The beginning of a long road to peace?

Peter Taylor has a piece up on the BBC news website advertising tomorrow night’s Northern Irish segment in his new four part series The Age of Terrorism. He picks out the Enniskillen bomb, and the IRA’s deal with Colonel Gaddafi as the key moments in the IRA’s decision to eventually eschew violence. He notes that:

Many have long thought the bombing must have been an unauthorised, one-off operation by a local unit, believing it to be inconceivable that the IRA would mount such an attack on civilians as they remembered their dead. It was nothing of the kind.

Three IRA active service units are believed to have been involved – one in the north (Fermanagh) and two in the south (Donegal and Monaghan). A second attack on another Remembrance Day parade in the border village of Tullyhommon, in Fermanagh, was also planned but the bomb failed to go off. Clearly the two attacks were co-ordinated.

At the time, local IRA units were given a degree of operational autonomy but attacks of this magnitude against such sensitive targets would not have been carried out in isolation.

Whilst Taylor notes that the direction of travel has been indisputeably positive, his remarks once again raise more stupid questions (video clip) for the Deputy First Minister, that cannot/will not be answered…

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  • Taylor barely mentioned Enniskillen in his book Provos. It appeared fleetingly as a tactical mishap.

  • Harry Flashman

    The Tullyhommon attempt at slaughtering Boy Scouts is often overlooked, perhaps not surprisingly considering the horrors of what actually did take place but it gives the lie to the explanation given by the Provos at the time that Enniskillen was an accident or that the Brits had set the bomb off prematurely with a sweeping device.

    The attack on the Remembrance Day ceremonies must clearly be looked at in conjunction with the ‘war of the graves’ that was going on in 1986/7 regarding Provo funerals. Following the Lenny Marley debacle there was a bomb at an RUC man’s funeral and just prior to Enniskillen there was a serious disturbance at an IRA funeral in Derry. It appears the Provos wanted to show that if they couldn’t remember their dead in peace then neither would the British/Unionists.

    In fairness I think the IRA leadership themselves recognised what was going on in Fermanagh and after the dreadful murder of Gillian Johnson a few months later the leadership publicly ‘stood down’ that unit.

  • There is hardly more about Enniskillen in his book, Brits: The War Against the IRA.

    It seems like Taylor has finally taken on board much of what Ed Moloney wrote about the capture of the Eksund, and the Provos’ retaliation at Enniskillen, though neither writer has appreciated the role of ‘Steak knife’ in the on-going process.

    When the Brits tried to make him the fallguy for the cull on The Rock, he got the Provos back on track with their campaign of terrorism – what ultimately led to the ‘Iron Lady’ seeking a settlement despite the assassination of Ian Gow during the process.

    I shall be interested in seeing what Taylor has to say now about ‘Steak knife’, especially who he might be, and why the press and officialdom have lost all interest in him.

  • Turgon

    Clearly we must wait for the programme to see what Taylor says. However, to try to say that Enniskillen was the beginning of some sort of road to peace is not only specious but also morally repugnant.

    It is morally repugnant as it pretends that because of this awful murderous event the IRA were put off murdering people. Of course they were not; there were plenty of events both before and afterwards just as revolting and evil. To somehow say that the IRA looked into some sort of moral abyss and pulled back because of the horror of Enniskillen is utter nonsense. They were already at the very bottom of the abyss along with the alphabet soup, INLA and all the others.

    There is a difference in Enniskillen of course and that difference is the international outrage they gained from it. That is what made the IRA and Adams one of its leaders think briefly about a ceasefire (if indeed that is true). It would, however, have been a very temporary ceasefire until the outrage had died down. In reality of course McGuinness was correct and calling a cease fire was unnecessary. A certain segment of Irish America, various cheerleaders in Ireland and the others might (only might) have felt briefly uncomfortable but did not stop supporting the IRA. Teebane, Shankill etc. etc. all came afterwards.

    The fact remains that this marked nothing and those lives were lost for nothing other that the bigoted sectarian blood lust of a tiny minority of the population, a minority frequently rejected before and since by the majority of the nationalist population of Northern Ireland. Sadly some peoples memories are short. I doubt Enniskillen made the British government more amenable to acceding to some of the IRA’s demands (as they eventually did), equally (sadly) I doubt it put off the progenitors of people like Powell from treating murderous bigots as statesmen.

    I do believe there will be justice for Enniskillen just not in the courts of this world.

  • andy

    Harry
    Re: “gives the lie to the explanation given by the Provos at the time that Enniskillen was an accident ”

    Although I wouldnt trust the Provos on this the MI5 officer who gave evidence at the Gibraltar hearings actually backed this version of events up. I have tried in vain to find transcripts of this on-line and can’t (or indeed of any of his evidence) but I assure you I remember it being reported at the time.

    I appreciate as you dont know me you may not of course take my word for it…

    If memory serves I think Patrick Bishop / Eamon Mallie said something similar in their book “The Provisional IRA”.

  • Inspector Cleauso

    As a child of ten I vividly remember watching the awful scenes on a special news bulletin that Sunday afternoon. I remember my grandfather attending the funeral of the elderly couple who died together and explaining how the coffins were lowered into the graves at exactly the same time. It was then I started to ponder why such events were happening in the country where I was born. My ponderings have never brought me to a rational answer.

    Turgon,
    The majority of nationalists have not rejected the bigoted blood thirsty Eniskillen bombers because they have voted for their associates in large numbers in recent times. This fact will not go away and has had to be faced by Unionist politicans.

  • Harry Flashman

    So how does the accident theory explain away what was planned at Tullyhommon, andy?

    The Fermanagh/Tyrone IRA were notoriously unconcerned about civilian casualties, they could be regarded as ‘collateral damage’, and if they were only a bunch of oul’ Orangies standing at the Brit war memorial then who’d miss ’em? It would all blow over in a week or two if it even lasted that long.

    They would have been correct in this judgement of course were it not for Gordon Wilson and his remarkably forgiving interview that night about his daughter’s final moments, that changed everything and meant Enniskillen was to gain an iconic status that La Mon, Bloody Friday or Kingsmills never did.

    I was in Dublin that day and no one particularly bothered about it when they heard it on the news, it was just one more atrocity in the God’s cursed North, I imagine it was even more so in England. Wilson’s words proved a catalyst however, within a week tens of thousands of people had come out on to the streets protesting against the atrocity.

    Turgon is actually incorrect, Enniskillen did mark the shift in the tectonic plates and the start of the “peace process”.

  • Turgon

    Harry Flashman,
    In what way did Enniskillen mark the shift of any “tectonic plates”?

    It marked nothing, merely showed again the bigoted sectarian barbarity of a group of murderous bigots motivated by an alledged socialism more akin to fascism. That had been shown at La Mon and Kingsmills and hundreds of times before and was shown at Teebane and Shankill and hundreds of times afterwards.

    The hope, which I suspect in your case is sincere is that something good started from it. There was good: the good in Gordon Wilson’s comments, in Norren Hill’s saintly devotion to her husband with whom she is now in heaven and good in many other places. There was, however, absolutley no good in the IRA’s actions and absolutely no political good came from it. The murderous sectarian bigots carried on regardless albeit after a few weasel words had come from the murderous mouths of the likes of Adams.

    You are my friend very naive if you think that those evil bitter bigoted people changed at all. Sadly also the willingness of some fools in the British government and SDLP to treat with the sectarian bigots did not change either and that in my view both helped prolong the agony for Northern Irteland, increase the number of the victims and result in the moral corruption whereby murdering people resulted in a two year gaol sentence in the most unlikely event of the murderer being caught.

    The Enniskillen bombing marked just one more part of the moral abyss into which the terrorists plunged and indeed eventually they help drag our society and our leaders into it. Now we have an unpeace with less violence but no peace and a situation in which crimes including murder are of no great consequence just ask Thomas Devlin, Paul Quinn and Lisa Dorrian’s families.

  • percy

    Turgon
    You’re carrying a lot of heavy baggage, its necessary to view “the troubles” in their entirety to initiate your own inner healing process, and put your mind to rest; for the good of yourself, your family and your relationships with others.

  • Harry Flashman

    *You are my friend very naive if you think that those evil bitter bigoted people changed at all.*

    I assure you Turgon there’s not a smidgen of naivety when it comes to my understanding of how the Provos operate and think.

    That is precisely my point, I am not saying that somehow on the Monday morning after the bombing the Provos suddenly realised the error of their ways and set about trying to change, not a bit of it. What shifted their thinking was the totally unprecedented outrage from the Republic and from elsewhere which had never occurred before. Like I say killing a handful of Prods here or there was no big deal to them but the wave of anger among Irish America, the soft nationalists of the South and the normally disinterested “let’s just pull out Ireland” brigade in England was a huge shock.

    At the time the Provos had imported a massive shipment of arms from Libya, more was on the way at that very moment. The Republican movement was debating a “Tet Offensive” in precisely the area that Enniskillen and Tullyhommon occurred. It would be the final showdown and force the Brits on to the back foot and would probably lead to many casualties among the Protestant community but that was regarded as a price well worth paying.

    Instead as a result of Enniskillen the Provos were thrown on the back foot and so those Provos, Adams principally, who cautioned against the offensive gained the upper hand. After Enniskillen Adams was able to castigate the die hards, he could show that an offensive to seize the Clogher Valley (yes, incredible as it seems now that was actually what the Tyrone and Fermanagh boys were planning) would be a military and PR disaster, much better to pursue the negotiation way and in 1988 Adams started his talks with Hume, the rest as they say is history.

    I am not saying that there was some sort of moral good resulting from the Enniskillen bombing, merely that it gave those Provos wishing to seek a peaceful solution the upper hand, they succeeded ten years and many more innocent dead later.

    To state historical facts is not to place a moral value on them.

  • Turgon

    Harry Flashman,
    That is nonsense and you seem to have read too many of those foolish books and seen too many “documentaries” which use a shock and a fantastic element to sell, indeed you are naive.

    The events at Enniskillen provoked, very briefly: outrage, shock and revulsion in places like Irish American and the other places you mention. Very soon afterwards, however, that shock and revulsion died down and business as usual began. That business was cheerleading and fund raising for murder.

    There is a further danger Harry and as someone whose views I usually respect I would counsel you to think carefully about this: The idea that Adams was involved in opposing any die hard republicans in 1987 is utter nonsense. It is also pretty offensive to most unionists. Adams is an evil sectarian bigot and terrorist who masquerades as some form of intellectual and thinker. Your whole thesis begins down the road of saying somehow he was committed to peace in the 1980s. I know you do not support terrorism in any way but you need to be careful. Believing those lies merely undermines your undoubted credibility as a decent and honest individual who has no truck with killers.

    percy,
    I need no inner healing process save that which was won for me on Calvary. I can indeed view the entirety of the troubles: a horrible series of crimes and pain which some wish to see as leading somewhere and as such make some sense of. No; they were evil acts performed by surprisingly banal and ordinary people motivated by their individual grievances, bigotry and blood thirst for which but few (far too few) were held accountable in this life but for which (and I say with no relish) they will be held very accountable in the next.

  • Dave

    “The events at Enniskillen provoked, very briefly: outrage, shock and revulsion in places like Irish American and the other places you mention. Very soon afterwards, however, that shock and revulsion died down and business as usual began. That business was cheerleading and fund raising for murder.”

    That’s pretty sharp. Too much is read into the Enniskillen actocity re “turning point” as if the Provos or their apologists actually had any moral objection to such methods or as if they. Adams would have made a calculaton that being seen as sectarian killers wasn’t helping his own power trip to glory via the political route, and if British Intelligence helped him along that route by wiping out his comrades then Adams wouldn’t have had moral objection to that either. He is, as you said, utterly depraved.

    “Adams is an evil sectarian bigot and terrorist who masquerades as some form of intellectual and thinker.”

    Amen. Just as Martin McGuinness

  • Dave

    Should have read: “Just as Martin McGuinness masquerades as a man of the people and a pensive fisherman.”

  • andy

    HF
    Where does the.. leave the other attack?
    To be honest I dont know details of the other attack. Are you saying they were planning to blow up some boy scouts but all that stopped them was a faulty bomb? Had they tried to do that at any point before or since then?

    In general I was only repeating what one (anti-Provo) source said. I can’t see why he would lie to make the Provos look good.

    Regardless of whether we agree on the mechnaics behind Eniskillen, I do think you are right in it having a big impact on the thinking of the IRA and must have increased the relative attractiveness of the political way foward.

  • Garibaldy

    Turgon,

    I agree with your view of the Provos as murderous sectarian bigots. I’m not usually one for whataboutery as I’m neither unionist nor nationalist, but I think your comment illustrates a major fault of both sides here – a willingness to castiage others for doing what people are doing yoursel with the people on their side. I do wonder if the standards you apply to the SDLP and London governments for talking to them are being applied to the TUV by yourself. Just as Paisley, Robinson, Trimble and others never applied them to themselves either, talking to and uniting with loyalist terrorists when it suited.

  • Turgon

    Garibaldy,
    Not an unreasonable comment. All I can say is that I personally have no truck with terrorists and if I were a politician would avoid them. That is of course a poor answer. I am pretty unimpressed by unionists having any dealings with loyalist (or republican) terrorists.

    In terms of voting I do feel uncomfortable but I do believe that the majority of unionist politicians had little (if any) involvement with loyalists, certainly a lot less than most SF members had with the IRA. Personally I do not think I would be willing to vote for William McCrea after his episode with Billy Wright.

    Equally I do not think that just because a nationalist voter votes for SF that makes the voter a cheerleader. I really wish they would not but I accept that they may not want to kill me. In terms of an SF member I cannot accept that.

  • Garibaldy

    I understand that distinction you are making, although I think over time, there is going to have to be a recognition that it no longer applies. For example, in five years people born in 1994 will be voting for and joining PSF. Can they really be held responsible for actions that were (1996-7 aside) carried out before they were born?

    For 30 years, Unionism has yet to throw up a leader untainted by an association with violence, and won’t until someone emerges who was involved neither in the strikes in 1974 and 1977, nor in sharing platforms with loyalist terrorists after the GFA was signed. Did you see the interview with Cecil Calvert in the recent (I think Thursday) edition with the Anderstown News? It makes interesting reading for this debate.

    As far as I am concerned everyone who voted for any party that defined itself in communalist terms must take the blame for perpetuating sectarianism, if not violence.

  • Debbie

    ‘There is a difference in Enniskillen of course and that difference is the international outrage they gained from it’

    Unfortunately a sad reality Turgon, but I do believe Garibaldy is right re castigating others and again Turgon, in avoiding the terrorists – who else was there to make peace with? Sordid as it is – it was these people the politicians had to talk to. Whether the terrorists were republican or loyalist makes no difference- a peaceful way forward had to be discussed with them.

    (I always enjoy your posts btw!)

  • Rory

    “It marked nothing, merely showed again the bigoted sectarian barbarity of a group of murderous bigots motivated by an alledged socialism more akin to fascism.”

    ” Adams is an evil sectarian bigot and terrorist who masquerades as some form of intellectual and thinker.”

    If the above examples are some of the hard facts from which your argument proceeds, Turgon, I think I may as well continue to watch The Simpsons if I am to seek any enlightenment on this matter.

    “I do believe there will be justice for Enniskillen just not in the courts of this world.”

    “…they will be held very accountable in the next [life].

    “I need no inner healing process save that which was won for me on Calvary.

    I should be most careful, Turgon, this is the type of spiritual arrogance that takes one from trusting in God to believing that one knows best the mind of God. Moral judgement of others is best replaced in my experience by an examination of one’s own conscience and tends to yield better results. It is less useful however for helping to foster an unassailable sense of moral superiority so you may not wish to try it.

  • Turgon

    Rory,
    You fail to understand the basis of Calvinism. I believe my inner healing was wrought at Calvary. I believe in:

    Total Depravity, just like Adams and every other person in the world I am utterly depraved and will inevitably go to hell

    Unconditional Election, God chooses whom He wants without any merit of their own. I believe He has chosen me. That does not make me better than anyone else, I could also be incorrect

    Limited Atonement, God has predestined some to be lost. If that includes me; awful as that would be for me it would be just and all I could do is marvel at God’s justice

    Irresistible Grace, one cannot prevent God from saving oneself

    Perseverance of the saints, Once saved one is saved. As I said I could be wrong; that is fine, such a decision is God’s not mine.

    As you can see I claim no moral superiority spiritually. In the secular terms of morality I do claim superiority over those who murdered people and who planned murder. I name Adams as an evil sectarian bigot because he was and is such and his actions and words proclaim him as such. I will not trouble you with the details, I believe many will know them better than me. Alternatively if you do believe that Adams is guiltless of criminality I invite you to suggest to Mick that I should be removed from the web site for potential libel.

    Debbie,
    Your comments merit more analysis. People wanted a “solution”. That was my analysis of the Powell interviews. What people were not willing to try was what I suggest would have been more productive. Indeed anti catholic discrimination needed to be prevented and without fear or favour. Then, however, having removed any conceivable justification for the terrorists’ actions the rule of law should have been enforced. Such would not have resulted in a dramatic end to the conflict but might have produced a real end to violence without the current unpeace with criminals (orange and green) given effectively free reign in parts of Northern Ireland and a bigoted sectarian terrorist godfather being deputy first minister.

    Such an approach would, however, have taken time and patience and most critically would not have gained plaudits for the likes of Blair and a legacy other than Iraq. In a nutshell Debbie, I would submit that one does not stop thieves by giving them some of what they want. One does so by two methods: firstly providing gainful employment to all one possibly can and benefits to ensure no one starves. Then one chases and locks up anyone who still commits crime as they have absolutely no excuse. I am not trying to be unpleasant but I suppose your solution to joy riding would be to give every 17 year old one of those Japanese rally type cars, making all the reasonable people stay off the roads and telling them that they can drive at whatever speed they want.

  • Turgon

    Debbie,
    Sorry I was much too sharp. I do think, however, that you and many others on here have bought into a fallacy that somehow we HAD to talk to terrorists and give them some of what they wanted. I do not agree: I think we had to remove any conceivable justification they had and then enforce the rule of law without fear or favour.

    As I often say I think we have created a moral decay and cancer in our society and we have an “unpeace” by which I mean the same as “undead:” neither alive nor dead but a horrible combination. In the same way neither peace nor physical conflict but a horrible combination which preys on, corrupts and will eventually destroy our society.

    Thank you for your kind words about my posts. In all honesty sometimes I think I should stop posting but nice comments do help.

    Regards and again sorry for being too sharp

  • Debbie

    No Turgon that is not my soloution to joy riding, please don’t prejudge my opinions. All I’m saying is that the road to peace was not easy. Sure there are godfathers of terror elevated to government, and you may call it unpeace, call it what ever you like, call it a ceasefire, armistice, I don’t care about semantics, all I care about is there is an absence of murder and mayhem. I think you’ll find that is the reaction of the loved ones of the fallen in Enniskillen and elsewhere. I’ll take the peace and let the people who want to damn it. Perhaps peace cannot come from evil, but then again there is always the exception to prove the rule.

    Peace at any price. Yip, for me anyway.

  • Debbie

    Sorry I was much too sharp.

    You weren’t sharp Turgon. this is debate I can take the rough and tumble, I have to or I wouldn’t be here. I meant what I said about your posts btw it wasn’t flattery 😉

  • Nicholas

    Peace at any price. Yip, for me anyway.

    Blimey. You would make Neville Chamberlain look like a warmonger.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Turgon, you people had 50 years to prove to the Irish that your statelet could at least tolerate them and you all hid your heads in the sand, at first not caring then not seeing and then trying to crush. And then the pigeons came home to roost. It’s no good saying that you personally did not feel like that.You are part of that community and bear a collective guilt.

  • New Yorker

    Debbie

    There was a choice to either wipe out the paramilitaries or talk to them and try to coax them into politics without murder, robbery, intimidation and many other criminal activities. The choice was taken to talk and so far the results are not good. But keep in mind there was a choice and there still is a choice, both options are still available. And it may soon be time to revisit the choice.

  • New Yorker

    Harry

    “It would be the final showdown and force the Brits on to the back foot and would probably lead to many casualties among the Protestant community but that was regarded as a price well worth paying.” – Do you think any of them really believed this? They were going to win a final showdown with the UK backed the US? Which are they, deluded or stupid?

  • Steve

    They are unabashed optimists as all revolutionaries are.

    If you want to live thlife they had to live you have to believe that you can and are going to win

    Nnew yorker what makes you think the english would allow the americans to intervene on an internal dispute. Asking for third party intervention is the final hurdle to admitting you can no longer handle the situation

    It would have been tantamount to admitting they lost to the IRA

  • Rory

    Turgon,

    Thank you for explaining the fundamentals of Calvinism. Sounds absolutely barbaric to me. I much prefer the comforts of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth meself, but each to his own.

    Malcolm,

    May I also say that I too think that you are truly wonderful and have no doubt but that you are incredibly handsome and a natty dresser to boot! I also wouldn’t mind betting that you are very kind to small children and dumb animals.

    p.s. Any chance of a loan of a fiver, mate?

  • Turgon

    Rory,
    Well side stepped and yes indeed Calvinism is not an easy explanation of Christianity. Incidentally Elenwe as the good Independent Methodist she is rejects it.

    However, that is not the relevant issue. As I said (and used Calvinism’s tenants to demonstrate), I claim no religious moral superiority over Adams and co. It is purely a secular moral superiority of non murderers and non terrorist godfathers over the murderers and their leaders. That is a moral superiority I do claim for myself and for most other decent people. It is our moral superiority over the people who murdered the victims of the troubles and over those who now commit acts of murder whatever their motivation.

  • PeaceandJustice

    The article below is worth posting in full. We need answers from McGuinness (Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland, UK) about the Enniskillen bombing carried out by Sinn Fein/PIRA. No inquiry into the Enniskillen Bloody Sunday yet over £180 million spent on events in Londonderry on a sunday in 1972. Why does the media give McGuinness such an easy time?
    __________________________________
    Lindy McDowell, June 23, 2007

    We need an inquiry into McGuinness

    Martin McGuinness has called for anyone with information about the murder of Captain Robert Nairac to come forward to the authorities. This is a start.

    But this is also surely an occasion where Mr McGuinness could lead by example. Might he not have information himself about past IRA ‘operations’ which he should now consider sharing with the appropriate authorities?

    Bearing in mind that he was a self-confessed senior commander in the IRA, it goes without saying that he just might have some knowledge which would shed light on other ‘incidents’.

    There’s much public debate at the moment about the rights and wrongs and outrageous expense of high-profile public inquiries.

    These have been concentrated exclusively on allegations of state involvement in a small number of cases. The financial cost has been and continues to be staggering. And the outcome is even unlikely to satisfy the families involved.

    But much more damaging is the anger and hurt these show inquiries have caused in the wider community.

    The message sent has been that only where so-called collusion is alleged does the death appear to matter. The thousands murdered by the IRA, for example, do not seem to rate anything like the same concern.

    Former members of the security forces have had their lives and their actions placed under intense and entirely unbalanced scrutiny.

    Meanwhile, former terror chiefs are so cocksure their own past actions won’t be up for similar public analysis that they can cheerfully call for inquiries left, right and centre and urge others to come clean. Since Mr McGuinness is now himself a highly placed agent of the state, surely it would be only fair that he, too – and others on both sides like him – be asked to talk the rest of us through what he did and what he knows.

    In fact, instead of having inquiries into specific killings might it not be cheaper, more efficient and more enlightening all round if we had inquiries into specific organisations which carried out the killings? With questions directed at the former leading lights in those specific organisations.

    Mr McGuinness, of course, may well have been kept in the dark entirely about past IRA operations. He himself might never have been an ‘activist’. But it’s hard to believe that a man who once described himself as a second-in-command of a terrorist band would not have some important information to share.

    Put it like this, had he been deputy manager of a firm which sold dodgy food items that caused customers gastric problems we’d feel entitled to ask what he knew about what precisely went on.

    Yet he’s gone from Deputy IRA Commander to Deputy First Minister all the while calling for others to be put under scrutiny. And nobody ever asks what his role entailed.

    Am I the only one who thinks that odd?

  • Cahal

    “No inquiry into the Enniskillen Bloody Sunday yet over £180 million spent on events in Londonderry on a sunday in 1972.”

    I’m a nationalist and I wouldn’t equate the British army to the IRA. It’s odd to see unionists doing so.

  • IRIA

    Hey PB & J,

    I’d like an investigation into Ian Paisley using UDA members as bodyguards…oh, those state sponsored murderers were legal…

  • Steve

    P&J;So the IRA are the moral equivalents of the british army? How generous of you to afford them this status.

    So you will be calling for thatcher to be deported to the Hague and her and her cabinet to be tried as war criminals

  • Harry Flashman

    [b]Turgon[/b]

    Fair enough, I can see where you’re coming from and have some sympathy with your position but I stress again I was not coming at Enniskilen from a moral dimension (I know that might sound callous given the nature of the event) but from a position of how it effected the “armed struggle” of the IRA.

    You believe that Adams was not seeking a peaceful way out back in 1988, I shared your belief for quite a long way into the ‘peace process’ but I think I now see that he was in fact acting to bring the armed struggle to an end and in doing so he faced very strong opposition from within.

    Be assured I don’t believe he was some sort of reformed character who, seeing the error of his ways, sought merely peace and harmony, he wasn’t, he was and remains a very cynical politician who happened to believe that the violence of the IRA was now counter-productive to the advancement of his still strongly held Republican beliefs.

    I also happen to agree with you that a lot of the compromises that have been achieved along the way of the peace process have been fairly nauseating and wish a somewhat more robust attitude had been adopted by both governments but we are where we are today and as a simple historical fact the atrocity at Enniskillen was a major factor in getting the process started.

    [b]andy[/b]

    Tullyhommon[d] (not sure of the spelling) was a bomb which failed to go off that Remembrance Day, if it had gone off the target would have been a party of Boy Scouts travelling to a ceremony, thank God it failed to detonate. I agree it was somewhat out of the ordinary run of Provo tactics but then so was bombing RUC men’s funerals up until earlier that year and reflects the anger among the IRA about the disruption being caused to their funerals at that time.

    [b]New Yorker[/b]

    No I do not believe the IRA really believed they could defeat the British Army in a great big set piece campaign along the Clogher Valley. But with the huge amount of weaponry, including big Russian anti-aircraft guns, SAM’s, hundreds of AK47’s as well as the tons of Semtex they could have put up quite a show and caused massive shock and international reaction.

    They might then lose militarily but the Brits would be forced to finally negotiate a peace deal, that is why it is named after the “Tet Offensive”, the 1968 assault by the Viet Cong in which the Americans thoroughly routed the VC but which nonetheless had such a shock for American and world opinion that the Americans eventually sued for peace.

    You must realise that the “Long War” was simply dragging on into infinity by the mid 1980’s, sure the Provos could kill the odd UDR man and once a year stage a ‘spectacular’ but they could see it was going nowhere. Hence there were only two options, either seek some sort of honourable settlement and continue the fight through the growing electoral strength of Sinn Fein or go for the big one and really let rip with all the new gear they had in bunkers throughout Ireland.

    Enniskillen knocked the Tet idea on the head and most of Ghadafhi’s gifts lay rusting in the fields around Mullingar before being concreted up in 2006.

    A few die hards to this day regret that decision and dream “if only…”, normal sane people realise that for the Provos, Adams was their only option.

  • New Yorker

    Harry

    I don’t agree with the scenario you proposed. I believe if they had pulled a Tet in the Clogher Valley, no measure would be not used to wipe them out, with the active assistance of the US. Such an atrocity would have been decisively dealt with. From a US perspective the response would have been to wipe them out once and for all. The provos were, and still are, an embarrassment to Irish Americans in the professions and business, the overwhelming majority of us. Their support came from bar staff and hod carriers, not people who make the important decisions. The US would have been, I believe, very strongly against any type of negotiation and even provided special forces to exterminate them.

    This raises the issue of what the reason for the provo war was. When they started their war it was about 25 years after the WWII victory. Did they really think they could win a war against the UK backed up by the US? Perhaps the slow and the dreamers did, but realists could not have. There were some who knew it was not a good idea to get into a fight you cannot possibly win. So what did the realists think the reason for war was? In my view to them it was an opportunity to get richer. Some provo leaders at the time bought buildings in Belfast, had their minions blow them up and then had a ‘fire sale’ of the leftovers. That was the beginning of the criminal godfather empires. Get the slow and dreamers to do the dirty work and squirrel away the ever flowing proceeds…to this day. What’s your view?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Turgon,

    I do believe that the majority of unionist politicians had little (if any) involvement with loyalists, certainly a lot less than most SF members had with the IRA.

    This is the part you need to fix. There’s a newspaper photograph posted on another thread showing Peter Robinson at the head of a UDA march alongside the UDA leadership; if I’m right, one of the guys was convicted and sent to prison for attempting to assassinate Gerry Adams. Above his head is a UDA/UFF/YCV/etc banner concerning prisoner’s rights. Yet, this man rose to power and has come to lead the largest unionist party in NI.

    So yes, unionism has elected as it’s leader a man who apparently maintained some kind of relationship with the UDA. That went on right up until recently with the news that he had visited Billy Wright in jail, during a time when Ian Paisley said that anyone having talks with terrorists would be immediately expelled from the party. Jim Allister joined that party (wasn’t he asked to by Robinson?) which kind of makes a joke out of his own non-terrorist credentials.

    I do not see the difference between voting for politicians with a private army, and voting for politicians who maintain some kind of relationship with a private army. What’s the distinction ?

  • PeaceandJustice

    Comrade Stalin – “I do not see the difference between voting for politicians with a private army, and voting for politicians who maintain some kind of relationship with a private army. What’s the distinction ?”

    I’m not on here to defend the DUP. However, many Sinn Fein PIRA posters were involved in street protests. It’s not always possible to control who turns up to such events with their banners etc. There is a world of difference between that and Sinn Fein PIRA murdering Protestants by night and then by day using weasel words to justify murder. And now the majority of Roman Catholics vote for Sinn Fein PIRA – the murder gang who carried out the Enniskillen Bloody Sunday. As mentioned by someone else, Gillian Johnston a 21 year old Protestant girl was also murdered in Fermanagh that year by SF PIRA. And SF PIRA planted a bomb at Tullyhommon, 15 miles from Enniskillen, but it failed to explode. At that parade there was a very limited security force presence. Those taking part were overwhelmingly young people – around 200 members of the local boys’ and girls’ brigades. These people are entitled to the truth. Perhaps the majority of Roman Catholics could ask the SF PIRA people they elect for answers about their sectarian killing spree. Any chance of that?

    Steve/IRIA – “So the IRA are the moral equivalents of the british army”

    Of course they’re not. And even the Sinn Fein PIRA death squad leaders used that excuse so that they could go on asking for inquiries while not providing answers to their victims. Your logic seems to be that because Sinn Fein PIRA were terrorists, they shouldn’t have to answer questions. As Lindy McDowell said above “[McGuinness has] gone from Deputy IRA Commander to Deputy First Minister all the while calling for others to be put under scrutiny. And nobody ever asks what his role entailed. Am I the only one who thinks that odd?”

  • Steve

    P&J;Tell me how would you propose an enquiry into the IRA be conducted?

    Honestly its a plain question, how do you conduct an inquiry into the IRA?

  • Despite the real lack of interest in what Peter Taylor is claiming, I still believe that he is wrong to contend that the Enniskillen massacre was the critical turning point in the Provos seeking peace.

    This is just more British disinformation.

    While ‘Steak knife’ was pleased to have arranged the capture of the Eksund by the French DST at the end of October 1987, he was appalled at the Provos’ retaliation at Enniskillen, vowing to stop it if they ever planned another one.

    When another one was planned at The Rock in March 1988, ‘Steak knife’ aka John Oakes worked with his FRU handler, Margaret Walshaw apparently, to stop it peaceful, not realizing that Crazy Maggie had turned it into an MI5-SAS ambush killing.

    While the Brits felt that this PIRA failure would lead to ‘Steak knife’s outing and convenient killing, their loyalist supporters went so wild in the aftermath that he escaped notice.

    He then mounted a renewed terror campaign which brought CM to the negotiating table.

    P. s. Don’t give me Martin Ingram’s rubbish that ‘Steak knife’ is really Freddie Scap aka ‘Stake knife’.

    Just look at the photos of the PIRA on cryptome, org., noticing that List A, the top leadership photos, are absent, while Freddie is in the third echelon. Freddie cannot be a top tout!

    Why would the RUC hold back the A List, and I wonder who could compose? Anyone see ‘Steak knife’?

  • Peter Brown

    Andy

    Until you come up with the missing transcripts berar in mind that PIRA itself couldn’t even decide what sort of accident it was – their initial excuse was the bomb’s radio control must have been detonated by a security force sweep of the area only for that to go down the plughole when the timing device was put on display to show that it was never a radio controlled device
    So the IRA are the moral equivalents of the british army? How generous of you to afford them this status.

    Steve

    “So the IRA are the moral equivalents of the british army? How generous of you to afford them this status”

    Ignoring the status of the army and PIRA moral or otherwise – are you saying that their victims are less entitled to their inquiries?

    “So you will be calling for thatcher to be deported to the Hague and her and her cabinet to be tried as war criminals”

    Name one British Army war crime in Northern Ireland and I’ll give you at least a hundred times as many carried out by terrorists both loyalist and republican unless you since you last dug this hole have discovered some new international laws which no-one else knows about….

  • Redman

    @steve

    They are unabashed optimists as all revolutionaries are.

    If you want to live thlife they had to live you have to believe that you can and are going to win

    Frankly even if the British state unilaterally withdrew from Northern Ireland I’d still have put their chances of “winning” at less than 50%, if by winning is meant the end result being a 32 county united Ireland. Subduing a hostile native population within a divided society can be a much more onerous and drawn out task even when there is not that much heavy weaponry about as the civil wars in Bosnia, the Lebanon and presently Iraq illustrate. Realistically most of them don’t have any option to withdraw.

    All the IRA would have “won” would be hell on earth.

  • Comrade Stalin

    PeaceAndJustice:

    I’m not on here to defend the DUP.

    But then you proceed to do so.

    However, many Sinn Fein PIRA posters were involved in street protests.

    Yes, I know. Sinn Fein do not deny their links to the IRA. Until recently, they did not pretend to be committed to peaceful and democratic means. They were part of a violent campaign and they made no bones admitting that.

    Compare this to unionism. It associates closely with the loyalist men of violence, and simultaneously claims to condemn them and support only peaceful means. Why do the unionist electorate consistently reward unionist politicians who fail to properly condemn loyalist paramilitarism, or people like Willie McCrea who openly join them in shows of solidarity ?

    It’s not always possible to control who turns up to such events with their banners etc.

    This pathetic bullshit has been wheeled out by unionism since day 1, and not only does it prove that you are a phoney, it proves that your arrogance knows no bounds, such that you feel that you can insult the intelligence of anyone who contributes here.

    Please don’t give me this bullshit. For a start, unionists had the choice to quite freely pull out of any demonstrations or protests where loyalists appeared. This would have sent out the signal that unionists would not tolerate paramilitarism and would not countenance marches being taken over by terrorists. Instead, they chose to attend anyway, providing a veil of legitimacy and respectability to murdering thugs like John Gregg.

    Unionists had no trouble boycotting or refusing to attend events where republicans attended. Why couldn’t they refuse to attend events where armed loyalists were present ? To me the reason is obvious, but I’d be happy to hear your explanation.

    There is a world of difference between that and Sinn Fein PIRA murdering Protestants by night and then by day using weasel words to justify murder.

    I’ve heard unionists use weasel words to justify murder. I specifically remember unionist MPs describing, in several cases, that certain loyalist attacks were “wrong but understandable”. This was an MP who was elected by the unionist voters. Why did he feel that he could say that in public ?

    And now the majority of Roman Catholics vote for Sinn Fein PIRA – the murder gang who carried out the Enniskillen Bloody Sunday.

    And the majority of Prods voted firstly for Trimble, who rose to power during Drumcree which incorporated face to face negotiations with Billy Wright, and Third Force “don’t come running to me if they burn you out of your houses” anti-RUC Paisley. What’s the difference ?

    entitled to the truth. Perhaps the majority of Roman Catholics could ask the SF PIRA people they elect for answers about their sectarian killing spree. Any chance of that?

    If you’re going to deny the role of the unionist politicians and the unionist electorate in loyalist and state atrocities, then why should the IRA own up to anything ? Why should unionists get away with supporting fascists like Bill Craig/Vanguard ?

    (BTW I look forward to the day when the terrorists will account for their atrocities. Because of people like you, I don’t think it will ever happen. Sad but true. )

  • Steve

    Peter
    So its only a matter of scale that seperates a war criminal from a run of the mill criminal?

    Just for a go

    Internment
    Torture
    Failure to treat prisoners as war prisoners and extending them their rights by the Geneva Convention
    Terrorism of occupied populations
    Murder of unarmed civilians

  • Steve

    Redman
    Frankly even if the British state unilaterally withdrew from Northern Ireland I’d still have put their chances of “winning” at less than 50%,

    Sorry not actually trying to be rude but what part of unabashed optimist didnt you understand? I never claimed it was a realistic or even attainable goal only that they must have believed it was. To be an IRA republican you either have to be an unabashed optimist or a suicidal idiot, since they didnt resort to kamikaze attacks, I would assume the suicidal factor was reasonably low.

    And my point about an inquiry into the IRA was it would come down to exactly what happens on here everyday, you would either have to believe the securocrats or believe the IRA and every one would end up believeing the side they chose to believe in the first place

  • Redman

    Sorry not actually trying to be rude but what part of unabashed optimist didnt you understand? I never claimed it was a realistic or even attainable goal only that they must have believed it was.

    I wasn’t disagreeing with anything you said. Nor, as far as I can see have you disagreed with anything I’ve said. So what’s the problem?

  • Peter Brown

    Internment

    Nope not a war crime

    Torture

    Nope – inhuman and degrading treatment maybe but only actual torturers were terrorists

    Failure to treat prisoners as war prisoners and extending them their rights by the Geneva Convention

    Ah now here we go again – Gebeva Convention only applies were both sides play by the rules of war you really should read it some time. Terrorists by their definition as those who do not recognise or play by these rules=no Geneva Convention but we have had this discussion before. Do you need the same quotes that shut you up last time repeated?

    Terrorism of occupied populations

    More specifically…

    Murder of unarmed civilians

    I think that my point still stands – that although the Security Forces undoubtedly murdered unarmed civilians the only question is who falls into this category – I’ll repeat it for you

    “Name one British Army war crime in Northern Ireland and I’ll give you at least a hundred times as many carried out by terrorists both loyalist and republican ”

    Look at the stats on murders / killings carried out by the security forces and terrorists and bear in mind that every murder by terrorists is in fact a war crime as they never recognised the rules of war.

  • Steve

    Redman

    as it seems we understand each other no problems at all

    Peter

    Again then you agree that the english forces were criminals as much as the IRA though you claim on a smaller scale

    Let me ask if Hitler only murdered half as many Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and slavs, he would only be half as evil as he was?

  • Peter Brown

    I accept that a small number of killings carreid out by the security forces were undoubtedly unlawful – manslaughter and in some cases murder but rarely cold blooded. Every killing by terrorists measured against the same yardstick was also unlawful and often murder in cold blood and premeditated.

    Can you accept any blame on the prt of terrorists republicans in particular? Or do you still believe that they were gallant soldiers murdering prisoner officers on the chapel steps at hteir sisters weddings while holding the hands of the infant daughters? If so borrow a copy of Rattle and Hum and listen to Bono’s reaction to Enniskillen which Taylor reminded us of last night? Or did he only say that because he’s a bigoted prod?

  • Steve

    Peter

    Its you with the moral relevance problem not me, You are excusing murder because in your eyes the IRA murdered more people so that murder by security forces was completely justified

    Theirs many a dead child in nIreland that will be comforted by the fact that their murders were justified.