Lies of Silence

By Brian Moore

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An exploration of the impossible moral dilemmas imposed on innocent people by the paramilitaries when they invade their lives.

The car which had been sent over from McAuley’s, the car hire people, was a small, shiny Fiat with less than five hundred miles on the odometer. The motorway connecting Belfast with Lurgan was well-designed and well-signposted, a high-speed autoroute which provided occasional glimpses of new factories and neat farmhouses set in well-tilled fields. It was a reminder that this part of Ireland was a part of Great Britain, its roads and public services far superior to those in the Irish Republic, less than a hundred miles to the south. Driving on this road, Dillon might be in one of the English shires. But tonight, he was reminded of what, on a normal night, he would ignore. Visible on his right, looking like a factory in the late summer’s light, was the notorious prison where, under British supervision, torture had been carried out, a place where Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries, demanding to be treated as political prisoners, had refused to wear prison garb, going about draped only in blankets, walking their excrement-smeared cells like bearded Christs. It was a place where the false martyrdom of IRA hunger strikers had come to world attention, the prison the British called the Maze and the Irish Long Kesh.

He drove into the roundabout at Carlisle Circus. In its centre was a stone plinth which had once supported the statue of a Protestant divine, a statue like many of the city’s monuments, toppled in the war and never replaced. The white Ford came circling around behind him as he entered Clifton Street and drove past the headquarters of the Orange Order, that fount of Protestant prejudice against the third of Ulster’s people who are Catholics. Above the ugly grey stone building was a statue which had not been toppled by war or civil strife, a Dutch prince on horseback, waving a sword, staring out over the damaged city at ancient unchanging Irish hills, a statue commemorating a battle three hundred years ago in which the forces of the Protestant House of Orange defeated, on Irish soil, the forces of a Papist English king. At the bottom of Clifton Street he turned right, driving along the edge of those Protestant and Catholic ghettos which were the true and lasting legacy of this British Province founded on inequality and sectarian hate.

He drove on, passing the cinema here as a boy he had watched films in which men fired revolvers at other men and bombs blew up forts and other buildings, but where, always, in the end, the bad men paid for their crimes ... Ahead, to his right, he could see the ornamental iron gates, the long tree-lined avenue and, at its end, the red brick facade of the Catholic school where for eleven years he had been a boarder, a school where teaching was carried on by bullying and corporal punishment and learning by rote, a school run by priests whose narrow sectarian views perfectly propagated the divisive bitterness which had led to the events of last night.
Look at me, look at me, he wanted to shout as he drove past those hated gates. See this car on its way to kill innocent people, see my wife in a room with a gun at her head, and then ask your Cardinal if he can still say of these killers that he can see their point of view.

Reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Group Ltd, London
on behalf of The Beneficiary of the Estate of Brian Moore
Copyright © Brian Moore, 1990

The IRA take over a family home and instruct the man there to drive a bomb to a hotel while they hold his wife hostage and threaten to kill her if he fails them.

Other writers like Benedict Kiely have also written novels based on the use of innocents to transport bombs. This practice was almost routine and some of those forced to drive bombs to their targets died doing so. The same practice of holding families hostage was later developed as a means of forcing people to rob huge sums of money from their workplaces.

Further Infomation




“This is a novel to mirror the disintegration of our times, the unstated irony of which is that a politics so provincial can breed a writer and an art so universal.”
The Observer

“It is all there, perhaps too plainly there, in the title. Brian Moore has written an angry political novel that is also a novel of suspense. The suspense is intricately tangled in an impossible moral choice, faced by a Northern Irishman who struggles to resign from his country’s conflict, and cannot.”
LA Times





Bloomsbury (1990)
Vintage (2011)




ISBN-10: 0099563746, ISBN-13: 978-0099563747