Decency vs. necessity and that big river in Africa

With the discovery of what seem to be the remaims of Charlie Armstrong almost 30 years after his disappearance,  Gerry Adams has persisted with a claim the IRA had no involvement in his death.

Well, there’s no evidence to suggest that the IRA was involved

Of course Adams and the IRA have form for denying involvement in ‘disappearing’ people. Despite (very belatedly) admitting other killings and disposal of bodies, until recently they denied anything to do with Joe Lynskey’s disappearance for nearly 40 years. Denial that continued until days before an article appeared in the Irish News where Dolours Price admitted the IRA had carried out the killing.

As Slugger previously noted SF members have managed to gain possession of pre-release material in the past. So it is open to questions if any further revelations/admissions will come through decency or as a result of necessity.

, , , , , , ,

  • padraig

    Wonderful journalism.

    They say they didn’t.

    I say they did.

    They say they didn’t.

    I say they did.

    They say they didn’t.

    I say they did.

    They say they didn’t.

    I say they did.

  • If they had any decency in them the people who did this would keep very, very quiet, unless of course someone wants to name the murderers…

  • redhugh78

    So tell us Mark, (seen as you’re a former member of the organisation SF/IRA that disappeared and all that) why did they ‘disappear’ Mr Armstrong exactly?

    You seem to be very sure they are responsible based on absuloutely no evidence so I take it you’re in the know.

  • Mark McGregor


    They shot him dead and buried him in a bog because he refused to let them take his car at gunpoint.

    I thought everyone knew this?

  • redhugh78

    Apart from hearsay and ‘paper talk’ that is, I should have said Mark.

  • Michael

    It’s galling the man can stand on the steps with the families of those murdered in Ballymurphy and be so flippant (once again) about the murder of another human being.

  • West Sider

    That’s what I’ve heard. And that is what all the facts point to. I’d be surprised if the truth, if indeed it ever emerges, is markedly different from that.

    I don’t understand why Adams doesn’t acknowledge this. Who else could it have been?

  • West Sider

    Just noticed Eamonn’s tweet:

    “Who else did it? It is an open secret in the locality.” FF’s Martin McAllister on IRA denial of kidnapping and killing of Charlie Armstrong

    My sentiments exactly.

  • Adams stated (on the UTV item Mark linked to) that who committed Mr. Armstrong’s murder was “an issue of secondary importance.”

  • Gerry Adams stated that who committed Mr Armstrong’s murder was of secondary importance.


  • Pippakin,
    Yes 1:40 into the UTV piece

  • Turgon

    Broadband being difficult can’t get it to work on the piece. having said that the last thing I need is to hear the bearded one lie again, and again…and ag…

  • Oracle

    What an arsehole thing to say

  • Oracle

    adams that is pip not you

  • Pippakin,
    To be exact here is the quote:
    “Well there’s no evidence to suggest the IRA was involved: and, er, you know it may be an issue of secondary importance. The fact is that this man was killed and his remains buried. Whoever did it there is at least now the hope that the family and particularly his widow Kathleen will have her wish that decades later to be able to bury her husband and to visit a grave”

  • Turgon

    Thanks for that. The hypocrisy of the creature is quite breathtaking.


    Thank you! I did look. I thought who would say that about anything I said. only problem is the list got so long…

  • Drumlin Rock

    they did

  • Damian O’Loan

    Following the publication of the McIntyre/Hughes interviews, Adams made the following declaration on a “light-hearted” post to Leargas;

    “I have made it clear to both governments and in public remarks that the legacy of the past requires an independent, international truth commission to be established by an acceptable and reputable international body. It is a matter of public record that I personally would be prepared to give evidence and to encourage others to give evidence to such a genuine truth recovery process.”

    Under the title The Ides of March. I’m not sure whether it is a statement of his sense of betrayal or a threat to survivors seeking justice.

    The ten principles SF holds regarding truth recovery make not a single mention of justice.

    Until now, it has defied belief that this man should be trusted to represent the demand for truth on collusion, but on grounds of morality and perhaps suspicions of allegiance.

    But now – is whether the British government was involved in collusion and murder a secondary question? Apparently Gerry thinks so – even if not he certainly can’t be taken seriously as an advocate for anyone seeking truth and justice.

    Republicanism needs to be very clear that it is either Gerry Adams or the truth. We can’t have both.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “The ten principles SF holds regarding truth recovery make not a single mention of justice.”

    Don’t think that the one for South Africa did either. So your point is?

    Truth and reconciliation. Not, truth, justice and reconciliation. The reason is simple. Who in the hell is going to incriminate themselves if they face Amnesty International’s justice? Look, anyone and everyone with a functioning cerebral cortex treats AI for the joke that it is, but you should be able to figure this one out all on your own. The first two casualties in our quest for justice in our court system(s) are truth and reconciliation. And if that weren’t enough, ever read a Settlement Agreement And Release? Perhaps you should. The defendant’s insurer is tendering a not insignificant sum of money in exchange for the release of all claims held by the plaintiff against its insured that arise out of the incident(s) in question. The SAAR also provides that despite the tender, the defendant and its insurer are in no way admitting any liability or fault. Instead, they are buying their peace. Useful little phrase there, buying your peace. Apply that to this context and you’ll see why we don’t want “justice” to be part of the process. In other words, you aren’t there to do justice. You’re there to buy your peace. That’s where the truth and reconciliation comes in.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “In other words, you aren’t there to do justice. You’re there to buy your peace. That’s where the truth and reconciliation comes in.”

    You just showed me something that establishes no truth except the fact of silence. Which should be a great basis for reconciliation alongside ‘separate but equal’ policy and a blanket no to justice.

    That’s a bedrock for stability. Perhaps we should just scrap the entire justice system and replace it with a current account balance database.

    Justice can be an end in itself – see Hannah Arendt on Eichmann for this, or it can be an ontological reality in time – see Rawls or Sen for a contemporary view. Both depend on truth, and you will note that the British-maintained Apartheid regime did not cooperate with the TRC. Just as Adams has set himself against truth, reconciliation and justice.

    There cannot be reconciliation, and democratic foundations are irreversibly damaged, without the two expressions of justice mentioned.

    To abstract one element from the triumvirate is a baseless, senseless and counter-productive ambition that betrays gross indifference to victims, survivors and society as a whole.

  • Cynic

    So why did they then spread rumours that he was a tout?

  • Cynic

    Aye…like who ordered the murder of Jean McConville, La Mon…………

  • Alan Maskey

    Stop picking on Gerry. He hjas suffered. He should get his reward like a TV prgogramme where he doles out rewards. Our winner this week is Kathleen Armstrong. And here is your prize, your husband’s bones. Then she could give him a peck on the cheek and we could all cla. Or throw rottwen cabbages, as some of us might prefer.

  • belfast greyhound

    Let’s not be too hard on the Sainted Beardie here.
    How could he know anything about it since he was never a member of the IRA?

  • Alan Maskey

    Adams is probably right. For all the hulabaloo about Jean McConvville, the most …. of these victims, she got a small send off.

    Alex maskey, it must be noted, did attend a minuscule funeral for another victim (and relative),. Sinn Fein going the extra mile as always for the Peace Process and for appearances.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “To abstract one element from the triumvirate is a baseless, senseless and counter-productive ambition that betrays gross indifference to victims, survivors and society as a whole.”

    Am I the anti-Christ too?

    I count the gain (the gain arising from a more shared more just future) to the individual wronged in the society to be a form or manner of justice for the past wrong. You risk having it so that while you’re bent on addressing the righting of past wrong, the rest of the societal edifice crumbles around you.

    Herman Melville called John Brown the meteor of the war (the US Civil War). Maybe the great State of Virginia should have just sent John Brown on his merry way instead of trying him for treason and making him the meteor of the war. In other words, some in ole Virginia got justice under law and John Brown’s wrong at Harper’s Ferry was righted, i.e., some got their retributive justice. But they also got insurrection, civil war, defeat, and reconstruction. Who knew that justice for John Brown at Harper’s Ferry was worth (cost) so much.

    The short form way of saying that is, justice with ashes. Not my phrase, but Desmond Tutu’s. Told the Rwandans that when they chose international criminal tribunal over truth and reconciliation. But that’s what Virginia got as result of justice for the victims of John Brown, a justice with ashes.

    Lastly, why on God’s green and verdant earth do I care about Eichmann? You picked a singularly inane example. No one, repeat, no one expected Germans and Jews to build a post-Holocaust Germany together. So it was a-okay to have some retributive justice complete with Nuremberg tribunal (Eichmann is mere embellishment well after the fact)(and more vengeance than justice). But you are trying to do something else, to wit, build a society together when neither side has won nor lost. And so tell me, how do you achieve justice, when you aren’t close to agreeing on whether P O’Neill shooting the BA or RUC man dead is crime or act of liberation? So, yeah, go ahead and tear your society even more asunder than it already is.

    Almost forgot, but get your head out the clouds as well, as such condition is fogging your mind. You wrote:

    democratic foundations are irreversibly damaged

    Since when have you all had a democracy that could be damaged? You’ve now an artificial power-sharing construct and you have that construct so that the elite of the one tribe doesn’t go all Jim Crow on the other tribe. Not exactly the “foundation” (to use your word) on which to distribute some retributive justice. And note that restorative justice doesn’t help you here either, since there’s still that same problem of, was he offender or victim? Maybe you can speak with Mr. Frazer on the topic of “Republican scum”. Ditto Jim Allister.

    For another almost forgot, but are you Catholic by any chance? I read this on the one site:

    Another essential requisite for forgiveness and reconciliation is justice…There is no contradiction between forgiveness and justice. Forgiveness neither eliminates nor lessens the need for the reparation which justice requires, but seeks to integrate individuals and groups into society, and States into the community of Nations.

    That is why I am no longer a practicing Catholic. Apparently, the good padre has never read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, which makes plain the error of our padre friend. By the way, verse 21 is why I am Christian. Life imitates science. And so verse 21 in scientific terms translates as: he who knew no sin (zero entropy state) was made sin for us (assumed the entropy of the system). As any student of entropy knows, even at the quantum level, on entering the system the Outside Ordering Energy must necessarily bear the consequence of the entropy of the system (call it a vicarious atonement). But, again, note who paid the price of reconciliation. God Itself. So there can be reconciliation without justice. For one more by the way, I rather doubt that your man Rawls can even comprehend the late Jackie Robinson. Rawls posits some singular representative human looking to serve that human’s self-interest. The words on Jackie’s tombstone: A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. So why the need for going behind some abstract and imaginary veil of ignorance when we could just as easily decide to live Jacke’s creed?

  • Séamus Rua


    Surely you knew about such matters whilst a member of Sinn Féin?

  • Drumlin Rock

    I know mercy and grace out weight justice, and although it is not often acknowledged enough we have seen a lot of both here, but there is a lot further to go.
    Justice isn’t merely about convicting the guilty but clearing the innocent, as the bloody sunday relatives stated a few weeks ago, the armstrongs still need the truth to do that.
    I have to say it does sound sickening to hear Adams offer his condolences to “Kathleen” as if he is an old friend and not an associate of her husbands murderers, quite perverse really.

  • Damian O’Loan


    I’ve a little difficulty getting to exactly what you’re trying to say. It seems to be that justice is ok as long as it doesn’t risk further crimes by the original perpetrator of injustice. This is what Tutu holds as well, and I agree that this could be a representation of Christian, particularly Catholic, justice. Without wishing to seem arrogant, I don’t agree with Tutu. I agree with the idea that justice is blind.

    Which I think is the idea you find societally dangerous. I agree, but consider it less so than its absence – the unchecked rule of force. Perhaps I consider Rousseau’s view of human nature more complete than Hobbes’ and you hold the reverse. I think Hobbes disastrous for a society emerging from conflict.

    Equally, your argument ignores the ontological justice that is the preserve of the CSI strategy, or claims that retributive justice is at odds with it. I consider that inconsistent, only credible on the shortest of timescales, or not at all.

    Again, any attempt to divorce these elements of stability is highly counter-productive.

    Your point on the nature of the institutions is valid, it seems odd to try to build democracy on such an artificial construction. But the temporary nature, or inherent instability can evolve in one of two ways. Either people in NI can live on the principles of democracy and the rules of law accepted in both the UK and Ireland – justice and individual freedom – or they can go back to the rule of force. It’s by living democratically, I’d suggest, that people in NI can best prepare for a secure future in which individual expression is facilitated. You’ll note the parallel nature of democracy and justice – they are without preconceived ends.

    The apparent contradictions between justice and reconciliation are best faced with this kind of spirit. I’m less interested in the acknowledgement of guilt than the acknowledgement of the act itself, including its human consequences. It’s truth around this that can lead to a far more important kind of justice – ontological, or if you like everyday, justice. Then the historians and others can build a narrative for years to come within the framework of academic principles quite in harmony with peace and democracy.

  • Alan Maskey

    In the case of Jean McConville what did you expect? Her family had been split asunder, the children left to the mercies of the state. Her funeral could hardly be other than small.

    For the rest of the disappeared the same applies.

    I would like to see all those responsible for such callous acts charged with murder and the hardship and suffering they caused to the bereaved. Compensation is due and the bill rests at the door of those provisional elements who knew what was happening in their name and did nothing,

  • vanhelsing


  • vanhelsing

    Grizzly Adams stated that ‘who committed Mr Armstrong’s murder was of secondary importance’ [I assume to finding the body]

    Come on Ger no double standards on this one surely.. Or is it just when the IRA murder someone that it doesn’t matter….?

    Doesn’t matter that this guy wouldn’t let the volunteers steal his car – so they shot him for it…sick completely sick

  • vanhelsing

    Sick, completely sick.

    I agree, completely.

  • Granni Trixie

    I attended Mrs McConville’s funeral and it was grand – would not describe it as above at all. In passing, did notice however that her daughter turned away from the embrace of Fr Reid as did an SDLP MLA. Make of that what you will but to me it was significant (particularly if you know from the book written by Seasmus McKendry that they had such a runaround when they tried to get help to get talking to Adams and the IRA about the location of their mother).

    Also, on question of did the IRA disappear Mr Armstrong, surely it cannot be coincidence that his remains have been found so close to sites of other disappeared (3?).
    Perhaps when Gerry says it is ‘not the IRA’ he means it was not officially sanctioned by the IRA – that their members were only doing ‘homers’.