Newry Play Park Farce: “In my view one word sums it up, a waste. A waste of life.”

If you missed it, this is well worth listening to the whole of this Audio Boom from Nolan this morning.

There’s a number of points worth picking up, not least Conor Murphy’s defence of Ray McCreesh’s Attempted Murder charge as being part of a war. But this segment from a caller called Alex in Lisburn is also illuminating.

I used to be, for a brief period, a prison officer. And I was on duty one night in the Maze, and the prison was locked up, between two Provisional IRA wings, two Republican wings. I’d been a part time Police Officer before this. And it came on the news that nine civilians I think it was, that nine civilians had been killed in Loughgall at nine o’clock, I think it was.

And they banged their cell doors and they cheered, it was on their radios. And I remember thinking that you know they’re not even cheering the death of police officers or soldiers, they are cheering the death of civilians, because as ex police part timer I felt guilty I even thought that. But they cheered.

Now, they didn’t cheer at 10 o’clock and eleven o’clock when they realised who it was that died. But that to me that night, shone a torch on what was the soul of the Provisional IRA and the Republican movement. They didn’t care who they killed. And I’ll never forget that, I’ll never forget that.

This of course, on one level might be just a matter of perception.

It’s possible, probably even likely, that those prisoners may have been under the erroneous impression this was a successful operation against security forces in Loughgall RUC Station and simply discounted the reference to civilians.

But the impression of the prison officer who heard the same news that same night was and is very clear about the divergence in his reaction and those of republican prisoners nearly thirty years after.

In way perhaps divergence is the actual theme here, like Pirandello’s play, Six Characters in Search of an Author the Ray McCreesh Play Park for Children affair reads like an absurdist/tragicomic plot ending with the director utterly confused over whether any of it was real or not.

Same old, same old. But listen too to William, talking about the feelings of ‘moderates’ like himself who abhor Bill Wright and Michael Stone and how alienating all of this unremitting focus on the past is.

There’s also former prison officer Alex’s final words:

“In my view one word sums it up, a waste. A waste of life.”

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  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Aside from the weather some of the similarities between some people in NI and Texas & the deep south are rather striking…

  • Glenn Clare

    Sinn Fein/IRA are ghettoizing there electorate, much like they criticized the criminals in east Belfast who put up new UVF murals. On Sinn Fein/IRA’s part, all this is to ensure that the old foot soldiers are not forgotten, and convince them that they are still fighting the Prods and the Brits. Or it is just a pure form of hate and they are becoming the very people they accused the Unionists of being.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s no crime that unionists and the SDLP representatives supported no recognition of the name.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Unless you have dissociation identity disorder or multiple accounts here you shouldn’t be answering on behalf of another member of the thread.

  • Kevin Breslin

    As is the 1 in 8 people of Ballybot not having jobs, but you don’t see politicians talking about it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No it’s not, the demand for people arguing over a piece of metal and what really happened in 1981 is very low down the agenda for the public. Tom Elliot showed up to Ronan Kerr’s funeral … I’m sure you can use a bit of moral relativism to demonize Ronan Kerr by association with Tom Elliot there if you really put your imagination to work at it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Boo … oh look I didn’t win. Everybody bitter yet?

  • Ian James Parsley

    You’ll note that the Alliance Party slammed the Equality Commission vehemently in yesterday’s debate for not intervening.

  • mac tire

    You go ahead and play the man there, Kevin. Thanks for that.
    I can answer to anything I want, provided I keep Slugger’s Golden Rule – something you haven’t done.
    I’m answering on behalf of no one except myself. I merely replied to a post you made, though you seem to have a problem with that.

    SDLP supported recognition of the name – I keep telling you, some reps signed the petition to retain the name. They then hid from the vote because the Angry Doctor demanded they go against their natural inclinations in Newry. As I said, they were caught in a quandary. Unless, of course, they have dissociative identity disorder (fixed that for you).

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry the Golden rule doesn’t protect you there, so don’t break it yourself

  • Glenn Clare

    Can you point out where I mention Roman Catholics, Catholics or any other religion for that matter in my post???

  • Cue Bono

    Excellent post.

  • barnshee

    Reading between the lines the main protagonist won`t sign off 0n his guilt

  • Cue Bono

    From released government papers. Not very nice people.

    “According to an Irish News article published on Friday, a ‘Note for
    the Record’ dated May 18, 1981, states that on May 16, Raymond McCreesh
    was on day 56 of his hunger strike and described by the prison doctors
    as “in a confused and disorientated state of mind”.
    “At about 6pm he had a conversation with the Prison Hospital Officer
    and said that he would like a drink of milk”, the file reads. The
    prison doctor was sent for.
    Despite his confusion, the note states: “McCreesh gave an affirmative
    answer to the question from the doctor, ‘Do you want us to save your

    The McCreesh family were then telephoned by a Dr Emerson,
    the file reports, and McCreesh’s relatives arrived at 8.30pm, when they
    were interviewed by the doctor.

    Senior Hospital Officer, L Nolan,
    records that the family impressed on the doctors that “McCreesh’s wish,
    which was expressed some weeks ago, should be respected and he should be
    allowed to continue his hunger strike with dignity.”

    In a
    separate statement, Paul Lennon, a prison officer, said Raymond
    McCreesh’s mother, sister and two brothers – one of whom was former
    Coalisland priest Fr Brian – entered at about 9.20pm.
    Mr Lennon alleged that he overheard the convsersation between the
    family and the dying Mr McCreesh since, owing to the fact that the
    prisoner’s hearing was affected, the visitors had to speak loudly.

    recalled: “I could hear Fr McCreesh repeatedly telling his brother to
    be strong and to remember where he was – ‘You are in Long Kesh
    concentration camp, being looked after by prison warders.

    ‘Remember O’Hara (Patsy O’Hara, who died on May 21); he is strong and on hunger strike the same number of days as you.’”

    During the visit, Mr Lennon claimed, the prisoner’s mother said: “Now, Raymond, you are going back on your word.”

    Mr McCreesh was repeatedly told to remember where he was, not to get
    confused and not to listen to anyone except his family, the files

  • submariner

    Mick thank you for not supporting Submariner’s efforts to get me banned

    You are already banned Alf you just didn’t take the hint and decided to reinvent yourself under another name in order to pollute the board with the sectarian hatred you colorfully spout over on DC. But both I and SK both twigged you not long after you started posting under your latest incarnation.As i said to Mick I will sit and wait until your true self erupts on to the board and Mick bans you again. A leopard cant change its spots.. Iwill converse no further with you on this board but will continue to point out to other posters that you are the banned poster Covenanter. Enjoy while it lasts Alf/Blairmayne.

  • Cue Bono

    If the above doesn’t qualify as flaming then I don’t know what does.

  • Practically_Family

    No you don’t.

  • mac tire

    You can show me where I attacked you in my posts? If not then your above statement makes no sense.
    I thought you might have an observation to make on my above points. Obviously not.

  • Thomas Girvan

    What would be the point of calling a park after Gerry Adams?
    If they did that no one would go in to it, because they would not believe that it was really a park.

  • Neilo

    Good call…

  • Kevin Breslin

    They could try to recruit an extra two MLAs from other parties.

  • Gerrynearly

    And they might succeed, but politics being the zero sum game it is round here I wouldn’t fancy their chances

  • Gallowglass_rn

    Northerners and Culchies are very different,believe me.Culchies don`t wear track suits and don`t live on council estates.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well they got Billy Leonard but lost him when like many other SF free thinkers

  • John Collins

    Who was that who said ‘There are more important things than Parliamentary majorities’ and no- he was not a Republican

  • John Collins

    Anyway who said a majority in the Republic would vote for a United Ireland.

  • John Collins


  • MainlandUlsterman

    is that supposed to make us gasp in admiration for the hunger strikers? That’s quite an indictment is it not?

  • Kevin Breslin

    No, we can’t make anyone either admire or criticise the Hunger Strikers who do not want to do one or the other, I’m merely stating a fact that the British soverign government and the Irish soverign government of the day conceded to political status demands to paramilitaries at the time and these demands applied universally.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    … we can’t make anyone criticise the Hunger Strikers, it’s a free country, but we should surely try to persuade everyone to do so in the strongest terms.
    I’m sure you’d agree it was wrong of the British and Irish governments to concede the terrorists’ demands. There was just no good reason to do it, or if there was, I’ve not heard it. A stupid, short-termist mistake by rather unprincipled politicians trying to sweep a problem under the carpet rather than facing up to it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    That’s a judgement call, how many lives were worth letting die so the Troubles could be called a security situation? Thatcher was facing up to the problem and The Hunger Strikers faced up to Thatcher. Not conceding helped IRA propaganda and recruitment in nationalist areas, calling them criminals and making them wear prisioner outfits was futile. You don’t need law on your side to make something a war, you just need social support and they were getting it.

    If Thatcher stopped this place going into Israel-Palestine levels of absolutism and having communities resenting each other to that extent then maybe she does deserve some praise for that, and indeed the Anglo-Irish Agreement and its sucessor the Downing Street Declaration had ensured constitutional nationalists and unionists could get more from the ballot box than from the gun. It provoked unionists into eventually accepting Strand 2 and the Downing Street Declaration provoke republicans into eventually accepting everything else.

    As Lord Alderdice once said Democracy exists so we can argue things without violence, and we got a democracy in place with the slow learners buying into it.

    Without some level of moderation you have a culture of extremism that fuels militancy.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “That’s a judgement call, how many lives were worth letting die so the Troubles could be called a security situation?”

    The thing was, it was their decision to starve themselves. They shouldn’t have been allowed to hold anyone to ransom, especially given the horrific crimes they had been party to as IRA and INLA members. So the answer is, you do what you can to address reasonable concerns but beyond that, if they want to starve themselves to death, ultimately that’s their call. What you don’t do is let the killers dictate their own prison conditions using emotional blackmail – that’s the tail wagging the dog.

    Nationalists who supported them disgraced themselves and did untold damage to community relations. We liked to think before that that most nationalists were four-square behind defeating the IRA just like we were and shared our contempt for that organisation. The response to the Hunger Strikes among the wider nationalist population was shocking and seemed to many of us on the unionist side deeply hurtful. In a sense, we’ve never recovered as a society from that. A lot of us thought, you know who they are and what they have done: how could you?

    So I hope looking back on the episode, the lesson is learned by violent nationalism (hunger striking is pretty futile) and moderate nationalism (treating people as ‘victims’ who have in fact caused so much pain and suffering is itself deeply hurtful) and the government (flattering those losers with special category status only pumped up their delusional sense of self-importance, which continues to this day).