Brian Feeney makes a strong point in yesterday’s Irish News in which he contrasts the ‘good’ IRA (the one that spawned the mainstream political parties of the Republic), and the ‘bad’, the one operated solely by their political rivals, Sinn Fein.
If there is a difference in the treatment given each, then it is surely dependent on more than just an inchoate animus within the southern media towards us rough neck Nordies. Three alternative factors immediately come to mind:
- The ‘Free State’ parties won their struggle for independence, and ran for democratic election within the state they founded off the back of the Anglo Irish Treaty;
- Those Irish (and British) citizens affected by the killings of the war of independence and the subsequent civil war are mostly now long dead;
- Most of their ex combatants officially acknowledged the detail of their own war records.
Martin’s war record has now, for the sake of a poorly prepared Presidential campaign, been at least nine tens buried for the sake of his party’s immediate political ambitions. In the process they have gifted a few more hostages to their political opponents.
So the campaign is now being run on the thread bare fiction that Mr McGuinness left the IRA in 1974. By all credible accounts, this is simply not true. To discount the overwhelming weight of evidence in order to facilitate the political progress of one candidate over the other six is to suggest that an awful of people are lying.
For instance, take this piece from Peter Murtagh in today’s Irish Times:
Sometime in June 1986, I arrived on the doorstep on their home in Shantallow, a sprawling suburb of north Derry, much of it given over to public housing.
The door was opened; I said who I was, what I was interested in, and asked would they talk to me. I was ushered inside to the sitting room. The atmosphere was fraught.
At this remove, I remember a couple of women and a child or two. A middle-aged woman, as I recall, began to talk. She said Martin McGuinness had things to answer; that he promised Frank would be safe; that Frank had gone to see McGuinness, or had left in his company. Now he was dead, shot through the head. They wanted answers.
There was a knock on the door. Two men came in. One stood directly in front of me, cutting me off from the women. The other engaged the woman who had been talking to me. I was ushered out, out to a waiting car.
Inside the car sat Martin McGuinness. The family is very upset, he said. It wasn’t good to talk to them right now; in fact, they really couldn’t talk right now. It wasn’t a negotiation. The interview was over. Ended by McGuinness and his two heavies.
There is an argument, as Danny Morrison rather eloquently outlined on Nolan this morning, to be made which says when examining individual incidents we should take note of the wider context of the time. Quite so. But for proper context you need access to the fuller range of facts. A commodity strangely [or not so strangely? – Ed] lacking in the case of the IRA.
In the meantime this morning, the southern press seems a great deal more pre-occupied with chasing Senator David Norris over his letters than the minutiae of Martin’s War… Though if context is what really is needed, there are plenty of people who are still in the process of digging…
Ed Moloney for one, with a very coolly written piece on the wider context of the Hegarty execution…
In the meantime, let’s just remember there are also six other candidates in the race, each making their own sales pitches for the Aras…
Welcome to the Irish Presidential Dragon’s Den…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty