Only a millimetre between disillusion and renewed militancy

A couple of good close accounts, one from a former soldier, now the Telegraph on Sunday’s defence correspondent contrasting then with now and describing the huge scale of the operation that it took to contain the IRA. Familiar apostates Richard O’Rawe , quoted by Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times and Anthony McIntyre get an outing in the UK national press, making you realise that it is only a small turn of a screw that transforms their embittered disillusion into supporters of a horrible new ( to me) acronym, ONH. Once people desperate to be thought in the know sport your acronym, you know you’re in business. Denis Murray accurately recalls the 70s reporters’ routine which sounds so insensitive in the new touchy- feely world of today. What I remember is that no one ever asked you what it was like to experience repeatedly the aftermath of murder and horror – I suspect as the Eames/Bradley testimony reminds us, that this was a common experience, even among those who suffered directly. Have people now become genuinely more civilised or merely more sentimental?

Richard O’Rawe was an IRA prisoner on the same wing as Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death in 1981. He has now renounced violence but understands the forces that drive the dissidents.

I would not have joined the IRA in the first place if I was told this [power-sharing with the unionists] would be the outcome,” he said. “Who in their right minds would do a minute in jail for this? There was no need for anyone to die. It could have all have been done 30 or 35 years ago in a peaceful way.

Anthony McIntyre

Treading in our footsteps they will secure the same defeat, but for Martin McGuinness to denounce them as traitors for following the example he set for decades is to commit an act of treachery against truth.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London