Yes, Corbyn condemned the IRA. And the rest

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn allegedly refused to condemn the IRA when pressed multiple times during a television interview. This sent various media into a frothing overdrive, delighted Conservatives, and apparently set off the whataboutery alarm at DUP headquarters, who immediately and predictably declared Corbyn “beyond the political pale”.

Except, of course, he did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Rather, he insisted on condemning the IRA and any other perpetrator of violence by condemning “violence on all sides”. James Brokenshire, who seems determined to undermine his role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by demonstrating at every opportunity his refusal to be any kind of honest broker (1), waded in to condemn Corbyn’s “attempt to contextualise” IRA violence. What’s wrong with contextualising things, though? Surely if we are to maintain peace and move on from continuous whataboutery, context and nuance – about all the rights and wrongs of the past – is exactly what we need?

It’s obvious what Brokenshire and the Conservatives generally are doing, of course; there’s an election on after all, and if you can’t produce an inspiring manifesto that catches the imagination of the public, you’d best undermine your rival. Conservative voters are more likely to be middle-aged or older, and therefore to remember the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain – so they are tapping directly into their heartland’s fears. And that would make sense, if Corbyn had actually refused to condemn the IRA. But surely it’s not beyond the pale to condemn the actions of all the violent antagonists during the troubles? It seems to me that this is how we achieved the peace we have, how we managed to set up powersharing and – crucially – an attitude much of the general public would like to see reflected in their politicians, so that we can move beyond the tit for tat sniping that makes up far too much of public discourse from our two largest parties.

And while we’re talking about context, it’s worth putting this issue in some kind of context generally. Corbyn’s comments are more easily read as a refusal to condemn the IRA by an audience that either defends the actions of loyalist paramilitaries or – likely in the case of many of the English viewers of yesterday’s interview – cares little or even knows nothing about the violence carried out by loyalist paramilitaries and the British state. For some, it is a deliberate stance, a refusal to interrogate the worst of their country’s past. For many others it’s more about personal experience; the impact of loyalist actions was never quite felt there, while IRA activity was a real and present threat. Bombs are bombs, no matter who planted them, but it’s easier to get exercised by bombs that go off on your own high street. This is an issue Britain really ought to look at, generally, as a realistic grasp of the effect of their state’s colonial past would help to understand many current issues they currently face. But that’s a big ask for a Sunday morning political talk show, lost as they tend to be in minutiae.

The other side to this, of course, is that yesterday’s interview referred to views Corbyn has held for decades, actions taken over 30 years ago and a conflict that – as far as Westminster generally and the current British government in particular is concerned – has been over for almost two decades (2). The hastily dusted off pictures of Corbyn and McDonnell standing with Adams or McGuiness guilelessly ignore the pictures of countless statesmen and women – even Queen Elizabeth II – doing much the same thing. Nothing new and surprising has been revealed. Corbyn has been Labour leader for close to two years, why only now is this suddenly relevant? Well, what’s happening on June 8th?

Despite the DUP’s eagerness to jump on this, suiting their favourite narrative as it does, this line of attack is not about Northern Ireland. This is merely a stick to beat Corbyn, an electoral tactic. Northern Ireland barely merits a mention in television debates, no leaders from our parties appear on Question Time, Leaders’ Debates or Newsnight unless it’s a “special”. The centrality of the border issue to the upcoming Brexit negotiations is something that the Irish government and the EU itself had to insist upon. Westminster can intervene at any time to act on areas where our law contradicts human rights (3), but they choose not to. When the election is over, business as usual will return to Westminster, and to Northern Ireland as our usefulness expires. Regardless of our personal views on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, we all ought to let them know that it’s not good enough.

1: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/23/troubles-inquiry-british-soldiers-unfair-minister-says-calls/

2: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/media/2017/05/no-jeremy-corbyn-did-not-refuse-condemn-ira-please-stop-saying-he-did

3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-34963474/abortion-law-in-northern-ireland-breaches-human-rights

 

 

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  • chrisjones2

    Evidence?

  • chrisjones2

    “Northern Ireland wasn’t democratic in it’s inception”

    Yes it was

  • chrisjones2

    Who is lying?

  • chrisjones2

    Dont know where you got that forecast. The ones I have seen suggest 120+ with labour below 150 seats

  • chrisjones2

    A malleable fool

  • chrisjones2

    His assumption in interviews he has given

  • chrisjones2

    They dont count

  • chrisjones2

    Strange to say I cannot find any record of that

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Lots of man-playing and not much ball there. Are you by any chance Billy Bremner? 😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Which part of what I said was inaccurate?

  • The Irishman

    I do, but unfortunately posts i up vote, the up vote doesn’t always save, so I feel the need to let the poster know I strongly agree with them.

  • The Irishman

    It seems for some that condemning all violence does not go far enough…

  • William Saunderson

    “Loyalist murders and state violence again Irish Nationalists = Meh, who cares.”

    You mean: Loyalist murders and state violence against civilians (presumed to be Irish Nationalists).

    Whether they are in fact Irish Nationalists or not is immaterial.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    The agenda I think is: this guy who is running for PM seems very cosy with people who carried out hundreds of murders of UK public servants and members of the public, and he has a history of dodging the question when asked to condemn the IRA by name. Sorry but any interviewer is duty bound to go for the jugular on that issue.

    It’s not a right wing plot – no one has been a fiercer critic of the Tories in recent years than me and I was knocking on doors in marginals last general election to get the Labour vote out. Were you? Many other Labour people have a huge issue with Corbyn over this too. It crosses party lines, it is bigger and deeper than that.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    “Dude”!? “Beat”? How?

  • john millar

    “What really amazes me about many posters on this site is that every accusation can so easily be met by an equivalent counter-accusation. So why get into the game in the first place?”
    To ensure the timelines are right
    1 Natives fall out- 2 police can`t cope – 3 army called in -4 separates natives- 5 army has honeymoon period- 6 army not police 7 green natives begin killing army 8 army kill natives

    Repeat 6 7 8 until everyone pissed off

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Interesting stuff in Bruce’s “The Red Hand” on that. I’m not trying to prove a point or anything here, just adding some info on the “joint patrols”. An army officer of the time was quoted, talking of the Loyalist ‘vigilante’ patrols of their areas:
    “A lot of what they do is illegal, of course, and if they so much as pointed a gun at anyone in anger we’d shoot them. They all know that. They also know it’s illegal to block off roads and stop traffic and most of them only slow cars down. But since they took over there hasn’t been a single bomb at all in their area. Tension is down and the people inside feel they can sleep through the night safely.”
    Let’s be clear, I find that attitude disgraceful – the army should have been doing those patrols and it was a mistake to show any toleration of any alternative authority on the streets, Loyalist or Republican. As Bruce writes, the laissez-faire attitude (this was in 1971) was in part a consequence of the changing, worsening relationship between the army and Catholics and it “did not want to have to fight on two fronts.” Again, that was a mistake – it was really important to both fight on two front and be seen to be doing so.

    The point I was making about the evolution of the UDA – it was *always* an armed and dangerous group in the hard core, to be clear – was that early on, a lot of people in it were not terrorists but signed up to it as a sort of community defence vigilante organisation. At that point there were up to 40,000 members – clearly, this was not 40,000 active terrorists. The larger terrorist organisations in N Ireland operated on the basis of having a number in the low thousands – at some stages even down into the hundreds – of active terrorists. A big number of UDA members of that era, whatever you think of their activities patrolling areas etc, cannot really be described as terrorists, though they were paramilitaries. I met one for example, a neighbour of a mate of mine in Rathcoole and asked him about it – his take on it was that blokes of a certain age in the area signed up at one time but for most of them that was sort of it. They didn’t actually do anything themselves or have any intention of it, though they would have been supportive of the Loyalist murder campaigns. It’s one of those areas where the two sets of paramilitaries are not mirror images – the IRA a much more exclusive and high status group in their communities, the currency of UDA membership something much more devalued. There were ‘UDA men’ and there were real UDA men.

    But I agree the UDA should have been officially banned much earlier. In reality it was regarded by the security forces as a terrorist organisation and inflitrated accordingly. It stayed legal for as long as it did because it had so many members (most of them uninvolved in actual terrorism) – too big to ban, it was said – and because the UFF was outlawed, which was effectively the real terrorist core of the UDA you needed to stop anyway. But I still think it was a mistake. I think they should have banned the UDA from its inception.

  • Madra Uisce

    You are prone to a bit of whitewashing yourself

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I apologise if I have that wrong about your attitude to terrorism. I may have confused you with other posters on here who are ambivalent about terrorism. Glad to have you on my side against the terror apologists.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I just upvoted you 😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think it’s police cut-backs, Granni. Need more bobbies on the beat 😉

    Seriously though it is pretty much open season on man-playing on here – I get dog’s abuse regularly. Offences range from being a unionist in a built up area after the hours of darkness to possession of a British family to being against terrorism.

    Luckily I have a sense of self-worth, so the attempted bullying is water off a duck’s back. Indeed I chalk every bit of abuse up as a score for my arguments. Seems they are winning quite heavily.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    He also wrote the Frog Chorus.
    He’s not exactly Schopenhauer is he.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    such as?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Because he condemns Loyalist murders and murders by state forces as well as Republican murders. You can’t portray his position as one-sided. You have no answer to that, it seems.

    ‘Unionist’ posters on here like citizen69 and myself unequivocally condemn Loyalist terrorism and murders by the security forces as well as Republican terrorism. Yet we are still habitually abused as if we’re hypocrites advocating one rule for unionists and one for nationalists. Read what we’re writing – we are going out of our way to condemn our ‘own’ community’s terrorists unequivocally.

    What is also clear is that quite a few Republican posters on here are unable or unwilling to condemn the IRA in the same terms we condemn the Loyalist terrorists. I would love to be proved wrong, please do prove me wrong on this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Though hang on – you did, on this thread, write:
    “Asking Corbyn to condemn IRA violence specifically is the usual attempt to create a hierarchy of victims.”
    So to be clear, you don’t think it’s reasonable to ask someone to condemn IRA violence specifically? Isn’t that being somewhat ambivalent about them? You at the very least seem to be defending someone else’s ambivalence towards the IRA. Correct me if I’m wrong though.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I also notice you don’t reciprocate when I unequivocally condemn the terrorists from my community. It’s up to you, but if you don’t then people will draw conclusions from that.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Yet to hear any calls for Corbyn to condemn specifically the UVF . . .

  • DOUG

    Right – I’ll put up with a lot and indeed I’ve been subject to quite a bit of abuse, one sidedness and misinformation in my time – but this just goes too far.
    Paul McCartney did NOT write the Frog Chorus – he recorded ” We All Stand Together ” with the Frog Chorus.
    Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Tochais Siorai

    That’s good to know.

    What part of Ireland did he come from?

  • DOUG

    How is
    ” Yes I do condemn the IRA as well as loyalists and anyone in the security forces who indulged in criminality ”
    markedly different from
    ” I condemn all the bombings by both the Loyalists and the IRA “

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    “Because he condemns . . .” So did Corbyn: “I condemn all bombings by both the Loyalists and the IRA”, so do I. What’s your point again?

    And what’s the ‘dude’ bit? Are you moving across the Atlantic, or are you younger than I thought 🙂

  • NotNowJohnny

    At the time of the first plantations in Ireland there was no King of Ireland. You need to brush up on your history.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Really?
    Wikipedia I know can be wrong but it says (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchy_of_Ireland):
    “The title “King of Ireland” was created by an act of the Irish Parliament in 1541, replacing the Lordship of Ireland, which had existed since 1171, with the Kingdom of Ireland. The Crown of Ireland Act 1542 established a personal union between the English and Irish crowns, providing that whoever was King of England was to be King of Ireland as well, and so its first holder was King Henry VIII of England …
    The title of King of Ireland was created after Henry VIII had been excommunicated in 1538, so it was not recognised by European Catholic monarchs. Following the accession of the Catholic Mary I in 1553 and her marriage to Felipe, Prince of Asturias, in 1554, Pope Paul IV issued the papal bull “Ilius” in 1555, recognising them as Queen and King of Ireland together with her heirs and successors.”
    James I was King of Ireland at the time of the Plantations in the early 17th Century. The planters were moving from one Crown land to another. Not really an invasion as such, more a re-settlement programme I’d have said. I’m not under-estimating its impact on the Irish Catholic psyche or the sense of dispossession etc. But for the people coming in, they were entitled to think what they were doing was OK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Sorry I have partaken of the urban fleshpots of the hated Anglian Reich and adopted some of the language spoken by the heathen folks here.

    The point was, you were trying to make out he was being one-sided – and seemed to be addressing him as if he thought Loyalist or security force murders were OK, which he clearly didn’t.

    What Corbyn hasn’t done is condemned the IRA outright – he just seems to have disagreed with the bombing campaign, perhaps because he feels he can do that while still fundamentally supporting their overall “struggle”. Most of the IRA’s murders were not through bombing. In particular, Corbyn has indicated previously he buys the French Resistance Fallacy and therefore regards British troops in NI as an army of occupation and therefore murdering them was not murder but a legitimate act of war. If he just condemned the IRA outright like everyone else who’s normal, then we’d know whether he still holds to the French Resistance Fallacy or not. He hasn’t said anything that makes me think he has accepted it is a fallacy.

    It’s important because this man is going to be in charge of the UK armed forces and he’s telling them that in some parts of their own country they are an “army of occupation”, and if they are attacked the attackers will have his support, not the army. That is untenable – and so he can’t be elected PM, or he will have to change his view.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Come on Doug, you can work it out … I have confidence in you.

    But if you can’t, I’ll check in tomorrow and help.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not sure if you’re aware, early modern ideas of kingship and sovereignty were not today’s 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Frankly I am! Great pop fact – always welcome.
    If I was being pedantic I could say the song is commonly known as “The Frog Chorus”, but you make a good point. Will try and remember that. Crap song though, was my point.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think anyone’s in doubt over that one! Haven’t seen him sharing a latte with Billy Hutchinson recently or employing former UPRG staff at Labour HQ.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    She wasn’t scoring political points, just making a good observation. Northern Ireland people, Granni included, are often careful and consistent observers of how people respond to terrorism over time. We are better placed to see the inconsistency of someone like Corbyn than most people elsewhere, who weren’t paying attention so much when he was all pally with IRA leaders during their slaughter in NI. It is our duty to call him out for it.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Ah! But it’s the calling out that we miss. We only hear “IRA” – not “UDF”

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    As NI and Scotland are the last substantial parts of the British Empire which have still to get their freedom, I see nothing wrong with this “struggle”. Only the means (NI) are doubtful.

  • NotNowJohnny

    The first plantations in Ireland occurred during the time of Queen Mary. Hence there was no King of Ireland then. (The Ulster plantation came later.)

    Are you claming that Ulster was never invaded or occupied? I’d be interested to know how and when you think Ulster came into the possession of the Crown to the extent whereby the plantation could be viewed merely as a resettlement of people from one Crown land to another? And why were the planters required to build fortifications if it was merely considered a resettlement?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You seem to be answering your own questions there, I didn’t think that.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think “struggle” is a real bad word to use, it implies the use of force and makes you think of Hitler. Not inappropriate for the Republican Movement though on that score, with their wartime activities.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Probably because the UDF was a really obscure unit within the UDA no one has really heard of.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m afraid you lost me there. And there was me thinking you were going to defend your ‘resettlement’ theory in more detail. Probably a wise move to quit the debate early. I note that ChrisJones took a similar approach with his original ‘England isn’t occupying’ anything claim.

  • DOUG

    No, actually I’ve been giving this some thought and I see what you’re getting at – fair enough.
    Maybe if we’d had politicians willing to condemn ALL violence by ALL parties years ago we’d be further along than we are now. But we didn’t and we aren’t and I take your point.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’d see it as initially a form of colonisation certainly. But it became less and less a colony as the generations went on. It’s certainly not “occupation” now and hasn’t been for centuries. Was it ever occupation? Maybe not even initially – talking of Ulster here, it was basically a settlement programme to take advantage of the failure of a rebellion and absence of authority in the area.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘A resettlement programme.’ Seriously?

    So everyone is cleared out in 2017 from say, North Down and people brought in from England as part of a resettlement programme. Just moving people from one crown land to another, no problem, they’ll all settle down after a while. Lots of empty space a few miles down the road there in the Mournes.

    What do you think the repercussions of that would be? Do you think they might go on for a bit? Especially if it was backed up by laws discriminating against the North Downians for centuries?

    ‘I’m not under-estimating its impact on the Irish Catholic psyche or the sense of dispossession etc.’

    God bless your innocent little socks but you really haven’t a clue.

  • Martin

    So when he said ‘of course I condemn it’ that was what?
    By the way if he did just condemn the IRA do you know what would happen? It would get called a cheap stunt

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks for the personal insult, chalked up another hit 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    As a matter of interest, are you in favour of the free movement of people? Your argument ironically has a touch of the Paul Nuttalls about it. Do people have to stay put and/or go back “where they came from”? Or do you accept and embrace migrants? If the latter, it is kind of odd to make descendants of migrants 400 years ago bear the mark of Cain today for their distant ancestors’ supposed crimes.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    So any former IRA member who turns on them is to be rejected, because they are by definition an ‘informer’ and a ‘double agent’?

    As for the fantasist jibe, how are you so sure? And even if some of his stuff weren’t true or was exaggerated, do we really think *all* of it was? And the IRA does not deny he was one of theirs.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I have to say I struggle to cope with more than one response at a time. Even more so when the afterthought borders on the absurd. You’ll really have to explain the jump to Paul Nuttall here. I expect this will be good. I await with interest.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Ah, would you go away outta that MU, there was no personal insult in there. Thought you’d stick up for the North Downians though!

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Struggle is a perfectly good and fitting word to use in any confrontation between a subordinate power and it’s more powerful oppressor. It doesn’t make me think of Hitler, and I don’t see the relevance of dragging in the Republican movement to this conversation. It would be a better argument from you if you avoided the un-needed aspersions.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    LOL

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    F***ing pathetic failure to actually read what the post actually says, MU. Partisan reading will always result in partisan views – how this advances anything I have yet to find out.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    That’s what did say – are you having trouble finding the quote? Try looking above.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    But why ‘specifically’? Why is ‘universally’ not enough?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Endless harping back to the past – the curse of the Irish.

  • ted hagan

    Are you trying to imply something here? He represented IRA members in court as a solicitor. All British inquires have found that Pat Finucane was ot an IRA member, a claim made by O’Callaghan. I would not trust him an inch.

  • Madra Uisce

    Nail on he head Ted, posts like this always remind me of John Taylors infamous speech

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes I am not implying but stating he was an IRA sympathiser.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s not the past I’m harping on – it’s people present behaviour and present beliefs about the past. It is a problem now, it poisons our politics.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Because he has shown other behaviour towards the Republican Movement which seems to contradict his condemnation of “all violence” – he needs to clarify, does he include all IRA violence during the Troubles? I think he might be trying to wriggle

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Simply untrue – that is not what Corbyn said. He chooses his words carefully.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You say it’s partisan but I notice you’ve responded with an ad hominem comment against me and not actually countered the point I was making.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes because I’ve never heard Irish Catholics talking about it or read their writings on that subject 😉 It’s no secret.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s about nativism – seeing countries as ‘belonging’ to people based on length of ancestry in that place and treating migrants, or in our cases many, many generations down descendants of migrants, as unwelcome interlopers rather than as equals.

  • ted hagan

    I don’t know what his sympathies were. He represented IRA members ad within the framework of the legal system he tried to ensure a fair trial, and fair rights, for suspects, as does any defence lawyer in a criminal case. I don’t see what you’re getting at. He operated within the framework of the British legal system.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, I wasn’t having a go at him for representing criminals, that’s what criminal lawyers have to do. I was having a go at him for being an IRA sympathiser, as I would any other IRA sympathiser. I understand he was a supporter of Sinn Fein and regarded the IRA campaign as justified. Happy to be corrected if that’s wrong.

  • ted hagan

    I think, more to the point, is who was involved in shooting him dead in front of his wife and children.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Indeed that is much more important. But it’s not either / or. If the guy was an IRA sympathiser, he was an IRA sympathiser, there’s no point dodging that.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’ve delayed replying to this because it is so ridiculous. However I feel pressed to ask you to point out where I made the rather bizarre claim you refer to.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You said:
    “Do you think the plantations in Ireland were acts of ‘occupation’ by the English government? If they were, in which year do you consider that these acts of ‘occupation’ ceased to beclassed as ‘occupation’ and the English military presence in Ireland became legitimate both morally and legally?”
    So you seem to be saying you regard people today in N Ireland who have distant ancestry from Scotland and/or England as part of an “occupation”. Which kind of sounds like you think Catholics belong there and Protestants don’t, because of our distant origins. Correct me if I have you wrong, but that seems to be what you’re suggesting.

  • NotNowJohnny

    All I see are the questions which I put to you. No statements. No views. No conclusions on my part.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Ah OK, so you don’t think they were acts of occupation? I’m minded to ask why you posed the question – I had assumed it was a rhetorical device.