Emotional opposition in Westminster

Great sketch from one of the best of the trade, Simon Hoggart, as Tony Blair faced a wall of disapproval from all sides of the house last night.

  • Henry94

    William McCrea, the DUP member for South Antrim, stood up and said very softly: “I stood in the mortuary and looked in the face, or part of the face, of my cousin, 21 years of age, engaged to be married that day.

    He also stood on a platform with sectarian murderer Billy Wright. If unionists want to know where their credibility problem lies they need look no further than the speech of McCrea in the House of Commons yesterday.

  • And further in that quote:

    “I then asked to see my other cousin, aged 16, her brother, blown up by the IRA. He wasn’t on a table. There wasn’t enough to put on a table.”

    At this point, and without warning, Mr McCrea began to sob. “His remains were lying on the floor.”

  • Butterknife

    This is awful I know but:

    1)He is a politician so he is good at oratory &
    2)He is a DUP Free Presbyterian minister and evangelical recording ‘star’.

    Therefore he knows where to pause etc for dramatic effect. No doubt he made his oratory subjective but I am sure his there is a ‘whiff’ of showmanship about it. But then again, that is what politics is all about …

  • I can see the point you’re making. But are we not missing the actual content here, somewhat?

  • Mark_Baxter

    Butterknife

    “This is awful I know but”

    You probably should have stopped there. I find it hard to believe that anyone would use the deaths of two close family relatives in such an cheap, opportunistic way. I’m no DUP fan, but what do you expect to achieve by belittling his losses?

  • Butterknife

    He belittled himself when he stood shoulder to sholder with Billy Wright. Therefore i afford to him the same degree of respect i accord to others given his pedigree. And before anyone gets on their high horse he was trying to convince the House that this legislation should be defeated by using his family as an example for he knew or must must have been aware that subjective examples are better than objective ones for they often bring great effect to the proceedings.

  • Butterknife

    But i qualify that by saying no parent deserves to lose a child by murder. PERIOD.

  • slug

    This is a difficult thing for me to accept. I am opposed and angry.

    Those who are being given amnesty did things that are still very traumatic today like plant the Enniskillen bomb. The victims of that deserve that the perpetrators be given a proper trial and sentence. That is the bottom line for me.

    Given the way this thread is already, I had to struggle to post this.

    But I posted because I want to register my unhappiness anger and opposition to this. In case any victims are reading or incase people do not realise the opposition to this. It is a very serious thing. I think it is the worst thing I have seen Parliament do.

    I believe nobody in the house had a good argument for why this has to be done let alone in this way.

    (No more posts from me today. I posted in mark of respect to the victims to show I care about this. It was hard to write this).

  • mnob

    McCrea never argued that Wright shouldn’t pay for his crimes.

  • Jo

    It strikes me as utterly hypocritical and something which neds to highlighted, that victims are being cynically used by politicians such as McCrea and Donaldson, neither of whom have made any meaningful contribution to ANY political process which would have led to a reduction in victims to the extent that the current process has.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Henry94,
    I think it is an absolute disgrace that you can mock the grief of a man who has obviously endured a lot of pain through bereavement.
    You are also quick to forget that without the IRA/INLA/IPLO murder gangs there would be no “Billy Wrights”…shame on you!

  • Sean Fear

    Certainly, to appear on a platform with Wright was disgraceful.

  • headmelter

    The brits are probably more keen to have this legislation due to the fact it will help them brush a lot of the collusion issues under the carpet.
    As for our Willie it may well have been a subjective emotional point for him but I agree with butterknife he not only belittled himself, he insulted everyone who have lost loved ones and demonstrated a lack of ‘christian’ values when he took the stage with mass murderer billy wright.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    “You probably should have stopped there…what do you expect to achieve by belittling his losses”

    Well put Mark_Baxter. Some of these posts are shocking!

  • headmelter

    cl

    “You are also quick to forget that without the IRA/INLA/IPLO murder gangs there would be no “Billy Wrights”…shame on you!”

    Do you really believe this?
    Why was there a gusty spence then?

  • Henry94

    Concerned Loyalist

    I wasn’t mocking his grief. I was drawing attention to his hypocrisy. You have drawn attention to your own.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    For once on Slugger I am lost for words at the sheer hatred and contempt shown by nationalists towards a Unionist politician…I’m off before I get angry!

  • Jo

    CL:

    Its not just nationalists who have contempt for McCrea.

    Can you not appreciate the hypocrisy of this man?

  • headmelter

    cl

    “I’m off before I get angry!”

    I think you are already angry and are leaving because you have no argument.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Henry94,

    My hypocrisy? Elaborate…

    Headmelter,

    Gusty Spence didn’t help form the modern-day UVF until 1966- there was an IRA border campaign from 1955-1962. What point are you trying to make?

  • seabhac siulach

    That vote in parliament is a direct recognition that the violence that occurred in the 6 counties was political in nature, not criminal (at least in theory).

    Having said that, much violence solely impacted on the innocent and were crimes (whether accidental or not). For that there is really no excuse. No republican would support the bombing in Enniskillen in 1987 (or other massacres at La Mon, etc.)…those were mistakes and should never have happened.

    The violence and disorder did however lead eventually (through exhaustion on all sides) to the present power sharing initiative.
    Would we have had it without the violence? Who knows. The 6 counties is not a normal society so this is not easy to say.

    Some would say that the price paid for this in innocent lives was too high. So be it, but the past should stay in the past.

    Must we continue to look back and replenish our stores of hate by counting the victims of the past? Would a better legacy to those victims not be the setting up of a peaceful and democratic assembly rather than the pointless hunt and potential prosecution of now middle-aged men?

    Those like McCrea (and his boss Paisley) are not innocent in all of this, by the way …their words, in countless incendiary and hateful speeches.

    Where did all those Ulster Resistance weapons end up, Mr. McCrea? McCrea’s tears in this sense are much the same as a crocodiles and just as convincing… They are few in the 6 counties who do not have blood on their hands…so less of the moral grandstanding…

    As for the OTRs not being convicted or facing prison …you could argue that these OTRs have already paid a price for their ‘crimes’, being not able to live a normal life for years/decades, not being able to leave the past behind…

  • Butterknife

    So in otherwords Concerned Loyalist ‘An eye for an eye …’ viz-a-viz:
    You are also quick to forget that without the IRA/INLA/IPLO murder gangs there would be no “Billy Wrights”…shame on you!
    That explains Gordon Wilson attitude then: I have lost my daughter and we shall miss her … but I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie.

  • headmelter

    cl

    “Gusty Spence didn’t help form the modern-day UVF until 1966- there was an IRA border campaign from 1955-1962. What point are you trying to make? ”

    what was gusty suffering from if it took him 4 years to ‘react’ to the fifties border campaign?

  • caulfield

    As i see it this legislation can only work if it is implemented in tandem with the end of investigations into collusion, “Unionist death squads”, Finnucane, Nelson etc. You cant have your cake and eat it. If the war is over its over for everyone. Hypocrisy cuts both ways

  • Jo

    I have read the view that in fact Gusty et al reacted to the Republican celebration of the 50th aniversary of the 1916 Rising.

    Therefore, of course the “true cause” of the Troubles wasnt the sectarian murdering UVF but those who organised the 1966 commemorations…it all depends how intently you are trying to blame “the other side” for starting “it” all off. Personally I believe such argument to be utterly pointless, a bit like the lives of those perpetuating such pedantry.

  • seabhac siulach

    Caulfield:

    While I agree with the general logic of what you say, the truth is that state-sponsored crimes are of a different magnitude to those carried by ordinary people, whether members of paramilitary groupings or not. If the state has committed criminal acts then that is something that needs to be investigated irrespective of the conclusion of the peace process. It is a separate and much more important issue…in fact, it becomes a European issue, the UK being a member of the EU…
    You cannot equate the actions of ‘terrorists’ (as you might call them) with the actions of Her Majesties Government, surely?

    If it meant getting Stormont up and running and the police, etc. reformed I would be more than happy personally to see all investigations end.
    I do not need much more convincing that the Brit govt. WAS involved in collusion anyway…

  • Hi, I saw Willie McCrea on the news last night, and I really felt for the man, I don’t personally like what he stands for, but let’s not nit pick his obviously genuine grief. However, does nobody feel that this is ground that should have been covered with the original prisoner releases, and that the current legislation is a natural outworking of the early release scheme?

  • Shore Road Resident

    The Enniskillen bomb was only “a mistake” in that it backfired on Sinn Fein. Otherwise it was a highly successful, and typical, IRA operation.

    Would the Shinners accept it and move on if Tony Blair just said: “The killing of Pat Finucane was wrong and should never have happened.”

  • Concerned Loyalist

    ss,
    “You cannot equate the actions of terrorists… with the actions of Her Majesties Government, surely?”.

    So you are agreeing now that the IRA were terrorists engaged in guerilla warfare and not an army fighting a legitimate war?

    Do you believe that the IRA were well within their rights to prosecute their shoot-to-kill policy, and on the other hand believe that it is a “war-crime” for the security services to defend themselves against attempts on their life?

  • seabhac siulach

    “Would the Shinners accept it and move on if Tony Blair just said: “The killing of Pat Finucane was wrong and should never have happened.” ”

    Well, the Brits could even just start by admitting their role in that killing, something they will not do…that would be something. To hear them admit that it was wrong, well, I suppose we can always dream…

    As I said before, when is state sponsored terrorism to be equated to that carried out by civilians…? It is of a whole different magnitude of seriousness…
    All of the inquiries demanded by Sinn Fein are to investigate the state’s involvement in the murder of its own civilians…remember, those catholics, like Finucane, who were murdered were citizens of the UK and entitled to its protection…

  • PS

    Would the Shinners accept it and move on if Tony Blair just said: “The killing of Pat Finucane was wrong and should never have happened.”

    I think if Blair said “The killing of Pat Finucane was wrong and should never have happened and was part of the British State’s attempts to control the situation in Ireland by involvement and co-operation with loyalist paramilitaries” then many Republicans would be satisifed.

    The campiagn to expose collusion was never about jail time, it is about the truth.

  • seabhac siulach

    Concerned loyalist:

    “So you are agreeing now that the IRA were terrorists engaged in guerilla warfare and not an army fighting a legitimate war?

    Do you believe that the IRA were well within their rights to prosecute their shoot-to-kill policy, and on the other hand believe that it is a “war-crime” for the security services to defend themselves against attempts on their life? ”

    I used the word ‘terrorists’ to make the point that for unionists to equate the IRA’s actions to those of a sovereign state is ridiculous. My views on whether or not they are ‘terrorists’ is beside the point. I suppose technically yes, because the planting of large bombs in city centres is a tactic to promote terror in the general population. However, that does not mean that all actions were of this form. I do not agree with the ‘terrorist’ tag. Most IRA actions were of a more standard guerilla army nature – sniper attacks, mortar attacks, IED attacks, etc.

    It is, of course, a war crime for the state to kill unarmed civilians (through loyalist proxies), no matter what their political affiliation. How was the killing of countless unarmed civilians ‘defending themselves against attempts on their life’? Did the killing of Pat Finucane or Rosemary Nelson or others really defend anyone?

    The IRA were involved in a war (their definition) to drive the
    British govt. from Ireland. Therefore, by their logic it was correct to target those they considered enemies of this aim. However, how can you compare this to the UK state? A state is there to uphold the values of its people, the rule of law, etc. Are these to be thrown out of the window when fighting a guerilla war against a paramilitary group?

    If the British killed IRA members while on active service then that is justifiable, when they were about to or in the process of committing attacks.
    No one argues with that. War is war. What is not justifiable is the killing of people (whether members of Sinn Fein, the IRA or just catholics doing a job), when unarmed, and easily arrestable at home, through the use of loyalist proxies. That is state crime. Is the UK a police state? Are the values of this state to be compared to what you, I am sure, would call terrorists?

  • caulfield

    Seabhac
    The whole principle is compromise. Terrible things were done in Northern Ireland in the name of republicanism, loyalism and the british government. The death of a forgotten RUC reservist is just as important as that of a solicitor. One day the people of Ireland may wake up to this reality. In the meantime the OTR legislation is a big step form the British Government. Its now up to Sinn Fein to stop opening up old wounds. Then maybe – with time- the wounds might heal.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Finucane and Nelson both defended republican murder gang members in court…so indirectly the answer to your question is yes, their killings did defend vulnerable Protestants, as it stopped republicans from availing of the aforementioned’s undoubted skills in taking advantage of loopholes in the law.

  • headmelter

    jo,

    the point being argued wasn’t that gusty spence started the conflict. He was used as an example to dispel concerned loalists belief that there would be no murdering loyalist psychopaths if there wasn’t any like minded folk on the republican side.

    Besides that, it was the introduction of accordian bands celebrating the twelfth which encouraged republicans to organise a 50th anniversary celebration of the Easter rising which in turn made gusty go out and kill catholics.
    Therefore the real cause of the troubles were accordian bands 😉

  • seabhac siulach

    Concerned loyalist:

    “Finucane and Nelson both defended republican murder gang members in court…so indirectly the answer to your question is yes, their killings did defend vulnerable Protestants, as it stopped republicans from availing of the aforementioned’s undoubted skills in taking advantage of loopholes in the law.”

    That is really stretching logic…to beyond breaking point…
    They were civilians defending people in the
    courts. Their job was to acquit people of crimes (on that fanciful assumption that someone MIGHT be innocent until proven guilty). Any loopholes in the law were hardly their fault.
    Or is working as a solicitor now a capital offence? Should we kill the solicitor of Harold Shipman because he tried to get him acquited? I mean, potentially, Harold Shipman could have been released to commit more murders. Is that your logic?
    Let’s go further…
    Should we kill those who served dinners to members of the IRA in restaurants? Their crime? Keeping the IRA members alive by providing them with the life-giving nutrients contained in the food, so that they could then go out and commit their dastardly ‘crimes’…nonsense…

    Is this the same ‘logic’, by the way, that killing a catholic, any catholic (like Finucane), was okay because somehow magically and mystically they were ALL supporters of the IRA so it didn’t matter who was killed…

    You make no mention of the fact that Finucane’s killing was state crime. My main point…

  • Betty Boo

    To come back to the question Pope Buckfast raised, I as well thought that the issues and concerns involved in the OTR ruling had been already addressed with the early release of prisoners.
    Without any intend to offend but I would like to know what makes such a difference between the OTR and the released paramilitaries besides the obvious that latter already spent time in prison?

  • BB:

    That takes you back to the Westminster set piece and the position of the victims, whichm it is being argued, is apparently not in the equation. It’s worth listening again to the McGuinness interview again for a brief comparison with South Africa (if I recall correctly), where there was a face off between victim and perpetrator before signing off any further liablity.

  • Mainland Unionist

    I sat in for a bit of the debate and I was struck by the lack of support Peter Hain had from the labour backbenchers, it seems silly to me that the Government has kept on with this despite the opposition from everyone but Sinn Fein

  • Jo

    Headmelter:

    I wouldnt be at all surprised! 🙂

    Has anyone got access to a comprehensive list of OTRs, who they are, what they are ALLEGED to have done (innocent until proven guilty?)

    In legal terms are not all of these men completely innocent until,through this current process, they actually own up? (ie plead guilty)

    On the last point, is McCrea’s reference to “murderers” last evening not prejudicial?

    Were this to be directed toward someone awaiting *due process* would he not be in contempt of court?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    ss,
    You stated “by their logic it was correct to target those they considered enemies of this aim”.

    So it was logical for the Provos to blow up people in Enniskillen, remembering the fallen of two World Wars who fought and died to keep Ulster free of fascism?

    Also, HMG would have viewed Finucane and Nelson as “enemies of their aim” to lock up known murderers and directors of terrorism in republican circles…so surely then “by their logic it was correct to target those they considered enemies of this aim”, just like the IRA’s warped logic that it was correct to target workmen who built or repaired buildings for the security services, and just like it was logical for the IRA to murder Protestants sitting in bars having a quiet drink or standing in a fish shop on the Shankill Road…or are you saying that it is ok for the IRA to do one thing, but morally wrong for the British Government to do the same?

    The main thrust of your argument is deeply flawed anyway. None of the security services colluded in either killing that you use as examples of institutionalised collusion between Loyalists and the state:-

    1)Finucane was executed by the UFF, without any outside assistance from security personnel.

    2)Nelson’s killing was the unsanctioned work of disillusioned Lower Shankill 2nd Batt. C/Coy UFF members, in conjunction with the LVF and no-one else.

    I feel it is important to make this clear to those of you who still have the scales attached to your eyes. The issue of collusion has been blown out of all proportion. It is a red herring which SF/IRA skilfully use to bleed as many concessions out of the government as possible. Collusion was the exception and NOT the rule during the euphemistically named “Troubles”. It was used to discredit the UDA/UFF, UVF and Red Hand Commando, implying that they were incapable of carrying out sophisticated operations.

    Another example of republican propagandists falsely playing the collusion card for the dual purpose of discrediting Loyalists and to blame the state are the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. These were solely the work of the UVF, and this fact is backed up by Jim Cusack and Henry McDonald’s book, “UVF” where the authors contend there is no evidence whatsoever to back up claims of collusion…

    I look forward to your response

  • I’d like to point out that it is a logical fallacy to attempt to legitimise an action (A) by referencing an action one considers equivalent (B), but illegitimate.

    In this case A is the murder of Finucane, and B is the Shankhill bomb. These would probably be directly interchanged if the post had been from “Concerned Republican” instead of “Concerned Loyalist”.

    Example:
    “Finucane and Nelson both defended republican murder gang members in court…so indirectly the answer to your question is yes, their killings did defend vulnerable Protestants” would have to be considered a legitimising statement (A).

    “just like the IRA’s warped logic… to murder Protestants sitting in bars having a quiet drink or standing in a fish shop on the Shankill Road” would have to be considered a demonising statement (B).

    “Also, HMG would have viewed Finucane and Nelson as “enemies of their aim””
    =
    “by their logic it was correct to target those they considered enemies of this aim”, just like the IRA’s warped logic that it was correct to target… ” gives equivalence.

    Either both actions are legitimate or neither is. I think any reasonable person must view both actions as illegitimate.

    Any form of argument based on the above is clearly wrong.
    It happens a lot, generally along the lines of our crowd did X and that was right because your crowd did X first and it was wrong.

  • seabhac siulach

    Concerned Loyalist:

    “So it was logical for the Provos to blow up people in Enniskillen, remembering the fallen of two World Wars who fought and died to keep Ulster free of fascism?”

    No it was not logical…it was obviously a horrible mistake…if not a mistake then why were there not many more Enniskillen’s. Why give warnings? The IRA were capable, after all…witness the 1 tonne bombs in London, etc.

    “…or are you saying that it is ok for the IRA to do one thing, but morally wrong for the British Government to do the same?”

    Yes, of course. On one side you have an unelected revolutionary movement, on the other a sovereign state that is a signatory to UN charters on Civil and Political rights, etc. If a sovereign state starts going around knocking off its citizens on the assumption of guilt (without a fair trial) then that state is a police state and a danger to us all. Therefore, if these things are happening it is important that tribunals find this out.
    If we bring the OTRs to trial what will we find out? They may be guilty or innocent…as individuals they may have broken the law of the UK. But is this widely relevant now? No, not really, except to their alleged victims families and I feel sorry for these.
    You cannot, however, equate the two situations.

    As for there being no collusion, well, that would be for any tribunal to find out…that would be the point of it after all…
    It is of great importance to know whether or not the British govt. was engaged itself in unlawful actions…
    We assume (at least by some definitions, yours?) that the IRA was…

    You seem to want to believe that loyalist paramilitaries were possessed of great sophistication…that is your right, I suppose. They did not routinely show this sophistication, unfortunately, as they tended to shoot the most easy and innocent targets they could find instead of fighting or taking on the other side. Not really a record to be shouting from the rooftops.
    Quite sordid really…something best forgotten…

    As for Dublin/Monaghan 1974 a book by two authors does not amount to very much. It is time for a tribunal to look into this…why the delay if it was ‘just’ carried out by a sophisticated loyalist gang. I imagine it is slightly more complicated than that…

  • CL, I should probably add that I don’t have a problem with you personally and that I just have a problem with this flawed line of argument. Look out for the self proclaimed “Republicans” in Sinn Fein on Q&A or H&M to see it used at it’s most annoying.

    Apologies to all for going off topic.

  • there’s a time to fight, and a time to forget.

  • Mark_Baxter

    Butteknife
    “He belittled himself when he stood shoulder to sholder with Billy Wright.”

    And? If Prominent republicans who have done worse than McCrea were to shed tears at the thought that security force members who killed their relatives were to get away scot free, I wouldn’t bounce on the internet and mock them for it. You admit yourself that it’s wrong or “awful” to do so, so why do it?

    “And before anyone gets on their high horse he was trying to convince the House that this legislation should be defeated by using his family as an example for he knew or must must have been aware that subjective examples are better than objective ones”

    Based on what, might I ask? Why speak about the loss of someone else, whose death he may have only read about, when he can best give voice to his own emotions; a sense of loss he knows intimately.

    I will never agree with the man’s politics, but if we’re gonna start judging politicians on their paramilitary connections there’ll be very few of them we could approve of and even less to vote for.

    All the best.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is nothing to do with whether the legislation is wrong or not – I found McCrea’s behaviour nauseating. The DUP have stood in that house and supported the carpet-bombing of innocent people in Iraq, never mind their close links with loyalist paramilitaries (particularly Wright in this case), but when it comes to innocent victims close to them they’re breaking down in tears for the TV cameras.

    I wonder what Gordon Wilson would have thought of this legislation. Do you think he would have responded the way McCrea did ? Isn’t it a funny side to our problems here that those who are the most closely bereaved are among the first to reach across out and confront face to face the people who wronged them… ?

  • Jo

    CS:

    Hear, hear. I have been pilloried for my take on McCrea. The man is in show biz, for God’s sake!

    The *take* of other victims relatives is illuminating – Jude Whyte, Michael McGoldrick plus the other many, many silent ones.

    Given that we dont know who these people are who will affected by this legislation (apart from a few of the more *infamous*) should we not focus on how many open cases will be resolved by those who at least will own up to doing something, and thereafter bear the mark of Cain, if not prison pallor?

    What would have satisfied McCRea apart from the execution of people suspected of involvement in the murder of his relatives? Is that not why he is emotional – that the prospect of a public hanging has receded further? At least with this, people will admit responsibility, effectively plead guilty. As things stand, without this legislation, they will not even do that!

  • Butterknife

    It is ironic that if one person is murdered then the murderer is evil and the devil’s name is invoked, but if several hundred are killed then it is an Act of God etc.
    Bringing this down to our level:
    I can not see how, as Comrade Stalin pointed out, the DUP can condone mass murder (sic), be it state sanctioned and legal?, on another sovereign state but yet turn another check for the sake of a fragile peace here at home.
    In answer to Mark_Baxter point, the above goes some way to prove the principle that its not the number of people that die that matters but how you market the end result, i.e. My son is dead because of you is more powerful than a thousand Iraqis are childless because of someone else’s acts.

  • Ginfizz

    The hateful reaction of nationalists towards McCrea on this thread is of little surprise to me. William McCrea lost close members of his family – the IRA tried to wipe his entire family out on more than one occassion.

    It’s all very well for this alliance of bitter Provo supporters and uber-liberal unionists, like Jo to argue that this should be looked at with less emotion, but the simple truth is that this legislation is an affront to decency. It stinks>

    Only those who operate in a total moral vacuum can defend this outrage. It is simply wrong. It is disgusting and going in to McCrea standing on a platform with whoever, won’t alter that fact.

  • Butterknife

    ‘…on another sovereign state but yet notturn another check for the sake of a fragile peace here at home.”

  • Butterknife

    Ginfizz:
    In Hebrews 10:30, Romans 12:19 did God not say that vengeance was his alone … does this not also include justice? If William McCrea was a Christian should he not abide by these words, or even Matthew 22:39 ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’

    If he is not a Christian then maybe he wants justice on Earth, after all who believes in Heaven and a Hell. How long is a jail term for murder today? Minus to that ‘good behaviour’ Minus to that the passage of time and ‘evidence’ lost, and the defendants having very good lawyers that can run rings round the prosecution. Include the fact that this legislation is unfinished business from 1998 and what you have is an MP who should know better than to use emotional blackmail.

  • seabhac siulach

    Personally I think the academy should look at McCrea’s performance…he could be in line for an oscar…
    A truly wonderful perfomance. I especially liked the way he forced out some tears…brilliant…

    Did he shed any tears, I wonder, when all the loyalist (and republican) killers were let out of prison in 2000 under the Good Friday Agreement…has he not realised in all that time (years) that one of the provisions of that agreement was to empty the gaols?
    This is just the end result of all of that, nothing more. A tidying up. It is a bit late in the day for theatrical tearful perfomances now. He should save them for his sermons.

    Oh dear, am I one of those ‘moral vacumn’ people now because I am offended by the exploitative political grandstanding of a third rate politician…

    Better for Ireland if we could built a peaceful future instead of harking back to past times.
    A better tribute to all the victims surely would be to build a peaceful Ireland of whatever constitutional makeup.
    I am sorry for all victims but others who lost family and friends in the troubles do not make a grand exploitative show of it on television. And to what end? What was he trying to achieve exactly?

  • Jo

    Gin:

    I appreciate the strength of your feelings on this, but with respect, saying that this *stinks* calling it an *affront* and getting emotional in the Commons doesn’t constitute an argument.

    This proposal concerns people who may or may not be guilty – it WILL get them to admit guilt and admit that they did certain things. That WILL be on the record and victims WILL know who did what to their relatives, etc. That is more than will be achieved by doing nothing, or any grandstanding or calling people *murderes* when in fact they have not been proven or admitted to be any such thing.

  • Ringo

    Ginfizz

    It’s all very well for this alliance of bitter Provo supporters and uber-liberal unionists, like Jo to argue that this should be looked at with less emotion, but the simple truth is that this legislation is an affront to decency. It stinks

    Spot on


    Only those who operate in a total moral vacuum can defend this outrage. It is simply wrong. It is disgusting and going in to McCrea standing on a platform with whoever, won’t alter that fact.

    The flip-side is that regardless what happens this legislation, McCrea has show himself to be beneath contempt in his attitude to Loyalist paramilitaries.

    The legislation is a disgrace and Willie McCrea is a disgrace.

  • Ginfizz

    Jo

    An alternative way of looking at this scheme is, if the police come and arrest some person for a murder committed prior to 1998, they may well use to scheme as a means of avoiding prosecution for offences committed after that date. They will declare their guilt, get a verbal slap on the wrists in front of this “Tribunal” and the PSNI will be instructed to drop all investigations against them.

    Not only will these scum be let off for what they have done, they will be able to avoid prosecutions for post 1998 crimes also. I repeat – this stinks.

  • Ginfizz

    “They will declare their guilt, get a verbal slap on the wrists in front of this “Tribunal” and the PSNI will be instructed to drop all investigations against them. ”

    That is incorrect, they may be prosecuted for crimes post 1998, and if found guilty would be forced to serve the sentance for the pre 1998 crime also, as their license would be revoked.

    I repeat my earlier question, is this not a discussion which should have been had with the early release scheme? I really think this the logical conclusion of that scheme. This was going to be fought by unionists no matter what. As for the DUP, perhaps they would have been more effective in arguing against any early releases etc. had they taken part in the GFA negotiations.

  • Ginfizz

    Your holiness

    It is not incorrect. Read the legislation. The Secretary of State is usurping the power of the judicary. It will be up to him, if anyone with one of these grubby certificates should be prosecuted – just like it was up to him to arrest Sean Kelly and then release him six weeks later.

  • If the qualified candidate breaches the terms of their license they can be jailed as you say…

    “just like it was up to him to arrest Sean Kelly”

    That is my interpretation, however I will stand corrected if you quote me the relevant passage which states that

    “the PSNI will be instructed to drop all investigations against them.”

    Again, is this not a discussion which should have been had about the early release scheme? I consider this process for dealing with suspects, who declare their guilt and become culprits, to be a logical extension of the early release scheme.

    I challenge that not only do you not want this legislation, but that you would happily put all early release candidates back in prison. Which, if true, would for any neutral observer show you to be irrational and opportunistic in your arguments.

  • Mike

    seabhac siulach

    “No it was not logical…it was obviously a horrible mistake…if not a mistake then why were there not many more Enniskillen’s. Why give warnings? The IRA were capable, after all…witness the 1 tonne bombs in London, etc. ”

    Oh really?

    I suggest you dig out a few books on the Troubles (reputiable works such as the excellent ‘Lost Lives’ rather than whatever Provo fairy tales you’ve swallowed) and look up the following:

    Kingsmills
    Bayardo Bar
    Tullyvallen
    Four Step Inn
    Mountainview Tavern
    Balmoral Furniture Showroom
    Teebane
    Balcombe Street Gang
    Edgar Graham
    Ian Gow
    Joanne Mathers
    Jeffrey Agate

    Then come back and tell us what you think of the IRA’s “campaign”.

  • Ginfizz

    Your not-so-holiness

    So we are agreed then that it will be up to the SoS to decide if anyone given one of these certificates is to be prosecuted for crimes committed post 1998?

    If we are agreed on that point, what are the odds of the guilty Boer authorising such action? These people have been given a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card!

  • Ginfizz,

    I disagree about the post 1998 free pass, I’m sure if you were to admit to smuggling guns into Larne in 1985, and be licensed, and you murdered somebody while robbing their house, you would most certainly not be left on the streets. Again can somebody please answer my question which I am posting yet again, along with some others… is this not a logical extension of the early release scheme? Are there any new arguments against this legislation that were not applied to the early release scheme? If the early release scheme is de facto correct (in that it was implemented, I am not declaring it to be de jure correct) is this present legislation not also de facto correct? Would that make all arguments against it opportunistic sabre rattling?

    p.s. Ginfizz… you da man… love to be called holiness, makes me feel so special ;o)

  • Mike

    “I do not agree with the ‘terrorist’ tag. Most IRA actions were of a more standard guerilla army nature – sniper attacks, mortar attacks, IED attacks, etc.”

    More Provo jackanory from yourself.

    Did the murder of vast numbers of off-duty security force personnel just slip your mind? (And that’s leaving aside the atrocities against civilians I’ve listed above…)

    Is finding out where a part-time policeman works, stalking him on his way home and gunning him down, or finding out where he lives, breaking into his house as he sleeps and gunning him down in front of his family, “standard guerilla army nature”?

    (Not forgetting those murdered on duty, such as the last two RUC members murdered by republicans in Lurgan in 1997 – walking up behind two community policemen on the beat in a town centre, shooting them in the back of the head and running away…cold-blooded murder, no?)

    What exactly DOES make a group terrorist in your opinion??

  • Mike… on a point of information, the IRA were not a terrorist organisation because of the attacks you describe. They were a terrorist organisation for the bomb attacks agains the civilian population, designed to create a general state of terror in the populace. Shooting a police officer, or indeed assasinating a politician is not a terrorist attack, it is a pointed end in it’s own right. Killing a police officer does not make the general populace terrified.

    I am not justifying such attacks. I’m merely pointing out that you could better use those examples as a justification for calling the IRA a murder organisation, and you may be right to do so.

  • seabhac siulach

    Going way off topic here…

    Mike

    “Is finding out where a part-time policeman works, stalking him on his way home and gunning him down, or finding out where he lives, breaking into his house as he sleeps and gunning him down in front of his family, “standard guerilla army nature”?

    (Not forgetting those murdered on duty, such as the last two RUC members murdered by republicans in Lurgan in 1997 – walking up behind two community policemen on the beat in a town centre, shooting them in the back of the head and running away…cold-blooded murder, no?) ”

    Yes. If the police are a paramilitary police maintaining the law then killing them by whatever means possible is clearly part of any guerilla tactics. No one said that guerilla war was a pleasant thing…
    Collins used the exact same tactics in the 1919-21 war.
    In any case, the RUC were not exactly community policemen/women, bobbies on the beat and all that, were they?

    The IRA used bomb attacks against civilian targets, that is clear. They classed these as attacks on the economic infrastructure. However, if they were a classical terrorist movement (e.g., Baader Meinhof, etc.) then they would not have issued warnings as they did. It is clear (and this was my point, if I remember) that the large scale killing of civilians was not their aim. They were capable of this and could surely have truly terrified the population if they had wished by regularly blowing up large no-warning bombs in densely populated areas. (Why did they stop, for example, when their bombings on Bloody Friday in 1972 mistakenly killed civilians? Of course, planting bombs in any city was bound sooner or later to lead to mistakes and innocent lives lost, so they were stupid in their tactics). Their tactics, while occasionally straying into purely terrorist territory, e.g., at Teebane, Birmingham bombing, etc., were clearly based (in their essence and philosophy and this is the important thing) on the classic guerilla model, especially in Ireland. War is not a game and, of course, horrific things were done. Picking out a few examples where mistakes in the timings of warnings took place or a high profile political representative was killed (i.e., in a single targetted attack on the establishment as in the case of Ian Gow) is not enough to label them as terrorists. The attack on Ian Gow, for example, was purely an attack on him, not on the population at large.

    While you pick out famous examples to illustrate your point, I would remind you that the vast majority of IRA attacks took place in the 6 counties against either the British army, the RUC or the UDR/RIR. How those attacks took place and whether they were distasteful on a moral level is another matter.

  • Mick Fealty

    This thread is a great reminder of why we have the ‘play the ball and not the man’ rule. Who or what Mr McCrea is or has done is entirely besides the point!

    The point he did made in the Commons may have been emotional (how could it not have been), but it was also political. He was pointing out (as did the Lib Dems and the SDLP and the Tories) that the interests of victims were being swept under the carpet.

    Now, you can agree or disagree with his perspective. But please leave the cheap resort to attacking his person outside the door when you come into Slugger!

  • seabhac siulach

    Perhaps to further bore ye…using statistics…(and probably a huge dollop of whataboutery) and again going off topic…

    Between 1969-1994 (I do not have access to statistics up to 1997) the IRA were responsible for 704 civilian deaths…
    All of these are to be regretted, of course. The majority of IRA killings were of RUC/Brit. army and loyalist or other republican paramilitaries (1192 in total). Not the statistics one would expect from a purely terrorist group, you might agree(?).

    In the same period the loyalist groups were responsible for 818 civilian deaths out of a total of 935, the British army for 166, the RUC for 30 and the UDR/RIR for 8.

    Are we to also accuse the British state forces (responsible for 204 civilian deaths) as terrorists? Or is it that when you kill a civilian by accident(?) and you are wearing a uniform then that is not an act of terror? Should I list here, like Mike did, select examples of British state terrorism in Ireland to make a point?

    From these statistics it is the loyalist groups who (from a much more limited number of attacks, e.g. there were hardly any loyalist attacks in 1985) were responsible for the greater number of deaths using pure terror tactics, i.e., killing ANY catholic they found to instil fear in the general catholic population, with the aim that this would pressurise the IRA to call off its campaign. The IRA did not respond in kind. That is, the IRA did not engage in such crude terror tactics by killing any protestant in sight. Why?
    Because they did not see themselves as terrorists. They were (rightly or wrongly) following a philosophy of guerilla warfare based on republican ideology. This precluded them from indiscriminately killing civilians…although, as I have said, mistakes happened.

    Terrorist is an easy (and lazy) label to attach to the IRA, done for propaganda reasons to criminalise a clearly political struggle.
    Remember, Mandela was also a terrorist once…it depends on what criteria are used to judge and who is doing the judging (and for what reason).

  • MF,

    I would not dream of attacking this obviously hurting man, and I condemn those who do. They cheapen their cause.

    It seems to me, however, that this current legislation is an extension of the early release scheme, I have asked several times if this is not the case on this thread, to no responses. The DUP stayed out of the GFA negotiations which eventually led to the early release scheme, they should have entered and worked to prevent it.

  • I do not understand why people would be suprised that recalling such an horific sight would result in a powerful emotional response.

  • Comrade

    “This is nothing to do with whether the legislation is wrong or not – I found McCrea’s behaviour nauseating. The DUP have stood in that house and supported the carpet-bombing of innocent people in Iraq, never mind their close links with loyalist paramilitaries (particularly Wright in this case), but when it comes to innocent victims close to them they’re breaking down in tears for the TV cameras.

    I wonder what Gordon Wilson would have thought of this legislation. Do you think he would have responded the way McCrea did ? Isn’t it a funny side to our problems here that those who are the most closely bereaved are among the first to reach across out and confront face to face the people who wronged them… ? ”

    Gordon Wilson called for a reintroduction of internment and many “most closely bereaved” are vehmently opposed to the legislation. However even if they wern’t it wouldn’t alter how dreadful this legislation is. If all the victims of the July bombing said that they didn’t want the terrorists behind it persued. I wouldn’t consider that they had the right to dictate that I live in a country without a proper judicial system. Similarly if a victim of attemoted murder decided to turn the other cheek and not want charges pressed, that is not the final say as it is the wider protection of the public that matters.

  • Jo

    Bertie

    The events took place some time ago, they were horific but they did not involve close relatives.

    The strong suspicion is that McCrea deliberately milked this incident for the cameras. Added to that he did not appear in any sense overcome by the horror of the suffering of Billy Wrights many victims – such as my murdered friend Denis Carville – when he laughed and joked with Wright some time back.

  • Jo

    the nearnesss of the relatives or the lapse of time are not really relevant, not is his attitidue to Billy Wright, the latter which is a legitimate target of critisism. I am talking about the emotional reponce such a memory would evoke.

    If I was to recall seeing incomplete remains of anyone I had any acquantance with at all from however long ago, I would be choked with emotion, especially at the thought that Parliament was due to pass an amnesty for the perpetrators.

    Indeed I would be suprised at anyone doing so and holding there composure. I think that few people have any true realisation of how traumatic that must have been. The degree of the traumatic nature of the experience is not an attribute of the worth or otherwise of the individual experiencing the trauma.

  • John East Belfast

    ss

    “Terrorist is an easy (and lazy) label to attach to the IRA, done for propaganda reasons to criminalise a clearly political struggle”

    If it was a clearly political struggle then why did they not try to achieve their aims politically – like they are doing now ?

    Infact considering what they are doing now, without having achieved their objective of a Brits Out 32 County Republic, does this mean they lost – or was their use of violence to achieve their political objectives wrong all along ?

  • This for me highlights two things that I believe are wrong with our society. One is the casual acceptance and tolerance of terrorism and terrorists (either if only on “your side” or the trendy notion of “understanding” and “reaching out” to the opposing terrorists) and the other is a complete head in the sand attitude to the effects of the trauma and traumas that so many people have been dealing with for so long. These effects will have a corrosive effect for generations even if there are no more deaths, not more attacks, criminality and intimidation from this point on (and I don’t believe that to be the case).

  • Comrade Stalin

    bertie, I do not support this legislation and I think it is an outrage; completely unjustifiable. There are certain circumstances under which I *might* be inclined to support an amnesty (at the very least there has to be an amnesty for all the people the paramilitaries ordered out of the country), but we definitely don’t have those circumstances at the minute.

    But I’m equally disgusted by McCrea’s behaviour. My point is that McCrea is using the memory of innocent victims for political purposes. That is why I made my point about Iraq, and Gordon Wilson.

  • Comrade

    Thanks for the clarification, but my last comment was not targeted at you, just a general feeling that I am picking up on.

    Whatever McCrea did on Wednesday I just wish it had worked and to the degree that it may have made some people think about what they were doing he was right to do it. I have no doubt that his emotion was genuine as I would find it hard to recount such an episode without emotion myself.

    Your comments about his consistency over the range of innocent victims, in particular the Billy Wright incident, are valid. However that is not the point I was highlighting.

    I wasn’t sure what your comment about Gordon Wilson not reacting like William McCrea meant. Did you mean not breaking down or not being opposed to the legislation. As I said he did at one time call for the reintroduction of internment. However we are all on dodgy ground trying to anticipate the potential attitude or actions of those no longer with us.

  • Jo

    I think it can be conceded that whatever realities emerge from this legislation, it will be somwwhat different in form and in effect.

    The worst that can happen is that the OTRs continue their present form of existence. The best that can happen is that they emerge from the shadows and lay their bloody hands on a set of terrible deeds which they henceforth shall be associated with.

    That group of deeds is, however, but a handful compared to, say the list of actions which I presented on JOBLOG or any given list that anyone here can come up with. But its one set of victims who will be able to name the killer(s) of their loved ones.

    The victims arent coming back folks, lets not try and involve their names to make political points. Some of them get pretty pissed off at that….

  • No nthe worst that can happen is that these people return to the ares that they terrorised and continue to do so, but flying under the radar so as to avoid getting picked up and officially unvalidating their lisences.

  • seabhac siulach

    John East Belfast:

    “Infact considering what they are doing now, without having achieved their objective of a Brits Out 32 County Republic, does this mean they lost – or was their use of violence to achieve their political objectives wrong all along ? ”

    You say ‘lost’ as if the ‘game’ was over…but it is still ongoing, albeit with slightly different ‘rules’.
    They cannot have ‘lost’ if the struggle for their objectives is still ongoing…violent means or peaceful ones are all one and the same if it leads to the desired result. All are legitimate for a revolutionary. The end justifies the means and all that…
    Only when all other paths are blocked is violence an option, as occurred in 1968-72. A purely political route was not possible then for obvious reasons. Besides the SDLP were surely pursuing this peaceful option and it led nowhere…Sunningdale was collapsed by loyalists, if I remember…

    Perhaps the tactic of violence was overplayed during 1969-97 but then who is to say that even the limited amount of progress achieved this far would have been possible without it. Unionism is an inflexible political philosophy, not given to easy compromise and no sense of compromise was evident right up to 1985 and the ‘Ulster says No’ marches,etc. Revisionism on this question is pointless…