Don’t get mad, get….

Malachi O’Doherty reckons unionists should quit complaining about Sinn Fein’s plans for a museum of the troubles on the site of the Maze prison and make sure that it tells more than just one side of the story. His suggestion: a gun and bomb attack on a Shankill Road bar back in 1975, which left five politically uninvolved Protestants dead:

Why not a display about Bik McFarlane, OC [officer commanding] of the prisoners at the time of the hunger strike, in which details of his attack on the Bayardo Bar are also included? Let’s hear how Bik opened fire on people fleeing the bombed wreckage. Why not? It’s part of the story. He wasn’t just beamed into the Maze for no reason at all.

  • oilibhear Chromaill

    Why not? It’s part of the story. He wasn’t just beamed into the Maze for no reason at all.

    And then there are the countless others who never did a day in Long Kesh despite the heinous crimes they committed, the members of the security forces who colluded with the murderers of Pat Finucane et al… the whole story should be told in The Maze/Long Kesh etc

    No doubt it will also include a little corner for the Official IRA, the gang who never decommissioned but who for the want of something better to do – or just sheer envy of SInn Féin etc – hung around to constantly poison the well….

  • The Dubliner

    Despite Malachi excellent suggestions to make the best of a bad idea, it is wrong that the murderers should be the focus of a ‘museum’ instead of the murdered.

    The losers don’t get to write the history, so PSF should be bluntly told to shove their plan where the sun don’t shine.

  • Shore Road Resident

    First Oilibhear fails to get the memo on supporting the PSNI, now he’s forgotten Gerry’s instruction to let (most of) the past lie and come back with a confused variation of “two wrongs make a right”. How much longer can this guy last in the Propaganda Dept?

    WRT Malachi’s suggestion – I’m not sure I agree, but if there isn’t at least a mention of what each prisoner in the exhibit was convicted of doing then Willie Fraser will have every right to exercise his threat to bulldoze the building.

  • Garibaldy

    One of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while, and reminiscent of Newtown Emerson at his savage best.

    The best contribution to the debate on this issue.

  • Mike

    Oilbhear – interesting that you refer to “heinous crimes”. Mass murder is indeed a heinous crime. So will you even concede that in carrying out this massacre, Brendan McFarlane committed a crime, committed murder?

    Excellent article by Malachi O’Doherty. This would indeed be the perfect antidote to the provo myth-making that the IRA were terrorists, didn’t target civilians, and weren’t guilty of sectarian mass murder. Hard to sanitise savagery such as that.

  • interested

    “And then there are the countless others who never did a day in Long Kesh despite the heinous crimes they committed”

    Do you include the mass killers of Enniskillen, Kingsmill and La Mons in this, Oilbhear?
    Simple question. Let’s hear you.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ball please guys, not the man!!!

  • Sure when all the info on RUC/ Loyalist and RUC/ Provo collusion comes out over the next few years, it can be added to the exhibition. I’m sure visitors will want to see the full ‘glory’ of what the ‘honorable defenders’ of the communities did…

  • Paul

    Jesus wept.

  • rapunsel

    Do you think the museum could even have part of the exhibition on what Mr Fraser referred above has been doing this past twenty years?

  • patrique

    A museum is for old things. Even 1192 is recent here. The building would have nothing in it.

    Didn’t see the article but O’Doherty is a fine writer.

  • Voiceofreaons

    Perhaps this is exactly why so many from the unionist community are sceptical of the plans for the Maze – because it just opens up a nauseating match about who muderous physcopaths were worse – the protestant madmen or the catholic madmen with little concern for the relatives of the victims.

    Its far too soon to delve into memories like this, its barely past 20 years since the hunger strikers died and NI nearly erupted on the scale of Iraq. Lets just be thankful we lived through it for the meantime and leave memorials to future generations who can maybe look back on events with a more constructive attitude.

  • Sean Russell

    Bik is a hero. There sahould be a atatue to him as well, commemorating the time he took out a Free State soldier and a Garda recruit. Kidnappers like Bik are heroes. Does he still go to Church by the way. He was going on to be a priest in the African missions before he discovered his true vocation of bringing the healing flames of Republicanism to the Shankill.

    Plus, shit happens. Get over it. Give the Provos what they want before they take it.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    The first and most important thing to remember about O’Doherty’s opinions is that is exactly what they are – no more and no less. He has been grinding his personal and political axe for money for years and who heeds him?

  • Yukio

    I propose Willie Frazer for tour guide.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    He could use his bus to bring punters in.

  • GavBelfast

    The first and most important thing to remember about O’Doherty’s opinions is that is exactly what they are – no more and no less. He has been grinding his personal and political axe for money for years and who heeds him?
    Posted by Pancho’s Horse on Apr 25, 2007 @ 10:49 PM

    Much more of this and unionists might be quite keen on the idea – that’ll put republicans off it.

    While we’re at it, such is the perverseness of some groups, you do get the idea that if Northern Ireland fans were to weigh-in en masse with enthusiattic support for the Maze National Stadium idea, other interested groups would probably start to object to the idea.

    Such is Ulster’s rich labyrinth – in fact, a maze.

  • patrique

    Pancho does not heed Mr O’Doherty. Therefore no-one does. Such enlightenment in this day and age.

  • gary

    ‘While we’re at it, such is the perverseness of some groups, you do get the idea that if Northern Ireland fans were to weigh-in en masse with enthusiattic support for the Maze National Stadium idea, other interested groups would probably start to object to the idea’

    I think you will find that the only people interested in northern ireland fans, are northern ireland fans.

    As a rugby fan i think its agreat idea and will enjoy attending games,concerts,shows etc…

    At last a modern safe stadium venue that has been so missed in the past.

  • patrique

    There is nothing wrong with N.Ireland fans, a soft target because they are middle class. The middle classes led all revolutions, well all the revolutions after the growth of the middle class, naturally. Everyone is welcome at N.Ireland matches at Windsor, all you need is a fake “Cherryvalley” accent and no-one will bother you.

  • GavBelfast

    ‘Gary’, if it is you, I was talking about rather more perverse groups than rugby fans, if you are one.

    Perverseness and taking the opposite position because it’s opposite is so often the norm.

  • SuperSoupy

    The problem with Malachi’s claim and reaction is it not being based in reality. No one has demanded a partial or onesided presentation of history. The demands are for preservation rather than demolition of historically valid site.

    An internment cage, a H-block and the hospital wing retained alongside a conflict resolution centre.

    Demolishing such major and influential sites would be a disgrace.

    Creating a competing narrative to something that hasn’t been advanced seems paranoid. Bringing the debate to a rant against an individual indicates that Malachi will add little of substance to the eventual shape of the site. Others will have to work out how many tales can be told without bringing it down to angry diatribes against a personal hate figure.

    Hopefully those involved are more able for the difficult and testing job than the ranters.

  • Biff2

    While totally abhorring any loss of life on any occasion, it is worth pointing out that the Bayardo incident was not as straight forward as our intrepid journalist would have us think .

    Malachi neglects to mention what function the Bayardo Bar filled apart from being a pub .This was not the Rovers Return by any stretch of the imagination .Perhaps he would care to enlighten us as to the back ground story of same given the inside track on things that he likes to have us think he has .

    Biff2

  • Token Dissent

    A rant? I think not. A necessary, concise statement of fact.

  • interested

    Just in case Olibihear has not been online since I posted this initially, I wouldn’t want my question to be lost in the meandering of this thread because I sincerely think it is an important one:

    “‘And then there are the countless others who never did a day in Long Kesh despite the heinous crimes they committed’
    Do you include the mass killers of Enniskillen, Kingsmill and La Mons in this, Oilbhear?
    Simple question. Let’s hear you.”

    I await your response.

  • patrique

    Thank heavens, Biff2, that there are some intelligent people living here. Let us hope you are not a loyalist terrorist, otherwise Clonard monastry will be under attack, given who goes there.

  • The Belfast city council has been phoning round, asking people where they think a new cemetery should be located. The Maze seems a suitably symbolic spot.

  • mnob

    Its a brilliant idea.

    A museum to answer once and for all the most important question in Ireland – who started it all.

    Going from the H blocks and working backwards to pre Christianity we’ll finally be able to nail the b*stard who threw the first stone and as a result descide the constitutional question based on guilt and innocence.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I have no problem with that Interested. I’m not really ‘interested’ in a partial retelling of history, not in the same way you are it seems from the list of atrocities which you recount. And they were atrocities,

    The problem I have with Malachi’s article is that it focuses on one particular incident and, if at least one of the posters is to believed, a particularly partial retelling of that incident to make a general point which is not in argument. I have heard no republican at any time say that they want to have a purely republican Conflict Transformation Centre at Long Kesh….it wouldn’t be much of a conflict transformation if it only reflected one side of a conflict would it?

    So, I’m all for a warts and all telling of history, as long as all the warts are on display, not just the paramilitary ones but the state terrorist ones also.

  • DK

    The museum in the tower thing in Derry does a good job, with two walls, one with red white and blue kerbstones and the other with green, white and orange; each telling the story of the city from the viewpoint of the people on each side.

    Surely the Maze could have similar strands. I suggest:
    1. Republican paramilitaries (of all type, so includes INLA as well as IRA).
    2. Loyalist paramilitaries (again, all types)
    3. Internees (there were some protestants, but 90% were catholic)
    4. Guards – including how the prison worked
    5. The RAF – history of Long Kesh in WW2
    6. Final strand detailing the peace process and how the Maze stopped being a prison – along with a big wall of all the 3000+ dead of the troubles, in alphabetical order. This would be the only memorial on the site.

  • Shore Road Resident

    7. The people groups 1 & 2 murdered.

  • BTW [shameless plug] I am doing a reading from The Telling Year at No Alibis Bookshop on Botanic Avenue tonight at 6.30, with a q and a afterwards.

    It would be great to put faces to some of those names.

  • DK

    “7. The people groups 1 & 2 murdered.”

    Might get complicated as they murdered one another and themselves as well as others. Anyway, the big wall of shame with the 3000+ names should be a stark reality check at the end.

  • nmc

    Sounds good DK. I haven’t heard anyone saying that they want a partial view of our history in this site. I have heard people saying they don’t want any museum of any kind, which is strange.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I should add that, for what its worth, I think Malachi O’Doherty is a fine writer and the day he was binned from the Belfast Telegraph and replaced by Pól Ó Muirí was a backward step for journalism in that organ.

  • Alan

    8 – we would also need to have the viewpoint of those who were “none of the above” who had to sit and watch while rival groups of psychopaths, charlatans, wide-boys and hard-on-the-nappies men tore this society apart.

    We can’t let “balance” mean that only the two extremes / communities / sides get to spray their names up the walls.

    I’m glad that Malachy keeps the non-violence torch lit. Perhaps we could have a memorial to thirty years of wasted opportunities – just how many billions of hours of people’s lives were stunted by those cowboys.

  • John

    Alan, quite right. There seems to be a consistent strain on slugger that assumes that only the two nutter strains in our society deserve recognition as being representative of the ‘two traditions’. We had the chance in 72 to put an end to all of this crap. Rather than more memorials perhaps we could start by removing some of the existing ones. Now that would be progress.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Malachi,

    I’ll not be at the reading, but I just finished reading the book today.

    I don’t know if congratulations or thank you is the appropriate thing to say to someone who has written a book you enjoyed reading, but I’ll say both regardless.

    I grew up in Beechmount in west Belfast, from 1969. I got out as quickly as I could.

    Coming from a place where machismo is the norm, where ‘real’ men can’t admit frailty, it was great to read a man’s honest and frank account of a troubled, young adulthood and mistakes made during it.

    Sometime before I left Ireland I covered the Maze escape reunion do in Letterkenny for the News of the World. I was hungry for a scoop so I stayed on long after almost all the other journalists had left.
    What I saw, I thought at the time, must have been just like the many other get togethers of groups of old soldiers after any of the millions of conflicts in human history. Stories of derring-do, camaraderie, overcoming great odds to cock a snook at the enemy. It was a jovial and happy event, despite the fact that a man had been killed during the escape and his family must have been looking on at the revelry with great pain.

    So I have seen proof that you’re right, what you say in the book. You’re absolutely right. They enjoyed their war. At least those who lived long enough to toast it.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Sorry to correct your unapproachable logic,patrique (2.00), but Pancho thinks Ó Dochartaigh is a fine writer – it’s his horse who holds him in contempt.