Frank Portinari is one of life’s
gentlemen. A devoted family man who has been with the same lady since the year
dot. A father and grandfather, a grafter, and a man passionate about his
beliefs. Now a published author, public speaker, and podcaster it is through
writing I came to know of Frank and became acquainted with him. We’ve not met,
as yet, but Frank when we do, I’m keeping it in mind not to debate with you if
you’ve a cuppa in your hand! (For all that have read Frank’s book, that was my
favourite part). Wars have been won on the strength of tea when food was scarce,
and Frank was heading for war.
I brushed on the importance of social history being recorded in last week’s blog post and Franks story most certainly falls into this bracket. I’ve discussed this with him before, but I believe the political aspect of his life should be used for higher educational study. I don’t say this lightly or to flatter. Instead, as someone who was there and risked their life for someone else’s fight, and who had the gumption to place the facts into a book then not only do they deserve that recognition, but students deserve to have this knowledge available to them.
Reading Frank’s book is a fascinating insight into two aspects of his life. There was one side of him that went to football, firstly in peace and then as the football hooligan era took hold, not—a public show of bravado of men drinking and having a punch up at the weekend.
‘Left-Right Loyalist: From One Extreme To Another’ is the name of the book I have—with a new editor (Shaun Attwood) there’s been a name change and re-launch since. ‘Loyalist Paramilitary Gunrunner: From Extremism to Prison’ might give a little insight into where Frank’s political alliance finally landed after some deliberation, it’s what made sense to him. Its this alliance that’s the main focus of Frank’s book, and the second side of a complex mind. After becoming frustrated with Britain being bombed by the IRA he’d wanted to make a difference and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) entered his life at the correct time to make this happen for him—it’s an alliance he took to the extreme. Unlike most Frank was prepared to act and as with anything he puts his mind to, his heart doubles that passion. It wasn’t long until he’d gained trust and hierarchy as he became caught up in ‘the troubles’ of Northern Ireland. Frank was running guns over the border.
Frank's book, now called 'Loyalist Parliamentary Gunrunner: From Extremism to Prison
is available via this link
The UDA used a cover name in order that they wouldn’t become outlawed and were better known as the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) which prevented them becoming a terrorist group. It wasn’t until 1992 this occurred.
Making you feel part of his story as you read, you are spied on, friends are shot, and that circle of friends to be trusted becomes increasingly small. Gunrunning is a dangerous business and Frank is in the midst of it. He makes you feel you are too as his reality seeps into your psyche.
We lived these times through news stories—I have relatives who were in the army who served in Northern Ireland and a friend who lost his father who was shot by the IRA. Frank was there, he lived the experience and I urge you to read his book, without prejudice in order to gain understanding of why and how people got caught up in the troubles.
Frank served time for his participation and is still welcomed in Ireland today.
Currently writing his second book (which I’m looking forward too immensely) I’m very much interested in how, when—and of course why—Frank changed, as the man he is today certainly is reflective of the one he’s written about in his debut book.There are two more links I'd like to share with you, the first is for 'Frankly Speaking With Frank Portinari' which is, of course, Frank's podcast (I'm honoured to have been a guest so my personal thanks to Frank and Mat The Hat Media). There have been many inspirational guests appearing—
including some featured right here on my Soul2Ink blog—so pop along, press subscribe and have a listen!
You can subscribe and listen right here
Finally, I'd like to both congratulate and wish Frank and the team involved on the upcoming documentary on his life, which I know is in association with Johnny Kinch. As a first for my blog I'm sharing a funding page but its certainly not a first for me to get behind film making. It will be [quote] "A documentary of social and historical importance."
Documentary Funding Link