepped forward. “Morning. Stuart isn’t it?”

The taller of the two men spoke. “Yeah., alright lad.” he looked around. “What are you doing here?”

Matt turned round. “ I’m not sure to be honest… Andy?”

“There’s more people.”

“You’re on Station property, they’ll have you kicked off.” Stuart looked around again as if he expected to see the police.

“Transport Police have been over, told us to move.” Andy shrugged. “We said No. We’re staying, and they left.”

Matt swung his rucksack over his shoulder. “We should move outside on to the street.”

Stuart spoke to Matt. “Look we agreed, to support you, but we can’t do this on station property, we’d be risking our jobs, and you’re asking for trouble staying here.”

“I’m sorry mate. I didn’t realise they’d do this.”

“No problem. We’re going to get off though. This isn’t for us. It’s a shame lad, we want to start working together. It’s our future too.”

“I know. Leave it with me. Thanks for showing up. Sorry about this.”

Stuart led his mate away.

“What the fuck Andy? Come on, we agreed, no direct action, a bit of leafleting, petition, speaking.”

“What action?” Andy held up the flyers in his hand. “Leafleting,” He pointed to the megaphone in Matt’s hand. “Speaking. What are you waiting for?”

Matt dropped his rucksack, and slid it over behind the banner. He raised the megaphone and began to speak. “Every day, we see wild fires, in Australia, California, and now here in the UK. Climate change is happening all around us, we have to take action to stop fossil fuel, coal, oil, and energy companies from destroying our environment.” Matt let his arm and the megaphone drop.

Julia had moved across to stand beside him. “You were doing fine. Why stop?”

Matt shook his head, “ For the first time, we had the union guys with us, what the fuck is Andy is up to?”

“Ego, silly ego.”

“I hope that’s all it is.” As Matt raised his megaphone he saw a black shape slicing through the stream.

The Best B&B in Ireland

It was about 5 pm when I walked into Central B&B in Tipperary.
Graham’s first words were, ” Will you have a cup of tea?”
“I will.” And so began my stay in what I genuinely think of as the best B&B in Ireland.

I hadn’t planned to stop in Tipp, but it was 5 pm dark and the rain was sparkling on the windscreen from the lights of oncoming cars. I had what I thought was an hour’s drive ahead of me to the village of Cappoquin in Waterford. But I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I had called around all the places I could find in the village itself, and one reported that they were having a big funeral so everything was full. I think either I’m getting old or just getting meaner, but looking further abroad in nearby Dungarvin I was genuinely shocked to be quoted anywhere between 80-100 Euro a night for a room above pubs and cafes, some even announcing that breakfast wasn’t part of the deal.

I did the drive the next day from the B&B to the village and discovered that Google maps are not topographical so didn’t show the mountains between Tipperary and Waterford. Between me and my destination was the Knockmealdown range, and on the way back I came across Knockmealdown mountain itself through something called the Vee.

But back to Central B&B, although I didn’t know it at the time, staying there saved me a drive over the mountains on a dark wet night, not a bad start, and I didn’t fancy adding to the funeral arrangements in Coppoquin. Strange as this may sound, death features quite highly in this little story.

The B&B was run by a husband and wife couple, the wife ran the flower shop next door, she took my call in the shop, and I had to call in when I arrived as there was no answer in the B&B. But she quickly found her husband and so the offer of a cup of tea was made and accepted. One of the good things about my stay in Ireland was how easy it was to fall into conversation. Whether getting a pint, being served breakfast (in the friendly but less character full hotel in Dingle) or getting tea in a service station.

Over the supplied tea, that came in a pot, we found ourselves sharing family stories and even a few secrets. That strange freedom of conversation you can have with a stranger, where you would think twice with a neighbour or colleague. It involved family members in jail, lost sons, and much more when we were joined by Barry.

Barry, Lenni and Ally were all regulars in the B8B staying a few nights a week as they conducted their various enterprises; Ally a proper Cockney geezer was a mission to save people from addiction, Brian worked with traveller families, and Lenni a salesman long in the tooth and as wily as they come. Our conversations ranged far and wide geographically, historically and politically. About the horrific faction fights in pre-famine Ireland, and how Dan Breen a famous fighter in the war against the Black and Tans had been photographed outside this very building as he was marched through the town after being captured. It was all so enjoyable for me that I decided to stay another night even if meant a detour on my drive to look at properties in Ireland.

The next day I was due to view a house in Coppoquin, after trying the agent’s number a couple of times the evening before with no luck. I called his office, there was silence for a minute when I said I had been trying to reach Donal. When someone else came back on the phone they explained that Donal had unfortunately passed away the evening before. A little shocked, and after expressing my condolences, I hinted that I had come a long way and asked if would it not be possible for someone to show me the house.

Again the silence, “Well we don’t want to disturb Donal’s family.” Was the answer. ‘Of course.’ I said, ‘But it’s not Donal’s house is it? Why would you need to disturb his family?’
It seems Donal had the keys on him or in his car, and understandably the estate agent didn’t want to ask his family to go looking for them. I never did see inside the house, though I did drive over the mountain and get lost in the beautiful winding roads on the other side. My second night in the B&B was as good as the first as the assembled company sat in the breakfast room, the owner supplied a couple of glasses of wine and I told of my strange day. The breakfasts were great and it only cost me 50 Euro a night. The Literary Festival I took part in while in Ireland wasn’t bad either, and I might come back to that in a future post.

I have changed the names to protect the innocent 🙂

The Morning After

Provisional Image

The Morning After
Coming out in May 2023

This will be the last book in the first cycle of Liverpool Mysteries, following on from the widely acclaimed Under The Bridge, and Across the Water. The Morning After finds us back in Liverpool. This book can be read as a stand alone or as the culmination of the trilogy.

Vinny, a history professor, escapes his old neighborhood and life to distance himself from bitter memories. But a secret he and his friends Sammo and Macca vowed to keep, shackles him emotionally to a day in childhood, the theft of a pocket watch, and an old man’s death. Set between 1981 and 2016 this book rounds off a century of connections between Liverpool and Ireland.

In 2016 Sammo is found dead after a long battle with PTSD and drugs, but his death is questionable and the past steps into the present.

Can Vinny and his ex partner Anne uncover the truth about Sammo’s death? Along with the watch, Sammo leaves letters and a devastating message that holds the key to his fate.

Will Vinny do what is right, accept who he is, and finally, let go of the secret he holds?

Can Anne overturn an accidental death verdict?

Who is trying to stop them reaching the truth and why?

The Morning After the Brexit vote in 2016 is a story of the ebb and flow of immigration between Ireland and Liverpool. It begins as an empire dies, and the unity of Ireland and the union between the people of these islands hangs in the balance.

Amnesia or Erasure? The denial of justice

Depending on the dictionary you go to, there are variations in the defintion of amnesia, but it is usually seen an involuntary lapse in memory, due to illness or trauma. It can also be a self defence mechanism. We sometimes consciously try to forget episodes we are not proud of, or behaviour we regret. The following is from the Mirriam Webster disctionary, interestingly, it uses the example of the Vietnam War, and raises the idea of a ‘wilful forgetfulness’.

Definition of amnesia

1: loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness

2: a gap in one’s memory

3: the selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that are not favorable or useful to one’s purpose or position… Americans seemed to develop a willful forgetfulness about the nation’s longest military conflict, an amnesia that lasted for nearly a decade.— Alan Brinkley

The mistake made in the dictionary is to say ‘Americans’ developed amnesia about Vietnam. In fact the opposite is true, the Vietnam war and the opposition that developed to it were turning points in US history. 

The families of the 58,000 Americans who died; brothers, sons, and fathers, never forgot. Nor did the veterans who lived with the scars, mental and physical. Millions of students, activists and workers eventually made a vital contribution in stopping the war, through protesting, marching, and picketing. 

It would be more correct to say the American ruling class, government, and news media spent decades erasing the lessons of that war from public consciousness.  One of the problems of ‘amnesia’ is that memories can resurface later, bringing the trauma with it, if the US establishment tired to erase the war in Vietnam, US filmmakers fought back with the release of major movies from the eighties on.

Definition of erase

1a: to rub or scrape out (something, such as written, painted, or engraved letters)erase an error b: to remove written or drawn marks fromerase a blackboard

c: to remove (recorded matter) from a magnetic mediumalso to remove recorded matter fromerase a videotape. d: to delete from computer storageerase a file

2a: to remove from existence or memory as if by erasing. b: to nullify the effect or force of.

The US government was afraid of the example the anti war movement set, and it took decades of covert military actions and operations before the US was able to launch another fully fledged US war abroad in ‘Desert Storm’ 1990.

What happened after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 in which thirty four men women and children were killed, and the many other atrocities, executions, murders and attacks carried out by people actively supported by the British Military and establishment, is an attempted ‘Erasure’. To wipe the historical slate clean of these crimes.

Margaret Urwin, Justice for The Forgotten, The Pat Finucane Centre, and the families of victims are fighting against this ‘Erasure’.

The British Government’s ‘Legacy’ proposals mean that the perpetrators of crimes such as the Dublin and Monaghan bombings can not only gain immunity from prosecution, but the information they provide can be hidden on grounds of national security. Immunity for the perpetrators, protection for the state, and denial of Justice for the victims and their families.

For more information please visit;

Listen to Margaret Urwin from Justice For the Forgotten.

My novel Across The Water

We all have a Stake in this.

I support Everton, for good or bad as people from other clubs might say, cest la vie, or que será, será, but for Evertonians ‘it is what it is’ seems to fit better. That is the approach of many supporters who have followed the club from the faintly remembered heights of the 80s through the mediocre mid-table malaise since. With the very occasional moment of glory.

I remember sitting in a bar in Spain watching the FA CUP final on my own, when Everton beat Manchester United 1-0 in the FA cup. Of course, Man United went on to dominate football for the decade after, Everton went back to mid-table consistency and of course the knife edge of relegation with Wimbledon and again this year.

I am and always have been an armchair supporter, I’ve said before that supporting Everton became a way to interact with my dad as our lives diverged. My dad stood on the terraces in the ’50s after arriving from Ireland when Everton had a reputation as a more Irish club. In the nineties, I even took him a couple of times when I got freebie tickets from sponsor NEC. My older brother was a real fan, going every time he could before joining the army- and in pre-internet days getting the ‘pink’ echo saved and sent to him. My nephews still are committed supporters.

The last year was a real roller coaster, without many highs but lots of lows, until just staying level seemed like an enormous rush and the biggest ride ever.

I shared a tweet a few weeks ago from the family of an NHS worker who ran up debts of 12,500 and walked out in front of a train leaving a wife and young daughter. I retweeted it because it has sickened me to see very wealthy footballers and ex-footballers promoting these betting sites. Lots of things can be harmful and addictive including alcohol and tobacco. Society has recognised this and limited the timing, location and targetting of these ads. 

Football is the number one passion among young men and increasingly women, boys and girls. To see their idols bearing the brand, and promoting these vulture companies is disgusting. Sports washing is not just for authoritarian regimes, it’s also for people who profit off the pain and addiction of many struggling families. 

Many supporters fall into the trap of defending their club or team, whatever happens, this is silly. Chelsea fans with Abramovitch, Newcastle with the Saudi owners, and now Evertonians with their new kit sponsor, betting company Stake. We correct, and chastise our loved ones when we feel it necessary. Surely we can do the same with our clubs. I have seen at least two Everton supporter channels say well ‘it is what it is’. 

Yes, it ‘is what it is.’ – Wrong, and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

Everything and Nothing

One of a series of 10 bronze sculptures called “Les Voyageurs (The Voyagers”) put on display in Marseilles, France in 2013. 

I took part in a Liverpool Literary Festival, Writing on the Wall event recently, its title was ‘Writing Across Borders’. The title was mine, I had the idea of inviting Paddy Osborne who wrote Baxter’s Boys set in Dublin with a leading Scouse character. So ‘Writing Across Borders’ was to explore my Liverpool Irish characters and background and Paddy’s Irish Liverpool football manager. Paddy then suggested we invite Jane Buckley a writer originally from Derry, who after a long time abroad was now back in her home region.

All good, except that what started as a cultural exchange, between Liverpool and Dublin, now had to deal with the immediate and historic political situation. The day we were having the online panel event Boris Johnson was in Belfast trying to stitch together his coalition of reactionaries. He had marchjed the D and T UPs to the top of the protocol hill and marched them back down again, ‘over my dead body’ he announced about checks in the Irish sea, the checks were not over his dead body and the ‘oven-ready Brexit deal’, turned out to be dangerously undercooked.

So how do we talk about writing and borders in this situation? In preparation for the event, ideas were spinning around in my head, borders can be legal, geographic, cultural, or political, they can be imposed by the straight line of imperialism as in Africa or The Middle East, or they can be demanded by national struggles for self-determination.

The phrase that allowed me to gain some kind of perspective was Everything or Nothing, in British Irish relations, the borders meant everything or nothing.

Nothing for my parents and the tens of thousands of migrants who came from Ireland over the decades and hundreds of thousands over the centuries, no immigration process, no passports, my grandfather came in through Garston Dock and went out to his death in the channel in the final days of WW2. The ebb and flow in the Irish sea were of people to and fro, unencumbered by borders.

Everything if you were nationalist in The North where your life and many deaths were defined by opposition to the border. A border imposed as a denial of the self-determination of the Irish people, as expressed in the 1918 general election where Sinn Fein won an overwhelming majority. As a loyalist, the border was the backbone of your identity without which the state and your world would collapse.

Since the Good Friday Agreement under which you could have an Irish or British passport, culture, and identity without question, the border has receded in relevance, except to those whose position of power and privilege relied on it, and the divisions it created in society. Without the division between Orange and Green, without the question of borders. How do we pay the electricity bill? What’s happening to the health service? How you answer these questions becomes more important.

When you can choose your identity freely, then many will decide identifying with Boris and the group who caused this crisis, is like relying on an arsonist to put out the fire, even if this bonfire does have a union jack on top.

Within the EU borders have been or are being lowered, it is within the UK that borders are rising as more and more people find that rallying to the Monarchy and the flag doesn’t pay the bills, feed the kids, or provide security.

My new novel ‘Across The Water’ set in Liverpool and Ireland is out now.


Peter Dwyer explains why he and other Liverpool FC fans booed the monarchy at the FA Cup final in Wembley

This article was reprinted from Counterfire follow the link at the bottom to read more and support.

When I returned home from Wembley on Saturday night the Daily Mail was running headlines about MPs condemning the ‘shameful abuse’ of Prince William and social media was buzzing with discussions about the rights and wrongs of the tens of thousands of Liverpool fans booing the national anthem prior to the start of FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea.

By Monday, ITV’s Good Morning Britain had former royal correspondent Michael Cole arguing it was ‘disrespectful’ and ‘appalling’, with Tory MPs also wading in. Conveniently, few, if any, in the mainstream media or parliament asked why the fans booed. When asked for his thoughts on the issue by the media, in his press conference on Monday, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stood by the fans saying, ‘I know our people wouldn’t do it unless there’s a reason for it’. Klopp was spot on. There are plenty of reasons why the boos represented two fingers to the ruling class, of which the monarchy is a key ideological part and who the national anthem glorifies.

Irish republicanism

For some in Liverpool, the anger at the British ruling class is steeped in the tradition of Irish republicanism and opposition to British rule in Ireland that emerged in the eighteenth century. This was amplified by the racism towards the hundreds of thousands of Irish migrants who fled to England from the Great Famine of 1845-49, many of whom made Liverpool their home. Such was the size of the Irish diaspora that a poor area close to the docks elected an Irish Nationalist MP until 1929. Irish people continued to move to the city until just after the Second World War in 1948, and so today many still have relatives in Ireland and both of the city’s football teams attract a large Irish following.

But for many (old and young), I think the boos are also linked to a hatred of Margaret Thatcher, elected as Tory Prime Minister in 1979, and the establishment power and privilege that the Tory Party represent. This is particularly for how they treated the city region in the 1980s, and how they were part of an establishment cover up of the death of 97 fans at the Hillsborough football-stadium disaster on 15 April 1989.

Managed decline

To revive British capitalism, which at the time was referred to as ‘the sick man of Europe’, Thatcher’s government drew on advisors, some based at the University of Liverpool like Patrick Minford, others linked to the Chilean dictator Colonel Augusto Pinochet, and set about implementing radical economic and social policies (what we now call neoliberalism). To control inflation, running at 20%, the Tories raised taxes and cut public spending, with the equivalent of today’s Universal Credit slashed.

All of this would rock British society, and the impact still reverberates today, as, per head of population, the UK is still the poorest country in north-west Europe. The result was that between 1979 and 1986 unemployment in the UK rose to a record high of over three million, and in parts of Liverpool unemployment reached over 40% by 1981. Rapid economic change combined with deep-seated institutional police and state racism, resulted in a wave of multi-racial riots in 1981. These were the worst in the twentieth century, sweeping key parts of England, including London and Liverpool. After which, as confidential government papers revealed in 2011, the government implemented a notorious policy of ‘managed decline’ of Liverpool and the Merseyside region. For the Tories, the area was simply not worth wasting government money on.

Hillsborough Disaster

On 15 April 1989, at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, 96 people died and hundreds of others were injured, as the result of a crush. This remains the biggest tragedy in British sporting history. The original inquest into the deaths controversially decided that they were an accident and that no one was to blame. So began a campaign to seek the truth.

In the days after the disaster, The Sun newspaper ran a notorious and scandalous headline. The paper lied by claiming that Liverpool fans were to blame. They were accused of rushing the gates, stealing from the dying, and beating up and urinating on a police officer, who was trying to save other fans. Other accusations included fans verbally and sexually abusing a dying woman. Given the treatment of Liverpool by the Tories and the establishment, families, friends and others knew these lies were no accident but were part of a cover up that began the night of the disaster to deflect the blame from those responsible for the death of 97 men, women and children. That the lies were promoted by senior police officers and the Sheffield Tory MP Irving Patrick did not surprise some. Much of this is captured well in the 2016 documentary Hillsborough and the recent moving drama Anne, about the mother of one of the victims, who together with others doggedly campaigned for over 25 years for justice.

Tory contempt

It is not hard to see why anger and distrust at the Tories continues today. In 2004 in an editorial in the Spectator magazine, for which Boris Johnson was then the editor, the prejudice and bigotry directed towards the city continued. The people of Liverpool were accused of having ‘an excessive predilection for welfarism’ linked to ‘a peculiar, and deeply unattractive, psyche’, and that they always ‘blame someone else’ for their problems. In a later column on the 23 October, Johnson dismissed calls for an apology. This was just fifteen years after Hillsborough. In 2016, after the longest inquest in English legal history, a jury found that the 96 (now 97) people were unlawfully killed and that Liverpool fans were not to blame for the overcrowding that led to the deaths.

Since the cover up by the state and sections of the media, there has been a heightened sense of anger and bitterness towards the Tories and the establishment. This is reflected in the regular singing by Liverpool fans of ‘Fuck the Tories’. There has also been a big increase in the number of anti-Tory banners at games. As someone who has been regularly following Liverpool since the 1970s, I think many Liverpool fans, often very young, are more political and angrier than at any time since the height of Thatcher years in the 1980s. Little wonder so many booed last Saturday.

What the polls, like the one for Good Morning Britain, should be asking is what is more disrespectful: booing the national anthem or covering up the death of 97 innocent football fans, for which nobody has been prosecuted. The political and media uproar in the last few days will only deepen the anger towards the ruling class, in particular the Tories and the monarchy, and so the booing will continue. But we need to use the anger that rang out from Wembley into the homes of millions and turn it into anger on the streets, in workplaces and colleges. That is why we must all do what we can to build the ‘We demand better’ national demonstration on the 18 June called by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in protest at the cost-of-living crisis and the corruption and contempt of Boris Johnson’s government.

Before you go…

Counterfire is expanding fast as a website and an organisation. We are trying to organise a dynamic extra-parliamentary left in every part of the country to help build resistance to the government and their billionaire backers. If you like what you have read and you want to help, please join us or just get in touch by emailing Now is the time!

‘Writing Across Borders’

‘Writing Across Borders’

Most countries send out oil or iron, steel or gold, or some other crop, but Ireland has had only one export and that is its people.’

John F. Kennedy on his presidential visit to Ireland, June 1963

Reading JFK’s words resonates with how Derry/Londonderry, Dublin and Liverpool have one noteworthy trait. Over the past two hundred years or so, all three have been notable emigration outlets for millions of Irish men, women, and children who left these lands for economic, religious, or political reasons to find a better life.

Liverpool, twinned with Dublin, has been described as the most Irish city in the UK based on these very emigrants. Today 75% of its citizens claim to originate from Irish ancestry.

Next Tuesday 6pm, three upcoming authors, Jack Byrne (Liverpool), Jane Buckley (Derry/Londonderry) and Patrick Osborne (Dublin), discovered they shared similar objectives when writing about their respective hometowns based on years of observing numerous social, religious and political unrest. For example, the trio realised their work encompassed common but vital social themes. Examples include poverty, politics, religion, mental health, anti-Irishness, segregation, violence and abuse. And that all-important black Irish humour!

Join us to discuss books and real lives across borders.…/writing-across…/

May be an image of 1 person, map and text

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Why you should listen to The Irish Stew podcast.

On Christmas Eve 2020,  Jack Byrne reached out to see if we’d be interested in doing an episode on his upcoming book. We had only launched the podcast in October and were chuffed that anyone would actually ask to come on the Stew. Things have changed 40 episodes later, much to our delight. Authors always make for interesting interviews as their craft tends to give them a unique and fluent voice which translates very well on an audio recording.

Jack was on the verge of publishing his first novel, Under The Bridge, in February 2021 and wanted to get the word out. Even if you have talent, it’s difficult to carve out a space in the crowded literary marketplace where everybody is jostling for attention. The hardest thing for a new author in our attention-deprived lifestyles is to get potential readers to look at the first few pages of their book. When I read Jack’s first few pages I was hooked.

Under the Bridge, starts with the discovery of skeletal remains at a Liverpool building site, standard enough fair for a mystery novel, but intriguing nonetheless. The story centers around a group of post-war Irish immigrants on the margins of British society and how they carve out a space in their new home through, let’s say, questionable activities. As the story progresses, Jack exposes a seamy post-war Liverpool rife with economic difficulty. This isn’t some twee British mystery located in a bucolic landscape, rather it depicts a gritty city struggling and failing to escape the gravitation force of economic decline.

Liverpool is often called the most Irish of English cities and as such, we were delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Jack on the podcast about his novel and hometown. It was a great fit for our podcast and what better guide to Liverpool for Irish Stew than the son of an Irish immigrant from Wicklow town.

This year, on St Patrick’s day, Jack released the 2nd installment in his Liverpool Mysteries titled Across the Water. The action in the new novel continues the stories of the characters developed in the first book. With the new publication, I decided to make a new shorter “check-in” episode focused on the new book. You can listen to that second chat here.

Martin Nutty
Irish Stew podcast

New York

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