Exiles cannot expect a welcome home

Danny Morrison rarely minces his words. This morning in Daily Ireland he does so less than usual. He rightly notes that the pan Nationalism of the early stages of the peace process is largely gone. He goes on to argue that the SDLP’s (and a long list of others’) espousal of the cause of the up to 9000 people who have been exiled by loyalist and republican paramilitaries ignores the behaviour of those expelled. the demoralising affect they had on their communities. He states rather unequivocally that informers will certainly not be welcome back in their old communities.By Danny Morrison

When the legislation for the NOTRs (Not On The Runs) was withdrawn last week in Westminster some MPs drew attention to an issue of deep concern to them – the human rights of those ‘exiled’ by misguided loyalist paramilitaries and the truly evil IRA. They argued that should legislation of this nature be reintroduced to parliament it be linked to the right of return of those unfortunate refugees.

Most of those ordered out by loyalists were fellow loyalist hoods or rival drug barons. Most of those ordered out by the IRA were hoods, drug pushers and those whose serious criminal activities were demoralising the nationalist community and who were often used by the political police and British intelligence as low level informants. Also among the exiles are IRA informers and suspected IRA informers who beat the posse.

While the courageous SDLP rightly accused Sinn Fein of “looking after its own”, by attempting to resolve the issue of the OTRs, the poor hoods, pushers and informers have had no voice, spokespersons, representatives or lobbyists. Apart from, that is: Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, DUP, Ulster Unionist and SDLP MPs, the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, the Alliance Party, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Progressive Democrats, the Labour Party, US Special Envoy Mitchell Reiss, the ‘Sunday Independent’, ‘Irish News’, ‘News Letter’, ‘Belfast Telegraph’, Victims’ Commissioner Ken Bloomfield, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and the doughty Ruth Dudley Edwards. My apologies to those other human rights stalwarts whose names for reasons of space I have had to omit.

Oh, yes, and Father Faul, who on BBC’s Talkback ridiculously numbered the exiles at around 5,000 – which, I suppose, is a conservative figure if compared to ‘Fortnight’s’ guesstimate of 9,000.

What these critics have ignored is that many of the, let’s say, lesser offenders have since returned home either to visit relatives or to settle, some having made overtures to their old communities, some having made none.

No one, as far as I know, was exiled for stealing a few pair of jeans from a city centre store or drinking cider up an entry. No serial hood or drug pusher has penned an autobiography about his glorious days robbing and raping grannies, murdering pedestrians by car, or supplying children with drugs. Nevertheless, let’s agree that now that there is peace and we are attempting to resolve the causes of conflict and the issue of policing, everyone should have the right to return home. Everyone, including the touts and the celebrity touts, those twice-rewarded Judases whose kiss-and-kill was quickly followed by kiss-and-tell.

In a statement last July announcing the end of its armed struggle the IRA said: “All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.”

Clearly, this means that there is no likelihood of the IRA taking action here or in England against those it exiled. Now, don’t be expecting me to shake the hand of informers Sean O’Callaghan or Sandy Lynch but don’t expect me either to punch them on the chin – or hire somebody more able! Of course, one cannot rule out the possibility of revenge or reprisal assaults by individuals against those who betrayed them. But that is to be discouraged and frowned on.

So, if we assume that all exiles are free to return home the question really is how many of them, especially among the celebrity touts, would want to?

Raymond Gilmour wrote a book, ‘Dead Ground’, about his time as an INLA informer in the 1980s, before turning supergrass. He describes himself as coming from ‘Londonderry’. According to him, all the people in Creggan were into thieving, the men all beat up their wives who in turn beat up their kids. “The Creggan was windswept and dirty, the people shabbily-dressed…” About his family he says that his mother had a history of mental illness, that his father was a boozer. Two of his brothers, “beat up my sisters and me and tried to make us drink their piss.” One also “forced me to keep my school dinner and bring it home after school so that he could eat it.”

About one INLA comrade who was killed by the SAS he writes, “if ever a person deserved to die, it was Neil McMonigle.” Gilmore’s best friend was INLA man Colm McNutt. Gilmour tipped off his RUC handler about an INLA robbery during which McNutt was shot dead. He tried to put 35 former friends and neighbours away but even the trial judge described him as being “entirely unworthy of belief”. He was “a selfish and self-regarding man to whose lips a lie invariably comes more naturally than the truth.”

Yes, expect those 35 friends and the Gilmore clan to chip in for the coming home party for Raymie in the Creggan! Raymie’s eagerly awaited speech will make everything crystal clear and he will iron out every wrinkle!

And welcome back to Ballymurphy Martin McGartland, an avid fan of Sean Penn, who escaped from the IRA in 1991 and went on to write two books, ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’ and ‘Dead Man Running’. Both Oscar winning performances, or whatever.

“I wanted to call Angie [his former partner] every night to tell her how much I missed her,” said Martin. “I wanted her to come to England… where I would be able to care for her and protect her and the boys…I had never realised how much I cared for the three of them and how much I wanted to protect them and look after them.”

This was very touching, coming from the man whom, according to a subsequent Belfast High Court hearing, had never paid Angie a penny in maintenance for their two sons, Martin and Padraig.

Whilst an informer Martin took part in the killing of an off-duty paratrooper, Private Tony Harrison, and, thanks to his Special Branch handlers, was never charged with murder. But what Tory MPs give a damn about one dead off-duty paratrooper if it gives them an opportunity to attack Sinn Fein over poor Marty in exile!

Then there’s Sean O’Callaghan who broke his father’s heart and betrayed, among others, his friend Martin Ferris. Today, Ferris is the poll-topping TD for North Kerry and Sean, well, Sean isn’t. Years ago Sean announced himself an authority on the IRA and said that the IRA was using the peace process to re-launch its armed struggle. For a time he acted as an advisor to David Trimble – which might explain why Reg Empie is now leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. Sean said in reaction to the potential of the peace process, “I was in danger of becoming useless.” Asked by a barrister in the Dublin High Court if he could name any one person in the last ten years to whom he had consistently told the truth he said, “It’s extremely difficult to give you that answer.”

Sean came back to Kerry last year to be filmed for a documentary but all the camera saw was a cloud of dust. Sean took to his heels when he thought he had been spotted and got the next flight home. Home to Mother England where he languishes as an increasingly useless man, along with all the other mouths.

You ought to know him

by the tinkling of the leper’s bell

hanging from his heart,

and you ought to know

that bit by bit his leprosy

makes his soul’s flesh fall off.

(The Provocateur by Nâzım Hikmet, former political prisoner)

  • Its very good of Danny Morrison for pointing out how evil all the people SF have exiled are and we should all thank them for making Ireland safer. But who the hell elected D. morrison or SF for that matter as Judge and Jury. Have some of the on the Runs not committed crimes of equal evilness as selling drugs. What about the Murder of Tom Oliver in Cooley was his murder not worse than some kidds joyriding or selling some hash. Danny morrison should get down from his high horse and smell the muck that cover him.

  • This is, of course, the follow-up to Gerry Adams’ previous comment that those exiled should contact their communities if they seek to return.

    Danny Morrison’s logic is that those who have done that have already returned, those who have not either wouldn’t get permission to return or don’t want to.

    Both statements are based on two interesting fundamental issues of faith for Adams and Morrison.

    Firstly, the self-appointed right of paramilitary gangs to pass judgement.. and the second, importantly, faith in the judgement itself.

  • The Dubliner

    “But who the hell elected D. morrison or SF for that matter as Judge and Jury.” – MacDara_In_The_Leb

    Did you read the article before you commented on it? Danny Morrison clearly states that no-one will prevent them from returning. He merely makes the very valid point that people who have commited anti-social behaviour in an area are unlikely to be welcomed back in that area by its residents. That’s simply common sense.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Before the rush to attack Morrison at least read the article. He states quite clearly that a lot of the people who left have now returned, something I agree is true. He also states their is no direct threat to them from the IRA, again true. It is also stating the obvious that if people like Mc Gartland et al were to return there is the likelihood that individuals would throw a punch in their direction.

  • Shore Road Resident

    I wonder what SF Human Rights Spokesperson Catriona Ruane will make of this?

  • Paul

    How does one go about “contacting the community”? I take it Danny means SF, who have taken over all the community groups in Nationalist areas. Contact SF and ask their permission.
    SRR, I take it that is a rhetorical question. SF’s attitude to human rights is that they only apply to “members of the republican community”, and that they have more rights than you can imagine. What was Gerry Adams statement following the brutal murder of Eamonn Collins? “Noone will miss him.” Eamonn of course made the mistake of going public and exposing SF/IRA as the sectarian hypocrites they are, oh, and spoiling Slab Murphy’s libel case against the Sunday Times and embarrassing GA into the bargain.

  • Dualta

    I think McDara is simply making the point that the Republican Movement are not a proper authority and, therefore, are not in a position to deal with issues of crime and punishment.

    If that’s the case then I agree with him. The Diplock courts were a serious breach of people’s human rights here and the courts operated by the IRA and other military groupings were no better.

    The state here is corrupt and undemocratic. The forces of the state reflect that, but there is level of accountablity there, much more than with Republican or Loyalist groups.

    I would also point out that, whilst the judicial and policing systems are far from perfect, they are better than the paramilitary alternative.

  • west belfast resident

    Speaking of Ballymurphy. Not so long ago in the ATN there was a statement put out by a residents group about the activities of two families there. While I do not know the ins and outs of it-can we take it that it is now up to residents groups to exile people on behalf of communities? Isn’t this just another form of exile by proxy? One man involved told his story of how he had left home, I am not sure which one as I do not know off the people or the situation concerned, but I felt the questions needed to be asked Are residents groups all SF dominated and can residents groups exile people from their homes and areas?’

    Note, I would completely support this position if it were paedophilia, but disputes between families?

  • martin ingram

    This is a big problem for Sinn Fein.

    Danny is being asked to convey a message which no democratic party could possibly say in public. The DUP would jump up and down on this issue and make sure that the Exiles would be included in any “deal” after all how can you avoid these people if it is put under your nose? you can not. The DUP know full well that the reality of the issue is as danny points out, a no win situation.

    I do not for one minute think people like Kevin Fulton would be welcomed back into his old community. The Govt are presently arguing that the “new peace ” makes it possible for him to return home. This argument is being advanced in court papers and is nearly three yaers in coming to the courts. Now either Danny is wrong here ( I dont think so) or the British Govt is wrong here.

    We have to be realistic on this one , many of the exiles would not be safe returning home to their communities, ask the Mccartney sisters if they felt safe. No this is one issue we all have to be realistic about.

    On this one Danny and Sinn Fein are right.

    Martin

  • Mike

    “When the legislation for the NOTRs (Not On The Runs) was withdrawn last week in Westminster some MPs drew attention to an issue of deep concern to them – the human rights of those ‘exiled’ by misguided loyalist paramilitaries and the truly evil IRA.”

    “Most of those ordered out by loyalists were fellow loyalist hoods or rival drug barons. Most of those ordered out by the IRA were hoods, drug pushers and those whose serious criminal activities were demoralising the nationalist community”

    Ah, the ever-growing hypocrisy of Danny Morrison.

    Most of those ordered out by loyalists were fellow loyalist hoods or rival drug barons. Most of those ordered out by the IRA were hoods, drug pushers and those whose serious criminal activities were demoralising the nationalist community

    While reading what Morrison had to say about informers, one wonders whether he was caught-red handed and sentenced for his part in the illegal imprisonment of an informer (who may or may not have been facing the fate that befell many others just like him at the hands of the republican movement, i.e. torture and murder).

  • TAFKABO

    The republican movement never stops reminding you why we must do everything in our power to ensure that we are never ruled by such monsters.

  • “Did you read the article before you commented on it? Danny Morrison clearly states that no-one will prevent them from returning.”

    Of course I read the article and thats my point Danny Morrison is deciding that these people would not be welcome back because he knows that SF will make it that way.Whether they come back or not is not the issue. the issue is that the IRA have never publically said that they can come back.
    And I am sure they would be as welcome as some of the OTR’s in certain areas.

  • Look on the bright side. Perhaps Mr Morrison is making way for Freddy and Denis to come back, and for Dickie and Tom to not have to leave.

  • Shore Road Resident

    No-one to my recollection has ever seriously suggested that ‘the exiles’ are the finest specimens of humanity ever reared, either.
    That isn’t the point.
    The point is about human rights and justice for all, supposedly Sinn Fein’s primary objective.
    There are any number of ways even the Shinners could square this circle, rhetorically at least, if they really wanted to.
    Their failure to do so is bizarre, perhaps it even indicates desperation and an appeal to the lowest common denominator in their constituency (which is actually very conservative, at the end of the day).
    Is this effectively Morrison admitting, with a wink and a nudge, that everyone knows the Shinner line on rights and justice is nothing more than a tactical ruse?

    The more I think about this piece the more it distubs me, but only because it carries the implied imprimatur of a major political party.
    Once again, as with his Ted Kennedy article, Morrison may have set out to do the leadership a favour and ended up obliging them to backtrack on hiterto-unspoken realpolitic. Because if any credible rights group does decide to pick up on this and question its proximity to the ‘official’ party line, then the party will have to back off pronto.

  • middle-class taig

    Of course, we do have experience of being ruled by the monsters on your side, Tafkabo. Continuing experience.

  • alfred

    freddie scap was allowed back into his own community even though people like morrison knew he was a tout, so why not others? one question danny didn’t address is that thanks to freddie many innocent people were accused and found guilty of touting – after all freddie had to keep up his quota of skulls!

  • Shore Road Resident

    An unworthy bout of whataboutery there MCT.
    You can make ammends by conceding that two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Mickhall

    Mr Morrison’s article simply highlights the mess SF have got themselves into over policing. Now with this article they are trying to place all responsibility for those exiled on the local community.

    Mr Morrison’s attempt to link terraway anti social elements with touts is disingenuous, for he is well aware the later will still fall into the ambit of PIRA headquarters staff, in any case only the most foolhardy tout is likely to return home.
    Anti social elements are completely different and once again for Mr Morrison to muddy the waters with raped grannies is despicable. I would love to ask him to tell us how many grandma’s were actually raped in Republican communities. As too is his typical tabloid stuff when describing those who deal drugs within the nationalist community.[has anyone actually ever seen a drug dealer at a school gate, if so he/she must be the stupidest dealer in Ireland]

    The fact is the majority of the anti social elements were young men when they committed the offenses which led to them going into exile. Like the majority of people who get into trouble at a young age they may well have grown out of it.[statistics in the UK say one in three young males get into trouble with the police] If so they would be no threat to their home community. Indeed I have no doubt every community in Ireland and the UK have men of all ages within it whom people would say, he is a decent bloke now, but he was one hell of a nuisance when he was a nipper. So lets have less demonizing from SFs resident media apparciks, we get enough of it from the Blairites and their toadies.

    The only honest part of his article was when he said that criminals were a danger to the IRA . The simple reason is that they were more likely to come into contact with the RUC than law abiding citizens, thus they were more open to inducements to tout at a low level to escape punishment through the courts. [and some still say the RUC used the legal system justly, as the law laid down,] However this should no longer be the problem it once was as the IRA has stood down.

    No, the real question is when are SF going to give these communities the nod to interact with the PSNI when the need arises. The SF leadership on there power trip feel the only way they can do this is to engage with the police committees. Perhaps, but there is no way SF need to nominate their elected representative to these committees. What is needed is a debate about what local communities will gain from SF joining them. If it is solely going to be about the PSNI being a more efficient police force and taking into account its past practice. It may not be to the benefit of nationalist communities for SF to participate. After all who wants the PSNI to be more efficient, if one of there main tasks is to hustle republicans and the communities from whence they come.

    On the other hand if serving on these committees will give SF some say in the recruitment, training and operational matters of the PSNI, then there may well be benefits from sitting on police committees. It has to be said, although they are somewhat different, the police authority committees that sit in the rest of the UK have brought few benefits to the deprived communities they are meant to serve.

  • Yoda

    You can make ammends by conceding that two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Just to chime in here: of course two wrongs don’t make a right.

    But that still cuts two ways.

    Name-calling (“monsters,” etc.) adds nothing to the debate.

    To get back on topic: I think it is simply being realistic to say that those who left their communities under these circumstances could be threatened by some nut who might want to settle a score.

    I wish it wasn’t the case.

  • JLo

    “The republican movement never stops reminding you why we must do everything in our power to ensure that we are never ruled by such monsters”

    Simple really, you should either (i) vote for a United Ireland first chance you get or (ii) resist devolution because SF will eventually become the largest party.

    In true Irish fashion we are sliding toward a situation where the SF+SDLP vote is heading for 50%+ while the percentage in favour of a UI will probably never top 40%.

  • Reader

    To take just one of Danny’s examples. If indeed any of the exiles raped a granny, they should be in prison, not in Stranraer. And if they didn’t, they shouldn’t be exiled.

  • IJP

    We should thank Danny Morrison in this instance for at least saying it as it is.

    Interestingly, the logical consequence is that it means that SF would rather have murderers than pro-democrats walking ‘their’ streets, and that it has no interest in accountable policing of any sort. The Government should be prepared to say that as it is too.

    Presumably SF will now say it as it is and step aside to leave human rights, freedom and equality to people who actually believe in them?