I found Rusty’s blog on the execution of Joe O’Connor personally challenging and greatly appreciate it for that alone. While revisiting the events leading up to his death and reactions after in such detail was worthwhile of itself, the final paragraph lays down a much harder question to many of those that dissented from SF republicanism post ‘Agreement’.
“The hatred engendered during that time still runs deep; to acknowledge that McIntyre and Gorman were right, and not just about the O’Connor murder but in their complete analysis of where the Provisional Movement was going, means these new dissidents – Provos ten years ago – must acknowledge they were wrong, and accept some amount of guilt, not only for how they treated the likes of McIntyre and Gorman and other dissidents such as Brendan Hughes and, later, Richard O’Rawe, but for their complicity in enabling the Provisionals to lead Republicanism to where it is today: nowhere.”
In many of the comments to Rusty’s blog SF loyalists persisted with the attitude maintained at the time of O’Connor’s removal from life; vilify the messengers, deny culpability from their ‘movement’, fire counter-allegations wherever possible, slur and refuse to speak hard truths. That wasn’t/isn’t their mission though; their job is to ensure the success of the Stormont project (aka ‘The Process’) and who would expect anything but dirty tackles again this time round? There is no possibility of them admitting the lies of the past when they’re living the Stormont dream they denied ever desiring.
The challenge in the blog is to those that were previously part of the provisional movement, in whatever capacity, who moved away (or on) post 1998. Those that by action or inaction were party to mindsets that allowed O’Connor’s execution to take place and/or the intimidation of those who would speak up over it. Those who never revisited those attitudes and failings that were a central part of their membership. Those that turned a blind eye, spun the ‘line’, stayed quiet and allowed the lies to become ‘truth’. Those that now reject Stormont, the PSNI and electoralism while having stayed quiet in an organisation that fully or partly supported them.
There are many instances where republican activists were party to the big lie approach – instances they rarely seem to address since leaving the provisional movement.
There are now several political groups, mostly populated by post Agreement SF and/or pIRA defectors, attempting to grow, attain influence at various levels, set scenes and build support – none are noted for critically examining where they came from, honestly addressing the failings they were party to and more importantly examining the fact they were actually part of building support for a movement endorsing things they now absolutely reject. Almost immediately they departed the provisional movement they mainly adopted a ‘Year Zero’ approach and collective amnesia over actions of the movement they publicly supported for years (despite any mainly unstated misgivings).
Of course ignoring the past makes it easier for people/groups to move on and rebuild, it doesn’t make it more likely they won’t repeat the failings of that past.
Rusty’s blog lays down a challenge for many later dissenting republicans – address the fact they supported ‘lines’ that were lies.
Some now supporting the Anniversary Commemoration for O’Connor would be better placed admitting where their heads were at at the time and what they were supporting then – admitting they were wrong, not just the provos.
There’s the big challenge for some; face the past or risk becoming the bastard offspring of the bitch that birthed you.