Of Speakers, yoghurt, murdering pensioners and hypocrisy

This week saw Mitchell McLaughlin elected as Speaker of the Assembly. The News Letter pointed to his previous comments refusing to accept that the murder of Jean McConville was a crime.

Leaving aside McLaughlin personally there is a certain symbolism in a Sinn Fein speaker being elected just a week before the 34th anniversary of the murder of the old Stormont speaker Sir Norman Stronge. Sir Norman was born in 1894 and fought at the Somme. His election as speaker was seconded by the openly nationalist NI Labour Party MP Jack Beattie. Sir Norman was murdered at the age of 86 along with his eldest son on 21st January 1981 and their house (Tynan Abbey) was burned down. At the time Gerry Adams stated: “The only complaint I have heard from nationalists or anti-unionists is that he was not shot 40 years ago”.

When asked by Jim Allister whether Sir Norman’s murder was a crime McLaughlin stated: “Do not abuse procedures or I will respond appropriately.”

It might be worth thinking on whether a supporter of the IRA’s murder campaign sitting in Sir Norman’s old chair represents success or failure for them. For the DUP though the hypocrisy seems even richer both from their comments in 1981 and more recently: Supposed arch opponent of Sinn Fein Gregory Campbell spoke in favour of McLaughlin’s appointment stating: “Today they are moving in the right direction and we again acknowledge that in both word and deed.”

It is interesting to consider, in this election year, whether Campbell will play more on those comments or last year’s about “Curried Yoghurt” or treating an Irish Language Act as toilet paper. At the time of the toilet paper comments Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd claimed these comments challenged the integrity of the talks.

One is left wondering if Campbell’s hard line stance then was simply to distract from criticism of a plan for him to be DUP cheerleader in chief for McLaughlin’s election: remember it was McLaughlin who censured Campbell after the “Curry my Yoghurt” comment. Maybe unionists are being played for fools in a game of charades. Then again for Sinn Fein supporters who were told for so long there would be no partitionist settlement it is unclear whether McLaughlin sitting on Sir Norman’s seat represents a victory or a U turn. A much more recent U turn is that today we learn that Martin McGuinness now supports an opposition at Stormont.

Maybe then not unionists but everyone in Northern Ireland is being regarded as having the memory of goldfish. If one believed in ghosts it would be just to hope that Sir Norman’s would haunt both McLaughlin and Campbell.

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  • Ernekid

    I think you’re over estimating how much people care about the Speaker row Turgon. Only the most hardcore politico could summon enough energy to have an opinion on this dry technical change.

    People do care about Greg’s comments though. A lot of people are annoyed at him acting like an ‘ignorant ballix’ as a good friend so aptly described him.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Live in the present Turgon and stop harking to a time long past. We either find a way forward or we stay rooted in our glorious past.

  • the keep

    Its faintly ironic that you are more interested in Gregs comments rather than G Adams comments “The only complaint I have heard from nationalists or anti-unionists is that he was not shot 40 years ago”. somewhat telling……

  • Ernekid

    Different times and different attitudes. Why drag up something that was said 30 odd years ago? It was said several years before I was born!

    I always feel that criticising people for what they said in the 70s and 80s is like criticising them for their pretty bad hairstyles. Nothing is gained from combing over the past and digging up past hurts.

  • the keep

    Why drag up something that was said 30 odd years ago? It was said several years before I was born!
    Why not if the leader of the DUP had said something like that he would have correctly been hauled across the coals the problem we have here is that we have a very imperfect peace no ability to come to terms with the past and in reality the inability to create a new future

  • Ernekid

    Who has a problem dealing with the past? As someone in their mid 20s. I have no memory of any real violence or conflict. 9/11 is the real memory I have of learning the world can be a nasty place and I was in Primary school at the time.

    For me and everyone else of my generation. the Troubles are history, they have no more impact on me than the history of WW2, the Flight of the Earls or the Peloponissian Wars.

    Maybe it’s best to leave that history behind and move away from it and stop repeating the old arguments?

  • SDLP supporter

    To quote JFK, ‘forgive, but never forget’. I noticed that not even the nationalist media had anything positive (or negative) to say about Mitchel McLaughlin. Generally, they will use anodyne words like ‘able’ or ‘popular’.

    McLaughlin really is a hollow man and in my view he is a pretty despicable person. It is true what Turgon says about the Stronge murders, though his quarter has been selective about condemnation of murder.

    My low opinion of McLaughlin was confirmed when an innocent Royal Mail worker called Frank Kerr was murdered by the Provos in Newry in November 1994 (after the ceasefire) and £131,000 robbed. After denying it for days, and McLaughlin fronting the IRA denials, they finally admitted it over a week later but they denied it was a breach of the ceasefire, claiming a ‘breakdown in the chain of command’. When RTE Radio forced McLaughlin to come on the air again, he just blithely spoofed his way through it in best bureaucratese language , ‘investigation…not sanctioned…identified problem…problem rectified’.

    I will always remember his cynical laugh when the interviewer asked ‘Will you at least give the money back?’

    As for Sergiogeorgio, who is an SF supporter and wants to stop harking back to a time long past, just wait to this time next year and SF working themselves in a lather about 1916.

  • the keep

    Ah good old victims go away and dont make any noise tremedous compassion there I suppose you are now against expensive historica enquires?

  • Ernekid

    I just find it hard to care. The past was just horrible really and spending millions assessing how horrible it was just to pin the blame on someone long dead or some elderly old buffers not long for this world isn’t a great use of resources in my eyes.

    Ive no real wish to learn more about the crimes of previous generations. I’ve sympathy for families but after 30 or 40 years it’s too late to do anything worthwhile.

    Thats my personal view really

  • alexbr

    When Stronge was sitting in ‘his’ chair his feet were resting on the back of the nationalist population.
    Contrast Jim Allistars comments and attitude towards McLaughlin with that of his friend Billy Hutchinson who murdered two young catholics.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In George Santyana’s words “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    And, alas, those who do remember the past are condemned to watching others seemingly repeat it endlessly, especially in the wee six.

    Santyana’s statement develops Cicero’s thoughts: “Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?” Very roughly, “Not to know of those things that happened before you were born is to ensure that you remain a child forever. For what is man’s existence [literally “time”] about, if it is not given context through the memory of what has been excellent in its peoples past?”

  • the keep

    Mopery in the extreme as for Billy Hutchinson he is an unpleasant secterian killer

  • David Crookes

    The fact that Mr McGuinness is now prepared to countenance the idea of an opposition is a sign that the chemical wedding of DUP and SF is an even more cordial affair than Mr Campbell’s ‘cheerleading’ would suggest.

  • the keep

    Well said SeaanUiNeill

  • aber1991

    If Gerry Adams was telling the truth about what he had heard, what is your problem?

  • aber1991

    And Norman Stronge was an unpleasant sectarian tyrant.

  • Dan

    I’m not sure that unionists are being played for fools….I think they have switched off entirely from Stormont’s goings on, holding the whole farce in utter contempt

  • aber1991

    There was a Protestant politician called “Ken Topping” who said that Loyalists in Loyalist areas should set up fighting funds to counter Roman Catholic infiltration. He was later made a judge and displayed his sectarian outlook in his new job. He died in 1978 when on holiday in Italy.

    There was another Protestant politician called Lancelot Curran who suggested that people who did not approve of the union with Britain should be disenfranchised. He was later made a judge. In one case he asked the defendant his religion and, on being told “Protestant” directed the jury to bring in a “not guilty” verdict.

    There was another Protestant politician called “Jones” who likened Catholicism to Communism. He was later made a judge.

    There was another Protestant politician called Babington who suggested that a register of Loyalists be compiled so that they would get any jobs that became available. He was later made a judge – after Direct Rule had been introduced.

    There was another Protestant politician called William Lowry. In early 1944 he suggested that Portrush Orange hall be fumigated because, at Christmas 1943, Mass had been said in it for American paratroopers men who were stationed in the locality. He was later made a judge. His son, Robert Lowry was later head of the Northern Ireland judiciary.

  • Practically_Family

    I believe that in the terminology of the nationalist/republican the answer would simply be “chip, chip, chippity chip”.

  • peepoday

    The brutal murder of a father and son is not forgotten or forgiven. As a unionist I no longer vote and I have no respect for the regime at Stormont.The DUP will agree to anything that will gain them privilege,position,and cash.In the run up to the election we shall witness the usual bravado from Gregory etc,most people aren’t fooled.There is no substance to their protest as witnessed by their endorsement of the present speaker.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As the American novelist William Faulkner said in “Requiem for a Nun” SG, “The past is never dead, its not even past.” While individuals may want the past to stop bothering them, this urge is strangely similar to the all too familiar refusal of victims to deal with any personal trauma, a process called “repression” in psychology, something that compounds the damage. As I’ll be saying in my next posting here, ignoring our own history here leads to not the withering, but the intensification of the perception of that history, as the few “facts” that are remembered fall entirely out of context, and acquire different forms to those they may originally possessed.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgons highlighting of the terrible Stronge tragedy offers an opportunity to look at the importance of deep memory in this and other such cases, whereby relatively innocent people suffer from ill remembered stories.

    On 7/8 February 1922 a number of prominent border Unionists were seized as hostages to secure the release of three Monaghan IRA brigade members and other three men under sentence of death in Derry. The fifth Baronet Stronge, a member of the Unionist council in 1914 and a prominent member of the Orange Institution was amongst these 45 hostages. With the Anglo Irish treaty concluded on 21st December 1921, English politicians were nervous that the continuing border campaign might derail the peace. They intervened, the three men under sentence of death had their sentences commuted, and the hostages were released by the IRA units that had held them. Stronge had, I was told, prayed and sung psalms constantly through his captivity, keeping his captors awake through the night with his fervour.

    Stronge was a friend of a Kilkenny born Belfast police inspector, R.D.W. Harrison. Anecdotally, Harrison spoke to District Inspector John Nixon about the affront to Unionism these kidnappings presented in their seizures of important men of his acquaintance. Nixon then conceived and carried out an upping of the stakes through what is now known as the McMahon Murders, an event that occurred on 24th March. The Free State inquiry into the murders clearly named Nixon as the author of the atrocity, although no action was taken against him in the north beyond dismissal. Importantly, the McMahon family had no connections with physical force politics, they were constitutional nationalists and Owen McMahon was a friend of the IPP MP Joe Devlin, Frank Bigger’s friend.

    The Stronge family were strongly identified with the McMahon atrocity in republican memory. This is probably inaccurate, as it is unlikely that Sir James Stronge was in any way consulted, but Harrison and Nixon appear to have believed that their actions were in some manner a revenge for the affront to Sir James. I have it also anecdotally that the Stronges were shocked and disgusted to have had their name associated with such an atrocity.

    Norman Stronge’s father succeeded his cousin the Baronet when Sir James died. Norman Stronge was the first soldier “mentioned in dispatches” on the Somme, and had been awarded the MC and Croix de Guerre for his gallantry in action. His war record and family’s established Unionist credentials ensured him a place in Andrew’s government. He stood down from office with the Basil Brooke coup against Andrews, but was persuaded to take the post of speaker with cross bench support. His candidacy was strongly supported by the maverick NILP member, Jack Beattie, an old friend of my family at the time, who believed Stronge to be a decent man and an impartial force within Unionism. Anyone from East Belfast who remembers Jack Beattie and his rough handling by Unionism during his political career will be able to get the measure of this opinion.

    The murder of the Stronges occurred just after the UDA attempt on the McAliskeys and, like the McMahon killings sixty years earlier was a tit-for-tat attempt to intimidate others into desisting from their own activities by an escalation of violence. The utter, pointless futility of this recourse to violent intimidation by both sides has always been utterly clear, at least to myself. As Fouché said of the murder of Philippe Égalité’s nephew, the popular young Royalist leader, the Duke of Enghein, “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute”, “Even worse than it’s being a crime, it was a foolish blunder.”

  • Zig70

    Trautman: Well you did some pushing on your own John.
    Rambo: They drew first blood, not me.
    Trautman: Look Johnny, let me come in and get you the hell out of there!
    Rambo: They drew first blood…

  • chrisjones2

    “Speaker row ”

    What row? It was a done deal

  • chrisjones2

    And you think MItchell’s aren’t resting there now? Your faith is touching.

  • chrisjones2

    Evidence ior just the usual racist rant?

  • chrisjones2

    What like Jean McConville which was near the same time? All the disappeared? La Mon?

    Why don’t they deserve to be ‘dragged up’ and less that saw Bloody Sunday or Finucane? After all Gerry keeps saying that there’s no hierarchy of victims

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Aber, as my extended comment above tries to show, Norman Stronge was no friend of the Fermanagh Mafia, and Jack Beattie, whose political career you may remember, spoke of Stronge as a fair minded, even liberal imagination. Unless, in the words of another decent fair-minded man who suffered from the ignorance of fools, King James II, we are going for “Another ’41, gentlemen”, and if you are able to see any gradation of culpability in the old Unionist hierarchy, James Stronge, a man highly critical of Sir Basil and all his works, was pretty far down the offenders list. I think that anyone reading my other postings at all regularly will know I’m very, very far from being a friend of the old Unionist establishment, and yes, I know of Stronge’s positions in the OO and Black Preceptory, but if you can imagine a decent, fair Unionist, he was one.

  • chrisjones2

    To quote wikipedia on just two of those

    ” Although he argued in 1961 in favour of discrimination in favour of unionists in employment Babington became known as a moderate within the UUP. He supported the principle of full and equal voting rights during his 1969 campaign and advocated the expulsion of any party member who refused to follow the edicts of the British government fully. He was a staunch critic of any Unionist involvement in political violence and a vocal opponent of Ulster nationalism.The collapse of the Parliament was the effective end of Babington’s career in politics and he left the Orange Order in 1973″

    ” His father was former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament[4] and Attorney General for Northern Ireland William Lowry. His mother was niece of Sinn Féin activist, Robert Wilson Lynd”

    So yet again we see your own sectarian bias. I assume on the basis of your arguments all the families of SF members should forever be banned from any role in Society for the things their parents may have said or done too?

  • chrisjones2

    Nothing at all. We already know the sort of people he has always consorted with – it just reinforces the assessment of character

  • chrisjones2

    but what about all those whose careers depend upon it? How will they harvest the votes. Dear lord MOPEry is the cornerstone of some of their policies

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, getting all serious against my usual grain, I’d ask you to look at my big posting above. I’m not trying to equate violence on both sides at all (at all), I’m attempting to show just how half truths and misundestandings come into play in turning tit-for-tat into the kind of downward spiral into hopelessness we are all bogged down in. The only way back to the light is in turning our backs on this, what David Crookes speaks of as “generosity.”
    This comes only from looking out for people “who are not Gerry” in “the other camp”.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Although he argued in 1961 in favour of discrimination in favour of unionists in employment Babington became known as a moderate within the UUP.

    That says it all, doesn’t it?

  • carl marks

    Can we now do a trawl of every statement that every politician made that supported murder or terrorist action, then we are going to have a lot of threads and we all know that they are not going to be all about Nationalist’s.
    We should certainly remember history and learn from it(or we will repeat it) but to bring up one event (no matter how terrible) in isolation, ignoring the many terrible events taking place around is not learning just propaganda.
    throughout the little war here the Unionist politicians worked with the Loyalist terrorist’s when it suited them (need i list them here again) indeed our first minister help set up Ulster resistance, even to this day the leaders of the 3 unionist parties have no problem making alliances with loyalist terror groups.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Exactly, carl, my big posting here was an attempt to contextualse the killings in the gestalt of our all round historical experience, in order to show the pointlessness both of sectarian or political tit-for-tat and the tendency of those who think of themselvse as firmly settled in reasonable constitutional politics to become selective in their memories. The fact that so very few of us actually know the people that these “long tails” of history involved makes such selectivity all too easy.

    As you said “to bring up one event (no matter how terrible) in isolation, ignoring the many terrible events taking place around is not learning just propaganda.” Only “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” about a very convoluted history with covert involvements, such as the McMahon tragedy, will ever start to offer us any relief from the stiffling atmosphere of mutual recrimination and the violence this history seeds. Turgon may not know of the McMahon involvements, and the threads of connnection, most Unionists choose to forget these things. He probably does not even know that Nixon was a good friend of Paisley’s father and, anecdotally, an influence on the growing Paisley. Knowledge of these things is important for us to get an all round picture of this terrible, sad tragedy we all have a stake in. As my relatives on Big Sur tell me “Its what you don’t know that hurts you.”

  • carl marks

    although I would welcome a opposition at Stormont, we maybe could get round to real politics and deal properly with real issues.
    But i suspect that marty is thinking that after the next elections a SF in opposition during a financial crisis facing a (coalition) unionist government with only one policy in common (keeping SF from the big seat’s) would be a good tactical position to go into the next (and demographically important) elections.

  • aber1991

    At the time of his death, Stronge was living at Tynan Abbey in County Armagh. He spent a large part of his life living at Lizzard Manor, Aghadowey, Co Derry. He played a large part in a decision which ruined my life.

  • carl marks

    I understand there are four DUP mla’s who refused the party whip at the speaker vote and are facing discipline for doing so .
    I also understand that all DUP mla’s had to post a large bond to ensure that they didn’t do a Jeffery and defect to another party, this may go some way to explaining why their have been no defections from the DUP in this assembly!
    if my facts are right,does anybody know if they are released from the bond at the next election if they don’t stand for the DUP and if so how many will head to other party’s?

  • carl marks

    probably the latter!

  • carl marks

    The DUP leader has said comparable thing’s in the past.
    Funny how it seem’s to skip a lot of minds.

  • aber1991

    “The brutal murder of a father and son is not forgotten or forgiven”

    You are probably right. The Malvern atrocity is not forgotten or forgiven. Nor is the gerrymandering and discrimination. Or the Protestant struts through Dungiven, Cromac Square and the Garvaghy Road. Nor has the murder of the Reaveys and Dowds been forgotten or forgiven. Nor has the Weaver Street atrocity. We Catholics can remember.

  • turquoise_unionist

    It’s not so much what happened in the past that rankles with me. It’s the fact that today SF still justify & defend the IRA & their regime during ‘the troubles’. That the Provo’s subjugation & oppression of their own community was a better alternative to the the system then in place. The kangaroo courts, summary executions, intimidation, punishment beatings, racketeering, destroying the economy & violently repressing any dissent from withing the nationalist community is all still defended today by the so-called party of equality.

  • carl marks

    if we keep fighting in memory of our dead, we will always have something to fight about.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’m sincerely, and respectfully, sorry that you should have experienced the terrible discrimination I can clearly see behind your comments, aber. I would not have you expose detail in this, I get roughly handled when I get autobiographical myself and honour your hurt and grief. I entirely trust your veracity in this, and accordingly, your good reasons for criticising Stronge. But I still feel that my comments hold, and that there are other sides to a man who was far from the worst of the old Unionist elite. Any man a true lifelong fighter for social justice such as Jack Beattie trusted as deeply as he did is well worth another look in my opinion.

  • aber1991

    The IRA never hurt me. The Prods did.

  • Morpheus

    On this subject we disagree Carl. Have political unionism done anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to reassure you that they will represent the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland if they get their hands on the reigns again? Let’s not forget comments and headlines like these:

    “On behalf of our party let me say clearly, and slowly so that Caitríona Ruane and Gerry Adams understand, we will never agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their entire wish list as no more than toilet paper. They better get used to it.”

    “”The media failed to report that the hurricane occurred just two days prior to the annual homosexual event called the Southern Decadence festival, which the previous year had attracted an estimated 125,000 people, Surely this is a warning to nations where such wickedness is increasingly promoted and practised”

    (a comment made in 2005 and stood over just last week)

    “First Minister Peter Robinson backs controversial preacher Pastor James McConnell who denounced Islam as ‘spawn of the devil’

    “Northern Ireland’s first minister casts doubt on ‘racist’ protest in Belfast”

    It’s all well and good SF thinking it’s a good idea but they need to think about the people as well.

    We are not ready for an opposition and normal politics, not even close.

  • chrisjones2

    You mean you lost a case in court so you revel in the mans murder?

    I dont know the details of your problem – nor do I wish to. But no case ruins someones life if they pull themselves up and get on with life. It can be done and sometimes life is just life. You have to fight to survive no matter who or waht you are

  • chrisjones2

    It depends – people do change and learn and grow. Look at several at the top of SF – from kidnapping and murdering handicapped young men to holding positions of power and influence for example. And i am happy to admit that several (not all) of them are among the most competent politicians (nay Ministers) we have

  • chrisjones2

    What do you mean by the Prods did.

    Did the Protestant Community as a whole decide to target you or did perchance a Protestant take a decision that you believe harmed you Did they do that because you were Catholic

  • chrisjones2

    I agree totally and that wasn’t point at you but some other muppets here

  • chrisjones2

    Agree

  • chrisjones2

    ….but thats more to do with then hidden leadership struggle in the DUPS than any deep political conviction. Wait and see when the trime comes the call of ‘WE DIODNT PUT A SHINNER IN THE CHAIR’

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks chris, I try to simply talk about these things as the real human tragedies they are for those experiencing them and am, I think, just as offend by “shroud waving” for purely political ends as it appears you are!

  • chrisjones2

    Interesting. I no longer vote UUP because the are useless and self obsessed and don’t vote DUP because they are sectarian, bigoted, prejudiced against minorities and gays and generally corrupt and useless

  • chrisjones2

    A life filled with atrocities …have you considered counselling. I do mean that. I am not seeking to wind you up or abuse you. From your posts I think you need to see if you can find some way our of where you are now Life can be better than this

  • chrisjones2

    “…….. its not even past.”

    It can be if you live life positively and for the future

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I had a friend in London, chris, a liberal Macmillan style “one nation” social concern Tory (although what he was doing hanging about in bars with an anarchist like me I will never fathom, me? I was caging drinks). He once (still sober) said “just where does any decent person go in politics nowadays, after “That Woman”? All my friends in the city (yes! the city) are taken in by the “need for change” argument, but she is utterly debauching the political morals of a country I love, and is destroying everything I really care about.” I do not think he has voted since 1979.

    As Edward VIII once said “something must be done.” But then he lost his throne over that one comment, if the people I spoke to all those years ago were right.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hey chris, check out the Santyana/Cicero (Latin, my trans) quotes below, and especially my really big posting on the Stronge murder, where I really unpack what I’m saying about just how impossible it is to “live life positively and for the future” until we manage a truly balanced approach to our history.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, a friend of mine, someone who had been abused, got almost incandescent with rage over on a thread on a news site where someone suggested that the abused “put it behind them and get a life”. She wrote “This IS MY LIFE, the experience of what happened to me.”

    I’ve trained in counselling myself, (Jungian Therapy) and know just how inadequate counselling really is when facing some of the terrible experiences quite a few members of the community have suffered. Actually permitting them to learn trust across divides is a very long process, and until this has been properly addressed (and not by committees, but by real caring human people!) none of us will ever be permitted to forget their suffering, reflected still in the acute disfunctionality of the political attempts to ignore this past. And not wanting to snipe, I know what you are saying, and I’d wish for aber to find a way out of these things also.

  • the keep

    I can assure you it has not skipped my mind sadly it says a lot about Unionists who would give this man and his party a vote shameful really.

  • Robin Keogh

    Well said !

  • Robin Keogh

    Ernekid is not suggesting that the young should not be informed of the past. If i am correct in understanding his posts, i believe he is saying that he simply does not want to live in that murky past. We should listen to voices like his and learn something from them. Our past should be a direction to the future, where antagonism, sectarianism, hatred and division is swept aside in favour of cooperation, equality and peace.

  • Ernekid

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m a real Irish history dork, I just finished reading a paper on Terrence O’Neill’s government as part of my Postgrad work at QUB. I don’t want to forget the past but I don’t want it to define my life. In Germany they don’t spend their time arguing over the misdeeds of the Stasi and the crimes that occurred in their recent history. They’ve closed that chapter of their history, and are moving on from the nasty elements of their past.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Please elucidate. I was under the impression that you were born after his death.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Couldn’t agree more Robin. Only a mad’un wants to undergo the last five centuries of bitter hatreds in this wee place all over again. But there is much, such as the Harp Tradition that speaks of something from this time it would be truly wicked to loose:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Annals-Irish-Harpers-Charlotte-Milligan-Fox/dp/1909721018/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421595539&sr=8-1&keywords=Annals+Lanier

    Lots about the great Harping tradition of South Ulster, Armagh, Fermanagh (Ernekid! note) Monaghan and Leitrim. Inspirational.

  • aber1991

    It was in 1949 that he played a very big part in ruining my life. Yes, I was already alive in those days. Not old but already alive.

  • Zeno

    It’s probably the view of most young people. I’d ask the victims if they want it investigated and let them decide.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ernekid, I’d really tried to put my own ideas about the problem clearly and at some length in a very long posting outlining the actual historical threads. This now seems to be much further down, past “load more”.

    I genuinely think that getting a truly “clear” history on these events is the only way to stop them defining our lives, and I’ve tried to show how Stronge’s family connections sixty years before with certain people he, personally, would never have had any personal truck with led to quite directly his murder. To re-quote my family at Big Sur “Its what you don’t know that hurts you”!!!!!

  • Zeno

    I’d agree with you if some people weren’t trying to rewrite it for political gain. A good question about the past would be ,who owns it? The people who own it control the version that becomes the accepted history. At the minute we have two very different versions of the past. Sorry, make that 3 versions. We also have The History of the Troubles According to my Da, Which is the version most people use.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I think, Zeno, that a narrative that does not simply shift between “sides” is entirely possible, but as I’ve said on another Slugger thread in reply to some sources Mainland Ulsterman posted, simply because an historian has high qualifications, it is no guarantee that he will not consciously or unconsciously simply regurgitate an agenda of some sort. One of the historians he posted was faculty at Sandhurst!!!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    For me, Zeno, its a matter of straightening out the history, as a kind of cultural hygiene. The fact that those misunderstanding about James II’s intentions that I keep drawing attention to on Slugger has been a factor in poisoning the relations of our two traditions here for three long centuries is just one example of what can be determined by snarl-ups encoded into the collective memory.

  • carl marks

    Can’t disagree with you fact’s, here is my (perhaps cynical) argument.
    whoever is in power after the next round’s of election’s will inherit a poison chalice, SF may well believe that a wee period in opposition with the Unionists taking the flak, and generally (as you have shown above) being pratts means they avoid the blame for upcoming austerity cuts, and examples of unionist malice and 16th century may well have the effects of turning of many young voters inside the unionist community and putting a larger percentage of the Nationalist community in the SF camp.
    Of course the unionist’s are not mature enough to run the place like civilised people which is why i could see the shinners letting them!

  • carl marks

    Agreed, and a powerful influence “my Da’s” history has on us all.
    we have bloggers who know their stuff (Seaan AG and a few other’s) then we have those who seem to make it up as they go along.
    the tendency to pick a event that suit’s your argument, ignore the history and conditions surrounding it,then present it as proof that it was all themmuns fault (such as is being tried in this thread) is second nature in this place.
    Sometimes when i read post from some of the older Unionist contributors giving us the old canard ” Unionists don’t vote for terrorist’s like nationalist’s do when they are voting for SF” I wonder what party they supported (or belonged to ) when the UWC lockout, Clontibret, Drumcree, the third farce and ulster resistance were happening.
    did they vote for the unionist party’s after these things and is that not voting for terrorist’s.

  • carl marks

    I have suggested this as well for aber, perhaps he will listen to you.

  • Zeno

    The truth doesn’t really seem to matter though. Take an event like the Battle of the Boyne for example, weave your own story around it and if it’s what the people want to hear, they will swallow all of it and come back for seconds.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Mitchell was not alone on censoring Gregory on the curried yoghurt provocation, his suspension was backed by Beggs and Dallat.

  • Morpheus

    And when this period is over do you think the ‘Government’ will be voted out? The tribal tom toms will be beaten louder than ever with the manta “you hafty vote for us otherwise y’get themuns’

    We vote tribally, not for the people we want but to keep out those we don’t. The government will do and say what they want safe in the knowledge that they will get relected. That is why we are not ready for normal politics yet

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi Zeno, as I’d said before, quoting my grandfather, “Truth remains the truth even when the world decides to believe a lie.” As I’d said above, truth is cultural hygiene.

    But yeah, so much of what people think they know about history is an arbitary mix of lies and propaganda.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “It might be worth thinking on
    whether a supporter of the IRA’s murder campaign sitting in Sir Norman’s old
    chair represents success or failure for them”

    Easy.

    Failure.

    SF & the PIRA wanted a united Ireland. End of.

    There is not a united Ireland. End of.

    Everything else is a ‘runner up prize’.

    Furthermore, imagine the scenario where (IF) SF did turn around one day and said “OK, we and the IRA mucked up; we got it wrong and we’re sorry”.

    1/ SF would only become more easy to vote for, something a lot of unionists don’t
    want

    2/ those who are prepared to forgive have (probably) done so already

    3/ The main weapon of unionist retort i.e. ‘whataboutery’ would be greatly reduced
    in effectiveness and some unionists would actually be forced to address certain
    topics rather than hide behind this shield (come on, how often do we see it on
    this site alone?).

    So, personally, I think SF putting their hands up would be one of the worst things
    to happen unionism, perhaps one of the worst things to happen southern politics
    too, it would pretty much ensure southern success for them.

    As for the DUP, well, as David Ervine said of their founder “Ian Paisley has been
    very good for Ian Paisley”, I think the same applies to them.

    DUP first; the union, Northern Ireland and the people come further down the list of priorities.

  • aber1991

    “So, personally, I think SF putting their hands up would be one of the worst things to happen unionism, perhaps one of the worst things to happen southern politics too, it would pretty much ensure southern success for them.”

    The politics of Eire should be left to the people of Eire. Sinn Fein’s craving for respectability among Staters has caused them to neglect the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein should return to its heartland in the urban ghettos and rural reservations of Catholic Ulster – and be much more sectarian.

  • aber1991

    “She wrote “This IS MY LIFE, the experience of what happened to me.””

    That just about sums it up.
    Many people are very good at forgetting and forgiving what has been done to others.
    Many people are very good at being patient with other people’s grievances.
    Many people are very good at gambling courageously with other people’s vital interests.
    Many people are very good at being generous with other people’s money.
    Many people in Eire are very good at being long distance “Liberals”, long distance Christians, long distance patriots, and long distance pacifists.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Aber, I think of myself as a liberal, and my family’s tradition as liberal. An ancestor of mine was in the ranks of the Blue Second Volunteer Company in the 1780s. Despite the Volunteers being mainly Protestant, (the two Belfast Companies had just succeeded in their demands to admit Catholics), it was their support, both financial and moral, that ensured both the erection of the first building of St Mary’s by Smithfield and the freedom of worship for their fellow citizens.

    I would like to think that I have spent my life opposing the wickedness from whatever quarter that has blighted and sometimes broken so many lives here. My friend’s abuser was over in England, a Westminister politician, a good friend of Cyril Smith, another man who himself harmed a family member of mine. I know at close up about people I care deeply about who can also say “this IS MY LIFE”, which is why I quoted it. I am usually flippant on Slugger, its my own reaction to the terrible things I’ve seen, but I seriously long for a time when no-one will suffer from the evil things that have been encoded into our bitter history. I’d like to think that those of us in NICRA all those years ago perhaps began something of this much needed reconsillaition process.

    Máthair Dé leigheas agus tú a chosaint.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Good to be informed that I’m a SF supporter – didn’t know that. Can you predict me the winning lotto numbers for this weekend as well.

  • aber1991

    Máthair Dé leigheas agus tú a chosaint

    Please translate into English.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “The healing of God’s mother and her protection for you”. Its something I write on letters to my friend whose comment I’ve quoted.

    I hope I’m not being too personal.

  • mac tire

    As an Irish Republican and Sinn Féin voter, I find your comments despicable and narrow minded. You truly have no concept of anything outside your self imposed bubble.
    No need to be ashamed of yourself. The rest of us are all ashamed for you. I, like many others on here, suspect you are a troll. And a quite poor one at that.

  • Paddy Reilly

    For some reason I was unable to get the sound at first, so I turned the subtitles on, which were hilarious, having been created by machine. Possums for Protestants was very good.

  • carl marks

    when Peter stands down ( or get’s pushed) will his successor inherit a more united DUP,a more fractionalized DUP or a smaller DUP because of defections or walk away’s?

  • aber1991

    I am a Sinn Fein voter. Have been since 1982. I think Sinn Fein have betrayed the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland. Like the SDLP before them, Sinn Fein have put the interests of Ireland before our interests.

  • Paddy Reilly

    There are at least 4 grammatical errors in that short statement. Did you do it with google translate?

  • Paddy Reilly

    End of nothing. I could not exactly describe the beginning of the IRA or SF, but I’m pretty certain it did not involve thousands of people simultaneously deciding they wanted a United Ireland and setting out to achieve one. Indeed I seem to remember a 9 County Ulster being on the agenda for quite a while. For most people I have ever met, the movement started when they were interned or shot at or beaten up, by Unionists or agents of the Unionist state. The general impression was that the other side attacked first, it was from them that the provocation came. That’s the way it goes: I realise it must seem the same to Unionists. War consists of a number of tits for which the original tat is almost mythological.

    So the IRA wanted an end to Bloody Sundays, to internments, to the RUC, to Diplock Courts, to Burntolletts, to British troops on the streets of Belfast and Derry: it got them.

    Nor is the current lack of a United Ireland the end of anything. It’s 2015. The demographic future does not bode well for the Unionist cause. The Unionist demographic advantage expires in 23 months time. In a few years every yoghurt in the province will be well and truly curried. This is the happiest time ever for Nationalism, like watching your team slowly inch its way to the top of the league. A United Ireland will be a definite anti-climax: the true joy is in achieving it, by a thousand pushes and cuts.

    The crowd want to see the bull outwitted, outpaced and finally slain. If all they wanted to see was a dead bull, they would go to a slaughter house, after the slaughter had been done.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Paddy, as I said on many other threads here on Slugger, I’ve no pretentions at being an accomplished Gaelgoir. I’m self-taught primarily, building on memories of my grandfathers Irish learnt before the Great War, although I take Irish classes with the McCracken people sometimes, usually I’m simply showing beginners just how much better they can speedily be than myself in conversation. I use my Irish to read texts, for my historical work. When I use Irish for names, etc, to put it in a printed note in a history piece, I will usually have my Irish properly checked by a friend who teaches at University level, out of courtesy to the language. On Slugger I pull it from the top of my head, sometimes referring to Father Dineen, the main dictionary I have for my historical researches.

    I will certainly stop using my “dog Irish” on Slugger if that is what you require me to do, in the interests of, in future postings, not misleading people grammatically through my own failings, but in my (admittedly very weak) defence, Frank Bigger (probably as poor an Irish speaker as myself) once said, arguing for the frequently agrammatic diversity of his own day, “I never met two men who pronounced the words the same way, nor would I ever want to” . Of course this was long before an caighdeán.

    At least I did not write my agrammatic phrase on the back of the Icon of Our Lady I ‘wrote’ for the person commenting on abuse.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Paddy

    Nothing you have said has changed the fact that the IRA wanted to remove ‘the Brits’ by force and failed to do so.

    That is the ‘end of’ as that is what happened (or rather didn’t happen).

    “So the IRA wanted an end to Bloody Sundays, to internments, to the RUC, to Diplock Courts, to Burntolletts, to British troops on the streets of Belfast and Derry: it got them.

    Other people worked for such things too and some of the above were exacerbated by IRA violence, not soothed, so saying that “it got them” is very much a strethch, other factors would include NICRA, the SDLP and the encroachment of the 21st century.

    “Nor is the current lack of a United Ireland the end of anything


    I never said it was so I don’t see why you brought it up, in any case you’ve stated demographics as the main march towards a UI, that’s more to do with sex than Semtex.
    If a united Ireland does come to pass it would probably have more to do with unionist entrenchment, idiocy and short-sightedness than the IRA’s campaign of violence.
    Or it might be because of people like Slugger’s Dr McCann, I feel he’s on to something, screw it, maybe I’d even vote for it myself if the right pitch was made and if NI was beyond hope.