Paramilitary show of strength at Hunger Strike commemoration

On Sunday, the INLA fired a volley of shots at a commemoration for INLA terrorist and hunger striker, Mickey Devine. This is the second occassion in recent weeks of such a display by the INLA.

  • Garibaldy

    Is anyone else amused by this part of the statement:

    “It is absolutely sickening that a parade, such as the one organised by Teach Na Failte in Dungiven on Sunday which glorify terrorists and offend the innocent victims of violence, was allowed to take place at all.”

    As opposed to a local MP appearing on a platform with Billy Wright? No sense of how others see him whatsoever.

  • Daisy

    Does the one remaining member of the INLA count as a “show of strength”?

  • CS Parnell

    Ironically, in the “good old days”, the people who would have good these scumbags off the street were the IRA.

    Now they’ve announced that John Hume was right all along but still haven’t had the guts to back the PSNI, we get this.

    Nothing betrays the stone age character of so much of the North’s politics than the way in which Maoists think they can prance about and threaten murder and mayhem. NI – twinned with Nepal.

  • Garibaldy

    Trotskyists, not Maoists surely. After all, unlike Trotsykists, Maoists actually succeeded effecting a revolution in some places.

  • londonderry_loyal

    And these are the people who shout and complain about so-called paramilitary flags at legal band parades throughout Northern Ireland…

  • CS parnell

    Surely the bigger story is the way those great revolutionists at Daily Ireland have such a problem with “gay bars” that they have to mention them every time they write a particular story? Which is worse, bhoys, to be a tout or a fruit?

  • nmc

    And these are the people who shout and complain about so-called paramilitary flags at legal band parades throughout Northern Ireland…

    First, this may come as a surprise to you, but the majority of northern Irish nationalists are not in the INLA. I know it’s a shocker, but it’s true.

    Second what is so-called about the paramilitary flags? For example, I have pasted an excerpt from the Irish News below, detailing some ACTUAL paramilitary flags.

    He said loyalist tunes were played by bandsmen as they passed a group of protesters, while UVF, UDA, UFF, YCV and UYM flags were carried.

  • CS Parnell

    I think you’ll find that INLA are really post-Maoists. They certainly ain’t trots – given they were splits from the Stalinists of the Sticks.

    Trots would probably condemn most of what they did as “individual terrorism”.

    The name is a give away in itself. The world’s biggest National Liberation Army is the one in China, after all.

  • Garibaldy

    Surely they were condemned as Trots at the time of their formation by those they split from – and the presence of people like Bernadette Devlin amongst their political thinkers, and their courtship of Eamon Mc Cann, would suggest so.

    Always took the name to be a reference to Vietnam myself.

    Also, if you want a laugh sometime, look up a newspaper called the Weekly Worker on the net. It’s produced by a bunch of ex-Communists who have gone Trotskyist who have close links with the IRSP. It’s a gossip sheet for the British ultra-left. You can find some entertaining stories there, as well as articles by IRSP people.

  • Realist

    PSF spokespersons were commemorating these INLA Hunger Strikers only 9 days ago in Casement Park, waxing lyrical about their “bravery”.

    Nothing very brave about a gang selling a “ten deal” to some kid on a street corner.

  • BH

    The INLA aren’t Maoists, or Trotskyists. The IRSM are “multi-tendencied,” meaning you can follow whatever brand of left-wing politics you like so long as you support the Army. The IRSP only declared itself Marxist in the mid 80s, years after almost all their founding members had left or been murdered.

    A quick glance at the IRSP message board and website show that members use the term “Stalinist” perjoratively, interestingly enough to descibe Sinn Fein in the case I noticed. Their document “This is republican socialism” seems critical of Eastern Bloc drudgery.

    The Sticks stayed Stalinist long after the INLA/IRSP split. Unlike the OIRA, the INLA didn’t have links to the KGB and North Korea, although it did seek linked with continental new left groups, including the Red Army Faction, not to mention the more traditional Basque and Palestinian solidarity stuff.

  • BH

    Also, Parnell, China’s army is the People’s Liberation Army, not the National Liberation Army.

    Although in the days before the INLA was called the INLA, the ragtag group of Irps and Provos duking it out with the Officials called themselves the People’s Liberation Army for a while.

  • Peoples Lib

    The heroic INLA volunteers have a right to be remembered. Three INLA men, two of whom had been victims of Provo IIRA thugs, died on hunger strike. What did the IRSP/INLA get out of this? Laugh all you like but the INLA took on all comers and never sold out.
    Though cowards mock and traitors sneer

  • ciaran damery

    The INLA produced some of the gfreatest republicans of this era. Ranging from extremely efficient and effEctive Volunteers such as Dominic McGlinchey and and Hunger Striker Kevin Lynch to political analysts hitherto asscociated to the Movemnent such as Gino Gallagher and Costello and McAliskey.

  • Ciaran damery

    Moreover, the INLA’s role in the struggle was infrequent but often dealdly, a la Gow and Neave agus Rat Wright.

  • Realist

    “Moreover, the INLA’s role in the struggle was infrequent but often dealdly”

    Indeed.

    A pathetic gang of pimps and drug dealers who killed more twice as many fellow republican paramilitaries (16) as loyalist paramilitaries (7).

    Not a hint of collusion either.

    Well done.

  • mickhall

    INLA have every right to commemorate their comrades who died whilst on hunger strike in what ever way they choose, whether they fire a volley as is the way with soldiers is up to them. Although perhaps such actions might not be the best way to bring Protestant workers towards Republican socialism.[no whataboutary please]

    Anyone who believes the three INLA hunger strikers and their seven PIRA comrades did not behave in a truly heroic manner, is either extremely ignorant or lacks a heart. You do not have to agree with a mans action to respect what they do, the more so if they are doing their duty as they see it and are prepared to make the supreme sacrifice in the process.

    regards.

  • Garibaldy

    Ciaran Damery,

    I’ve seen you express praise and support for just about every nationalist paramilitary group. Do you ever stop to analyse the contradiction in that?

    BH,

    You are of course right to point out that the INLA are multi-tendencied. With most of them being sectarian gangsters without a political thought in their head.

  • Twiggy

    “Anyone who believes the three INLA hunger strikers and their seven PIRA comrades did not behave in a truly heroic manner, is either extremely ignorant or lacks a heart.”

    Indeed, their health rivalry for Slimmer of the Year 1981 has been an inspiration to many weight watchers across the globe, from those in the F-type prisons in Turkey to Saddam Hussein.

    If only more Republican prisoners had followed their example then Ulster would be a better place today.

  • Realist

    The Hunger Strikes must have the halycon days for loyalist prisoners.

    Second helpings of grub from the canteen, seeing the enenmy kill themselves and knowing all along that they would reap exactly the same benefits in the end.

  • tra g

    Realist,
    halcyon days indeed( I think you meant halcyon,not halycon [edited moderator])

    One remembers the glorious days of the great loyalist hunger strikes of that era. These fasts to death invariably lasted 12 hours and were rumbled after someone looked under the crust of the ‘refused’ meat pie and seen that the meat inside had somehow mysteriously been eaten.

  • Realist

    tra g,

    I agree – too fond of the oul grub them loyalist boys.

    There never really was any comparison between a good steak dinner and suicide. Bit of a no brainer.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Realist,
    Any evidence of the INLA being drug dealers? We are always told that republican paramilitaries are drug dealing only to discover that they aren’t. The police have never even accused Provos of drug dealing, never mind convicted them.

    I can’t say I know otherwise about the INLA, but in the absense of evidence I will assume they are were not out for selfish criminal gain.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Garibaldy :

    Trotskyists, not Maoists surely. After all, unlike Trotsykists, Maoists actually succeeded effecting a revolution in some places.

    My young apprentice – Pravda isn’t intended to be taken seriously by the comrades such as ourselves. Trotsky successfully effected a revolution, I was there. And he might have effected another one, if I hadn’t dispatched him in a timely fashion.

    Ciaran : if I remember correctly, Mr McWilliams (the chap who shot Wright) was excluded from the INLA wing in the Maze. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the INLA wanted nothing to do with him. Of course when he shot Wright all that was forgotten about, and the INLA wanted to take the credit. McWilliams himself was, of course, inside for murdering a bouncer who had the teremity to throw him out of Frames for being extremely anti-social. I’m so proud that they are continuing my tradition of murdering ordinary working men out earning a few quid who dared look at them the wrong way. It’s always has been the hallmark of these wonderful worker’s liberation movements.

  • Garibaldy

    CS,

    Firstly Trotsy’s role has been greatly exaggerated both by himself and his hero-worshipping followers. As Rory pointed out on another thread here (the prettier in pink one I think), comparing Uncle Joe’s bold assault on the Whites with Trotsky’s orders to sit still. And anyway, I said Trotskyists never successfully effected a revolution. Which is thoroughly true.

    As for McWilliams, he was in the IPLO when convicted of shooting the bar manager of Frames (Too?). He was later accepted onto the INLA wing after the IPLO was disbanded by the Provos. Before the Wright thing, he had taken a prison warder hostage in another gaol with a gun, demanding that a man suspected of shooting Gino Gallagher, and who was later shot himself, be brought to see him. He was then transferred to the INLA part of the Maze, where he and others planned and carried out the shooting of Wright.

  • tra g

    Realist,

    the fact is that loyalists prisoners launched a number of hunger strikes in 1981 which ended in abject failure.

    Like it or not, the Republican martyrs are widely respected around the world (by many but not all) as men of courage and conviction who were prepared to put themselves through a slow, tortuous death rather than renege on their political principles and allow themselves to be criminalised by the British.

    The pitiful attemps by the loyalist prisoners to replicate this form of protest were an embarrasing indictment of the lack of political and moral conviction held by these men and their political leaders.

    Please continue with your risible attempts at 6th Form humour rather than deal with these unpalatable facts.(unpalatable? ooh er Matron, I feel one of your jokes coming on!!!)

  • andy

    Hi G/CS
    We’re getting off the track a bit (hopefully we can get on to the Spanish Civil War soon 🙂 )
    but wasn’t Trotsky the military leader of the campaign against the Whites?
    Surely he deserves some credit for that?

  • Garibaldy

    Andy,

    He was. But his role and genius is exaggerated. I’d prefer a row about, say Zimbabwe, than the Spanish Civil War again. Or perhaps the Cultural Revolution.

    And as for off track, how long can a discussion on the politics of the INLA last?

  • Realist

    “Any evidence of the INLA being drug dealers?”

    Occassional Commentator,

    Loads.

    I would refer you in the first instance to Jim McDowell’s excellent “The Godfathers”.

    You might find this interesting too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_National_Liberation_Army

    Refer here to “Cricky” O’Kane and “Boogaloo” Mulholland.

    http://www.birw.org/Deaths since ceasefire/deaths 01.html

    Drug Dealer “contacts”.

    http://www.tkb.org/KeyLeader.jsp?memID=6451

    http://www.tkb.org/KeyLeader.jsp?memID=77

    More:

    http://irelandsown.net/INLA.html

    http://users.net-gate.com/pdkenny/ni_pos1.html

    IMC Report.

    http://www.eire.dk/library/imc_report_no_3_2004.pdf

    If you need some more evidence, I’ll happily google again for you.

  • Realist

    tra g,

    “Like it or not, the Republican martyrs are widely respected around the world (by many but not all) as men of courage and conviction who were prepared to put themselves through a slow, tortuous death rather than renege on their political principles and allow themselves to be criminalised by the British”

    That may be so.

    Like many around the world (but not all), I see the men for the crimes they perpetrated. The unpalatable facts that will not be airbrushed.

    The PIRA leader in HMP Maze was a mass sectarian murderer.

    Honour and the INLA are mutually exclusive terms.

    That they chose to starve themselves to death means absolutely nothing to me – I shed no tears, I can assure you. To me they were simply criminals.

    I have no respect for them whatsoever, but accept that many have a differing view.

    They may be “martyrs” in your eyes, but please accept that to many people that is not the case.

  • GPJ

    “The PIRA leader in HMP Maze was a mass sectarian murderer”

    Since when has trying to take out sectarian murder gang members been sectarian?

  • Realist

    “Since when has trying to take out sectarian murder gang members been sectarian?”

    GPJ,

    The women shoppers passing by?

    To hell with anyone else who might be in the bar?

    Sure, as long as he got one, it was a job well done.

    I’m sure Michael Stone would be vindicated totally by your comments.

    Well done.

    Catch yourself on.

  • GPJ

    Realist

    Take a long look at the situation and tell me that what the IRA did that day was any different from what armies have been doing through out history…trying to take out the enemy.

    Realist if you are a pacifist I’ve no arguement with you. However as far as I’m concerned the IRA were fighting a legitimate war and in war there are casaulties, both innocent and guilty.
    Again the attack on the bar was to assasinate sectarian unionist paramilitaries.

    Again you may not agree with its aims and objectives, you cannot however accuse the IRA of deliberately targetting people because of their religion.

  • Realist

    GPJ,

    “Take a long look at the situation and tell me that what the IRA did that day was any different from what armies have been doing through out history…trying to take out the enemy.”

    Deary me.

    “However as far as I’m concerned the IRA were fighting a legitimate war and in war there are casaulties, both innocent and guilty.”

    I’ll hardly change your mind on that, but I totally disagree.

    “Again the attack on the bar was to assasinate sectarian unionist paramilitaries.”

    So you agree that every bar in a republican area was a legitimate target in this “war” you speak of – so long as it was known that republicans drunk in there sometimes?

    You’re sick.

    “Again you may not agree with its aims and objectives”

    Quite.

    “you cannot however accuse the IRA of deliberately targetting people because of their religion.”

    I can, and I do.

    Not much more for you and me to talk about.

  • andy

    I may be a bit late on this, but does anyone know anything about the ORM? essentially why they split from the sticks, and do they do anything apart from run a couple of bars?

  • Thrasymachus

    “Take a long look at the situation and tell me that what the IRA did that day was any different from what armies have been doing through out history…trying to take out the enemy.”

    Be they little girls washing windows, widows comforting dying soldiers, people paying their respects to those who fought fascism…

    “Again the attack on the bar was to assasinate sectarian unionist paramilitaries.”

    Yeah, as if you murder enough people drinking in a bar or shopping on the Shankill Road you’re bound to get a Loyalist. Still I guess you think it’s “legitimate” to murder 20 civilians for every Loyalist terrorist the IRA killed…

    “Again you may not agree with its aims and objectives, you cannot however accuse the IRA of deliberately targetting people because of their religion.”

    No doubt the Kingsmill Massacre was just a cross-community scheme gone wrong. Gerry and Martin went to explain the merits of a 32 county socialist republic to Protestants in south Armagh, but these unreasonable brutes would hear nothing of it and advanced towards Gerry with murder in their eyes. Luckily Martin’s magic machine gun just appeared and the poor defenceless Republicans just managed to fight the terrible hun off…

    That or did Gerry and Martin go out with their Nationalist death squad to get a few orangies?

  • tra g

    The ORM spend their days drinking hooch in shebeens and selling cheap ciggies-er not that much different from the ‘Hickory Dicks’ really.

  • Comrade Stalin

    comparing Uncle Joe’s bold assault on the Whites with Trotsky’s orders to sit still.

    Probably a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t give a damn about the people I was sending to their deaths. Leon knew his military strategy, that’s what made him dangerous.

    Thanks for the clarification on the McWilliams matter, though not everyone will see eye to eye that there really is that much clear blue water between the IPLO and the INLA.

  • Comrade Stalin

    We’re getting off the track a bit (hopefully we can get on to the Spanish Civil War soon 🙂 )

    Not yet, we’ve still got Gorbachev’s mess to clean up. I still need to sort out Poland and Estonia. Ah, just like the old days. It’s a hell of a lot harder when you don’t have a military and the NKVD though. Damn Beria’s never around when you need him.

    but wasn’t Trotsky the military leader of the campaign against the Whites?
    Surely he deserves some credit for that?

    He does. Garibaldy has somewhat rose-tinted perspective about my role in Russian history. I myself have become somewhat more enlightened in my old age. If Trotsky was small fry I wouldn’t have had to assassinate him.

  • Garibaldy

    CS,

    Trotsky of course sent people to fight with machine guns behind them to encourage them not to turn back. He was talented (his History of the Russian Revolution is well worth reading). But not as talented as he liked to think, nor as talented as his admirers – who have proven consistently over 7 decades to be unable to organise anything other than splits. My point was to insult the followers, not necessarily the prophet. But happy to do that too.

    There wasn’t much clear blue water between the IPLO and INLA, but there was enough to kill over. Although all that could obviously be forgotten too when the time was right.

  • Garibaldy

    That should say Trotsky was not as talented as his admirers like to think

  • former irp

    was it not the inla who murdered poor seamus roddy in paris,a man who visited the hunger strikers patsy.kevin and mickey,some comradship there?then they insult mickeys memory by firing a stolen cops gun over a memorial to a good republican,that gun killed a protestant in strabane not that long ago!!!anti sectarian ?

  • deadmanonleave

    Realist,
    Just checked your links and I can’t see any evidence whatsoever of anything like a vaguely convincing allegation of drug dealing….I think that the closest was the fact that Torney’s gang hired a drug dealer to take out Gino Gallagher.

    Couldn’t get the link to the O’Kane and Mulholland bits, but if the implication is that ex-INLA people are involved in the drugs trade, then the same analogy could be used to taint ex-members of just about every organisation in the world. If the INLA is to be judged, then let’s judge it on it’s actions and statements, not on those who used to be members of it, after all, the INLA have been more honest than any other armed group in this conflict about how their actions at times fell short of their stated ideals.

    It would be a lot to expect people from the unionist or loyalist traditions to find an armed tribute to an INLA volunteer comfortable to watch, but I certainly feel that it is less provocative or threatening than marching through areas in order to lord it up over the ‘other side’. If the IRSP start marching drunkenly banging their drums in the same manner through Protestant areas, then it’d be time to kick up. A few shots in the air for a dead comrade? Lighten up folks.

  • francesco

    i’m glad to see the lads alive and well, it was time to make their precence felt, well done lads…
    inla the people’s army

  • former irp

    was it not the inla freedom fighters that shot a man in the gate bar in derry,necessitating the loss of the mans leg….for what? a bar brawl.when i was involved with them all they ever done was drink in bars and talk the great revolution,send people out to do robberys and kill their own in belfast.the only man i know was genuine was costelloe,who murdered him?guess…..his own….who set up rooster(colm mc nutt) his own….what top irsp head in shantallow has relatives in the cops? he knows

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “There never really was any comparison between a good steak dinner and suicide. Bit of a no brainer.”

    How do you feel about the people of Derry who resisted the Jacobite siege for months and who ate – among other things – rats and mice and other vermin, in order to stave off the slow and inexorable approach of starvation?

    I come from the “other side” of history, but I can recognise and applaud courage when I see it.

    I could simply make jibes about those people – so many of whom DID starve to death – and how they could’ve been saved if they had only abandoned their struggle.

    But how cheap would that be?

    “That they chose to starve themselves to death means absolutely nothing to me.”

    Then clearly you – coming from the “other side” of history here – cannot recognise courage when you see it. That’s sad.

    “To me they were simply criminals.”

    Bobby Sands was the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone when he died – therefore you can argue that he was a “criminal” but you certainly can’t argue that he was JUST a criminal. He was a member of parliament – if that doesn’t affect your thinking one iota, then it proves that your hatred for Sands is far greater than your regard for British parliamentary democracy.

    Where do you stand on British parliamentary democracy? A fan? No?

    Or perhaps only sometimes?

  • Realist

    Billy Pilgrim,

    “How do you feel about the people of Derry who resisted the Jacobite siege for months and who ate – among other things – rats and mice and other vermin, in order to stave off the slow and inexorable approach of starvation?”

    I don’t believe they had any choice on the matter.

    “you can argue that he was a “criminal” but you certainly can’t argue that he was JUST a criminal”

    OK. He was a convicted criminal, member of a sectarian killer gang, and a British MP.

    “cannot recognise courage when you see it. That’s sad.”

    Millions around the world are “sad” then. I certainly wasn’t sad when Bobby and his pals passed away – nor did I rejoice.

    “Where do you stand on British parliamentary democracy? A fan? No?”

    What’s that got to do with it?

    I stand robustly against criminal members of sectarian killer gangs who slaughtered innocents.

    No honour, no glory and no courage in that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “I don’t believe they had any choice on the matter.”

    But do you think they demonstrated great courage? I do. Do you think that their suffering was such that – regardless of whether one agrees with their cause – they deserve to be taken seriously? I do. I’m not about to take that away from them just because I happen to be on the other side of history.

    I am, first and last, a human being, and I can recognise courage and sacrifice when I see it. Can you?

    – “OK. He was a convicted criminal, member of a sectarian killer gang, and a British MP…..
    – “Where do you stand on British parliamentary democracy? A fan? No?”
    – What’s that got to do with it?”

    Everything. You acknowledge (for it cannot be denied) that Sands was an MP – my question to you is, doesn’t that mean anything? Does his democratic mandate count for anything?

    Because if you don’t think so (as your unimpressed remark that he was “simply a criminal” would seem to suggest) then it’s reasonable to question how deep your regard for British parliamentary democracy actually goes.

    “Millions around the world are “sad” then. I certainly wasn’t sad when Bobby and his pals passed away – nor did I rejoice.”

    I said it was sad that you seem unable to recognise courage when you see it. There are indeed many people like that, and it is indeed sad.

    “I stand robustly against criminal members of sectarian killer gangs who slaughtered innocents.”

    Are you a pacifist?

    If not: are you only against the slaughtering of innocents when it’s done by “sectarian killer gangs”? Are you happy to dismiss as “collateral damage” the slaughtering of innocents when, say, it’s done by dashing young men in uniform?

    What is a “sectarian killer gang?” Is it an armed organisation that is responsible for killing people for sectarian reasons? If that’s your definition then I have no argument – but I would point out that it includes virtually every organisation you care to name, including those paid for by your taxes.

    Are you only against “criminal members” of such organistions? Are there any non-criminal members?

    The preponderance of adjectives in your declarations slightly undermine your attempts to sound principled.

    (I despise the what the IRA did to my country, by the way, but I think it is and always was self-serving rubbish to say that they were “simply criminals”.)

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “No honour, no glory and no courage in that.”

    Though let me just add my agreement with your last sentiment. Certainly there was no honour or glory in the actions that led the hunger strikers to prison. However the point is that there WAS, indisputably, great courage and indeed honour in the unimaginable sacrifice they made when they were in prison.

    It would be inhuman not to recognise that.

  • realist

    Billy,
    when all is said and done, you are nothing but a Lundy

  • Realist

    Billy,

    Firstly let me disassociate myself from the previous poster, using my handle to label you a “lundy”.

    “my question to you is, doesn’t that mean anything? Does his democratic mandate count for anything?”

    The fact that the people of Fermanagh/ South Tyrone elected a convicted terrorist, was quite disturbing. Did they only see the “sacrifice”, and forget about the disregard for human life?

    “I said it was sad that you seem unable to recognise courage when you see it. There are indeed many people like that, and it is indeed sad”

    I saw no courage.

    “If not: are you only against the slaughtering of innocents when it’s done by “sectarian killer gangs”? Are you happy to dismiss as “collateral damage” the slaughtering of innocents when, say, it’s done by dashing young men in uniform?”

    No – I denounce it when it is done by ANYONE with intent, regardless of uniform.

    “Are you only against “criminal members” of such organistions? Are there any non-criminal members?”

    Sorry, allow me to be more specific – convicted criminals. Sands and his fellow Hunger Strikers were convicted criminals.

    “However the point is that there WAS, indisputably, great courage and indeed honour in the unimaginable sacrifice they made when they were in prison”

    In your opinion. Not mine.

    Did you recognise as “courageous” the actions of Michael Stone at Milltown? – to go behind enemy lines, without disguise, without fear of consequence, in order to take out his enemy?

    “It would be inhuman not to recognise that”

    In your opinion, not mine.

    The crimes and actions of these men before they went into prison, were inhuman. They had no regard for human life whatsoever. Don’t ask me to accept them as honourable.

    In my opinion, the world is a much safer place without them.

    Sands and his pals will never again plot to bomb, shoot, kill or maime. For that, I am very grateful.

    Sure, others filled their shoes, but their violent ways acheived absolutely nothing constructive. They have seen learned they couldn’t win with bomb and bullet.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “Firstly let me disassociate myself from the previous poster…”

    Thanks. My sympathies – it’s despicable when people do that and you have to undo their misrepresentation.

    “The fact that the people of Fermanagh/ South Tyrone elected a convicted terrorist, was quite disturbing.”

    But didn’t it make you stop, even for a second, and ask yourself whether there really WAS something in the argument that Sands was no mere criminal? Because though previously you might have been able to take comfort in that strident assertion, when he became elected, it wasn’t just about Bobby Sands any more. The issue became about British parliamentary democracy, and how significant you think it is.

    That your opinion of the issue was no affected one iota, and that the democratic verdict of the people of FST was, to you, neither interesting nor informative but merely “disturbing” demonstrates that your regard for British parliamentary democracy is, well, only partial.

    “Did they only see the “sacrifice”, and forget about the disregard for human life?”

    I would say that in the ultra-charged context of the hunger strikes, yes, most people were swayed by the sacrifice. If nothing else, surely that ought at least to be food for thought for unionists?

    And I don’t mean falling back to the usual self-serving “all nationalists are Provos at heart” bunkum. I mean a fresh and fair-minded reappraisal of the whole criminalisation issue. Republicans argue that attempts to criminalise republicanism has been a constant British/unionist strategy since the formation of the state. With internment every decade up to the 70s, the volumes of Stormont-era legislation banning certain flags, newspapers etc, the
    criminalisation policy post ’76, and the present fixation on republican criminality, you can see where they’re coming from.

    To republicans, Sands and the hunger strikers are the ultimate icons of what they see as their moral legitimacy. I suspect the reason unionists seem to despise the hunger strikers with, apparently, especial venom, is that deep down they can see the logic of that.

    (And there really is no need to put the word sacrifice in inverted commas – Jesus, would you not even accept that a man starving himself to death is a sacrifice? Is your hate for Sands so great that you wouldn’t even give him that? If so, then all I can say is that you have revealed something of yourself.)

    “I saw no courage.”

    Would you credit Gandhi with having shown courage during his hunger strike? Is courage only possible when you agree with the cause?

    “No – I denounce it when it is done by ANYONE with intent, regardless of uniform.”

    Ah, nice caveat there: “with intent”. I don’t buy that. If someone, for example, plants or drops a bomb in a city centre, I wouldn’t accept their assurances that they didn’t mean to kill all those civilians. Would you give the Provos a bye-ball for Enniskillen, which they swear was an “accident”? I sure don’t.

    Though if you follow that logic, the Royal Air Force don’t look so dashing any more, do they?

    “Sorry, allow me to be more specific – convicted criminals. Sands and his fellow Hunger Strikers were convicted criminals.”

    But – and it’s a shame that your intellectual curiosity is so limited that I have to point this out – Sands etc were fighting against a state that they wished to destroy. Their convictions – and given the nature of the courts that convicted them, that’s a word that should be in inverted commas – were handed down by, essentially, the enemy. Their “criminal status” was decided only by the enemy.

    Meanwhile the British government was forced to veto a number of United Nations resolutions censuring them for their treatment of the prisoners. (There were several occasions during the 1980s when British ambassadors would get on their high horses to the USSR and China about human rights, to which the reply would simply be: “What about Northern Ireland?” – cue the British ambassador sitting back down with a red face.)

    “In your opinion. Not mine.”

    But why wouldn’t you concede Sands showed courage? Regardless of context, his actions were unequivocally courageous.

    “Did you recognise as “courageous” the actions of Michael Stone at Milltown? – to go behind enemy lines, without disguise, without fear of consequence, in order to take out his enemy?”

    Stone? No – but it’d be too circuitous and boring to get into the whole Stone thing. But I take your point and I will give you an example – Captain Robert Nairac. Now, there was a guy who was on the “other side” but I can recognise his courage, and he paid the ultimate price. I would give him his due.

  • sevenmagpies

    “Sands etc were fighting against a state that they wished to destroy.”

    So why were they bombing supermarkets and furniture stores rather than attacking the armed forces of the state they wished to destroy?

    The hunger strikers basic aim was to have carte blanche to kill and maim anyone they wanted without having to suffer the consequences.

    If they were POW soldiers they should have been wearing uniforms, saluting their captors and working for the Brits. But no, they wanted to kill and bomb and then sit around on their asses all day being “Special”.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Sevenmagpies

    “So why were they bombing supermarkets and furniture stores rather than attacking the armed forces of the state they wished to destroy?”

    In fairness the attacks on what they called “economic targets” didn’t really start until later in the 1980s, after the hunger strike, but I take your point. Look, I’m not about to start defending the IRA campaign here – it was a morally indefensible and insane campaign, and things like firebombing carpet stores as part of the campaign for unity was only one of the more surreal things that happened.

    That’s not in question here. All I’m saying is that: a) it’s self-serving rubbish to suggest that the IRA prisoners were “simply criminals”, as though the Troubles were nothing more than a crimewave, as though there wasn’t a clear political context; and b) at a human level, the courage shown by Sands etc is beyond reasonable dispute.

    “The hunger strikers basic aim was to have carte blanche to kill and maim anyone they wanted without having to suffer the consequences.”

    But that simply isn’t an interpretation that is backed by the historical evidence. They were not demanding their freedom – they accepted their incarceration (which disproves your assertion that they hoped to avoid “suffering the consequences”). Nor were they demanding anything new and radical. What they were demanding was the RESTORATION of what had been taken away from them in 1976 – ie special category status. The British government had recognised that the NI situation was an extraordinary one prior to 1976, but then, as part of their campaign against the IRA, made the decision to criminalise their enemies. Predictably, this decision was met with resistance, beginning with the Blanket Protest, escalating to the Dirty Protest and culminating in the Hunger Strikes – after which, over a period of about eighteen months, and incrementally so no-one really noticed, all the hunger strikers demands were acquiesced to, though not officially.

    “If they were POW soldiers they should have been wearing uniforms, saluting their captors and working for the Brits. But no, they wanted to kill and bomb and then sit around on their asses all day being “Special”.”

    They could not wear uniforms as they did not have uniforms – they would be regarded as “irregulars”. They did not salute their captors because their captors did not recognise their command structure (though of course in later years they did), and they did not “work” for the prison authorities a) for the same reason; and b) because the prison authorities did not require them to. (After all, the authorities weren’t going to start treating them like prisoners of war, were they? They were trying to make the exact opposite point.)

    Get real lads. If you’re trying to argue that Sands etc were no different from any other prisoner, or that HMP Maze was no different from Wormwood Scrubs, then you’re basically suggesting that there was nothing unusual going on in NI in the 1970s and 80s. (Which makes one wonder what the Special Powers Act / Prevention of Terrorism Act / Diplock Courts / supergrass trials etc were all about.)

    Maybe I was just imagining all that stuff?

  • sevenmagpies

    “In fairness the attacks on what they called “economic targets” didn’t really start until later in the 1980s, after the hunger strike”

    Hmm, so what was ‘bloody friday’ and all those bombings of woolworths and co-op in the 1970s all about. Attacks on Secret Military Bases perhaps?

    Your reference to “special category status” perfectly proves my point. They wanted to be “Special”. They didn’t want to have to identify themselves as combatants whilst they were out shooting and bombing, but they certainly didn’t want to be treated like criminals if they were caught.

    If you claim to fight a “war” then you should make the effort to comply fully with the rules and customs of war and not go squealing for special treatment if the authorities are unhappy about your habit of detonating massive bombs in the city streets.

    I’d be interested to learn how you feel a state should respond to murderous attacks directed against its civilian population or armed forces.

    (notwithstanding the reality of murderous attacks directed by the state)

    Courage would have been much better demonstrated if any of this alphabet soup of ‘armies’ had worn uniforms, taken a prisoner and issued them a capture card, or maybe even tended the wounds of a single enemy soldier or civilian. But no, it was always all about what the shooters and bombers wanted and what was best for them.

  • Realist

    “Courage would have been much better demonstrated if any of this alphabet soup of ‘armies’ had worn uniforms, taken a prisoner and issued them a capture card, or maybe even tended the wounds of a single enemy soldier or civilian. But no, it was always all about what the shooters and bombers wanted and what was best for them.”

    Nail, head, hit sevenmagpies.

    Let’s get this straight.

    Men joined PIRA and INLA to bomb, shoot, kill and maim.

    They never took a prisoner in their lives. Had they of done so, perhaps a certain sympathy could have been extended to them.

    No “political status” for their enemies.

    They get caught, are convicted and put where they belong.

    They don’t like this and decide not to eat and to smear their cells in their own shite. They die. Too bad.

    And it’s me who is “inhumane”.