Confidence-building or -sapping..?

THE IRA has admitted that it killed a schoolgirl in Derry more than 30 years ago. At the time, the IRA blamed the British Army, and killed a soldier in retaliation.

Unionists have reacted with scepticism, perhaps seeing it as a cynical move by republicans to demonstrate – without conceding anything – to the two governments that they are ‘moving on’ before the next round of talks.

Unionists tend to see such moves as minimalistic, not addressing their concerns. But then it isn’t unionism that republicanism has to impress, and the cumulative effect of further moves may well – once again – force Blair and Ahern to adopt a softer line.

Given that this admission addresses the concern of a victim first, it might be interesting to see if a pattern develops. There have been moves to appoint a forensic expert to locate the remains of the Disappeared, so perhaps that is something to keep an eye on.

As there is a post-negotiation period where the IRA is expected to demonstrate its democratic bona fides, might we expect a drip feed of further moves? A decommissioning move must surely be on the cards, and while these confidence-building measures may curry favour with the governments, how will unionism react? Surely the DUP cannot remain outside looking in again? What direction will Empey take the UUP in after he is elected UUP leader?

All these and other questions to be answered in the next episode of Peace Processing, Episide 847.

  • Jo

    The IRA appear, historically, to pride themselves on telling the truth and being straight with their supportbase. No doubt the diehard faithful will cite this as proof – “they didnt need to turn around and admit this but being brave and honourable men, they chose to do so to contribute to the families closure.”

    All extremely hollow and in fact this sort of thing, whatever positive effect it has on the relevant family, only irritates the majority who know how much killing did not, by the same token, merit ANY apology. Its particularly glaringly obvious in this instance as an act of retaliation was perpetrated in response to something they in fact did themselves…any irritation that some posters here feel is a minor discomfort compared to the deep hurt felt by those who read this story having lost loved ones at the hands of the same people and know that they will never ever receive an apology.

    I await, with sinking heart, the all-too-predictable whataboutery…

  • JD

    How unionists or the two governments see this move is totally irrelevant, this admission and apology was done at the request of family and for the family alone, only their reaction is of any consequence. Maybe instead of carping unionist polititians and Governments would look at their own dark past and begin to apologise for their mistakes and role in the conflict.

  • Ricardo

    You didn’t have to wait too long jo . . .

  • Minesapint

    How far will this and similar acts go until we see “We’ve done a bit now it’s someone else’s turn.”? This apology, the ‘giving up’ of Gareth O’Connor’s remains, the apparent willingness to see the remains of ‘the disappeared’ being found are part of an attempt to wriggle out of actually having to give up any weapons etc. or (otherwise) be seen to ‘surrender’. Gerry sounded very surprised….(not!)

  • Jo

    12 minutes Ricardo. Possibly a record, but I doubt it…

  • TAFKABO

    “Maybe instead of carping unionist polititians and Governments would look at their own dark past and begin to apologise for their mistakes and role in the conflict.”

    Maybe you should have given them the opportunity to do so, before you got the snide attack in?

    from my own point of view, this case illustrates the difficulties of the idea of a truth commission.
    It is hoped that the family of the deceased will draw some measure of comfort from the truth being revealed, but the counterbalance is that there may now be a family who lost a son, and have just had the old wounds re-opened.
    I guess that there is still a lot of pain and grieving to go through, on all sides, before we get any closure on this nasty little conflict.

  • g

    “this admission and apology was done at the request of family and for the family alone, only their reaction is of any consequence.”

    Will those ‘brave’ men of the IRA also be appologising to the family of the soldier they killed ‘in retaliation’ for a deed THEY carried out? After all, I’m sure they have spent the last 30 years requesting an appology as well, and it would also bring closure for them

  • Brighid McBride

    Nice touch, Jo, the pre-emptive “whatabouttery” strike! Well, of course, what can anyone say in response, as it will only be derided and, with predictable sanctimonious tone the inevitable “AHA.” And so it was.

    But here is the question to you, Jo: Should the IRA have said nothing, not ever taken responsibility, let the family live forever without final acknowledgement? Which should it be, Jo? Silence forever, on the fate of their loved one, or closure in the form of admission of guilt? Is it more painful to actually know what happened, or is it more kind to keep families in the dark forever? And, keep in mind that there are hundreds of victims of British collusion with loyalists, as per Sutton’s Index. When Blair apologized, were you the first to engage in ‘whatabouttery’ regarding the guilt of the IRA?

    I just wonder because, as ideologues are so adept at doing, you have basically framed the argument as: “Don’t mention it or you’re self-aggrandizing. Do mention it and you’re self-aggrandizing.”

    Ever read Heller’s book, “Catch-22,” Jo?

  • Aaron D

    Weren’t all British soldiers considered legitimate targets by the IRA? Who were they trying to shoot at in the first place?

  • Henry94

    If the IRA are leaving the pitch then it is right that they settle any outstanding issues beforehand. I don’t think they would expect anyone who disliked them to change their minds because of it.

  • Veritas

    No whataboutery here. (Whenaboutery instead).

    When are the British Army going to admit that they killed (just for a start) 14 people on Bloody Sunday, Julie Livingstone (age 14), Brian Stewart (age 14) in cold blood? And then they should apologise.

    If they do, by the way, then let no-one on the republican side be as crass as some of the comments we have seen here today after the IRA apology. An apology from the Brits would begin to heal the hurt.

  • Gonzo

    An apology from the Brits would begin to heal the hurt.

    You really think so?

  • Jo

    Brighid,

    God forbid you should anticipate a spinner that anticipates what you would write before you write it, eh?

    It held off the whattaboutery for all of 12 minutes and then you and yours feel free to let rip…Just have a guess, in your presumptive way, as to my socio-relgious background, given your judgement on my post which was, despite your cynical “the Brits are to blame” way of thinking, does nothing to alleviate the pain of everyone of us realising that a woman who SHOULD be in her mid-40s, a Mother and a possibly a grandmother, is instead a long-dead corpse, from which you and yours, seek to make political capital.

  • Jo

    I think it bears repeating, given that the female victims are an unspoken minority:

    “everyone of us realising that a woman who SHOULD be in her mid-40s, a Mother and a possibly a grandmother, is instead a long-dead corpse”

  • Intelligence Insider

    Can you imagine the outrage if this was a member of H.M Forces saying something similar! All we would hear from the representatives of the criminal ira would be claims of a cover – up! Suddenly those who seek investigations have mainly gone silent though. It should really make people think about how many of their own people have been murdured by these terrorost/criminals who have then tried to place the blame on Army/SAS units etc. After all, the provisonal movement were responsible for the killing of more catholics than all other groups combined. Perhaps they were responsible for even more than they claimed, after all, it took them almost 30yrs to admit they killed this one!

  • Henry94

    Intel Inside

    After all, the provisonal movement were responsible for the killing of more catholics than all other groups combined.

    That is not true.

    According to the Sutton Index Loyalists killed 730 Catholics and the IRA killed 340.

    The British paramilitaries and security forces killed 1033.

  • Jo

    Thats quite untrue, the IRA killed many more Catholics than 430. A total distortion of the truth.

  • PatMcLarnon

    ‘Can you imagine the outrage if this was a member of H.M Forces saying something similar!’

    Not outrage, just gasps of disbelief.

  • Martin

    I would like the IRA to issue an apology to the families of persons executed for informing-who were not in fact informers just victims of British counter espionage.

    As well as all the civilians killed.

  • Zorro

    Veritas,

    When are the British Army going to admit that they killed (just for a start) 14 people on Bloody Sunday, Julie Livingstone (age 14), Brian Stewart (age 14) in cold blood?

    Are you implying that the wrong doing of the British Army, in some way, lessens the guilt of the IRA? If you are only as bad as your enemy, can your own wrong doing be excused? I for one, don’t think so.

  • raff

    “I would like the IRA to issue an apology to the families of persons executed for informing-who were not in fact informers just victims of British counter espionage”. – Would that apology not be due from the British? Just a thought.

  • Heemo

    I in no way support the IRA, far from it, I disagree with their means and ends. However it seems to me that people had a choice – to stay quiet or inform. Many of them were handsomely paid for their information using UK taxpayer money and many, such as the supergrasses, clearly tagged along for the ride with information which was made up for as long as the money kept coming. Many of them were also either IRA members and/or serial criminals also so what’s their argument with the outcome, whether it be black eye, sore kneecap or an ‘early bath’ ?

    Victims of the ‘troubles’ ? I think probably not in most cases.

  • Roger

    What about the IRA apologising to the family of the soldier which they MURDERED.

  • Heemo

    Roger

    What is the point ? They do not genuinely regret it and it will mean nothing anyway, get over it. Console yourself with the reality that all of their violence was in vain. Their war is over and they lost.

  • Roger

    Get over it? Please do not take a condesending tone with me you wishy washy ponse I hate the IRA and their murderous scheme and you English didn’t help the people of NI when the IRA waged war.

  • Heemo

    We paid your bills and protected people there and what thanks did we get for it ? Body bags, that’s what.

    Ingratitude wouldn’t come close. Your persecution complex line of abuse/agument is truly nauseating.

    You are priveleeged guests in our UK family, please don’t wipe your dirty feet on our pristine carpets.

    Thank you.

  • JD

    Roger,

    There was no British soldier killed in retaliation for Kathleen Feeny. The official deaths in Derry were two British soldiers killed in the Rossville Flats two weeks after Kathleens’ death and after the IRA statement had been issued. Another media fantasy is the story about heavy rioting following Kathleens death, it never happened the community was grief-stricken at the death of a child and no rioting took place.

    The death of a soldier could have taken place and was not officially recognised. This has happened before and since. I myself witnessed an incident where a soldier was, to my medically untrained eyes, killed but no announcement appeared in the media or anywhere else. However I did notice a small story in a British tabloid a few weeks later telling of the death of a British soldier on training exercises in Germany. I remain suspicious that they could be the same person.

  • Ukko

    Heemo,

    I thought northern Irish people were as British as any Englishman or so we’ve been lead to believe. Is this not the case any more or did I miss something?

  • martin

    “Between a small nation and a great,
    between a conquered people and its conqueror,
    there can be but a sham union

    the union of a boa constrictor
    with its prey.

    LORD BYRON.

  • Jo

    If you want to see “true Britishness”, you need to visit A Tangled Web, not here.