Martin McGuinness: “the past is a very, very dark place for everybody.”

In response to a challenge to appear in front of the Smithwick Tribunal, Sinn Féin’s candidate in the Irish Presidential election, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, has said that he has “no problem at all attending the tribunal”.  But he added that he has “no direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding” the murder of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

Earlier today, Martin McGuinness said he could not recall the incident Peter Murtagh wrote about in today’s Irish Times, threatened Frank Hegarty’s family with recounting his own version of events, and claimed that “the past is a very, very dark place for everybody”.

From the Irish Times report

Mr McGuinness has repeatedly denied that he lured so-called IRA “informer’’ Frank Hegarty back to Derry to his death in 1986. Asked about an article in today’s Irish Times , in which Foreign Editor Peter Murtagh outlined an encounter with Mr McGuinness in a car outside the Hegarty home in Derry in 1986, Mr McGuinness said he did not recall the incident.

When it was put to Mr McGuinness that he told the Hegarty family it was safe for Mr Hegarty to return home, Mr McGuinness said that was not true.

“That is not true, and the Hegarty family know that. I could articulate in this interview exactly what happened, but if I did that it would be very hurtful and indeed very damaging to the Hegarty family,” he said. He claimed one member of the family knew what had happened, “and I am not going to put that person in a predicament”.

Speaking generally about his past, Mr McGuinness said people in Northern Ireland were not “obsessed by any of this”. He added: “The reality is that the past is a very, very dark place for everybody.”

Not for everybody, Martin…

And then there’s this line.

“What I do find I suppose bemusing [is] that when I come to Dublin you will find a number of people who themselves don’t understand that there is an art to peacemaking and that they too need to have a role in that instead of taking up confrontational positions,” Mr McGuinness said.

[Don’t ask ‘stupid’ questions? – Ed]  Indeed.

Except that Martin McGuinness isn’t “peacemaking”, artistically or otherwise. 

He’s trying to get elected as the President of Ireland.

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  • keano10

    Erm, well actually he has been “peacemaking” for the past twenty years. The exhaustive negotiations with the British which sowed the seeds for the Good Friday Agreement. Ceasefires, decommissioning, Ian Paisley, Peter Robibson, describing the murderers of Ronan Kerr as “traitors to Ireland”. Ask the US government what they think of Martin McGuinness and countless governments across Europe and beyond.

    Many thousands of Irish voters know what he is all about also.

    As for the past, we all have a past. Unionism is covered in blood. The links between Unionist leaders and loyalist terrorists is known and accepted. The tacit and covert support for the murders of hundreds of innocent Catholics to support a bigoted and gerrymandered state.

    Martin McGuinness had every right to join the IRA. As did Bobby Sands and Gerry Kelly and hundreds of others.

    We all had our own realities. Our own suffering. Our own loved ones murdered. I did. Martin McGuinness did and many others.

    It is not who he was. It is who he is. It is what he became. He is a hundred times the person that Jim Allister is or Gregory Campbell for that matter. Whether he becomes president or not, he has travelled a road that others will never do…

  • Drumlins Rock

    The past, and indeed present is very dark for lots of people mainly thanks to McGuinness and his comrades.

  • Los Lobos

    I agree keno10, “we all had our realities”, i like the majority of people living in Northern Ireland during the troubles had a “reality” that meant that we found it repugnant to use anything other than words to achieve anything we aspired to. If its realities you wish to talk about then here is one, SF and the DUP only became an electoral force when they stopped their tacit support for violent British/Irish “nationalism”!
    It was they who moved into the centre ground, the vast majority of people remained 4 square against violence throughout the troubles. Trying to rewrite McGuinness as peacemaker for 20, or 40 years will not remove the fact that both Loyalism and Republicism was so riddled with “agents and moles” that no one knew who to trust. That someone at the very head of the Republician movement was being run as an agent should not come as a surprise to anyone – (eg: Dennis Donaldson, Bobby Sands best mate), what is shocking thought, is that no matter how many agents were outed (eg freddy scappatacci) the republician fan base refused to accept that they had been destroyed from within, and in lemming like fashion followed their massiah to the promised land, a “New Ireland”, not dissimilar to the way the labour party faithful followed Tony Blair when he too added the word “new” to his project! Blind faith is no faith, the politics of Northern Ireland could well be summed up by those two words.

  • westprog

    When people say that Martin McGuinness had a right to join the IRA – well, that’s possibly true, but it’s certainly not compatible with accepting the Irish Constitution and state, which maintained that he _didn’t_.

    What did Martin McGuinness’ peacemaking consist of? Twenty years of killing people, and then stopping and saying that now it’s wrong. If he, and his colleagues, and his enemies, had simply behaved like the vast majority, then there wouldn’t have needed to be a peace process.

    Of course there has been suffering on all sides. However, the suffering was _inflicted by_ quite a small number of people. I don’t think anybody responsible for the killings in NI, on any side, should be selected for an appointment as head of state of the Irish people. Such a choice will inevitably be an endorsement of his actions.

  • Cynic2

    I agree keno10, “we all had our realities”,

    ….but then so did Fred West, Peter Sutcliffe, Pol Pot. It didn’t mean they were right in what they did

  • Alias

    “Erm, well actually he has been “peacemaking” for the past twenty years. The exhaustive negotiations with the British which sowed the seeds for the Good Friday Agreement. Ceasefires, decommissioning, Ian Paisley, Peter Robibson, describing the murderers of Ronan Kerr as “traitors to Ireland”.” – keano10

    Don’t forget setting up his own hardline comrades within PIRA to be killed (see Ed Maloney for details) and appointing known touts to guard arms dumps. He wasn’t your typical “Think of the children!” peacemaker…

    “Martin McGuinness had every right to join the IRA.” – keano10

    Care to point out where the ‘right to murder’ is enshrined in international humanitarian law or in domestic law? He had no such right.

  • This is my last comment regarding the Presidential election. Here is the comment

    Why would Guinness want anything to do with Smithwicks? Why would Guinness not want to stay dark?

    Now for a peace of my mind.

    Slugger has become incredibly boring of late. Not enought posts written on interesting subjects. I suppose I will just have to switch off until after the Presidential election (the rugby posts excepted, hopefully).

  • ranger1640

    Pete, just a point of order in your other wise good post.

    Is the election that the dark invader McGuinness is contesting, is for the president of the republic of Ireland and not for the president of the non place Ireland?

  • Comrade Stalin

    keano,

    The part I can’t quite reconcile is the question of why some people joined the IRA and some didn’t. I have family members and acquaintances from Ballymurphy and Ardoyne among others. They all saw some serious stuff but none of them felt compelled to take up arms themselves. Why do you think that is ?

  • Alan N/Ards

    keano10

    “Martin McGuiness had every right to join the IRA. So did Bobby Sands and Gerry Kelly and hundreds of others”

    Are you saying that Billy Wright, Lenny Murphy, Micheal Stone had the right to join the UDA and UVF and commit murder in the name of their cause? I would say no. Did the IRA bombers have the right to kill the protestants at the Enniskillen Poppy day parade in the name of their cause? Did the UVF have the right to kill the catholics at McGurks bar? No they did not!

    Why did the “defenders of the catholic community” kill more catholics than the hated “Crown forces”? Did they have the right to do this in the name of their cause?

    I listened to Danny Morrison this morning saying that it was Unionists repression of catholics between 1922 and 1972 that led people like Martin McGuiness to take up arms. If that is the case ( and I agree that many Unionist politicians of that era were very anti catholic and republican) why did the majority of catholics and nationalists not support the killings of the provo’s. People like Gerry Fitt, Paddy Devlin and John Hume were anti Stormont yet they did not resort to killing their fellow countrymen and women because they were anti Stormont. Why did they carry on killing when Stormont was closed down in 72? What pocessed them to think that they could unite the island of Ireland by carrying out atrocities like La Mon, Bloody Friday, Frizzells Fish shop, Enniskillen, Claudy etc etc etc.

    I believe that the ordinary person in the Republic will not vote for McGuiness. They will probably be embarassed if he is elected. He could never be non party political.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Sinn Féin are on 10%, they need 50% including relevant transfers.

    Basically a Sinn Féin President in the Republic is as mathematically likely as an Alliance First Minister in the “Occupied Six”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    westprog,

    I don’t think it’s at all right to say that a vote for McGuinness is an endorsement of his actions. He is clearly not standing on a “please endorse my past” ticket, he is standing on a “let’s not do the past again” ticket which surely must count for something.

    Danny Morrison was on Nolan this morning pointing out that McGuinness has taken serious and ongoing personal risks in order to take the republican movement to where it is now, and particularly to get republicans to endorse the police. I think that is a simple statement of fact.

  • keano10

    Alias,

    You talk superficially about what you call the “right to murder”, and “International Law”. How do you equate your words to the Army of a Soverign State running amok through the streets of Derry and murdering 13 innocent civilians in cold blood? When that happens, citizens have the right to take arms. Martin McGuinness was right to do so as were the thousands who followed.

    When the state murders, when the state tortures, when the state discriminates, then ordinary will fight back. And fight back they did. And that will never be forgotten.

  • AGlassOfHine

    A ‘please endorse my past’ ticket is exactly what he is looking for !!
    He may fool keano,and the like………………..he will not fool the good people of Southern Ireland.

  • Mark

    CS ,

    A point well made and your observation about his personal safety seems to have been overlooked by many .

    Wasn’t Martin McGuinness voted Politican of the year a couple of years ago by Slugger O Toole and it’s regulars . What’s changed ?

    It would be interesting to know which posters voted for him back then and are slating him now ?

  • the wrong side of 40

    I`m not a fan of Sinn Fein and have never voted for them, but I feel that if I had a vote in this election it would be a very tough call and I would genuinely consider voting for McGuinness, if not number 1 then at least a high preference.

    I think that Comrade Stalin sums it up well in that his agenda is “let’s not do the past again” ticket.

    There are an awful lot of people that have a lot that they are not proud of and that they cannot talk about for fear of prosecution or dragging former “comrades” into the spotlight that may not wish to have that attention thrust upon them.

    It`s painful to say it but the past can`t be changed and it is better to be left that way. Does anyone really belief that if McGuinness apologised for any, or all of his IRA actions that the victims would find a genuine comfort in that or that we could belief his remorse about every act?

    I grew up in an area that was a hotbed of paramilitary activity and some of my school friends and people from my street went to jail for terrible acts. Do they now regret those acts? I would guess in the majority of cases yes, and in my opinion a lot of those guys they weren`t all bad people then even when they were involved in terrible acts, with unspeakable consequences.

    I don`t though like the hypocrisy of some of the establishment Dublin media with their own “colourful” pasts. A number of these guys had brief flirtations with the Officials and Republican Club movements. Are they going to seek absoloution for all of their actions or those of more militant colleagues that they associated with in the early and mid 70`s? I won`t hold my breath.

    I appreciate that PIRA was a different scale but if we want the truth it has to be the whole truth and not everyone can hold their heads that high.

  • Mac

    “The part I can’t quite reconcile is the question of why some people joined the IRA and some didn’t. I have family members and acquaintances from Ballymurphy and Ardoyne among others. They all saw some serious stuff but none of them felt compelled to take up arms themselves. Why do you think that is ?”

    If you think that people were wrong to join, just say it, don’t wrap it in a silly question that takes as it’s basis the notion that thousands of individuals might possibly share a monolithic reaction to individual or indeed collective experiences.

  • Rory Carr

    “I don’t think it’s at all right to say that a vote for McGuinness is an endorsement of his actions.”

    Corollary alert ! Corollary alert! Corollary alert !

    But I don’t expect, Comrade Stalin, that you will be too shy about claiming that a failure to win will be a resounding rejection of his actions (or at least whatever you perceive those actions to be).

    p.s. After Keano has answered your question about what might have been going through the minds of your friends and relatives in Ardoyne and Ballymurphy back in the 1970’s, which you don’t feel able to ask them yourself, perhaps you might also ask him why it was that my missus kept giving me dirty looks all evening on the 15th October 1987. I can’t for the life of me work out what it was I was supposed to have done wrong and, just like you with your relatives, I am still a bit chary about asking her directly. So, I’ll follow your example and put old Keano in as the middle man. What do you think?

  • SDLP supporter

    As far as Provisional Sinn Fein is concerned, this election is about the past, specifically their past, and about validating their murderous and fascist campaign from 1970-1994 as well as writing the Civil Rights movement out of history. I listened to Martin McGuinness on the Pat Kenny RTE radio programme this morning and I noted his exact words at one point “I stood with John Hume in the 1982 Assembly election…” Anyone who didn’t know anything about the politics of the time might infer from that that McGuinness was in some sort of electoral alliance with John Hume and the SDLP at the time. In fact, McGuinness was standing against Hume and, indeed, it would have made as much sense for him to say “I was standing with Gregory Campbell” who was also contesting the same (London)Derry constituency..

    Similarly, in today’s Irish News, Sinn Fein’s propagandist, Jim Gibney, has an article headlined ‘Ireland owes much to the IRA’s willingness to fight’. The fact is that throughout the whole of the Provisional IRA’s 24 year campaign, they did not have support either from the people of Ireland nor, indeed, from northern nationalists. That makes them, in my mind, fascist.

    Further, while I don’t believe McGuinness for one milli-second that he left the Provisional IRA in 1974 the fact is that from 1982 onwards he was obligated, as were all Provisional Sinn Fein elected representatives, to “give unambiguous support to the armed struggle”. So, then, how can he “give unambiguous support” and yet turn around, as he did last night, and say that he was “ashamed” of the 1987 Enniskillen bombing? “Unambiguous support” means you can’t pick and choose the atrocities you endorse.

    The south’s commentariat are so intimidated by Provo bullying that not one of them has had the nous to challenge McGuinness equating the situation in the North to the South African apartheid state. The reality is that in apartheid South Africa there was no democracy of any sort for blacks, there was outright minority rule. In Northern Ireland, there was majority rule oppression but everyone had the vote at Stormont and Westminster level, though it is true that the local government franchise was restricted and this was important because Councils controlled housing..

    It really is pathetic for McGuinness to claim “character references” from the likes of Ian Paisley, to my mind the most malign influence in Irish politics for centuries.

    Words and logic are debased and twisted to absurdity by Provisional Sinn Fein in in the same way as the fascist Millan Astray did in the Spanish Civil War with his obscene slogan “Viva la muerte/long live death”..

  • westprog

    Why do I say that a vote for McGuinness is an endorsement of his actions? Because he is _not_ repentant. He does _not_ accept that he did wrong personally by taking up arms, or that the formation and activities of the IRA were a blind alley that it took a generation to back out of.

    If he came forward as a candidate saying that the armed struggle was a terrible mistake, then his election wouldn’t be an endorsement of it. If he stands on the basis that the armed struggle was necessary to get where we are now (Sunningdale for slow learners), then of necessity his election is an endorsement of that.

    I find people are very ready to attribute repentance to republicans when they don’t actually exhibit it. McGuinness and Adams say sorry about the violence in the same way that a surgeon says sorry for taking your leg off. He knows that it was unpleasant, but he’d do the same again.

    And WRT bloody Sunday – if the officer commanding the Paras were elected to public office in the UK, I think that would cause considerable disquiet in Ireland – and quite rightly. Peter Gilgunn was a catholic killed by the IRA three days _before_ Bloody Sunday, when Martin McGuinness was second in command of the Derry IRA. If Martin McGuinness has ever regretted his part in that, I’ve yet to hear it.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Keano

    ” When the state murders, when the state tortures, when the state discrimantes, then ordinary will fight back. And fight back they did. And that will never be forgotten”

    The VAST MAJORITY of ordinary people rejected the killing machines of the IRA , INLA. UDA and UVF. The people who claimed to be defenders of the “catholic community” killed more catholics than the army. Do you support these killings of people from your community? How were these people fighting back when they were bombing stores like the Balmoral showrooms Shankill Rd. Was the killing of baby Tracey Munn that day part of this fight back?

    Hoever bad the Stormont goverment was deemed to be ,and I will not defend them, what violent republicans did for 25+ years was indefensible. Murdering civillians, both protestant and catholic by the hundreds, in revenge for past injustices is without doubt wrong. Are you ashamed of the Enniskillen bomb?Why didn’t the likes of Hume, Fitt and Devlin join in this murder fest during these dark years? Is it because they were genuine peace makres who wanted genuine reconciliation.

    One thing you are right about is that this “fight back” will never be forgotten.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    Perhaps there would be more light, rather than heat, if there was some focus on the points made in the original post.

    McGuinness’ response threat to the Hegarty family, for example.

    That is not true, and the Hegarty family know that. I could articulate in this interview exactly what happened, but if I did that it would be very hurtful and indeed very damaging to the Hegarty family,” he said. He claimed one member of the family knew what had happened, “and I am not going to put that person in a predicament”. [added emphasis]

    That’s the Sinn Féin candidate for President…

  • “He’s trying to get elected as the President of Ireland.”

    The Irish Times report is drawing heavily on the Pat Kenny interview with Martin, an online interview that focused IMO overly much on Martin’s past.

    Here’s something that the IT missed that’s in step with my own analysis of some pit-falls ahead. Some might find it strange that Martin, Peter and I are in step, that we’ve opened the lens to take a wider view 🙂

    Kenny: It’s part of your project to be in the Aras for 2016 and basically you are their best shot.

    McGuinness: Well let me tell you about a conversation I had with Peter Robinson a few weeks ago. I said we are going to face a number of important anniversaries over the course of the next few years … (1912, 1916, 1916) .. We are going to have to handle all of these things very delicately, very intelligently and very sensibly and Peter absolutely agreed with me.

    Perhaps if that approach had been used fifty years ago Martin would never have been in the IRA. Unfortunately the apartheid that flowed from the 1920s onwards meant that there was a dearth of mutual understanding and fellow-feeling across the divide; the differences got well out of proportion to what we have in common not just locally but right across the two islands.

  • Comrade Stalin

    the wrong side of 40,

    Agreed, I think a lot of IRA are definitely ashamed of what they did. They’ll never admit it, but you sometimes get hints of it. For example, I think it came up in the debate about the appointment of ex-prisoner SpAds a few months back – one SFer commented on how life was so bad for republicans because their past made them unemployable. At the time I thought the comment was tinged with regret.

    Mac:

    If you think that people were wrong to join, just say it, don’t wrap it in a silly question that takes as it’s basis the notion that thousands of individuals might possibly share a monolithic reaction to individual or indeed collective experiences.

    I thought it was a fair question. We are being asked to accept that people joining the IRA was an outcome of British/unionist oppression. Given that most people did not feel compelled to join the IRA, there are obviously other factors at play. Obviously I don’t think that the IRA were legitimate or that their means were necessary in any way, so I’m hardly the right person to speculate about what those other factors are.

    Rory:

    But I don’t expect, Comrade Stalin, that you will be too shy about claiming that a failure to win will be a resounding rejection of his actions (or at least whatever you perceive those actions to be).

    I am not sure that I would draw much of a deep conclusion irrespective of what way the McGuinness result comes out. Ireland is not voting for a figure who will wield any political power. The Irish President is basically an elected equivalent of the British monarch and I am quite indifferent about the matter to be honest.

    p.s. After Keano has answered your question about what might have been going through the minds of your friends and relatives in Ardoyne and Ballymurphy back in the 1970′s, which you don’t feel able to ask them yourself,

    Stop acting the maggot.

    westprog:

    Because he is _not_ repentant.

    “repentant” is an awfully biblical word, and I know we’ve debated this point a lot around here before.

    Personally, I don’t care as much about repentance as much as I care about a person doing all that is reasonably possible to secure and consolidate the peace. That’s why, for example, I don’t bang on all day about what a bastard Ian Paisley was even though there are good grounds for believing that he as an individual was the single most significant individual to fan the flames of the conflict. Gerry Adams often tells of how he basically had no interest in politics until he found himself part of a crowd watching as Ian Paisley marched his men up the Falls to remove an illegal tricolour. I am happy to call Ian Paisley a peacemaker because he has taken risks and lent his reputation to the effort to ensure that the past does not return.

    To talk about repentance is to ask that someone, after performing a massive u-turn in public, must subject themselves to some sort of self humilation process before they can be taken seriously. I’m more pragmatic than that.

    He does _not_ accept that he did wrong personally by taking up arms, or that the formation and activities of the IRA were a blind alley that it took a generation to back out of.

    While the IRA and their methods are something I completely reject, and something I never considered justifiable, I do not think it is reasonable to demand that just one out of the several actors in the NI troubles recant his/their own role in them.

    If he came forward as a candidate saying that the armed struggle was a terrible mistake, then his election wouldn’t be an endorsement of it.

    I appreciate that I’m doing the whataboutery thing here but I hope people will grant me a little leniency. Did De Valera or any of his contemporaries admit that the 22-24 civil war was a terrible mistake ? These are the people who went on to found Fianna Fáil. Did they have to go around the country and repent ?

    I see every IRA campaign since 1922 in exactly the same light. They were all equally illegitimate.

    I find people are very ready to attribute repentance to republicans when they don’t actually exhibit it.

    I get the sense that the only exhibition of repentance that you will be satisfied with is the old sackcloth and ashes routine.

    Look at what McGuinness has done. You have the person widely believed to be the IRA’s leader going around telling people to support the police and describing the people who shoot soldiers and police officers as “traitors”. We have the evidence that McGuinness spent most of his time since the mid 1980s trying to find a way to bring the IRA campaign to a soft landing. In practical terms, surely that is considerably more useful – and indicative – than the guy joining his hands and saying “I repent” and slinking off under a rock somewhere ?

    And WRT bloody Sunday – if the officer commanding the Paras were elected to public office in the UK, I think that would cause considerable disquiet in Ireland – and quite rightly

    IIRC Michael Mates, a Tory cabinet minister under the Major administration, had a bit of a reputation within West Belfast although not quite that of a Para commanding officer.

  • Pete, I’m more intrigued by “He claimed one member of the family knew what had happened, ‘and I am not going to put that person in a predicament'” What exactly does it mean?

  • Alias

    keano10, you certainly have the right of self-defence, so if a soldier happened to be firing at you on Sunday 30 January 1972 then I wouldn’t fault you one bit if you fired back at him. However, if you wait a few weeks and then decapitate 7 canteen workers and a Catholic priest at a military barracks then a claim of self-defence doesn’t work.

    Marty was, of course, didn’t “take arms” on Bloody Sunday but sat on his Thomson gun, determined not to defend any of his tribe on that day as the more of them that were butchered the better the outcome for him and his murder gang.

    That is why they committed actrocities such as Enniskillen: it was to prompt the loyalist murder gangs to attack the Catholic community in retaliation. They needed the loyalist murder gangs to attack Catholics in order to make the Catholics think that they need PIRA to defend them from the loyalist murder gangs. They were simply setting your community up to be murdered for their own ends, not defending it.

    As for Marty, what kind of a man tricks a mother into sending her son to his death and then sends his thugs to enter her home at his will to prevent her from telling the truth about him to the media?

  • Alias

    Nevin, Frank Hegarty’s sister drove him to his death, believing she was simply doing as Marty told her in order to ‘sort things out’ with PIRA. As Frank’s mother is now dead, I assume Marty is referring to that and implying that he will claim she knew he would be killed if she talks to the media now. Why else would he threaten the family with ’embarrassing’ revelations other than to save his own skin?

  • rodgerdoc

    as a unionist im quite indifferent as to who is elected as lets be frank its a figurehead position with no real power. As someone who in the past used to support loyalist violence I would have less of a problem with McGuinness being president than perhaps Adams, Kelly etc etc. Marty was a volunteer who rose and rose through the ranks and gained the respect of those around him because of his actions, the mostly innocents, but more than that he is also much more believable is the quest for peace than the other I names marty comes accross as his war is over wheras others still come accross as if, if politics failed they would go back to the old ways. Just my opinion. Do I think a vote for McGuinness is a vote to endorse what the IRA did, again im indifferent to the idea as for some it could be true and for others not so, to me he has shown he could be a good ambassador for NI equally he could be as good for ROI. McGuinness could well regret enniskillen etc thats not so hard to believe there was many a loyalist action that I would have not supported.

    Keano10

    “How do you equate your words to the Army of a Soverign State running amok through the streets of Derry and murdering 13 innocent civilians in cold blood? When that happens, citizens have the right to take arms. Martin McGuinness was right to do so as were the thousands who followed.”

    Correct me if I am wrong but marty wasa volunteer before Bloody Sunday.

  • mobrien

    The comments have been interesting, however, it seems as if quite a number of the respondents so far have been ignoring the fact that it is the British Government who pulled most if not all of the strings here. They had the power and the resources to effect political change. They chose not to do so. They decided in effect to use a segment of their population for target practice. It took over 30 years of and millions of dollars to get an admission of wrongdoing for Bloody Sunday (strange, that with all the thousands of demonstrators the only ones shot were males) — when the truth was immediately self evident.

    You can buy the British plea that they were only trying to keep the two warring factions apart — you can also go out and find someone who will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge next.

  • westprog

    Repentance isn’t important because we want McGuinness to abase himself. It’s only important because if we totally misunderstand and misrepresent what went on, then it’s a lot less likely that we will be able to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

    There’s already a tendency among people who weren’t adults when the violence was ongoing to contrast the necessary civil defence of the IRA between, say, 1970 and 1990 with the maniac violence of the dissidents nowadays. It needs a lot of ignorance to do this, but sadly all too many people who know better don’t like to point out that the only significant difference between PIRA and RIRA is when they were operating.

    It’s important to remember what went on – and if we do remember it, the idea of having McGuinness as the person chosen to represent the state is entirely repugnant.

  • Count Eric Bisto von Granules

    How many lives have been saved as the result of the peace process?

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Kenny: It’s part of your project to be in the Aras for 2016 and basically you are their best shot.”

    Of course with most candidates that’s just an expression.

  • Alias

    “…the necessary civil defence of the IRA between, say, 1970 and 1990…”

    PIRA murdered more Catholics than the UDA and the UVF combined.

    Tomás Mac Giolla summed up the myth of PIRA as ‘the catholic defenders’ in a speech in the Dáil in response to Enniskillen:

    “As I said last week, the Provisionals have always relied for their influence among Catholics on creating an atmosphere where they can masquerade as the defenders of the Catholic community. They are hoping, therefore, for attacks and retaliation by Protestant paramilitaries so that they can be seen to defend the Catholic community. Time after time they have gone out and engaged in vile sectarian murders knowing that they would provoke a reaction from the paramilitaries leading to more fear and more terror in Catholic areas and leading people to believe that they needed the Provos to protect them.”

  • Why do some believe that repentance or redemption isn’t possible?

  • westprog

    Of course repentance is possible. It starts with repenting.

  • Rory Carr

    “That makes them [Provisional IRA], in my mind, fascist.”.

    But only in your mind, SDLP supporter, not in reality. For, as you are so keen to remind us, “Words and logic are debased and twisted to absurdity…”. In this case like Humpty Dumpty:..

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” (Alice Through the Looking Glass)

    …it just does not make it so.

    And, just in case you accuse me of partiality, may I add that neither was Mrs. T. a Fascist; nor Richard Nixon; nor General de Gaulle; nor even General Pinochet, despite appearances.

    If you are going to use pejorative terms to label those with whom you politically disagree, then I suggest that you stick with terms that you understand. Thus, you might better say of Martin McGuinness,

    ” He was a very naughty boy. Oh, yes he was. A very naughty boy indeed !”

  • SDLP supporter hits the nail on the head.To be fascist means to marry party politics with violence or the threat of violence. Sinn Fein, as was, certainly qualify.

    As for Gibney’s weekly articles in the Irish News, it’s often laugh out loud revisionism as he describes how PIRA Sinn Fein are responsible for western civilisation as we know it.

  • Mick Fealty

    articles,

    That is not a working definition of fascism. It’s an insult, being resorted to for want of a focused, on topic argument.

  • Neville Bagnall

    Why do some believe that repentance or redemption isn’t possible? – joeCanuck

    All that I have said and done,
    Now that I am old and ill,
    Turns into a question till
    I lie awake night after night
    And never get the answers right.
    – W. B. Yeats

    It would be, well, probably not helpful, but at least informative if we had the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth surrounding all the events in Mr. McGuinness’ life, but thats not possible. Even if it was, why would running for the Presidency require it more than any other position or even just a duty to history and those directly affected?

    I think most people will come to the conclusion that he is being (at best) very jesuitical with the truth or (more likely) lying. But that was true at all stages of the conflict and the peace process. The question of how you balance essential remembrance of a past never to be repeated with the need to move forward is much bigger than one man, and will require a bigger solution than tough questions during an election campaign.

    Perhaps the peace is firmly enough embedded now to withstand, or maybe even be strengthened by a bit more truth and a greater understanding among the younger generation of why the older are determined never to return to the dark days.

    But if we want the truth from everyone, I think we have to recognise that it probably will not come with repentance. Regret perhaps, but not repentance. Everyone is the hero of their own story. Given some of the things that were done – and done deliberately – in order to stay sane I’d imagine you have to convince yourself that you acted, if not morally, at least validly. And I’m not just talking about the paramilitaries here. Words are weapons too. Many, no matter how honestly striving, will, like Yeats, never be sure in their own mind what might have been. You can’t unscramble the omelette. I don’t expect repentance because I think if I’d been able to convince myself, bit by bit, that it was valid to do some of the things that were done, it would be impossible to overturn that conviction without destroying my self image and the mind will never do that voluntarily.

    So then the question becomes, can we be reconciled to truth without repentance? Perhaps. Reconciliation is not forgiveness. Reconciliation is not agreement. Reconciliation is not even acceptance. Reconciliation is simply recognising that while we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the future however painful the task. It’s very easy for comfortable southerners to push reconciliation on those directly affected and yet also much easier for us to become po-faced when asked for a bit of reconciliation ourselves.

    What then for redemption? To be honest I think if you have taken a single life, by word, deed or inaction, you will probably never have redemption during your own. To have played a large part in conflict, whether just or not – well, nothing in this life measures up to that. Every effort you make from that point forward to live a good life, aid others or save lives is just your duty and obligation to the memory of those lost. That does not make those efforts any less valuable.

    In some ways I do admire Mr. McGuinness. I think he is one of the most talented of the candidates. I don’t see his past as a barrier to the Presidency, although I wish he could be more honest and forthcoming about it all. I don’t think that is entirely within his own gift, but I’m not convinced he couldn’t do more.

    To be honest his emphasis on the more palatable part of his history, and particularly the name dropping is getting a bit wearisome already, but given the nature of the questioning I’m just about giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    However, like the rest of the candidates I’ve heard so far, I haven’t heard anything unexpectedly heartfelt and inspiring in his vision for the Presidency, its all very predictable and fuzzy. And he has had a few (self-imposed) blunders that lowered him in my estimation.

    But it is very early days.

  • “Martin McGuinness: ‘the past is a very, very dark place for everybody.’”

    Considering his record in Derry and elsewhere perhaps Martin could be labelled the Prince of Darkness; he’s probably done a lot more for job destruction in the city than job creation and for exclusivity over inclusivity. Forty years have given him the expertise of a PR guru: the ability to weave an almost seamless weft of truth, half-truth and lie where even an expert would find it very difficult to spot the join – until his temperament lets him down.

    Merriam-Webster’s definition of Fascism: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”. Martin’s known attributes would tick most of those boxes. Presumably even fascists can be devoted sons and daughters, loving parents and doting grandparents when they take off their boots and put on their slippers.

    I don’t view Ray Davey, founder of the Corrymeela Community, in the same way as I view Martin and other paramilitary figures. Ray brought light into the darkness and comfort to many victims of the Troubles who passed through Corrymeela’s doors. In that sense Martin’s efforts to hide under the cloak of the words in the thread title are quite insulting.

  • But still Nevin, Do you not accept the possibility (theoretically) of repentance or redemption?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I agree with the comments that the IRA positioned itself as a defensive organization when it was convenient for it to do so If SF choose to categorize the IRA violence as something the unionists and British were partially responsible for, it logically follows that the IRA must bear some responsibility for the loyalist murders.

    westprog:

    Repentance isn’t important because we want McGuinness to abase himself. It’s only important because if we totally misunderstand and misrepresent what went on, then it’s a lot less likely that we will be able to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

    I don’t see how McGuinness saying “I repent, everything the IRA did was unjustified” contributes anything to avoiding the same mistakes in the future.

    You do not have to be an IRA sympathizer to see that the IRA aren’t the only people who have questions to answer. I don’t see why they should be singled out for special treatment, excepting the fact of course that we are talking about McGuinness as an election candidate.

    There’s already a tendency among people who weren’t adults when the violence was ongoing to contrast the necessary civil defence of the IRA between, say, 1970 and 1990 with the maniac violence of the dissidents nowadays. It needs a lot of ignorance to do this, but sadly all too many people who know better don’t like to point out that the only significant difference between PIRA and RIRA is when they were operating.

    I mostly agree; the dissidents are simply continuing what the Provos did best.

    However, the rise of the Provos in the late 1960s took place in a tinderbox atmosphere where there was large scale civil unrest and distrust of the government. It is difficult to divorce those two things. The Provo campaign eventually came to a halt partially because a lot of the problems in the 1960s and 1970s were steadily addressed and there wasn’t such a ready supply of people willing to make the sacrifices.

    It’s important to remember what went on – and if we do remember it, the idea of having McGuinness as the person chosen to represent the state is entirely repugnant.

    I’m struggling to understand what is more repugnant about McGuinness than the nascent 1930s-1970s Fianna Fáil party who were elected, and who slotted civil war era IRA men into civil service jobs throughout the burgeoning Irish state (does that ring any bells?).

  • Rory Carr

    Articles,

    Mick is right. Party politics + violence does not equate to fascism.

    All political parties who come to government then have the command of all the panoply of state violence under their control. This includes not only the military, but also the police and, much more importantly, the ability to make law and to have the courts enforce such law, with always at least the threat of violence lurking. For how else could ever a fine be levied with reasonable certainty of collection or court orders imposed or indeed any restriction at all that might be even disagreeable in the slightest to those against whom it was levied?

    Michael Farrell of People’s Democracy, back in the day, labelled what he called the Orange State as Fascist and the RUC as equivalent to the Gestapo, and we bright-eyed fervent young things were all happy to go along with it, the more especially when some of the constabulary that we faced across the barriers or the picket lines or the street had taken to wearing their caps with the peak slashed in the style of those old German movies. We went along with it because, if they were the Fascists then, as night follows day, we were the good guys. They were all George Sanders and Peter Lorré villians and we were all Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart heroes.

    But the shadow does not the substance make. Nor does a crown make a king; nor are all who wear black hats the Baddies, nor white hats the Goodies.We were wrong then as you (and SDLP supporter) are wrong now.

    Fascism is a different kettle of fish entirely and while you might correctly point out that, it hardly matters, that an IRA bullet is just as deadly as a Nazi one, it is as well to stop and reflect that so is an anti-Nazi bullet or a social-democratic one. We are all just as dead in the long run.

    And, if you would think to argue that social-democrats do not do bullets, then think long and hard before you commit yourself to print on that. You might wish to start by thinking ‘Tony Blair’, though he is not the worst in the social-democrat warmonger stakes, not by a long chalk. He just happens to be handily current.

  • slappymcgroundout

    Pete, Nevin, Alias: Do you folks not read the papers?

    “‘When Frank Hegarty returned to Derry, he stated quite clearly that he was anxious to meet the IRA in order to proclaim his innocence. Before that meeting took place, I spoke with one member of the family in the kitchen of the family home in Rosemount.

    ‘I said to that member that if Frank Hegarty was guilty of being a British agent, then my advice would be that he should not go and meet the IRA.

    ‘I can state quite categorically now that at least one member of the family is acutely aware of what happened in that house. I have great sympathy for the Hegarty family, who found themselves dragged into a situation not of their making.’”

    Next, for Stalin, one certainty, thought not for all, but for more than a few: cowardice/fear (pick whichever word you like, or both).

    Lastly, Alias, how many UVF, UFF, etc., folks did the PIRA even try to kill? You don’t think that the Irish Catholic population could see that? So why would they believe that the PIRA was trying to defend them? Defense was stage 1 and the killing of BA, RUC and UDA folk, which represents just over one-half or 50% of PIRA kills, represents stage 3, the offensive war (you can thank internment, Ballymurphy, Bloody Sunday, etc., for putting the relevant community in the mood to tolerate the offensive war)(oh, and Stalin, if you’ve made it this far as well, in addition to the matter of tolerance, this is the flip side to not joining the war, the failure to inform, and likely owing to the same reason, cowardice/fear). For cruel irony, Kingsmill “the massacre” represents one of the very few times that they rather directly tried to defend to their community. Perhaps you would have liked more Kingmills.

    You might consider the notion that Mac was spouting off because the Brits might think that the ROI was aiding and abetting the PIRA and you know what they say, an insurgency with an active sanctuary has never been defeated, and so that notion and certain perceived conduct might invite the British to pound the bejesus out of dear ole Eire so as to remove the active sanctuary, and so your man Mac did his best to avoid that result by dissing the PIRA. Or you can take the alternative view, which is that like the other OIRA folk, he was a Marxist-Leninist who couldn’t be bothered defending an Irish Catholic Bombay Street from a Scots Protestant mob as that would be sectarian. And that didn’t play well, giving rise to the meme, IRA-I-Ran-Away, and so hence the PIRA and the matter of jealousy, that besetting Irish sin, raises its ugly head. In any event, we can leave the final word on the OIRA-PIRA divide to the late Mr. MacStiofain:

    We opposed the extreme socialism of the revisionists because we believed that its aim was a Marxist dictatorship which would be no more acceptable to us than British imperialism or Free State capitalism.

    Well, there was that, and also the, we end the church service praying for the conversion of Mother Russia. But the godless atheists in the stickies can have none of that, since your man Mac and his mates took the view that the saying of the rosary at republican commemorations was sectarian. So in addition to the Marxist dictatorship meme there was also the godless atheists meme. Judging by your quote, would appear that Mac was stung to the marrow, the godless atheist seeking to establish a Marxist dictatorship.

  • Mike the First

    Rory Carr

    “After Keano has answered your question about what might have been going through the minds of your friends and relatives in Ardoyne and Ballymurphy back in the 1970′s, which you don’t feel able to ask them yourself, perhaps you might also ask him why it was that my missus kept giving me dirty looks all evening on the 15th October 1987. I can’t for the life of me work out what it was I was supposed to have done wrong and, just like you with your relatives, I am still a bit chary about asking her directly. So, I’ll follow your example and put old Keano in as the middle man. What do you think?”

    Had you been feeding her drivel about the Provos being some sort of noble freedom fighters rather than a sectarian murder gang that was happy to slaughter people because of their religion, nationality, job or political opinion?

  • Mike the First

    …or of course you could have been just as wrong about the weather…methinks you’re the only one on here who can answer…

  • Alias

    Joe, repentance and redemption are quasi-religous concepts that are proffered as a very poor substitute for justice in a supposedly secular state. Sociopaths are devoid of conscience as a pathological condition of thier dysfunction, so they are incapable of feeling remorse for the harm that they do to others.

    If you think that McGuinness wakes up with tears in his eyes for misery he caused to the Hegarty family then you are badly mistaken. It msot likely enpowers him to know that he harmed them and had control over them. That is probably why he continues to try to control what remains of the family in his latest revealing statements and tries to pass off his concern for his own skin as concern for the familiy.

  • DT123

    It is surely only the remit of the relatives and friends of the dead to offer forgivness and therefore the opportunity for redemption.Even then ,only to a point as the dead can’t forgive anyone.

    Causing a death is in my opinion beyond redemption.When you take it upon yourself to murder people ,when your life is in no danger whatsoever from the victims,then you have no right to expect the slate to be wiped clean at any time in the future.Those in their graves received no second chances .

  • Rory Carr

    DT 123,

    Your firm assertion that, “Causing a death is in my opinion beyond redemption,” set me to thinking (yes, I know, a rare event indeed !) and I wondered what rabinnical thought on the matter might be. So, in order to find out, I have posted your opinion on the Ask the Rabbi site and am now awaiting an reply from one or more Judaic scholars on the matter.

    I shall post the reply (if any) here in due course.

  • granni trixie

    .Creative ambiguties got us to “steady as she goes” in the peace process (including the GFA). I saw the risks to morality but held my nose ,voted for the GFA However, I always thought that there would come a time
    to try for clarification. I mean, people got out of jail having served say two years for murder. So what can you tell the next generation about what is right and wrong? So could be that MMG campaign has ushered in that time. Certainly he has helped bring home to the South some of the reality we have had to live with. If he is not sucessful in winning this election I cannot see how he can return to DFM post with the same aiuthority now that we have all been reminded of the horrors with which is is assocated. Already he has shown that he is a source of division more than healing.

    .BTW, I thought it bizaar when MMG gor an award from Slugger (as with Dawn Purvis) .

  • Jimmy Sands

    Mick,

    Working definition of fascism from wiki:

    “Fascism (play /ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a radical far-right authoritarian nationalist political ideology.[1][2] Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.[3] To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.[4] Fascists believe that a nation requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.[5] It advocates the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy (such as eugenics).[6] A fascist state’s government is led by a supreme leader who exercises a dictatorship over the fascist movement, the government, and other institutions of the state.[7] Discipline and obedience to the leader is demanded by the fascist movement to followers and subjects of a fascist state and is promoted through encouraging comradeship and commitment of followers and subjects.[8] Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state.[9]

    “Fascism promotes violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.[10] It views conflict as a fact of life that is responsible for all human progress.[11] It exalts militarism as providing positive transformation in society, in providing spiritual renovation, education, instilling of a will to dominate in people’s character, and creating national comradeship through military service.[12] Fascists commonly utilize paramilitary organizations for violent attacks on opponents, or to overthrow a political system.[13]”

    Obviouslu any similarity….etc etc

  • Rory Carr

    Very good, Jimmy. And by that definition both the Tory and New Labour parties qualify as being much closer to Fascism than the IRA has ever done.

    An organisation whose very constitution binds it either to the service of the nation it seeks to establish, free of foreign control, or to its own dissolution, as the democratic will of that nation sees fit, does not come within spitting distance.

    Further, to attempt to make any links using pejorative terme such as ‘violence’, ‘war’, ‘comradeship’, whatever is facile. May as well attempt to establish unity of purpose between Mussolini and Aung San Suu Kyi on the basis that they both shared a fondness for fresh air, snappy dressing and both preferred rice to pasta.

  • Here’s a bit more from the Pat Kenny Show yesterday:

    Michael McDowell: ” .. They thought that the Army Council of the IRA was the legitimate government of Ireland”

    Pat Kenny: “Now how much of all of that has changed in your mind?”

    Martin McGuinness: “Well I mean Michael comes at it from a particularly bitter and prejudiced position – totally opposed to Sinn Fein and all that we stand for. But the reality is that there is no IRA, there is no IRA Army Council … I was never on the IRA Army Council, I was never on the IRA Army Council, Michael is totally and absolutely wrong.”

    These claims are at odds with Mitchel McLaughlin’s agreement that the PRM AC was indeed viewed as the legitimate government of Ireland and IIRC someone else said that the AC still performed administrative tasks.

    It’s worth setting this in context with some words in 2004 spoken by the ‘bitter and prejudiced’ former Minister of Justice: “Let me say clearly that republicanism does not speak in muffled voice through a balaclava; Republicans don’t break drug-addicts’ legs with baseball bats; Republicans do not finance their political campaigns by organising major crimes: Republicans do not shoot car-thieves in their knees and ankles: Republicans could not plant bombs to kill civilians . . . And no true Republican could publicly lie and lie again about his involvement with all of those matters. No true Republican movement in modern Ireland would make common cause with the narco-terrorists of the Communist FARC in Colombia; or with the repressive Castro regime of Cuba; or with the murderous zealots of ETA.”

  • westprog

    “I’m struggling to understand what is more repugnant about McGuinness than the nascent 1930s-1970s Fianna Fáil party who were elected, and who slotted civil war era IRA men into civil service jobs throughout the burgeoning Irish state (does that ring any bells?).”

    Yes, how did the hypocrisy and self-serving early days of the state work out?

    If one were to summarise the history of modern Ireland, it would be an avoidance of the awkward questions. Everything from the army deafness claims to clerical abuse always stems from the same refusal to talk about the things nobody wants to mention.

    In a way, electing somebody with a criminal past that he refuses to talk about would be an entirely appropriate symbol of way the state operates.

  • Comrade Stalin

    slappy:

    So why would they believe that the PIRA was trying to defend them?

    What makes you think they believed this ?

    oh, and Stalin, if you’ve made it this far as well

    I tried hard.

    , in addition to the matter of tolerance, this is the flip side to not joining the war, the failure to inform, and likely owing to the same reason, cowardice/fear

    I agree that there is an issue of tolerance, and there’s very much an issue of people who kept quiet about their opposition to the IRA due to threats (which were carried out, most significantly against people like Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin). I don’t agree that people who joined the IRA were courageous or that joining was an act of courage. Sinn Féin’s own testimony that the IRA were a consequence of certain British/unionist action implies that revenge was the greater motivator. Add to that the whole issue of how Sinn Féin were always a minority nationalist party until they leveraged John Hume to give them a leg up.

    For cruel irony, Kingsmill “the massacre” represents one of the very few times that they rather directly tried to defend to their community. Perhaps you would have liked more Kingmills.

    I’m completely lost about how someone could conclude that ordering a bunch of workmen off a minibus and shooting them in cold blood is a defensive action.

    The rest of your contribution doesn’t make much sense at all I’m afraid.

  • wee buns

    McGuinness got it wrong..er..in the number of ‘verys’ he applies to the gradient of darkness referring to the past – too few it seems. However I am amazed at lack of speculation about his current possible affiliations and indeed future implications?

  • Alias

    “McGuinness got it wrong..er..in the number of ‘verys’ he applies to the gradient of darkness referring to the past – too few it seems.”

    And what does a nice lady from Donegal have to hide in her very, very, very, very dark past?

    Let’s not forget that members of murder gangs formed a tiny fraction of NI’s 1.7 million population, so it’s untrue to claim that they comprised all of the population, i.e. everybody.

  • wee buns

    Piss off Alias. My comment was about the very, very large amount of media attention.

  • Alias

    So adding a few more redundant ‘verys’ to “the past is a very, very dark place for everybody” changes the meaning of the sentence from every citizen – rather than just murder gang members – allegedly having a shady past to what you wanted it to mean?

    If you say so…

  • wee buns

    Pedantic wordplay if you will.
    I merely observe the lack of scrutiny as to Mc Guinness’ current affiliations which presumably have altered over the past 30yrs. Your view on this?

  • wee buns

    ”Let’s not forget that members of murder gangs formed a tiny fraction of NI’s 1.7 million population, so it’s untrue to claim that they comprised all of the population, i.e. everybody.;;

    He does not mean to include NI’s population. He means ‘everybody’ in a position of power surely?

  • Alias

    I’d give a view on it if I knew what ‘current affiliations’ you were talking about. His role as an MI6 puppet?

    It can safely be assumed that he means what he said: everybody.

  • westprog

    “They had the power and the resources to effect political change. They chose not to do so”

    Yeah, this is the kind of rewriting of history which is going on.

    The British government had a consistent position from the early seventies on that the right solution would be some form of power sharing. The position of SF was that only a united Ireland was acceptable. The position of the DUP was that they wouldn’t share power with Catholics, or that they would but only under impossible conditions.

    Somehow, this translates into the Brits deliberately blocking political progress, and SF really wanted all along the things that they consistently and unambiguously said that they bitterly opposed. Right up until the ’90’s, any member of SF or the IRA who had suggested that the current arrangement would be acceptable

    Just how the British government were blocking political progress is never quite explained. The fact is that it wasn’t Harold Wilson, for all his cowardice and weakness, who shut down Sunningdale. It was Paisley and Trimble and Adams and McGuinness. The same goes for all the subsequent efforts at progress. When the people of Northern Ireland decided that they could agree what to do, they were able to do it.

  • 241934 john brennan

    On the Late Late TV show, Martin McGuiness said that, if elected President, he “will embarrass those who ruined Irish businesses.”

    Does this mean he will embarrass the IRA, who designated all businesses in the North as “legitimate economic targets” for destruction – and then with the help of Gadaffi’s free gift of Semtex, did exactly that?

  • “the past is a very, very dark place for everybody”

    What on earth does this mean? Is it a reference to secrets? Is it a reference to bad things done? Is it a reference to bad things endured? Is he trying to soften his responsibility for the darkness?

    We’ve all led very different lives so I tend to get a bit uncomfortable when I see workshops entitled “Same Stories” or phrases like ‘the facts around diversity’.

  • Comrade Stalin

    mobrien:

    They had the power and the resources to effect political change. They chose not to do so.

    Most of the socal/political change – fair employment, laws against discrimination etc were brought in during the 1970s. The reforms to ensure fairness in things like housing allocation were brought in by the old Stormont government itself, who removed those powers and placed them in the hands of the Housing Executive which is still with us today.

    The British prorogued Stormont early in the conflict, in 1972. At the time, ending the Stormont government was the IRA’s stated objective. When that happened, the IRA changed their objective to ending British rule and decided to continue with their campaign.

    As westprog points out, the British declared in 1974 that they had no strategic interest in retaining the union and that they would abide by the wishes of the people of NI. They worked consistently to promote power sharing and devolved government – most successfully in 1974 (the talks that led to the institutions in 1974 began immediately after Stormont was prorogued). There were further efforts in the early 1980s; and again in the early 1990s where the Brooke talks would have set up a power sharing government at that time. Both the Prior assembly and the Brooke talks were scuttled by none other than nobel prize winner John Hume who did not want a sensible accomodation with unionists at all – not that the unionists were especially friendly either.

    The 1998 Good Friday Agreement has very little in it which is new compared with Sunningdale in 1974 or with what was coming to fruition under Brooke. The only difference, the critical difference, is the SF decided to drop their policies over devolution, over 32-county consent, and over British withdrawal. The peace we have today is because the IRA stopped shooting and backed off. Not because it was in any way victorious in accomplishing any objectives at any time after 1972.

    They decided in effect to use a segment of their population for target practice. It took over 30 years of and millions of dollars to get an admission of wrongdoing for Bloody Sunday (strange, that with all the thousands of demonstrators the only ones shot were males) — when the truth was immediately self evident.

    Sadly, though, scandals like this happen in a lot of places. Kent State springs to mind. There are few governments who are at all enthusiastic about putting their own soldiers on the stand.

    This notion that the GFA amounted to a sufficient set of reforms for the IRA to consider ending violence permanently is not merely revisionism, it is a lie. The GFA is effectively a restatement of the British position since the early 1970s, with a few extra baubles. The principle reason why we have peace is because the IRA chose to back down. They chose to back down because they knew they could not win.

    These reasons explain at least partially why, for many people, there was no justification for the IRA campaign. For most of the time, the IRA was staffed by people McGuinness now refers to as “conflict junkies”.

  • granni trixie

    I agree that by its violent and intimidating actions the IRA
    contributed greatly to conflict,but I also think that the two goverments and top officials did NI a disservice by their neglect ie leaving us to sort it out ourselves.Whatever you could say against Reynolds,Ahern and Blair, I for one will always be grateful that they decided to grasp the nettle. Having the will to do so was key.

  • Rory Carr

    While there will always those for whom “there was no justification for the IRA campaign” so there are those for whom there can be no justification for ending it short, that is, of a complete British withdrawal as a presage to Irish unity. Fortunately, for the majority of nationalists, the latter sentiment, insofar as it might be given any consideration whatsoever, is a long game already in progress.

    It is however disconcerting to find, among those who hold that there was no justification for the campaign whatsoever, one at least who considers that one of the major atrocities which might be cited as justification is dismissed, along with the Kent State Massacre in the USA in trite terms of, “Sadly, though, scandals like this happen in a lot of places. ”

    How is one expected to respond, “So that’s all right then.” ?

  • Rory Carr

    Granni Trixie says it well, “Having the will to do so was key.”

    Amen to that ! Which is why we ought not forget John Major, the UK Tory Premier, who first grasped the nettle proffered to him by Albert Reynolds and whose courageous willingness to grasp it took much of the sting out of that which was passed on to Blair and Ahern to work on.

  • sonofstrongbow

    It is somewhat disconcerting that those who argue that the Irish Republican murder campaign was somehow justified by events such as ‘Bloody Sunday’ conveniently set aside the murders by Republicans that occurred prior to it. Indeed police officers were murdered in Londonderry itself days before ‘Bloody Sunday’.

    Indeed if ‘Bloody Sunday’ ‘justifies’ IRA murders perhaps unionists should lament that, say, Short Strand was not burnt to the ground in 1978 as such action would surely have been ‘justified’ by the La Mon bombing.

  • “Most of the socal/political change – fair employment, laws against discrimination etc were brought in during the 1970s.”

    CS, rights issues were a red herring as the socialist leadership of the IRA in the aftermath of the ’56 – ’62 sought to remove the conservative administrations in both Belfast and Dublin. Sean Garland spelt this out in a Bodenstown address in June 1968. Liam O Comain sheds some light on the influence of Desmond Greaves on both armchair and militant republican thinking and on the lead-up to the formation of NICRA.

    The sectarian approach to reform and the confrontational street politics were both not only an impediment to change, they helped set the mobs at each others’ throats. London and Dublin were both keen to ensure that any raging inferno could be confined to Northern Ireland.

  • Jimmy Sands

    On the Late Late TV show, Martin McGuiness said that, if elected President, he “will embarrass those who ruined Irish businesses.”

    I don’t think his capacity to cause embarrassment if elected is in doubt.

  • westprog

    “we ought not forget John Major, the UK Tory Premier.”

    The British Government was always attempting initiatives in NI, despite the fact that this always led to being burned in effigy by the Unionists, and sometimes burned in reality by republicans.

    The start of the peace process happened under Margaret Thatcher. First the political uncertainty was ended by the “out out out” speech, which ensured that there would be no blind alleys of joint authority or federalism. The solution would be some form of local government under Britain, until the majority in NI decided differently. Then the Anglo-Irish Agreement was set up. This ensured that there would be some recognition of the Irish connection of many of the people of NI. This was going on while behind the scenes, the IRA were being pushed into politics and away from violence. By the time Major took over, the war of the seventies was already mostly over, and the IRA were engaged in protection rackets, punishment and intermittent spectaculars.

    I’ve yet to hear any Irish person acknowledge that the Thatcher government did anything good at all in NI, and she’s chiefly remembered for the hunger strikes.

  • Alias

    Good post, Westprog. The conventional narrative has it that the ‘peace process’ was initiated when Hume read Adam’s interview in Hot Press in 1988 stating that no armed solution was possible but Thatcher and the security services were in there much earlier than that pushing them in that direction. Her policy was that NI was an integral part of the UK and that the best way to ensuring that it continued to remain so was to lessen the alienation of the catholic community from the political institutions of the British state. As she put it in her memoirs, “the minority should be led to support or at least acquiesce in the constitutional framework of the state in which they live.” The Anglo Irish Agreement was a key part of that strategy. If there is one person to thank for the peace process then it is Mrs T. Of course, even Thatcher didn’t know how extensively her security services had penetrated PIRA so her policy was an internal settlement that would see them isolated and constitutional nationalists promoted. For example, she never believed that Articles 2 & 3 would be forfeited and dropped the issue whereas the seurity services would have seen their removal as essential to national security and persued it long after she had left the stage.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    CS

    There is a lot of truth in your post. However, it implies that everything was sorted in the 70s and that there were no reasons for Nationalists to be unhappy – totally incorrect.

    I have never supported SF or violence so I’m with you there.

    However, there continued to be discrimination against Catholics in the shipyard, Shorts, the civil service, QUB, Belfast City Council etc well past the 70s.

    BCC had to pay a fortune (taxpayers money!) in legal costs for their bigotted attempts to keep Catholics from holding any positions of power.

    Ditto for QUB – certainly in my time there (mid 80s) they were found guilty of discriminating against Catholics and had to pay out settlements (taxpayers money!).

    There are numerous cases of the Fair Employment Agency exposing such discrimination.

    The fact is that many Unionists still wanted their pre 1968 Orange State and only altered their behaviour because they had to not because they wanted to.

    I have a higher opinion of John Hume than you. I totally oppose violence but Nationalists were quite right to keep the political pressure on and expose Unionism internationally – which they did successfully.

    That’s one of the reasons we have such a stalemate now. I can understand Unionists being mistrustful of SF people. However, how do you think Catholics feel about having people like Campbell or McCrae in positions of power?

    Unionists and the DUP in particular have shown that they cannot be trusted – I think we’ll be stuck with our current arrangement until the present generation of “politicians” are long gone.

    You are quite right that there was no justification for the IRA camapaign (or any other paramiltary organisation).

    However, it is not correct to say (or imply) that all the issues that concerned Catholics/Nationalists were sorted out in the 70s. Some laws were repealed and new ones passed which was an improvement. However, a large number of Unionists flouted them with the support of their “leaders”.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk,

    I understand what you are saying about the, not so far away past, but where are we today? And who can take the credit. (Not the PIRA, of course, imo).

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Joe

    Definitely not the IRA.

    That’s why I disagree with Comrade Stalin about John Hume. One thing that he did extremely well was to get international coverage of what was happening in the North.

    This used to infuriate Unionists (who didn’t want the little Orange state being exposed) and put pressure on the British Govt especially from the USA – even Thatcher’s friend Reagan refused to amend restrictions on gun sales to the RUC.

    Frankly, he even educated people in Britain. The average British person is not a bigot and frankly didn’t know anything about the North. They simply didn’t know about Catholics in the North being discriminated against in jobs, housing, votes etc.

    Apart from the immorality of the IRA campaign, it was also counter-productive in alienating British people who had (and have) little sympathy for Unionists.

    I think that, for a long time, the UK govt only moved on the North when it had to due to international pressure – ditto for Unionism.

    IMO a lot of credit for shining that light on the North and what was going on should go to John Hume who cultivated contacts in the US and Europe (where he was and is highly respected).

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    I am aware that the IRA back then saw NICRA as a tool. But that doesn’t mean that NICRA’s concerns and aims were imaginary or contrived, far from it. There was active and widespread discrimination in the allocation of housing, employment and elected representation. The IRA did not create that situation.

    I know that there were still legal cases in the 80s (and even 90s) concerning discrimination. You can’t solve any problem like that overnight. The point is that the legislation was enacted and the legal framework put in place to stop it. There was no proper legal redress for discrimination in the 60s.

    Monk,

    There was no intention to imply that there were not serious problems with the way the Unionist Party ran the country. I am pointing out that beginning in the early 1970s these problems began to be addressed. This is relevant in this context because we are talking about the IRA’s claims that it used violence because these concerns were not being addressed, when in fact (slowly) they were.

    That’s why I disagree with Comrade Stalin about John Hume. One thing that he did extremely well was to get international coverage of what was happening in the North.

    When I think of that names such as Fitt, Devlin and Currie spring to mind before Hume.

    Unionists and the DUP in particular have shown that they cannot be trusted – I think we’ll be stuck with our current arrangement until the present generation of “politicians” are long gone.

    Sadly they are still at it, the unionists systematically excluded Sinn Féin from having any kind of position on Newtownabbey council yet again a few weeks ago. These are the same people who elected a UDA-linked deputy Mayor a year back, so they can’t really say that it’s because of SF’s violent past.

  • “he even educated people in Britain”

    Monk, you seem to be confusing propaganda/partial truth with education. Discrimination was and is being practised by those who were/are in a position to do so – Unionists, Nationalists and Socialists; even the Equality Commission appears to be unable to be an example of good practice.

    Were Hume to have been the paragon of virtue you wish to portray perhaps he would have exposed the shenanigans within the organisations he was a member of. The problems within the Catholic Church have been well rehearsed so there’s no need to go there. However when it comes to pontificating about accountability in policing the SDLP made a farce of that by working secretly through the Irish government to have changes made to day-to-day and policy decisions via Irish government officials based in Belfast. Such decisions can’t be examined by the Policing Board as they are classified as intergovernmental exchanges.

  • wee buns

    T’was but a misunderstood tone in my address of Alias.
    McG’s affiliations with British intelligence seem to be a complete non issue with the Irish media or public; the past being the main distraction.

    The trick of claiming the ‘dark’ belongs to ‘everyone’ is a standard avoidance of blame propaganda technique, the type of which governments have used for centauries to influence public perceptions. Changing public perception is after all the key exercise of McG. ‘Everyone’ if taken to mean the population serves to objectify a group of people by accrediting them with nonexistent behaviors, but cleverly can also be construed (the ‘dark’ being abstract) as an empathetic sharing of bad times.
    I tend to think he means ‘everyone’ as in the other power players – a piece of political whataboutery & reminder that they too have bad stuff to hide.

    In any case the exercise is to transform in image from Ruthless to Refined.

  • Nunoftheabove

    wee buns

    “McG’s affiliations with British intelligence seem to be a complete non issue with the Irish media or public”. Much like it will continue to be for them and for the rest of us until some persuasive evidence that there IS or WAS any such affiliation is produced.

  • Alias

    Wee Buns, the context of the statement was the media focus on his central role in the murder of Frank Hegarty. Depending on your slant, he either threatened the Hegarty family with “very hurtful and indeed very damaging” lies if they spoke to the media or blackmailed them with the truth. That is damage limitation – more of the type he practiced when asked in the interview about sending his thugs to enter the home of Frank’s mother to terminate an interview with the Irish Times journalist Peter Murtagh.

    Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t recall that incident but claimed that he could recall all other details that would support his version of what had allegedly happened. How he knew these details, if not a member of PIRA and not involved in Frank Hegarty’s murder is not explained but presumably Scappaticci – who detested McGuinness – filled him in on the details over a pint of shandy as a friendly gesture.

    When it was put to Mr McGuinness that he told the Hegarty family it was safe for Mr Hegarty to return home, Mr McGuinness said that was not true.

    “That is not true, and the Hegarty family know that. I could articulate in this interview exactly what happened, but if I did that it would be very hurtful and indeed very damaging to the Hegarty family,” he said. He claimed one member of the family knew what had happened, “and I am not going to put that person in a predicament”.

    Speaking generally about his past, Mr McGuinness said people in Northern Ireland were not “obsessed by any of this”. He added: “The reality is that the past is a very, very dark place for everybody.”

    The past is a very dark place for those like McGuinness who seek to hide their involvement in murder but I doubt it is all that dark for the Hegarty family since they seemed rather keen to invite journalists to explore in contradiction of McGuinness’s desire not to go there.

  • 241934 john brennan

    A Sunday Independent (Oct 2 – page 2) says of Martin McGuinness. He is “a remarkably able and astute person, but that did not make him a person one should trust. Hume was prepared to trust Adams. He knew McGuinness, but did not trust him; indeed he feared him. We who do not know him would be foolish not to do otherwise.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    john brennan,

    Hume trusted Adams with what, exactly ? And given what we now know about Adams’ brother and the alleged efforts by Adams to cover for him, doesn’t that suggest that Hume is gifted with spectacularly bad judgement ?

    Adams and McGuinness were and are a double act. You wouldn’t have one without the other, and Sinn Féin together with its contribution to things would not be the same without either of them.

  • wee buns

    Nun
    Speculation is the job of the meeja at least insofar as asking incisive questions is concerned, and my small point is that what remains largely unasked is why Hegarty, a known informer, was allowed to return to a key position within the IRA when McG was in control. That surely is the ‘dark place for everybody’ that made McG risk loads to get Hegarty back to Derry. I am not suggesting that a straight answer may be forthcoming, but to ask the question raises public awareness.

  • Alias

    I hate to butt in now that I’m sidelined and a good question asked to another poster…

    Ed Moloney’s view on that is interesting but doesn’t really make any sense under closer scrutiny.

    Moloney says that the FRU planned to place Hegarty into the position of QMG – an upgrade from his previous position QM for the NC. As it happens, he got as far as QM for PIRA in Derry – a role that McGuinness appointed him to.

    What is odd about Moloney’s version is that Hegarty was taken out of NI by the FRU as soon as the Gardai raided some arms dumps under his control. How then did they expect to promote him all the way up to QMG if they planned to remove him at the first sign of trouble? Bit of a giveaway…

    But odder still is why the FRU would have thought they could get him past folks on PIRA who weren’t, shall we say, particularly sympathetic to their infiltration agenda.

    It is more likely that Hegarty was not placed back into PIRA for the purpose that Moloney claims but placed back into it for the purpose for which he was actually used – as the fall-guy for the betrayal of the imported Libyian arms.

    In other words, the person who appointed a longstanding informer (as confirmed by his handler) to the position of QM for PIRA in Derry did so to take the rap for his own betrayal of the arms. That person would have been understandably anxious that Hegarty be disposed of before he figured out that his return and rise back to the top wasn’t due to his own brilliance…

  • Rory Carr

    “Hume was prepared to trust Adams.” screams the Sunday Independent, a statement from which source would, in normal circumstances, leave a perplexed reader scratching his head in puzzlement.

    But these are not normal times, dear reader. These are times of great peril indeed. A shinner is on the rampage and must be stopped by any means fair or foul.

    “But how does it help to big up the top shinner then ?” I hear you ask.

    ” The thing of it is, you see, that this particular shinner is not Adams, he’s the other fella. If Adams was running we would be claiming that Mother Teresa or Sting or somebody like that, trusted McGuinness, d’ye see?”

    “I didn’t know that.”

    “Know what?”

    “About McGuinness and Mother Teresa.”

    “Jayz, will ye forget about Mother Teresa, it’s Adams we’re talking about.”

    “What, did she trust him too?”

    “Trust who?”

    “Adams.”

    “Fer feck’s sake! Who is it you’re voting for anyway?”

    “Well, I was going to vote for Dana but if Mother Teresa says McGuinness is to be trusted then..”

  • wee buns

    Alias
    I have nothing to add.
    McG has a perfect role model in Bliar – if evidence ever surfaces – he can say he believed it was right, at the time.