“The fact of the matter is that somebody ordered that Jean McConville be murdered…”

The BBC reported that, following the broadcast of the recent BBC/RTÉ programme on The Disappeared, the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said

The fact that some families still do not know where their murdered relatives were secretly buried by the IRA is a “wound that must not be left to fester”

[But whose wound, Martin? – Ed]  And on what body…  The quote continues,

“I understand that these killings happened decades ago and those involved may be dead, may not have been active in republicanism since that time or indeed may well be hostile to Sinn Féin and the peace process”

But, equally, those involved may still be alive, may still continue to be active in republicanism and, indeed, may still be prominent members of Sinn Féin.

On which point, Miriam Lord notes,

It’s a pity the man who was commander of the IRA in west Belfast all those years ago wasn’t in the Dáil chamber yesterday afternoon.

He could have cleared up a few questions.

Miriam Lord went on to describe the scene in the Dail on Tuesday

“It’s a long time ago but the hurt is obviously as palpable and as relevant now as it was then,” the Taoiseach told a hushed Dáil.

The Fianna Fáil leader spoke for those families who still didn’t know where their loved ones were hidden or buried. “I would ask that every effort is made to pursue the case of the murder of Jean McConville and that all involved should be in a position to co-operate fully,” said Micheál Martin.

Gerry Adams couldn’t agree more. A sorrowful Sinn Féin leader told the House that he had also seen the documentary. Not only that, but he took part in it. He seemed quite proud of this.

“I took part in the programme in order to focus on the necessary effort to get those whose remains have not been recovered to be retrieved as quickly as possible and returned to their families.”

Did Adams see the icy-expressions on the faces around him as he spoke? Did he hear the cynical sighs of disgust? And if so, did he wonder why?

“I would ask the Taoiseach to join with me in assisting very actively in the work of the commission which was established under the last government . . . and I think the programme last night should be a huge motivation to anyone who has information whatsoever to bring it forward.”

Gerry Adams was certainly unanimous with himself in his opinion that he was one of the good guys.

But judging by the chilly atmosphere in the chamber and the eye-rolling of the vast majority of deputies present, they did not share his assessment of his performance.

The Taoiseach coolly noted that Adams had taken part. He too hoped that some good would come out of the programme.

Looking directly at the Sinn Féin leader, who still insists he wasn’t in the IRA, he mused: “The fact of the matter is that somebody ordered that Jean McConville be murdered. Somebody instructed that people take her away. Somebody instructed that Dolours Price drive that vehicle across the Border and somebody instructed that what happened took place.”

The Sinn Féin leader and TD for Louth listened, sitting back in his seat, arms folded across his body.

Two IRA volunteers, now deceased, named Gerry Adams as that person. He has always vehemently denied this and says they named him because of their opposition to the peace process and the part he played in it.

The Taoiseach didn’t name any names in the Dáil yesterday. Neither did Micheál Martin. And when Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith raised the issue of “the Disappeared” during Topical Questions, he didn’t name anybody either.

However their comments were as much about what went unsaid as what they put on the record.

And, as the BBC NI’s political editor Mark Devenport notes, after that appearance in the Dáil

…Gerry Adams is flying off to the US to “brief the US administration on the political situation in Ireland” and the need for continuing American engagement in the peace process.

Here’s the Sinn Féin press release on Gerry Adams’ 4-day trip to the USA.    But, as Mark Devenport points out

Given Mr Adams’ and Sinn Féin’s ambitions to expand further in the south, it is only natural commentators should start looking towards other TDs like Mary Lou McDonald or Pearse Doherty as potential leaders in waiting.

Mr Adams’ denials of IRA membership – which fellow republicans might once have viewed as a necessary expedient in a war situation – are increasingly making him an object of derision, even to some within his own tight-knit community.

More than that, even if the substance of the latest allegations is not new, there could come a point when the folk memory of Mr Adams as Sinn Féin’s ‘Mandela’ fades, while the public image of evasive appearances on the TV persists.

Given the impending centenary of the Easter Rising, it is often conjectured that the Sinn Féin president would like to carry on at the helm of his party until 2016.

Whatever happens between now and then, he will want to determine his own destiny rather than appear to be buffeted by his critics into a hasty departure.

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  • fordprefect

    Gerry Adams took part in it, what, the documentary the disappearances or both? Much as I loath Adams, I think that Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin are using the disappeared as a political football because they fear the rise of SF. Kenny or Martin (like their predecessors) never gave a shit about this place, unless they were traipsed around the world as having brought “peace” to this part of Ireland. McGuinness is wrong, these killings/disappearances didn’t just take place decades ago, next year will mark the ninth anniversary of the murder/disappearance of Lisa Dorrian who was murdered/disappeared by the Unionist LVF in 2005.

  • cynic2

    What about the other 2499 that Gerry’s people murdered as well. Those too need to be laid at his door.

  • fordprefect

    Cynic, 2499, wise up.

  • MrPMartin

    How anyone can vote SF and call themselves a human being is beyond me. The hand that votes for SF is the hand that held the gun and planted the bomb. A vote for murder and a vote for supporters of murder is an act of murder itself

    Scotland is a hairs breadth from independence without a bullet fired. Scotland suffered a famine and the highland clearances but never resorted to murder. I wonder do certain religions lend themselves to easy exoneration from evil than others

    To me, a religious belief is no different from a political belief and therefore should not be protected from criticism. Religious beliefs are freely chosen. Yes freely chosen. Unlike race , people have the ability to objectively assess the religion they are born into and make a judgement call. That’s what I did. If I can do it so can you if you have the intelligence to question the fairies your parents told you to believe in

    Marx, Jesus, Keynes, Mohammad, Thatcher, Thor : they are all political figures

  • fordprefect

    Does that include people who voted for the PUP and the now defunct UDP?

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    Does that include people who voted for the PUP and the now defunct UDP?”

    Or FF? or FG? or Labour?

  • fordprefect

    Or Conservative? or Labour? Or any other party you want to pick Bad Boy.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ford/Cynic, PIRA killed approx. 1,800 people, around 40% of those were civilians (exc. police) and 100 republicans. If you add the 300 members killed because of their IRA activities then you can easily ascribe over 2,000 deaths to an organisation that had McGuiness and Adams as senior commanders for most if not all of that period. Its more than likely the IRA killed more of its own members than the Loyalists paramilitaries!.

  • Republic of Connaught


    “Scotland is a hairs breadth from independence without a bullet fired. Scotland suffered a famine and the highland clearances but never resorted to murder. I wonder do certain religions lend themselves to easy exoneration from evil than others.”

    I always find the comparison between Scotland and Ireland’s independence journeys rather stupid, or else very weak propaganda.

    Ireland peacefully pursued home rule on a 32 county basis and that democratic right was denied by a minority in the north east of the country who said they would use violence to reject it and imported weapons for that exact purpose.

    If a vast majority of Scots vote for independence in 2014, but a minority of Catholics in west Scotland refuse to accept it and want to remain part of the UK, and the English partition Scotland to appease the minority, only then come back to me with valid comparisons between Ireland’s independence struggle and Scotland’s ‘peaceful’ nationalism,

    If the English tried to partition Scotland in the 20th century like they did Ireland, the violence over there would have dwarfed anything seen in Ireland. But of course that obvious reality doesn’t suit those whose agenda is to blacken Irish nationalism.

  • fordprefect

    I don’t doubt your last part (although, I don’t think that IRA vol’s killed with their own bombs could count as being killed by the IRA), though actual active IRA men killed by Unionist paramilitaries were few and far between.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    It should include those voters, whether voting for Loyalist or Republican terrorists. Those voters’ part in continuing Troubles enmity, by voting for those who prosecuted the Troubles, is immense.They are Adams’s willing executioners, to borrow from Gitta Sereny.
    On the killing stats, worth noting that Republican terrorists killed 5 people for every one Republican terrorist that died. The idea Adams and others put forward in the docco of Republican ‘sacrifice’ during a ‘time of war’, needs to be seen in the light of that fact – a sick joke, even for people who buy into their discredited and desperate attempts to cloud their crimes in the excusing language of ‘conflict resolution’. We need more documentaries like this so a new generation can see what Republicans did in the Troubles.

  • “Ireland peacefully pursued home rule on a 32 county basis”

    RoC, this 1908 account is at variance with your assertion about the behaviour of some nationalists:

    Ignorant men who were taught that it was holy and heroic to drive cattle from the pastures of the grazier, would not be slow to learn that it was a manly act to crouch behind a hedge and fire upon defenceless men and aged women who were obnoxious to the United Irish League, and that it was equally courageous and humane to stand by and applaud the deed. This distorted view of morality and humanity had produced the most demoralising consequences. When a man wounded by one of these skulking heroes of the hedgerow crawled to a neighbouring house for help, the strong and virile action, according to the Nationalist standards, was to spurn him from the door. Should a compassionate neighbour give the victim any assistance, then these peculiar notions of virility demanded that the Good Samaritan should be boycotted and threatened with death.

    Such activities, unsurprisingly, reinforced unionist opposition to Home Rule.

  • Barney

    MrPMartin wrote
    “How anyone can vote SF and call themselves a human being is beyond me.”
    Its gratifying to see so many fellow countrymen dehumanised in such a short sentence.

    Its always possible to find events and testimonies that contradict historical fact simply because history is not a science. The Home rule riots in Ulster were a violent and as it transpired successful attempt to impose the will of the minority onto the majority.

    One must ask why the people of Ireland wanted home rule?

    The supposed cleansing of Protestants in the free state is another myth that doesnt stand up.

    Of course someone ordered the murder of this woman and almost all other deaths in the bother we are trying to move away from.

  • Republic of Connaught


    The behaviour of ‘some’ nationalists doesn’t alter the reality about which paramilitary force came into existence first – the UVF or the Irish Volunteers? There were ‘some’ unionists in Ulster practice drilling in 1886 to reject the first Home Rule bill, long before anything that happened in 1908.

    And by 1908, the Home Rule bill should already have passed if democracy had been respected, as it undoubtedly will be in Scotland in 2014. Which is why Scotland’s independence journey can never be compared realistically to that of Ireland.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    The story of Jean McConville and the treatment of her children showed how a community, whipped up into a frenzy of ethnic hatred, lots its moral bearings. Some Loyalist communities also did, out of thirst for revenge. We can’t undo what happened, but it’s not too late for all those who did the wrong thing during the Troubles to come clean and apologise PROPERLY.

    Sadly, as long as SF-IRA keep dodging full responsibility for their own actions – the disastrous reign of terror they chose to carry out, for their own ideological reasons – society can’t really fully move on.

    It’s as if, having apparently duped their own constituency into following their (vacillating) narrative of the Troubles – not hard, since it flatteringly re-casts its small-minded, cruel sectarianism as a righteous struggle against injustice – SF have forgotten that to everyone else, it’s the most transparent lie in recent Irish history. There is the Republican bubble; and then there is the truth as everyone else experienced it, including the bulk of nationalists who saw them for what they were throughout the period. Young modern day SF voters should reflect on the fact that nationalism was against the IRA at the time of their ‘Armed Struggle’ and ask why – and why nationalists should vote for these people now.

    They can’t escape the truth forever though and you do sense it is catching up with them, bit by bit.

  • Morpheus

    “How anyone can vote SF and call themselves a human being is beyond me.”

    Statements like this absolutely disgust me, you should be ashamed and your parents should be ashamed for dragging you up to believe things like that.

    The big parties get elected after banging on the tribal tom-toms, maybe a riot or 2 and playing their Orange/Green cards so the people vote for them but for me the voters don’t do it to maintain their tribe’s power or through any sense of loyalty. I think many do it out of a fear of the other tribe getting all the power and punishing them.

    I would hazard a guess that most SF voters don’t have a clue what their policies are but vote for them not because of any loyalty to SF but through a fear of what would happen if the DUP ran the show. I think the same is true of the DUP, most DUP voters don’t have a clue what their policies are but vote for them not because of any loyalty to the DUP but through a fear of what would happen if the SF ran the show.

    Bottom line, we are in a Mexican standoff with both sides refusing to put down their proverbial guns – even though they know they should – for fear that the other side won’t reciprocate.

    Politicians for the most part sit in the middle, fuel it and take advantage

  • RoC, the UVF predated the Irish volunteers but the drilling by each isn’t in the same league as the earlier organisations and their violent activities, including the use of firearms. Perhaps it could be argued that the formation of the Ulster and Irish volunteers brought a degree of order and reduced the potential for random inter-communal flare-ups.

  • fordprefect

    So you are saying that anyone who voted for SF or any of the U/L/P parties were just as guilty as their leaders of murder and mayhem?

  • Republic of Connaught


    The UVF imported more weapons than any other paramilitary group at the time and they made their intentions to resist Home Rule very clear, so we can say with that firepower they were in the big league when it comes to their willingness to engage in bloodshed to achieve their political goals.

    If the Scots ever have to go through a similar struggle against the threats of an armed minority in their own country and the English establishment behind them, I will take seruously comparisons with Ireland’s independence struggles. As it is, I find the comparisons stupid.

  • RoC, you seem to be very comfortable about turning a blind eye to the actual violence of late 19th century Irish nationalism illustrated above which, in a way, is reminiscent of the behaviour of Gerry and Martin in more recent times.

  • Republic of Connaught


    You seem very content to turn a blind eye to unionism’s willingness to use illegal violence against a democratically achieved Home Rule in Ireland. They could have argued it out politically without importing 25,000 illegal weapons from Germany. But they didn’t; they turned to the threat of illegal guns.

    However if we’re honest, we can look at these events in the context of their era and accept that violence and politics were often bedfellows.

  • Barney


    There was no illumination of anything, you posted two random links, doing that turns debate into a kind of google tennis.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    No, the planners and executors of the crimes bear the lion’s share of responsibility; but those who supported them (and some may still do so) do carry some too – albeit at a secondary level. Sine qua non, and all that.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    If you substitute “Golden Dawn” or “BNP” for Sinn Fein, you may start to understand why many of us take voting for SF as such an insult.

    The only difference between these three ethnic chauvinistic, ultra-nationalist political movements being, the former two have killed way fewer people.

    SF supporters’ ‘humanity’ is questioned I think in the sense of their inability to show common human empathy for that organisation’s victims – and in their toleration of acts of cruelty that all but the most disturbed humans find repulsive and wrong. This is what was meant by ‘inhuman’, I think, when used by the other contributor. It’s not to dehumanise; quite the opposite, it’s to re-assert universal human values in the face of a huge and continuing moral failure.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    M-U, you might have valid point somewhere in there about SF supporteers ambiguous attitudes to violence and indeed empathy for opponents sufferings (that works both ways) but SF = Golden Dawn and BNP!! Get a grip, man. Those organisations’ raison d’etre is to scapegoat ethnic minorities – I don’t see SF for all their many shortcomings doing that, in fact I’d say you’re well aware that the thugs who do that in NI are mostly loyalist, often orchestrated by loyalist paramilitaries (and of course backed by the odd DUP nutcase).

  • Republic of Connaught


    I agree with you about the mistake of northern nationalists voting for Sinn Fein. To my eyes they put unionists off a unified Ireland more than anything in the south ever could. The only party I ever believe in the north is the SDLP and they’re the only party a real united Irelander should vote for.

    But I also think the holier than thou hypocrisy of many unionists in relation to ‘moral failure’ during the troubles is equally sickening to a nationalist community who knew only too well the truth about the corrosive sectarianism rampant in all strands of ‘Protestant Ulster.’

    Here’s a quote from a NI Judge in the Susan McKay Irish Times review of the Lethal Allies book in relation to four RUC murderers on trial for killing innocent Catholics:

    “He (the judge) understood the defendants felt that “more than ordinary police work was needed and was justified to rid the land of the pestilence which has been in existence.” They were “misguided but above all unfortunate”, and it was appropriate that he impose lesser sentences than would be applicable to terrorists. One of the astonished and grateful defendants cried out in the dock: “Praise the Lord!”

    This was a judge, remember. Undoubtedly a God faring unionist judge who displayed this sickeningly sectarian attitude despite knowing the four RUC men in the dock had murdered innocent Catholics.

    So to talk of moral failure in the province is to talk of people of all hues and backgrounds who were Christians only in name.

  • Barney

    “they put unionists off a unified Ireland more than anything in the south ever could.”
    There is nothing putting unionists off a united Ireland they just dont want it.

    Yer man above, the guy who ignores the openly fascist nature of Unionism ( an ethnocentric philosophy if ever there was one) while trying to compare SF to ethnocentric parties in Europe is totally deluded. Of course the flat earthists that constitute Unionism will never agree to share this island. That doesnt bode well for the future.

  • Republic of Connaught

    **trial was for attempted murder.

  • Charles_Gould

    Good blog post, Pete.

  • ThomasPaine

    I feel a great deal of embarrassment for anyone who draws a comparison between the seeking of independence of Ireland from England/the British Empire/the UK, and Scotland from the UK. I also feel extremely ashamed of our education system as well to allow such ignorance to persist in this day and age.

    Mainland Ulsterman, I just don’t know where to start.

    I won’t bother getting into a meaningless tit for tat argument about who done what first. Historical facts don’t seem that important to you as you ignore them willy-nilly. But needless to say England trying to control a land that didn’t belong to them, then taking land off native Catholics to give to protestant colonists, as well as the 1918 general election when only 25% of Irishmen voted to continue to be ruled directly from Westminster, only for the British government to cave in to the threat of Unionist terrorism and go against the results of a peaceful democratic election may be a starting point. Who knows? Perhaps if these acts were never carried out the vast majority of torture and murder this side of the Irish Sea may never have happened.

    But I do want to point out a few political facts so that in the future maybe you won’t humiliate yourself as badly as you have done here.

    You stated the following:

    “If you substitute “Golden Dawn” or “BNP” for Sinn Fein, you may start to understand why many of us take voting for SF as such an insult.

    The only difference between these three ethnic chauvinistic, ultra-nationalist political movements being, the former two have killed way fewer people.”

    Now far be it from me to defend SF, but what you have said here is so remarkably wrong on so many levels it beggars belief that it could be typed by someone with even the merest hint of modern political knowledge.

    First of all, you do understand that both the BNP and Golden Dawn are extreme right wing, don’t you? While SF’s roots are steeped in socialism and influence by Marx. That much is clear to you, right? So there at least is one difference.

    You say that SF, like the two aforementioned fascist party’s, is ethnically chauvinistic. Can you give any evidence that shows any SF member stating just how ethnically superior whites are over blacks? Or how superior Catholics are over protestants? Or how superior the Irish are to the British or any other nationality? Any shred of evidence you can muster will suffice.

    It is one thing to disagree with SF’s political policies. I know I do.

    And it is perfectly fine to despise how they sought to bring about their political aims, but to accuse them of being extreme right wing neo-Nazi’s is quite pathetic. It may not suit your narrow minded view on political parties and your obvious bitterness, but SF nor any Irish Republican group has ever thought themselves superior, just different. They just want independence, to rule themselves, to not have intervention from a foreign force. Hence the name “we ourselves.”

    That goes for SF in Ireland prior to 1920 and SF in Northern Ireland after. I think you’ll find a few countries around the world wanted the same as far as Imperial Britain was concerned.

    So therein lies another difference.

    And no Mainland Ulserman, SF do not want and have never wanted independence to establish some sort of Catholic Ascendency, like the Protestant Ascendency that was put in place in Ireland and Northern Ireland for many years. SF, as with most left wing parties, don’t have a whole lot of time for religion. Gerry Adams doesn’t even know if there is a god. Nick Griffin and Nikolaos Michaloliakos are, shall we say “very” Christian, and it influences their policies. Yet another difference.

    And I haven’t even mentioned normal policies, such as housing, criminals, education and health. Differences galore here too.

    So don’t come on here saying SF are the BNP & Golden Dawn with guns. Or formerly with guns. It smacks of sheer ignorance and utter stupidity.

    On the thread itself, Gerry Adams ordered the disappearing of Jean McConville as he was CO of the PIRA. He gave a morally repugnant command and it wasn’t his only one. He was at war with multiple morally repugnant enemies but that is no excuse. If you go down that line you better win. He didn’t. He and his PIRA lost.

    As the years tick on I’m sure Adams thinks to what legacy he will leave behind. He wanted to finish what Collins couldn’t. He wanted to be the greatest of all the Irish Republicans. He will come close to neither.

    But that is not to say he couldn’t still have a vital role to play in making community relations better and helping bring about a situation whereby the ancestors of planters will not react violently to the possibility in the future of a united Ireland (an absolute certainty if things continue as they are for the next few centuries) and thus assisting his what has been his life’s cause.

    However he won’t do it as Sinn Fein leader. He is already past his sell by date. He should be an electoral liability but given the lack of intellect of voters I’m not sure he is.

    As we painfully transition to peace at two paces – slow and stop – and the attitudes of the Troubles begrudgingly fade away, I hope those who will write about Adams’ paramilitary and political career upon his retirement and/or death will do so knowing just how sorry he is at all the hurt he has caused, not least of all to Jean McConville are her children.

    If Adams tells all, as we should all hope he does before he shuffles of this mortal coil, and apologizes profusely (even while giving his reasons for his actions) then maybe, just maybe, he will do a great service for Republicanism/Irish Nationalism yet.

  • amateuranthropology

    Thanks for the round up of news articles. You missed the one entitled “Martin McGuinness: IRA’s secret killings and burials were totally and absolutely wrong”


  • Mainland Ulsterman

    TS – but to you, we Brits are an ethnic minority, right? And they went about killing us.

  • “They could have argued it out politically”

    RoC, if you look at other pages on the Westminster website you’ll see that the arguments were going on against a back-drop of violence in the south and west of Ireland and Gladstone split his own party through his side-dealing with nationalists – the latter being in a position to act as king-makers.

    “There was no illumination of anything, you posted two random links”

    Barney, the links were not randomly chosen; as noted above, they illustrate where the violence was taking place and they strengthened unionist opposition. However, Gladstone hadn’t been in listening mode and neither were his liberal successors.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    RoC – not excusing any wrong-doing, just as I wouldn’t for the Allies in WW2 – just pointing out the big picture and who has to take the lion’s share of Troubles guilt: the IRA and their supporters. Is that really controversial?

    It’s not to let others off the hook for their crimes, especially Loyalist terrorists who were no better, only a little less busy. But the security forces, while a few members committed their own crimes over the period, have much more to be proud of than ashamed of and were the ones we all have to thank for keeping society going during that period.

    Of course there were and are some awful, sectarian attitudes out there among some unionist people, as there are in the nationalist community also. But I would have thought it was self-evident that actually killing people is worse morally than being prejudiced, or even discriminating. Those things are all wrongs, but I don’t think any legal system in the world would think killing someone – and generally someone not actually responsible for it too – was a proportionate response to suffering discrimination. It is wrong to see the Republican terror campaign as flowing inevitably out of the wrongs against the nationalist people. There were other solutions available and to go the terror route was an ideologically-driven choice by Republicans – for which we all suffered.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Just take a step back from Sinn Fein and look at them objectively – and tell me they don’t bear comparison with the BNP and Golden Dawn. Ethnic scapegoating against people they see as outsiders; ultra-nationalism and propagating myths of resistance against outside invaders (who are nothing of the sort); extreme violence against rival ethnic groups, in their case us Ulster British; an exclusivist definition of the nation; bully boy intimidation tactics against opponents; authoritarian internal structures, favouring those who have blooded themselves in violence against their rivals; seeing politics and armed force as equally legitimate tactics in their “struggle”, etc, etc.

    I am a peaceful unionist and I don’t have any truck with the terrorists on either side. I’m a Labour supporter, an atheist and general liberal, not some backwoods Paisley-ite. It’s not (just) that SF are just annoying to me as a unionist and target of their violence: SF’s values and history of violence are totally inconsistent with progressive politics.

  • “only for the British government to cave in to the threat of Unionist terrorism and go against the results of a peaceful democratic election may be a starting point.”

    ThomasPaine, you really should feel ‘a great deal of embarrassment’ for making such a silly claim. The terror, as illustrated in the Westminster exchanges, in the lead-up to 1914, was taking place in the south and west of Ireland.

  • Republic of Connaught


    “If you look at other pages on the Westminster website you’ll see that the arguments were going on against a back-drop of violence in the south and west of Ireland and Gladstone split his own party through his side-dealing with nationalists – the latter being in a position to act as king-makers.”

    You are making excuses for the UVF turning to the threat of violence. Constitutional democrats follow the constitutional path to its end; win or lose. They don’t resort to importing weapons because they don’t get their own way. That was Gerry and Martin’s logic.


    “just pointing out the big picture and who has to take the lion’s share of Troubles guilt: the IRA and their supporters. Is that really controversial?”

    Depending on how deeply and for how long the British intelligence services are proven to have been running large elements of the PIRA and Loyalist murder gangs, then the guilt might prove to me much more evenly spread than you will ever want to admit.

    Will be you be reading Lethal Allies, MU? Or are there some truths about the troubles you’ll choose to ignore?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    First, I should have said “main difference”, not “the only difference” – my mistake.

    So yes I do realise those movements are extreme right wing, and I know SF think of themselves as steeped in socialism and influenced by Marx. (Though the Provos broke away from Goulding partly because he was too Marxist and the then leaders saw themselves as God-fearing Catholics.) The point I was making was the old ‘spectrum being a circle’ point about the similarities between authoritarian parties on the ultra-left and ultra-right. And when, in SF’s case, there is a strong ethno-nationalist flavour alongside the violence and authoritarianism, I think the difference is very small. They are all distasteful parties and I’m glad you also reject SF.

    I do say that SF is ethnically chauvinistic. In Northern Ireland there are two main ethnic blocks, as you know: SF has long failed to even accept our right to our own ethnic identity, let alone respecting it. That should have changed in 1998 when they signed up to accept the Britishness of people choosing that identity. But until then – and let’s face it, since – they have continually talked of Britishness in Ireland as being something alien and of inferior legitimacy to Irishness. The nonsense of “false consciousness” they spout. Hard to believe anyone who has lived through the Troubles needs evidence of Republicans’ killing campaign against what they see as the British “minority”, but if you want the detail of what they did, see CAIN.

    “To accuse them of being extreme right wing neo-Nazi’s is quite pathetic.”
    Except I didn’t – I just drew a comparison between them and other thuggish parties.

    “… SF nor any Irish Republican group has ever thought themselves superior, just different. They just want independence, to rule themselves, to not have intervention from a foreign force.””
    Really?! They defined British presence in Ireland as alien rather than indigenous – and saw opposing it as their number 1 priority – which does kind of suggest they thought their own Irish identity was somehow better. They then set about executing many of us summarily, in and out of uniform. Their stance towards us has alternated between wanting to drive us “into the sea” and telling us to drop our own national identity in favour of, um, one THEY chose for us. And that’s not seeing themselves as superior?!?!

    “And no Mainland Ulserman, SF do not want and have never wanted independence to establish some sort of Catholic Ascendency …”
    See above – what was their plan for Ulster Protestants then? Other than shooting us and telling us our identity has to be one approved by them? They were hardly creating a future with us in mind.

    “Gerry Adams doesn’t even know if there is a god.”
    Congratulations to Gerry for his agnosticism, which is a bit pathetic in my view (I’m an atheist). However, the Republican Movement is pretty deeply Catholic, I think it’s fair to say. But the point is, of course there are differences between these parties, but the similarities are glaring and I hope thought-provoking. Drawing attention to them ought to make those who stay quiet in the face of SF reflect on what they are (not) doing and feel a bit ashamed.

    You watch a documentary like the McConville one and you have to pinch yourself that these people are playing any part in public life at all. Please wake up to what they are.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “Depending on how deeply and for how long the British intelligence services are proven to have been running large elements of the PIRA and Loyalist murder gangs, then the guilt might prove to me much more evenly spread than you will ever want to admit.”
    Arf, arf! Clutching at straws there a bit mate. Wishful thinking. Guilt is not exclusively for one side and I didn’t say it was – but I don’t see how you can wish away guilt for what the IRA did on the basis that they were infiltrated by intelligence services. I would hope they were – and this saved uncounted lives, even if lives were also lost in the process. The process was only necessary at all because the IRA decided to wage a deeply unpopular terrorist campaign for 30 years. Critics of the security forces need to answer the question: what is the realistic best a reasonable security force could have done in the circumstances, that would have better protected the public from terror? Answers on a postcard please. Criticism is fine but if there are no realistic alternatives, it doesn’t have much value. What if the security forces had done nothing? Some contributors here would no doubt have been happy, but we’d have even more bereaved families.

    On the book, I will get around to reading it I’m sure.

  • “You are making excuses for the UVF turning to the threat of violence.”

    RoC, on the contrary, I’m posting links that highlight where the violence was taking place viz the south and west of Ireland. If you can point to similar actions or worse by the Ulster and Irish Volunteers please feel free to do so. Perhaps the cowardly actions of the Provisional IRA draw from the same well as their counterparts a century ago. Were bodies disappeared back then?

  • Republic of Connaught


    What the PIRA did is there for all to see. There is no escaping their guilt for what they did. During the conflict they were arrested and imprisoned when caught for their crimes.

    What is now coming to light is what the British intelligence services behind the scenes were up to. And how guilty there were for allowing countless innocent civilians to be murdered by the same murder gangs they had heavily infiltrated over a period of many years.

    I sense like many unionists you don’t really want the whole truth about the troubles, MU, you just want the bits that suits your unionist narrative. Which is fine from a personal point of view to ignore the bits you don’t like.

    But from a historical perspective, the whole truth of who did what in the conflict is necessary. There can be no turning a blind eye to what anyone did when looking at the conflict from a moral viewpoint.

  • Barney

    I’m fully aware that you chose them deliberately but they are far from being representative of the general situation. What do you mean by “Gladstone hadn’t been in listening mode”? That is an interesting choice of words.

    Mainland Ulsterman
    SF do not resemble either of those parties in any way. The only grouping I see talking about some form of ethnic division on this Island is ulster unionists. The division is political in nature to suggest otherwise is to move into the world of pseudo science.

    Its Unionism that has cut its self off from the rest of the Island and the modern world.

    I find nothing attractive in believing in a flat earth

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    You keep saying you sense I don’t want to hear the full truth, yet you have no actual basis for saying it. Not true at all. Indeed I have stated several times it all needs to come out. My point was ALL of it, not just the stuff that plays to one’s own narrative.

    The collusion stuff must come out, but a much bigger gaping hole in our knowledge of what happened when and why is the hole left by Republican omertà about the majority of Troubles deaths for which they were responsible. In the course of 2000+ murders, what was said and done and planned and almost done? Who was involved in the decisions within the IRA? Who else knew? Who helped? Who gave them money? Who gave them moral support? Who connived in the targeting? The McConville stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. We have no documents from these people, very little testimony; we snatch at the Boston College admissions because there is so little to go on. When asked about the details, we still get cover up and lies. So let’s throw light on it proportionately: 60/30/10.

  • Republic of Connaught


    You do realise posting some arbitrary links to violence by nationalists or unionists at the time doesn’t change the stated policies of the democratically elected movements of Nationalism or Unionism?

  • Barney

    “There can be no turning a blind eye to what anyone did when looking at the conflict from a moral viewpoint.”
    I quite agree there is something decidedly worrying about someone claiming an ethnic difference (where none exist) and moral superiority, that is the root of fascism.

  • Republic of Connaught


    “Indeed I have stated several times it all needs to come out. My point was ALL of it, not just the stuff that plays to one’s own narrative.”

    On this we fully agree. Even if the testimonies of those involved are only released after their deaths, I think the truth needs to be recorded from those involved for the sake of future generations.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “The division is political in nature” and there is no ethnic division on the island? Would that be because we’re all “Irish” together then?
    That old style Irish anti-British chauvinism doesn’t wash any more and nationalists have signed up to eradicating it – though you seem to be unaware of this.
    In the Good Friday Agreement, the parties including SF agreed they would “recognise the birthright of all of the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose …” (Constitutional Issues, 1(vi)).
    Note “be accepted as”.

    You can call national allegiance “political” if you want and there is a political aspect to it; but it’s clearly not purely political. Or else voting patterns are amazingly coincidental. The reality is that ethnic blocks exist, not just in terms of voting but culturally and in terms of how people see themselves. Nationalists need to be very careful in continuing to deny that, as it can very easily sound like the old idea of Britishness in Northern Ireland being illegitimate and that nationalist Irish identity is somehow “correct” and should apply to everyone, like it or not. Thankfully, post 1998, those illiberal and patronising ideas are one for the history books now; though the regularity with which it pops up on these pages shows there are some slow learners. But please, no more of that pre-98 nonsense on Slugger. If we don’t respect each other’s differences then it’s hard to have a conversation.

  • Morpheus

    Now if only we had a Peace Centre where we put all the narritives under one roof so the world can learn from our mistakes

    Oh wait…

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Agreed – well said. But it can’t come out soon enough for me.

  • Barney

    Mainland Ulsterman
    You are talking about ethnic differences where there are none then claim others are ethnocentric or chauvinist that is worrying.

    I don’t like that exclusionary tribal thinking its self defeating and reinforces unionism’s reputation as an inward looking ideology

    For the rest…..You can continue to argue about something I didn’t say that’s grand but pointless.

  • Morpheus

    “So let’s throw light on it proportionately: 60/30/10.”

    How about 10/30/60?

  • RoC, those who rely on a politician’s promises are likely to be disappointed; access them by their actions. You seem to have difficulty countering the accounts of terror in the south and west; ‘arbritary’ spin on your part doesn’t cut the mustard.

  • Tochais Síoraí


    ‘……TS – but to you, we Brits are an ethnic minority, right? And they went about killing us…’

    To me??? Don’t make presumptions about me, pal.

    In a Northern Ireland context, you’re definitely not an ethnic minority. In an Irish context you’re hardly a beleaguered minority either because you’ve always had one of the world’s powerful military machines behind you. And if it’s a body count you’re looking at over the years, decades, centuries, you’ll be happy to know ‘you Brits’ won easily on all counts.

  • Republic of Connaught


    “You seem to have difficulty countering the accounts of terror in the south and west; ‘arbritary’ spin on your part doesn’t cut the mustard.”

    Your links to arbitrary violence in 1908 are irrelevant to what was the peaceful path to Home Rule followed by constitutional nationalism prior to the formation of the UVF, Nevin.

    It’s like providing arbitrary links to dissident Republican or loyalist violence today and claiming it represents mainstream nationalist or unionist opinion today.

    It’s not true, and you know it.

  • Barney

    “You seem to have difficulty countering the accounts of terror in the south and west”
    That really is one of the silliest things I’ve read for a long time much the same as that trope “Have you stopped beating your wife”. Its infantile and an invitation to whataboutery.

    On the ethnic minority nonsense the more one thinks about it the more openly fascist and contradictory it is. How can one claim to be inclusive by excluding most of the population of the island and half the population of the north? And doing so on a less than scientific basis.

  • Son of Strongbow

    “if only we had a Peace Centre”. We do have a peace centre based at Corrymeela. I’m sure the folks there would be pleased to have a few millions in government funds to expand to encompass a much larger learning facility.

    It is located in a beautiful part of the world and more importantly has no Troubles ‘baggage’ attached to it.

    On the other hand the Maze site was chosen because of its iconic place in ‘republican’ history. The retention of the a Hospital Wing of HMP Maze on the site underscores this.

    And should anyone ask building a new peace centre at a site associated with other aspects of ‘republican’ tradition, such as Enniskillen or La Mon, would be equally inappropriate.

  • Morpheus

    Daniel Libeskind, the architect said:

    ” I was born in Poland, my parents were Holocaust survivors. I was born in a Communist country and dreaded going to school there. How can I, who embrace democracy and open society, be involved in something as evil as celebrating terrorism? Who in their right mind would do that? I would never be involved in this project if I did not consider it something important – to bring people to Belfast to that site.”

    Then again, if the word ‘collusion’ and activities of The Glenanne Gang are to be conveniently airbrushed out by unionist veto then what’s the point? We have nothing to teach the outside world.

    My question earlier regarding the 10/30/60 was a genuine one. To reestablish confidence/trust in our security forces and in the interests of the state distancing themselves from the actions of a few on Bloody Sunday (not to mention the fact that the evidence has already been collated) do you think we could make a start with the Para’s since there are already a significant number of Republican/Loyalist cases already with the HET?

  • RoC, it would appear that there was an earlier version of the ‘armalite and ballot box’:

    The hon. Member for Cork gave the true indication in the interview he accorded recently to an American journalist. The hon. Member then said that he was afraid there was a section of the Irish Party which believed that continued disorder in Ireland was a necessary lever to obtain Home Rule. The real motive of this organised persecution was to drive from the country those who would fain live under the sanction of British law, or to compel them to make peace with their enemies and enjoy the protection of organised terrorism. So long as the Government allowed this sort of thing to go on, the task of governing Ireland would be made more difficult, because it drove into the arms of that disloyal party, men who for years had stood out against their intimidation; but who eventually found it easier to take sides with the party of disorder.

  • Republic of Connaught


    You would probably post obscure links all night rather than concede the accepted fact that mainstream Nationalism, with the vast democratic majority in Ireland behind them, pursued Home Rule peacefully. No serious historian contests the fact but I doubt you care. So we’ll leave it at that.

  • Dixie Elliott

    The View last night on the Disappeared makes for embarrassing viewing if you’re a Shinner who looks up to the likes of Declan Kearney…

    Before it starts he looks like a fighter who doesn’t want to go into the ring while his opponent looks smug and confident.

    Then he spends the entire time running around in circles trying to avoid a hammering.

    When your opponent is Mike Nesbitt – a lightweight who hammered you embarrassingly in the past by asking you to convince him of the merits of an United Ireland and you took to your heels then – it’s time to retire gracefully.

    The man’s arrogance has him fooled into believing he’s something other than political cannon fodder to be pushed in when no other shinner could be bothered taking the expected beating.


  • Barney

    “The real motive of this organised persecution was to drive from the country those who would fain live under the sanction of British law,”

    A cursory look at the census results from the late victorian period when British rule was most stable shows net migration from Majority Catholic and Protestant counties. The numbers of people leaving rural areas is broadly similar indicating that something is happening, something that is not sectarian in nature.

    Of course facts are uncomfortable and dont fit with the myth generated to justify partition.

  • RoC, I’m not relying on the interpretations of unnamed historians; I’m quoting statistics and comments made by or attributed to Westminster.politicians. Gerry and Martin are being linked to barbaric activities much as some earlier nationalist politicians were and, as acknowledged by a nationalist MP, violence and electoral politics were inextricably linked back then too.

    Perhaps you’d agree, in part, that Asquith capitulated to nationalist and unionist pressure and over-reacted to the nationalist uprising in 1916. Maybe London and Dublin still put the protection of their mainstream institutions ahead of the fate of ordinary folks, not just here in Northern Ireland but also across these islands.

  • “What do you mean by “Gladstone hadn’t been in listening mode”? That is an interesting choice of words.”

    Barney, I meant that he wasn’t apparently listening to other views within his own party, let alone the wider political spectrum.

    It seems I’m not the only one to pick up on this trait eg this obscure remark by Queen Victoria that I’ve just spotted:

    “He always addresses me as if I were a public meeting.”

    When he split the party on his Irish policy he kept the party out of power for a considerable period as the liberal unionists linked up with the conservatives [hence Conservative and [liberal] Unionist Party] – see the activities of Thomas Sinclair whose ancestors had played a role in earlier Ulster Conventions in the late 18th century (eg 1793). Sinclair’s observations about the role of the Catholic Church are much more modest than those of William Gladstone [see ‘The Vatican Decrees in their Bearing on Civil Allegiance’ in Gladstone link].

  • Barney

    Nevin what you mean is that Gladstone didnt cave into violence and threats of violence from the Unionist minority. There is nothing obscure about Victoria’s comment, its well known and she wasnt the first person to use it, its not terribly illuminating here.

    I don’t care for the relative degrees of hostility shown towards the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland. Empire britain has a history of anti Catholicism and it comes as no surprise that the democratic wishes of the people of Ireland should have again be ignored. Again why you would bring that up is beyond me.

    I have a lot of respect for political unionism, those who argue peacefully that Irelands interests would have been best served by remaining in the Empire. The second I hear nonsense about the law abiding majority or the supposed ethnic differences and moral superiority of any section of our people I recoil in horror.

    You have posted excerpts from Hansard without any attempt to provide context, as someone interested in historical truth I’m surprised that you did that. Anyone can find quotes passages and documented events that taken in isolation can “prove” anything. The accepted historical fact is that the search for home rule by the majority of the people in Ireland was by and large peaceful. It’s not a question of un-named historians the onus is on you to demonstrate that the violence that you have pointed to was representative of the home rule movement as a whole.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “You are talking about ethnic differences where there are none”
    None?! Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?!
    Definition from Wikipedia:
    “Ethnicity or ethnic group is a socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on a shared social experience or ancestry. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be associated with shared cultural heritage, ancestry, history, homeland, language (dialect) or ideology, and with symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, etc.”
    The idea that British and Irish people on the island are from the same ethnie doesn’t bear a lot of scrutiny. Think of the differing allegiances, codes, colours, imagery, traditions, as well as things like religious culture and nationality. Kind of obvious stuff really but it is an inconvenient truth for old-style all-island nationalism, I suppose. There is though an academic consensus that it is appropriate to talk of the divide as an ethnic one, at least in part.

    Ethnicity is largely culturally defined; it’s not about race, it is about how groups intra-connect and self-define. Of course one’s ethnie is not a prison and one can choose to escape it to some degree; but to regard it as a purely political choice would be to ignore the other multifarious strands that make up ethnic identity, many of them imbibed more than consciously chosen.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Well, we’re an ethnic group that isn’t yours and there are fewer of us than you on the island, so that would make us an ethnic minority in the Irish nationalist schema, for what it’s worth. The fact we aren’t even recognised by them as such says it all about nationalism’s tendency to see us in their idealised future as 2nd class Irish people, lucky to be allowed to live on the island at all, rather than their equals. ATQ Stewart had it right when he said the NI problem is one of a “double minority” – each group on the island defining itself both as a majority and minority at the same time – and acting accordingly. Hence both lurching between insecurity and arrogance, feeling cornered and victimised and feeling rightful masters of the domain. Therein lies the mistaken thought-loop both ethnic groups are trapped in – but which GFA offers a way out from. It takes people to do what the GFA says though i.e. treat both national groups as equals, whichever one you happen to come from. For people like me, that means not having my Britishness questioned 15 years after everyone agreed to accept it. The ‘you Brits’ in your answer typify that old, chauvinistic thinking. Happily I think we see less of that now; the younger generations I think get that parity of esteem is the only way.

    “if it’s a body count you’re looking at over the years, decades, centuries, you’ll be happy to know ‘you Brits’ won easily on all counts”
    I’ve not done the figures for previous periods, but on the years, decades part, we certainly didn’t ‘win’ over the past 50 years. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t also the case since Partition, though obviously I bow to the figures on that, if anyone has them. But yes, going back further, the Irish people took a lot from us and I don’t feel anything but regret and shame about it, to the extent my ancestors were involved – though who knows.

    I’m more interested in what’s happened in my own times, to be honest You have to admit, in the last 50 years the boot has been largely on the other foot.

    My point isn’t that we never did anything wrong, just that on the Troubles, I think Irish nationalists tend to under-estimate the extent to which the wider events after 1969 flowed not from an inevitable reaction to injustice but from a deliberate decision of the (already ideologically wedded to anti-British violence) IRA Army Council in January 1970. Adams was one of the leaders of this – so coming back to the main thread about him, this is why his attempt to use the fog of “war” to conceal his own guilt is so preposterous. The terrorist campaign was his to start with and it was his decision to join and lead the IRA, with tragic consequences for thousands of families in Northern Ireland. And still his party clogs up any realistic chance of proper non-sectarian progressive politics – though the DUP don’t help much either. It could all have been very different.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I would be all for openness on Army killings too – as I say, the important thing is that it’s done even-handedly, rather than just being an exercise in getting the UK government to air its dirty laundry without any reciprocation. Remember, if we’re being fair, we’ll be seeing 6 times as much coming out of the Republican Movement about its killings as comes out of the security forces (as they killed 6 for every 1 the security forces killed). I think until we see some signs this might happen, I would support a moratorium on any more state stuff being released – or whatever else is needed to get SF to shift gear on their own coming clean, it doesn’t have to be that.

    They can’t go on like this demanding everyone but them release information. I can see why they want to do it – to control how the Troubles is digested and remembered, airbrushing out the bits they don’t want people to remember – but letting them continue to get away with it is not an option if we want a healthy civil society. It’s not just about Jean McConville or other victims; it is a big barrier to a wider, proper reconciliation.

  • Barney, I’ve put up the evidence about violence during the lead-up to 1914 and it was mainly in the south and west. It was an MP from Cork who linked this violence to the nationalist political campaign. On the other hand, there’s no meat in your sandwich.

    From Thomas Sinclair’s perspective, Home Rule would have meant the arrival of a Catholic ascendancy just after the status of the Episcopalian ascendancy had been downgraded ie out of the frying pan and into the fire. It’s hardly surprising that he and fellow liberals who thought like him would have been taken aback by Gladstone’s appeasement strategy.

  • Morpheus

    So you want a ‘quid pro quo’ on prosecutions, ‘you give us 6 and we’ll give you 1’ sort of deal? OK, let’s add up the number of Republicans who have been prosecuted (maybe throw in the innocents who were interned) and add up the members of the security forces who have been prosecuted and see where we are at eh? Do you think there is 1 security force prosecution to every 6 Republican and every 3 Loyalist?

    How you can reduce law and order to a tit-for-tat shows how much respect you have for the system. It’s doesn’t work like that in the real world – the security forces are not above the law, they are subject to the the law and are paid to enforce the law using the vast resources that we pay for out of our taxes.

    I don’t have any problem with The State taking on the Republican and Loyalist terrorists – they deserved everything they got – but I do take exception to elements within the security forces protecting loyalist terrorists and passing so much intelligence to their murder gangs that they didn’t know what to do with it all, much of it about innocent civilians. I also take exception to The Glenanne Gang made up of security force members who took it upon themselves to attack innocent civilians, murdering more than 120, for the simple fact that they were Catholic. I also take exception to the Paratroopers murdering 14 civilians in cold blood and getting promoted, never mind facing the consequences of their actions.

    What absolutely sticks in my throat is the perception that their were YOUR security forces instead of OUR security forces. They were supposed to be the security forces for the Catholic community as well but they fucked that up so badly that the RUC and UDR are gone, never to return. Too many ‘bad apples’ destroyed the hard work done by the majority of the personnel who served with dignity and bravery. The Paras will forever have a dark stain on their reputation despite the good work they do around the world because they refuse to distance themselves from those who dropped to one knee and murdered innocent civilians in cold blood.

    You should be equally appalled at the behaviour of the security forces and should be encouraging prosecutions so the entire community can have confidence that it was the ‘bad apples’ working on their own who did all these horrible things and it was not endorsed by the State. You should be pushing for prosecutions so you too can be confident that this sort of behaviour is no longer tolerated in OUR security forces and that your name, or the name of one of your loved ones, doesn’t turn up on one of these murder lists.

    Quid pro quo my arse, if the evidence is there they should be hauled before the courts and face the consequences of their actions.

  • Morpheus

    I don’t know about you MU but when I see behaviour like this with no discharges yet it does not exactly inspire me or anyone from the Catholic community with confidence that ‘bad apples’ are no longer tolerated in our security forces. It is morons like these who will be given a machine gun and told to patrol the streets of Northern Ireland if things kick off again – how do you think that is going to turn out?

    If Catholics (who will soon be the majority if that majority is not already here) are to vote to remain in the union then we need to be assured that the security forces which we pay for out of our taxes too is for ALL of us and any bad behaviour will not be tolerated at all. Prosecutions in cases where there is an abundance of evidence would be a good start in building that confidence.

  • Barney

    Mainland Ulsterman
    You really are talking horsefeathers I can change my ethnicity by voting for a different political party is just bonkers.

    You clearly have no idea how historical study is conducted. There is no methodology just a bold assertion that the first “fact” that happens to reinforce your prejudice must be the correct universal truth.

    Again your ignorance of the history of this island is staggering, a catholic middle class was well on the way to being entrenched after the land reformation. That is exactly what Parnell wanted, the land reformation policies benefited all on the island just as earlier hard won policies benefited all of Britain especially the Jews.

    I think its best to ignore your supremacist tendencies

  • Barney, perhaps you can provide some evidence of my, er, ‘supremacist tendencies’ 😉

  • Barney

    @Nevin who wrote
    Barney, perhaps you can provide some evidence of my, er, ‘supremacist tendencies’

    Certainly, your use of the phrase “Gladstone’s appeasement strategy” while discussing the religious supremacist beliefs of the Unionist cause can reasonably be taken as an endorsement of these supremacist beliefs if I have mis read please explain what Gladstone was appeasing and why you chose that phrase.

    I dont think it’s possible to appease democratic wishes. Unless you agree that British rule was so iniquitous that they thought democracy was too good for the majority I cant see how you can describe Gladstone’s policy as appeasement.

  • “please explain what Gladstone was appeasing and why you chose that phrase.”

    Barney, Gladstone was trying to satisfy the demands of Irish nationalism. irrespective of the potential fate of the latter’s opponents; as I’ve already noted nationalist MPs were sometimes king-makers at Westminster and political violence was taking place in the south and west.

    The thread relates to the barbaric treatment of Jean McConville by some militant nationalists and the examples I lifted from the Westminster exchange from over a century ago illustrate a certain continuity.

  • Barney


    The thread is about Mrs McConville, it was you who introduced the excerpts from Hansard without any attempt to demonstrate that the events described were universally representative tactics of the home rule movement. To date you have failed to do so, what you have done however is attempted to retrospectively attribute horrific events to Nationalism as a whole that is not exactly academically honest.

    I do recognise that Unionism has an extremely difficult job to explain the past especially using the language of democracy that it attempts to claim as its own.

    I could be accused of deflecting attention away from the abduction and murder of Mrs McConville that is not my intention. Someone did order it I dont know who, those saying it was Gerry Adams all have an axe to grind however Adams has been less than forthcoming.

    I really dont know who to believe I certainly dont believe the vast majority of the troubled porn with their unattributed “sources”.

  • Barney, the thread is about those who acted barbarically against Jean McConville and my references relate to barbarity a century ago in the south and west. It’s not really that complicated; violence in one hand and politics in the other have got quite a long pedigree; in more recent times it was labelled the ‘armalite and ballot box’ strategy. Appeasement by Blair and Ahern greatly undermined the position of more moderate politicians, as acknowledged by Mallon and Trimble.

  • Barney

    You have tried to paint history as the religious supremacy of Unionism being some sort of bulk-ward against the savagery of Nationalism.

    That is not a distortion of history that is a falsification of history.

  • Morpheus


    Today it was reported that the murder of an Afghan insurgent by a Royal Marine was a “heinous” crime and the armed forces should not request leniency when he is sentenced, the chief of defence staff has said. Gen Sir Nick Houghton said it would be “quite wrong” for the armed forces to expect special provision from the law.

    If the General thinks that there should be no leniency when it comes to the murder of a single insurgent in a theater of war why does unionism think that the soldiers on Bloody Sunday should not even face prosecution for murdering 14 innocent civilians, never mind leniency.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Adams is now claiming he was seeking peace from as far back as 1976….

    “The 1st seeds of a peace process were sown by myself and Alex Reid as far back as 1976, so I’m long term in my view…”

    (43:00mins in on link below )


    Not so…

    “The weakness of the IRA of that period was that instead of pursuing the war to it’s bitter end come what may, they allowed unscrupulous politicians and so called “Peacemakers” to gain the upper hand.

    The result was the betrayal of the Fight for Freedom followed by a vicious and brutal Civil War and of course partition. It is to be hoped that the lesson of that period will not be lost on today’s leaders. There is only one time to talk of peace and that is when the war has been won not while it is raging. The time to talk of peace is when the British have left Ireland, otherwise they will find some excuse to remain.”

    Brownie [Gerry Adams] Republican News , May 8, 1976.

  • Alias

    It’s interesting that Gerry Adams had responsibility for detecting agents/touts/informers within PIRA back then (such as those ‘disappeared for allegedly being informers) given that he now know that is a role that the security services reserved exclusively for their agents within PIRA (Scappaticci, McShane, JJ Magee, Collins, etc).

  • Barney, what’s all this blether about supremacy? Many groups think they’re the chosen few; the Irish News flies under the tagline of pro fide et patria. Papal infallibility and ne temere are big on supremacy whereas the Presbyterian ‘big shots’ are merely primus inter pares [first amongst equals].

  • Barney

    There really is no point responding you seem to be impervious to historical reality and truth.

    Reported violence in other parts of the country is true however you ignored unionist violence which was more intense, indiscriminate and deadly and attempted to paint Nationalist violence as typical.

    Unionism by definition has to be supremacist because the ideology is undemocratic.

  • Barney, I was looking at the historical parallels and, in part, responding to your denials of the use of violence by nationalists for political ends. The Westminster exchanges are online so feel free to back-up your claims.

    If you look at Catholic Ireland, Episcopalian Ireland and Presbyterian Ireland it would appear that the latter is the most democratic ie the people in the pew have the most influence and the most power. It’s my impression that the OFMDFM is headed up by two parties that have far too much central control as well as capability to act by diktat.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I can’t speak for other unionists but I think the soldiers on Bloody Sunday should face murder charges – or at least should have. The GFA with its supra-legal provisions on early releases etc muddied the waters a bit. But yes I’m all for more prosecutions for Troubles murders.

  • Morpheus

    Just the soldiers on Bloody Sunday or any security force member who broke the laws they were paid to uphold?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “You really are talking horsefeathers I can change my ethnicity by voting for a different political party is just bonkers”
    I’d like to respond to that but the syntax and lack of punctuation make it unintelligible. I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I agree totally with your views on sectarianism in the armed forces. It should not be tolerated and there should be discharges for anyone involved. Zero tolerance. I do think the Army has transformed though on this since the bad old days of the early 70s. MUCH more aware of and all over these issues now. I hope there is a positive resolution of the complaint you link to.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    On your other post about feeling let down by the security forces. Fine but bear in mind what they were up against at the time and remember 3 times more of them got killed – and these almost exclusively deliberately – than were killed by them during the Troubles.
    Worth bearing in mind too that the police and justice system, whose fairness is under scrutiny, imprisoned Loyalists for murder at twice the rate it imprisoned Republicans. Doesn’t quite fit with your narrative. I accept things like Internment should have gone for Loyalists more though.

    But generally anti-terror policing had to be directed at the source of the terror, so it’s not automatically a sign of bias that Republican areas experienced more of it; it would be odd if they didn’t receive the bulk of the attention from the security forces, given that for most of the Troubles years, they were killing around 3 times more people than Loyalists. And even then, the security forces still maintained that impressive arrest and prosecution rate against Loyalists, which is to their great credit.

    Really, after holding the line between two bunches of armed maniacs for 30 years, at great personal cost to themselves and their families, they deserve a bit more than grudging credit from those of us who survived it all. They deserve our overall respect, even when we do also need to uncover the bad stuff.

  • Morpheus

    MU, my post states that I believe the majority of of the security forces served with dignity and bravery. I know that because I have relatives who served with dignity and bravery and it sticks in their throats as much as it does mine that what they did will be forever overshadowed by the actions and inaction of a sizable number of security force members. Acts which saved countless lives will be forgotten because the reputation of the organisations they served in were absolutely annihilated.

    As I also said I have no issue with the State taking on Loyalist and Republican terrorists head-on because they deserved everything that came to them. If they were ‘brave’ enough to do the crime then they should have been ‘brave’ enough to face the consequences of their actions. Exactly he same applies to security force members.

    The cries of ‘but look at what they were up against’ simply don’t wash. You say that ‘anti-terror policing has to be directed at the source if the terror’ – the source of the terror was the terrorists, not the innocent Catholic community. When members of the security forces kill innocents and continue to get away with it screams to Catholics that they are an expendable lower form of life. In 2013 when we see that The State still refuses to distance themselves from the actions of those who played God and worse still we see the extent to which the state will go to protect these guys, it does not inspire us with confidence in our future within the UK.

    Your theory of “Republicans give us 6, loyalist give us 3 and we’ll give you 1” makes a mockery of the justice system.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I hear you. The thing was, the terrorists weren’t sitting in a nicely-marked camp in a field somewhere. They used the cover of residential areas from which to operate, necessitating the security forces entering into these areas in order to do the searches and make the arrests required to protect the wider public.
    People in those areas did suffer a lot more than was necessary; and they were frequently, though not always, treated disrespectfully. That was both wrong and a serious mistake by the troops involved. But obviously, I am much more sympathetic to those residents who were also four square against Republican terrorism, than to any who also supported the terrorists,who would surely be somewhat hypocritical to complain, given what they were happy to see meted out on other people. I hope they would take it on the chin as a corollary of the Armed Struggle, which they decided was a good idea.
    The security forces should have been well trained to deal in that environment but weren’t always angels, it’s clear. I just think residents had to accept that, unfair though it was on the law-abiding, the terrorists in their midst meant highly tense, armed security operations there were inevitable (indeed it was part of Republican strategy to put their own communities into this situation, as the inevitable fall-out would work to further advantage the Republican cause – brilliantly cynical). The security forces had a duty to intervene in those districts, so that terrorists would not be free to operate from them.

    Unfortunately, going softly didn’t work as too few people co-operated; then going tough made it worse, as even fewer would co-operate after that. It was a no-win situation for the security forces and for the rest of society, Catholic and Protestant, who largely, remember, wanted the Republican campaign to end immediately. While sympathising with residents who suffered disruption and worse, spare a thought also for the frustration of a wider society and for those who were killed by terrorists operating from those areas. What were we supposed to do? So I have no regrets about supporting the main thrust of those security force operations, even if I have regrets about how some of it was carried out.

    “Your theory of “Republicans give us 6, loyalist give us 3 and we’ll give you 1″ makes a mockery of the justice system.”
    Why? All I’m saying is, let every killing be given equal attention. Not sure how that makes a mockery of the justice system. (And I am legally qualified btw). On the contrary, giving some killings precedence over others, I would have thought, would be the odd thing.

  • Barney

    There are some untruths that need to be corrected, I never suggested that any Irish political grouping was 100% non violent . I said that one cannot paint the Home rule movement as a whole as violent and also ignore unionist violence.

    I said Unionism was undemocratic because it opposed the wishes of the majority, It was supremacist because it believed that only the Reformed faiths could produce an acceptable aristocracy and I said it needs to be supremacist otherwise it fails as an ideology.

    I don’t care for any theological debate one set of nonsense is as invalid as another set of nonsense.

    Mainland Ulsterman
    An edit function would be of benefit here.
    Suggesting that one may change ethnicity by changing ones voting habits if infantile, I don’t life that nuevo racist thinking.

  • Barney

    Mainland Ulsterman wrote

    “giving some killings precedence over others, I would have thought, would be the odd thing”

    That is exactly what happened……