Vincent Browne, is clearly irked by a reference in a recent Daily Ireland article to Gerry Fitt as an ‘Uncle Tomas’ figure in Irish nationalism. In response he asks what benefits Nationalism accrued from Sinn Fein and the IRA’s rejection of the Sunningdale Agreement (subs needed):
…there are a few elements to the Belfast Agreement that were not in the Sunningdale agreement – a more robust commitment to human rights and a commitment to devolve policing powers, but did they make such a difference? Or more particularly, did the difference go anywhere near justifying the slaughter of more than 1,000 people, the maiming of thousands of others and the ruination of countless lives?
Gerry Fitt was among the first to protest about nationalists being at the back of the bus and, had more people paid heed to him from the time he went to Westminster in 1965, there might not have been anything like the carnage that followed. Gerry Fitt did protest about the Saracens and the torture and internment, but that is forgotten for he also condemned the barbarity of the IRA.
After a while Gerry Fitt saw only that barbarity and none of the other injustices and, to that extent, was partial. But how about those who now, with the benefit of dispassionate hindsight, remember only the injustices of Stormont and of the viciousness and arbitrariness of the British military response to the IRA campaign, and not at all the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the IRA? Had Gerry Fitt’s politics been given time to mobilise, might not thousands of lives been saved?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty