The IRA – their only crime was robbery

A provocative piece by Lindy McDowell in the Belfast Telegraph this evening,(hat-tip to Andrew at ATW).Shinners in the altogether

It starts with :

The IRA – their only crime was robbery. That, in a T-shirt slogan, just about sums up the odd attitude many people, particularly in the south of Ireland, have to the sectarian killing machine that is Provisional IRA.
Murdering almost 2,000 people, mutilating tens of thousands more, ripping apart lives, communities, town centres… all these things the IRA did and more. None of this counted as real “crime” though.

and ends with

But phenomenal though the sum taken was, all those millions and millions of notes are still not worth the life of even one child killed in the Shankill bomb, one person murdered in the IRA’s long war of terror.
Up here we count the cost of IRA criminality not in stolen money. But in stolen lives.

  • Gay

    ‘It wasn’t until they robbed the Northern Bank that the debate that was already simmering about the “criminality” of the IRA detonated into an examination of their long and bloody record of “previous”. For the first time that I can remember anyway, there is now the beginning of a discussion in the south about IRA’s crimes against humanity.’

    Unfortunately for Lindy this as the main part of her argument is untrue. Criticism of both SF and the IRA has been much stronger on many more occasions. She’s either no idea of what occurred in the South before last month or is wilfully ignoring it. An argument constructed on clearly false argument is hard to discuss seriously. I’m sure many in the South would be insulted by her nonsense.

  • Tom Griffin

    The issue that McDowell raises about the Shankill bombing is relevant though.
    Was it not Albert Reynolds who tried to explain to John Major why Gerry Adams had to carry Thomas Begley’s coffin?
    The pendulum now seems to have swung towards Major’s view of getting SF to condemn the IRA ad negotiate on their behalf at the same time.

  • irishman

    More sectarian ranting from ‘Orange lily’ Lindy. I always imagine Lindy as one of those blue-rinse bigots doing the sash dance as they walk past the fenians when I read her articles.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Perhaps it could have been expressed better. It’s true we got angry before. We just didn’t do very much about it.

  • Davros

    After reading her article I would say that she’s voicing an opinion that’s not uncommon in the North, that many in the ROI were prepared to look the other way as long as the IRA didn’t rock the boat at home.

  • irishman

    ‘Not uncommon’ among unionists, you mean, Davros- which is not the same as saying not uncommon among many (a mistake many unionists make, Davros- lets attribute it to the ‘we are the people’ mentality.)

    This is not really hard to understand- British people cared little about the conflict until bombs exploded in English cities; even up to the very recent past, the unionist media were careful to couch unionist violence in a reactive capacity and certainly never equated it in any way as being equivalent to republican violence.

    Were we to enter a sensible discussion on this matter, I would suspect that we’d all agree that war is always best fought in a far off distant land. If you give people the chance to escape from it and to be selective about what they see and hear they will gladly take it- surely a case of human nature….

  • Davros

    Not uncommon’ among unionists, you mean, Davros- which is not the same as saying not uncommon among many

    I wrote not uncommon in the North, I meant not uncommon in the North.It’s a point I have heard protestants and catholics/ unionists and nationalists make.

  • mickhall

    “irishman wrote,
    This is not really hard to understand- British people cared little about the conflict until bombs exploded in English cities;”

    What evidence do you base this statement on? Throughout the whole of the 1969-97 period, the overwhelming majority of opinion polls that were taken in England, showed a majority for withdrawal of troops and reunification. The PIRA bombing campaign played almost no role in changing English public opinion, just as the bombing of city centres failed to alter in the intended direction that of the Unionists at home. Im not expressing a political opinion just stating a fact.

  • ShayPaul

    Polls are one thing mick, caring enough about the situation to make it happen is quite another.

    I would replace only “cared little about” with “were indifferent to” in irishmans’ statement in order to agree 100%.

    This in my opinion is no slight on the people concerned, as such an attitude is not surprising, human nature being what it is.

    And before someone nit picks the term “british”, we know what he meant.

    The reality of our situation is quite simple (that is of course the paradox of this complicated place). The solution rests in the hands of roughly 20% of the voting labeled “Unionist” population.

    The frightening thing is that yet another generation is stubbornly tied to an undemocratic domination against all odds, unable to confront the reality that we are going to have to live together on this island. This attitude plays into the hands of the extremists who care little for the people and dogmatically much more for the false Unions.

    Roll on the next generation, may it produce some leaders, and a republic of all the people, for all the people.

  • mickhall

    ShayPaul

    I agree with you, not enough cared enough, but were the people of the south any different? The strategy of the PIRA hardly helped the English people understand the situation better. Once the decision was made to maim and kill English civilians by planting bombs in their cities, (whether deliberately or not) any attempt to put the case for reunification became very difficult over there, believe me. Thus the English State had an open goal to harp on about there’re being innocents, trying to hold the ring, its a civil war; and they are all mad over there, etc. And finally just to prove that those of us who opposed their argument were wrong, SF signed up to the GFA, which set the Unionist veto and thus partition in stone. Happy Days.

  • barnshee

    “she’s voicing an opinion that’s not uncommon in the North, that many in the ROI were prepared to look the other way as long as the IRA didn’t rock the boat at home.”

    LOOK THE OTHER WAY?? some looking– just a few of the way it “looked” the other way.

    1 Refused to extradite murderers as long as they had murdered for “Ireland”.
    2 Voted in convicted gun runners.
    3 Had a government that connived at gun smuggling to continue the elimination of the protestant –a state effectively reached in the ROI

    Until in the words of SF Danny Morrison the protestants “put manners” on the ROI via the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

  • ShayPaul

    mick so you agree with irishman, as you make the same case for the South ?

    “any attempt to put the case for reunification became very difficult over there, believe me”

    Please explain why I should believe you ?

  • mickhall

    shaypaul,

    There is absolutely no reason why you should believe me, that is a judgement call you will have to make on your own.

  • aquifer

    But what is crime? What about Tony Blair talking to the UDA rather as Willie Whitelaw might have talked to Gerry and Martin way back when. Contempt for democracy, dismissal of the rule of law, arrogance and gormless paternalism should be crimes too when they unleash fascist thugs on the rest of us.

  • Mick Fealty

    Shay Paul:

    The reality of our situation is quite simple (that is of course the paradox of this complicated place). The solution rests in the hands of roughly 20% of the voting labeled “Unionist” population.

    Had you any further thoughts on who this 20% might be? The Life & Times survey doesn’t auger well on this score, as I recall.

    Interestingly there appears to be a quorum (22%) of protestants who would either could not accept never having a UI, or would not like that eventuality. But there is no evidence that this group is a significant voting block during elections.

    4% of Catholics (the same figure as amongst Protestants) would find it impossible to accept there would never be a united Ireland. This compares with 26% of protestants who could not accept a united Ireland.

    Simply, Protestants seem to be infinately more opposed to a change in status quo than Catholics are in forcing that change.

    If that twenty per cent is vital in attaining a UI, which among the nationalist parties shows any signs of courting their vote?

  • ShayPaul

    Mick

    The hypothesis is based on simple mathematics : roughly 20% of the voting labeled “unionist” population is enough to close the matter.

    A United Ireland is only worth being united if it is a reflection of a united people, that is my basic premise.

    I am a republican (a republic of the people for the people).

    I am a a democrat (democracies are best judged by the way they treat their minorities).

    I believe that a republic of the whole Island is the best solution to our situation, I do not however place this union over the union of the people, which is more important.

    The peace and prosperity of the people is the end, I believe a united irish republic as the appropriate means.

    The end is more important than the means, I am none the less a fervent believer in the means.

    I am not a nationalist, the “nationalist” parties by definition will have a major problem courting “unionist” votes.

    Paradox of paradoxes – republicans have more chance !!!!

    That is why the Dupes need to maintain a sectarian state, it is part of their “raison d’être”.

  • ShayPaul

    “Simply, Protestants seem to be infinately more opposed to a change in status quo than Catholics are in forcing that change.”

    Exactly – however I do not like your phrase, it is filled with menace and despair – it sums up the “troubles”.

    We are both from that generation, hope resides with the next.

  • Vavid Dance

    I for one really don’t see what all the fuss is about – whether it was the Eire Provisionals who were responsible or whether it was their orange neanderthal counterparts currently (and somehwat frustratingly) residing within the United Kingdom – the criminal responsible should be rooted out and made an example of and their pro-terror so-called communities placed under martial law until they learn that unless and until the working class (or in many cases unemployed and unemployable class) learn to respect the rule of law decent law-abiding folk who pay taxes will have nothing to do with them politically or, crucially, economically.

    If that does not achieve a consensus on what constitues a basic standard of civility and modern mores upon which we can decide how to move forward within the United Kingdom then nothing will. Until then, bullwhip and baton charge the lawbreakers and isolate their revolting supporters – on BOTH sides.

    May the cat eat the criminal classes begorrah!

  • PS

    Fáilte ar ais, Guggler.

  • ShayPaul

    Yep Guggler great to se you back, vermin gave it away
    :o)

  • Mick Fealty

    Shay Paul:

    I do not like your phrase, it is filled with menace and despair – it sums up the “troubles”.

    Perhaps the word ‘force’ is the offending article. In which case I should say that I was refering to polemic rather than anything physical – that is to provide ‘forceful’ and energising argument for a UI to potential converts in the context of Hume’s contest for Hearts and Minds.

    Up until now, other than the restatement of the fact of a fairly pan-Republican (i.e. from SF, to dissidents, to the IRSP even) aspiration for inclusion, detailed argument is in fairly short supply on the ground.

  • ShayPaul

    Mick

    I think your phrase is very accurate, I don’t like it because of its’ accuracy, I would prefer a more optimistic outlook for us all.

    Fundamentally, you have the problem in a nutshell.

    I admit I do not know how to crack the nut, many have tried and failed.

    I stated what I believed to clarify my position. I hope in that clarification some will see a way forward. I make a strong argument for a republic, the same argument was made in 1798.

    So how to break the stalemate, in despair I throw the problem to the next generation. I do however have enormous faith in our youth.

    I have not lost all hope in our generation, we can contribute to our best and leave the conditions for our descendants to bury the axe.