“accept the tragedy of what happened in those wasted years without indulging in double think…”

Via Newshound.  As Liam Clarke notes on the political reaction to his report on the Historical Enquiries Team’s findings on Loughgall

The past is often treated like a political football. Politicians take sides and blame the referee if he does not agree with them.

The Historical Enquiries Team is a case in point. Up to now it has been mainly loyalists who have cursed this ref, accusing him of picking on them and turning a blind eye to republican foul play.

This weekend the HET is taking flak from the opposite side because it is challenging the republican narrative of a high-minded freedom fight, eventually brought to a successful conclusion by power-sharing with the DUP.

This will not be the judgment of history.

The overall picture of the IRA campaign is one in which the security forces and the weight of public opinion, not always acting in concert, gradually wore down an armed resistance.

The violence was ended because, although it could have been continued for some years, it was incapable of advancing its desired objectives.

It was ended on the best terms available, but terms which had nonetheless been rejected at an earlier stage.

He goes on to point out

The rhetoric of Sinn Féin politicians shows the contradictions. Barry McElduff, whose own brother-in-law Paddy Kelly led the IRA assault at Loughgall, tried to deal with this unpalatable truth as he remembered the deaths.

“If it was a war then the British Government are wrong – they have said all along it wasn’t a war. They were bound by the laws of democracy, law enforcement and all of that, and if that’s the case then they should have attempted to arrest them,” he said.

His only way to make his point is to accept the British Army’s contention that it was not a war that was being fought. His suggestion that the republicans should have been arrested risks implying that it was simply a matter of law enforcement and crime prevention.

If the men who died had been arrested, they would have held themselves to be soldiers – prisoners of war – when they were shot, they were civilians.

Such distinctions were hard fought over in the Troubles, but now the way to move forward may be to accept the tragedy of what happened in those wasted years without indulging in double think.

So far, there seems to have been little reaction to Liam Clarke’s other recent report – on the HET review of the 1987 Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen…

A major report into the Enniskillen Poppy Day massacre has found that the IRA deliberately targeted civilians with a no-warning bomb.

The report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has also concluded that the terror group had planned another and possibly more serious atrocity, just 20 miles away on the same day.

If this second bomb had detonated it would have killed a number of children.

Survivors of the November 1987 bombing expect the damning report to be published early in the new year and have been given some clues to its contents.

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  • I wonder whether there is a reasonable justification for doublethinking sometimes or is it always hypocritical as in this case (McElduff).

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s a deductive fallacy in there somewhere, rather than hypocrisy. “I can only be right if my premise is wrong”. Or “I can only be wrong if my premise is right.”

  • Thanks, Mick. I haven’t heard the phrase “deductive fallacy ” before; had to go to wiki.

  • “The overall picture … is one in which the security forces and the weight of public opinion … gradually wore down an armed resistance.”

    Liam’s is one of a number of imagined histories; a paucity of facts and truth-telling as well as a multiplicity of players makes it virtually impossible to provide a reliable account. The actors themselves never got to see a full script.

    The ‘peace process’ appears to have been under-way by 1987 and so it’s likely that there were differences of opinion on tactics, even within the PRM’s Army Council.

    Intelligence reports further indicate that on Monday, the day after the bombing, McGuinness crossed the border to see the officer commanding the IRA’s Donegal unit – and that subsequently Gerry Adams and a senior figure from the IRA’s General Headquarters’ Staff discussed declaring an IRA ceasefire at the beginning of December.

    Adams and McGuinness are reported to have fallen out over the proposal with McGuinness saying that on no account should the IRA go for a ceasefire. BBC source

    I recall a reference IIRC in Moloney’s book about McGuinness being taken aback by Danny Morrison’s ‘armalite and ballot-box’ proclamation – as if he hadn’t been consulted.

    On the other hand, we had the ‘Derry experiment’, an experiment in which there was a mutual but not negotiated reduction in actions by PIRA and the Army. Could it be that Martin was a late convert to the Redemptorist ‘Stepping Stones’ proposals?

  • Michael Shilliday

    Nothing new in the Enniskillen “story” the Tullyhomon bomb is so well known it’s on the wikipedia article.

  • Skinner

    Michael, so well known and yet so conveniently ignored by republicans – “How could those freedom fighters willingly blow a gathering of children to bits in the name of Ireland? What would that have achieved? Oh, that can’t be right, I suggest we just ignore it. Either ignore it or it must have been the Brits up to their dirty tricks to make us look bad.”