Forget ethnic thematics: a straightforward response to Billy Hutchinson

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Billy Hutchinson’s explanation for his sectarian murders has been covered below by David McCann. Unfortunately they degenerate into concepts like “Truth recovery”, “ethnic thematics” and such like. The News Letter have provided somewhat more direct responses.

From the News Letter:

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said that Mr Hutchinson’s attempted justification of his murders “bore all the hallmarks of the same sick delusional thinking that is prevalent within the republican movement”.

Referring to the UVF slogan ‘For God and Ulster’, Mr Donaldson said: “Nothing that the UVF did was for the advancement of Ulster and the perpetration of criminal terrorist acts against neighbours was certainly not in the name of God…His trite comment ‘I wouldn’t expect middle-class unionists to agree with what I did’ is deeply insulting. Believing in the sanctity of life and being opposed to murder is not an issue which breaks down on the lines of social class.
“In border areas of Northern Ireland such as south east Fermanagh the minority community was systematically targeted by republican terrorists with 35 Protestants murdered yet none of those families affected nor the wider Protestant community sought to avenge the hurt and trauma inflicted. Why? Because they refused to bring to a neighbour’s door what had been brought to their own.”

Even more powerfully a relative of the two young men Hutchinson murdered has provided a response which is worth reproducing almost in full:

Billy. It was murdering Catholics. For being Catholics.
The morning you turned your car round to drive down the Falls and kill them is as clear now for me as it was 40 years ago.
My cousins were labourers, as was their father.
They wanted to get a black taxi down the Falls but there was only room for one. The father got in and they walked.
You killed them because they were there.
You’d have shot their father, a Protestant, as well if he had been with them.
I had just turned 12 and was sitting in a huge new school when I was taken out of class to see my father, waiting in the school office.
I spent the next two days watching thousands of people, young and old, come through the open door of my granny’s tiny living room in a terrace house off the Springfield Road where my cousin Eric had lived.
A few albums on a shelf (Tubular Bells at the front), a pile of Military Modelling magazines, a box of paints and miniscule brushes for painting tiny pewter Napoleonic figures for war games – and that was it; all he left.
And the sobbing, the uncontrollable sobbing, of my father bent over his coffin in front of thousands in a packed St Paul’s on the morning of the burial, that brought embarrassment to a selfish 12-year-old boy.
I have the bus token and the few coins he had in his pocket from that morning.
I have the pewter figures, painted by a solitary man who wanted to escape from the world around him.
I’ve been back to Cupar Street and Bombay Street to see their names on the memorial.
They aren’t in the republican section, Billy. There were no death notices, flags or paramilitary displays – then or since – because there was no reason to have them there.
The “intelligence” you speak of; was it simply one or both of them looked familiar?
Maybe you had burnt them out of their house a few years before?
Was it the same intelligence that everyone who was a taig was a Provie?
The same “intelligence” that Gusty Spence, a relative of my father, had used in 1966 to do just what you did that clear, sharp October morning?​
The idea that any taig will do, Billy? ​Well it won’t.
The IRA didn’t kill them, Billy. You did. And it is you who has to live with that.

There is not much you can add to that.

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  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Hutchinson will burn in hell.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The old “I had no other option” attempt to justify a horrible deed. Disgusting, just like the other “explanations”.

  • DC

    In border areas of Northern Ireland such as south east Fermanagh the minority community was systematically targeted by republican terrorists with 35 Protestants murdered yet none of those families affected nor the wider Protestant community sought to avenge the hurt and trauma inflicted. Why? Because they refused to bring to a neighbour’s door what had been brought to their own.

    Or perhaps being the minority community if they had tried something similar they would have got their asses kicked by the majority and been totally flushed out from their own areas in all likelihood?

    Richard J Evans says the legacy of the third reich shows us that there is ‘human hatred and destructiveness that exists even if in only a small way within us all’ and what can happen ‘if some people are treated less human than others’. Perhaps our conflict likewise, take Unionist state forces of old towards catholics in general, take the IRA towards the RUC and other ‘legit’ targets, the UVF towards innocent catholics.

    Once some ignore the sanctity of life and a descent into barbarism occurs it is very clear that this will draw in certain others who will take part.

    Explanations are important as to motives and winding things down as they are when used to wind things up.

  • Charles_Gould

    More good stuff from the folks at the Newsletter.

  • Charles_Gould

    The ends do not justify the means.

    The means are what really matters not the ends.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Tir Chonaill Gael

    “Hutchinson will burn in hell.”

    My advice let it go.

    The man was a product of time and place.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for this Turgon. It brought tears to my eyes for even though I have some sympathy with those who say we ought to “draw a line” over the past, I thnk it’s only right to be reminded of the human cost of the troubles.

    I would thnk more of BH if he went back into print and said clearly that he spoke unthinkingly and that he now wanted to acknowledge the pain he caused and express regret.

  • scruff

    Grannie Trixi, I agree completely.

  • DC

    The comments were certainly unthinking and clearly lacked mental rigour.

    But the UVF are on record for saying the catholic community were made to pick up the tab for secret army as host community.

    ‘The IRA was conducting its campaign of terror for and on behalf of the nationalist community. The nationalist community provided the foot soldiers, the financial support, the safe operating environment and the moral support for the IRA. It also willing accepted any political gains that were obtained as a result of republican violence.’

    ‘The UVF has never sought to hide the fact that its campaign was aimed at subjecting the nationalist community to a level of violence that would instil fear and terror in members of that community. Many volunteers believed that there was a price to be paid for the IRA’s campaign of terror and that price was being paid by the community that gave birth to, and nurtured, the IRA. It was a harsh and ruthless strategy that was dictated by the nature of the conflict. It dehumanised members of the nationalist community and reduced them to the status of scapegoats who were forced to suffer vicariously for the sins of its “secret army”. There is no way that that strategy can be dressed up in fancy military terms to make something that was horrible look good. The objective was simple – subject the nationalist community to an oppressive force of violence as retribution for republican violence.’

    Billy Hutchinson’s time out from politics has certainly blunted his judgement and use of words. I don’t think he has surrounded himself on the communications front with professional people to prepare him for interviews like this well in advance.

    There are so many issues to talk about today that needed to be raised by him as leader and promoted you know led-on type, but instead he walked in cold and sluggish into the News Letter and walked out with a headline that no one believes logical but does make him look heartless and the PUP a sectarian outfit. Despite around 20 years active service if you like in peace politics and trying to build on that.

    Perhaps all undone in terms of this election you could argue by one extremely casual interview. Pick your words wisely.

    Just to add, taken from politics ie – ‘Anthony Alcock refers to a telephone poll of some 4000 people undertaken by the Newsletter in the Spring of 1993 which showed that 42% declared their support for paramilitary violence, 50.2% answered “yes” to the question as to whether there were current circumstances in which loyalist paramilitary violence was justified, and 81% stated that loyalist violence was a reaction to PIRA violence and would cease if the PIRA called off its campaign.’

  • Comrade Stalin

    The piece reproduced by Turgon is extremely moving.

    I’m working my way through Ed Maloney’s book. It records that the UVF’s clear strategy was to get at the IRA by killing civilians. If they could identify IRA men they would target them, of course, but civilians were also deliberately and intentionally targeted.

    Interestingly, on at least one occasion the UVF shot dead individuals who were in the IRA but had been turned by the British and were passing back intelligence.

    But for me the whole controversy here is double standards. Unionist politicians – as usual – had little or nothing to say about this until they were prompted to do so. On “The View” Ian Paisley Jnr initially reacted with indignation when the question was put to him, as if he needs some sort of advance notice that he might be expected to condemn comments made by a convicted murderer.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Billy Hutchinson’s time out from politics has certainly blunted his judgement and use of words. I don’t think he has surrounded himself on the communications front with professional people to prepare him for interviews like this well in advance.”

    @DC,

    Or maybe he’s just on the level politically of those who formed the UPRG like White? Maybe the two loyalist “parties” (paramilitary PR agencies) should consider consolidating as they certainly aren’t electorally viable on their own. And the ideological differences between them are now minimal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think Billy was trying to emulate what he sees as the approach which has worked for SF. He believed that if, like Gerry Kelly, he was open about what he did and why he did it, people would respect him for being straight about it. I don’t think he thought it through.

  • DC

    Well if he wanted to explain what he did, I think all he needed to do was quote those two paragraphs written by a loyalist / loyalists and rely on that as the lines to take.

    Instead the headline killing two catholics prevented a U Ireland, oh dear oh dear. Of course the News Letter indulging in misplaced moralism that unionists are just not like that better than that to back the PUP and not into terror, despite as we all know pretty much unionism connived in it , supported it within its communities and no doubt secretly expected its paramilitaries to hit out to grind down the IRA.

    Unionists weren’t exactly shit hot at the negotiation tables and therefore to think loyalist violence wasn’t a factor and didn’t assist unionism when the two governments got together is a nonsense, especially in light of Blair’s ‘trouble is you guys, you don’t have guns’.

  • Mick Fealty

    CS,

    “trying to emulate what he sees as the approach which has worked for SF”

    Has anyone located the ‘PUPer’s List’ yet?

  • Son of Strongbow

    If Hutchinson was indeed doing a ‘Kelly’ he obviously failed his basic level Politics 101: he forgot (again) that he was pitching to a very different electorate, with a very different ‘appreciation’ of, and reaction to, ‘war stories’.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SoS,

    But more so. SF have studiously avoided making excuses for killing civilians. I think the IRA’s “apology” some years back was directed at non-combatants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    I’m not following you. What list ?

  • DC

    #List :)

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: I think the IRA’s “apology” some years back was directed at non-combatants.
    To be a bit more specific, ‘innocent’ civilians killed by accident. So the apology doesn’t cover Teebane, Kingsmills, retired soldiers, policemen etc. In fact, their apology covers surprisingly few people.