A great honour in memory of a remarkable man

8 March 2013

I am delighted to say that my latest book, Bloody Sunday: truths, lies and the Saville Inquiry, has been jointly awarded the Christopher Ewart-Biggs memorial prize at a ceremony in Dublin. My co-winner is Julieann Campbell, author of Setting the Truth Free: the inside story of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign.

The literary prize is named after the former British Ambassador to Ireland. Christopher Ewart-Biggs was educated at Wellington and Oxford and served with the Royal Kent Regiment during World War II. He lost his right eye at the Battle of el-Alamein. After Foreign Office postings to numerous countries, including Algeria, he arrived in Dublin in July 1976. Twelve days after his arrival he was murdered by the IRA in a landmine attack on his car. His killers were never found.

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The memorial prize was set up by his remarkable widow, Jane, and aims ‘to recognize work that promotes and encourages peace and reconciliation in Ireland.’ Previous winners include Frank McGuinness, Brian Friel, Brian Keenan and Timothy Knatchbull.

It is a great honour to have been awarded a prize named after a remarkable man. The day before his death Ewart-Biggs was interviewed by local journalists and concluded his remarks by saying: ‘I have one prejudice, acquired during the war and reinforced again in Algeria – a very distinct and strong prejudice against violence for political ends.’

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  • Daniel Maris

    ‘I have one prejudice, acquired during the war and reinforced again in
    Algeria – a very distinct and strong prejudice against violence for
    political ends.’

    I thought you said he fought in World War 2…or doesn’t that count?

    • Simon Morgan

      What a despicable creature you are, Daniel Maris. To answer your rhetoric – of course it doesn’t count.

      • Daniel Maris

        Are you saying that war is not the violent pursuit of political ends? I am not sure what your point is.

        • stephen rothbart

          No, war happens when politics has failed. The IRA was a terrorist organisation with no political mandate form the electorate, not even from the Catholic voters.

          There was no declaration of war between Northern Ireland and Westminster, because it would have been a civil war in that case.

          As with any conflict where a band of armed thugs go to war in civilian outfits against a highly trained and visible army, the odds are on their side, because an army can either go full out or act in a restrained way.

          The British Army had to operate with one had tied behind its back. Rules of Engagement were very strict, unlike war when firing on a suspect with a gun is quite OK.

          The reason you don’t understand what Simon Morgan said is because you don’t understand what you have written yourself.

    • andagain

      A prejudice against violence is not the same thing as an absolute bar on it.

      • Daniel Maris

        Yes, I think you are right. I didn’t read it right first time – I see he was referring to “the war” – presumably WW2. So, I guess he was saying he had, as you say, a prejudice against violence for political ends but not an absolute bar. No doubt, though, Martin McGuiness would tell us the same thing. Either you are a real pacifist (and there aren’t many of those) or you’re not. If you’re not, it’s simply then a matter of deciding whether a cause justifies violence and what type of violence.

        • salieri

          Daniel, you raise a crucial point but I think you cheapen it. The words you choose to misunderstand are “for political ends”. There’s a world of difference between repudiation of violence for political ends, on the one hand, and pacifism (i.e. repudiation of violence in any circumstances at all) on the other. To fight and die for one’s country is not to glorify war and when not pontificating you know that perfectly well. It’s not an amusing little quibble either: ask anyone who has served in the Forces. Mind you, if you do, you may well receive a non-political black eye.

          You dishonour a very brave man, and yourself in the process.

  • Richard Armbach

    Awarded by whom ?

    • salieri

      Isn’t that rather churlish? This was not meant to be a post about the writer or the prize but the man who inspired the prize. It reminds us of what we need to be reminded of.

      • Biggestaspidistra

        and just a little bit about self promotion.

    • Grrr8

      One hopes the book is rather better than his scratchings here. Or the poor man who inspired the prize maybe rolling in his grave 😉

      • adamber

        ..the “scratchings here” being yours?

      • Colonel Mustard

        We look forward to reading your own books and published articles, and learning the identity of the man (or woman) behind Tony the Tiger, commentator facile.

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