Corbyn’s failure to close down the IRA story rests on some inconvenient truths..

In the purist world of the most starry-eyed Corbynistas, the saintly Jeremy has no time for spin or subterfuge. That’s what the evil Blairites did, after all.

But when it comes to his past stance on the IRA, spin is exactly what the Labour leader and his fan base have been attempting. Not very well either. So let’s dispense with the myth-making.

The blunt truth is that Jeremy Corbyn and his fellow Labour left travellers campaigned politically for an IRA victory. Comparisons with what Government ministers may have done or who they may have met are bogus.

Jeremy and friends were not simply reaching out, making peace overtures, encouraging dialogue or arguing that republicans must be part of any settlement.

They pushed instead for the full IRA wish list – “troops out”, “British withdrawal”, “an end to British occupation”.

They demanded that Northern Ireland be booted out of the UK, irrespective of what people living there wanted. Its citizens didn’t get a say, as the six counties represented an illegitimate statelet.

Labour Party policy before Blair was for Irish unity by consent. But Corbyn, Abbott, Livingstone et al had no truck with the quaint notion of consent.

So do they now support the consent principle, a foundation stone of the Good Friday Agreement and peace process? Is it too much to expect a British hack to ask that question?

Jeremy has also been at pains to tell us that he knew along there could be no military victory in Northern Ireland.

Fair enough. But more than one side had to learn that lesson.

What kept the IRA military machine going all those years? Did the motivation include a hope that a left wing Labour government might take power and grant them their heart’s desire?

If that didn’t seem entirely fanciful in the 1980s, it was due in no small part to the efforts of Jeremy, Diane and co.

They should at least be up front and straight with us now about what they stood for back in the day. Anything else is just an insult to our intelligence.

And yes of course there are many very weighty matters at stake in this election – like Brexit, austerity, social care for the elderly, the future of our health service.

But the Corbyn camp will have known the IRA issue was going to be raised in this campaign.

 Is the best he can do – after repeated questioning – to say that the “bombing campaign was completely wrong because it was taking civilian lives”?

It was also not entirely unreasonable for Andrew Marr to ask the UK’s Shadow Home Secretary if she still believed “every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us”.

Likening such views to her “splendid” hairstyle in the 1980s might not necessarily have been the best way to close down the story.


  • clivegsd

    Obscure to some but known by the victims and families of victims of the IRA

  • As it happens, Michael Hayes, an IRA volunteer and one of the Birmingham bombings suspects, expressed apology and remorse for the loss of life yesterday:

    Whether you wish to believe his expression of remorse was sincere or not, the following comments of his are worth noting:

    “We were horrified when we heard [of deaths] because it was not intended. I personally defused the third bomb [Barclays Bank on Hagley Road].

    It was not the intention of the IRA to kill innocent people.

    That wasn’t meant. It wouldn’t have been done if that was the case.

    We believed that we gave adequate warnings.

    It was only later on that we realised there was eight valuable minutes missed [because one of the phone boxes used for the telephone warnings was broken and another one was being used]. We were going to give them a half-hour warning.

    Out of that half hour, eight minutes elapsed – eight priceless minutes.

    My apologies and my heartfelt sympathy to all of you for a terrible tragic loss that you have been put through.

    In all these years that you have been trying to find closure, I hope at last God will be merciful and bring you closure.

    I apologise not only for myself, I apologise for all active republicans who had no intention of hurting anybody and sympathise with you.”

  • clivegsd

    Seems I’m not allowed to *swear when it comes to the murderers that nearly killed my sister so —

    What a complete load of *nonsense! IRA terrorist dressed in combat gear says “We planted a bomb in two pubs but didn’t mean to hurt anyone but we are sorry”, that’s like saying “we drove a van into a group of people and set about them with knives but we didn’t mean to kill or maim anyone”.
    Well he can shove his fake apology where the sun don’t *shine, I hope he dies a prolonged and painful death when his time comes.

    They set out to murder civilians as well as the armed forces and you cannot get away from that simple fact no matter what weasel words terrorists like that use.

    Why are you trying to excuse or defend these murdering *terrorists out of interest?

  • You appear to have ignored what I wrote in this comment:

    I’ve described (numerous times in comments above) the obvious reckless disregard shown by such crudely-executed operations as indefensible.

    I don’t believe your attempted analogy holds though as you’re clearly making comparison to the recent London attacks in which the attackers undeniably carried out their acts with the specific intention of killing as many innocent civilians as possible before they themselves were shot dead by armed police.

    I’m pointing out what I believe to be facts, or a perspective seemingly omitted from the dominant narrative in Britain, as I don’t think misrepresentation or demonisation aids any real understanding of our historical and present situations. It also undermines hopes of genuine reconciliation. Nevertheless, you’re free to believe what you wish. You’re emotionally involved, so you’re entitled to your anger. And you can swear if you wish; I certainly won’t stop you.

    Why don’t you refer to the British armed forces as “terrorists”, out of interest?

  • clivegsd

    I’ve ignored nothing, your “view” is the IRA didn’t target civilians and any that were hurt were accidental, that is nonsense. What about the civilians the IRA “disappeared? Sorry that was an accident too was it? How about the execution of civilians in front of their children? Another unfortunate accident or an intentional act?
    Yes the analogy is about the attacks on this country now and the analogy is a valid one given that both groups are murdering terrorist groups that target civilians intentionally ever since their inception.

    What you “believe” is neither here nor there, the reality is that the IRA did indeed target civilians.

    The moderator doesn’t seem to allow swearing and the comment was to him, it’s his place he can do as he wishes.

    You haven’t answered as to why you are trying to excuse a murdering terrorist group

  • You have again ignored what I’ve written and are misrepresenting me. I acknowledged that exceptions to what I described as the general rule were numerous. Civilians were intentionally targeted in a specifically sectarian manner in Kingsmill, for example. I acknowledged that in an earlier comment:

    That incident contravened everything a professed republican was supposed to stand for.

    Your question was very much loaded, but I’ve responded as best and sincerely as I can. I would appreciate if you would do me the same courtesy in return and answer mine likewise. Thanks.

  • clivegsd

    Again I’ve ignored nothing but your stance that civilians were not targeted is simply wrong, bombs kill indiscriminately and they planted many bombs that killed people from many faiths. The IRA aren’t stupid enough to think the bombs would kill some people in the vicinity and not others.

    I still cannot believe that anyone can imagine the IRA were anything but cold blooded murderers who didn’t give a damn about their victims, McGuiness was supposed to lay in wait to watch the bloody results of their bombs.

    There is no loaded question, you are trying to defend or excuse terrorists yet you won’t say why.

    Ah the old “it was the Brits fault”, so we should have done nothing and allowed the IRA to murder as many people in Ireland as they wanted to eh? a widowed mother of 10 and a guy with learning difficulties, these were army members were they?

  • Once again, I’ve acknowledged numerous exceptions to the general rule. Why do you continue to misrepresent me?

    I’ve also already explained that I’m pointing out what I believe to be facts or a perspective that is seemingly omitted from the dominant narrative in Britain as I don’t think misrepresentation or the demonisation of one side and the lionisation of the other(s) aids any real understanding of our historical and present situations. It also undermines hopes of genuine reconciliation. It’s not about excusing anyone; I believe in a restorative justice as a process for post-conflict societal healing.

    If you disagree, fair enough, but please stop accusing me of dodging a loaded question. Your question contains assumptions with which I don’t agree, yet I have nevertheless attempted to explain my thinking as honestly and sincerely as I can. If there’s one of us dodging the other’s question, I’m afraid it’s yourself, which you’ve now done twice, in fact.

    Bombs can kill indiscriminately, certainly, but only if civilians happen to be in the vicinity of the device. That’s why the IRA attempted to provide warnings, in accordance with their internal code of conduct. The IRA planted thousands of bombs throughout the conflict, in both Ireland and in Britain; civilians were caught up as “collateral” in a fraction of those. Naturally, those are the ones that are most widely remembered.

    The IRA targeted commercial and economic (as well as political and military) infrastructure in Britain as a means of sapping the will of the British government to remain in Ireland. The aim – whether optimistic, misguided or however one wishes to view it – was to create a situation whereby the British public might pressure their government out of Ireland or whereby the British government would view it as being within its interests to remove itself from Ireland and end its direct administrative influence over Irish affairs.

    What do you think the purpose of bomb warnings were if not to notify the authorities to clear an area and get people out of harms way of an impending explosion? If the intent of the IRA was to cause maximum civilian casualties, why give advance warnings? Why did Mick Hayes disarm the third Birmingham bomb at the bank on Hagley Road if he was intent on killing civilians? Your position makes absolutely no sense logically when you think about it. I think you’re allowing your antipathy (which I can understand and to which you’re entitled) for the Provisional republican movement to cloud your rational judgment.

    You say McGuinness was “supposed to lay in wait to watch the bloody results of their bombs”? To which bombs are you referring?

    If IRA volunteers were “nothing but cold-blooded murderers”, what explained the IRA’s cessation of military struggle in the mid-1990s? If they were simply psychopaths intent on murdering civilians, why would a political process and agreement have changed their ways? Have you ever met or interacted with anyone who was in the IRA so as to enable you to make such a sweeping statement?

    For what it’s worth, the view that the IRA did not intentionally target civilians, save for a number of notable exceptions, is also the view of respected British journalist Peter Taylor, but people were either unable or, more likely, unwilling to comprehend the point he was making too and found it controversial when he indicated the evident distinction between the likes of ISIS or Al-Qaeda and the IRA. I would urge you to have a listen to what he had to say as he explained his position very well on the Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster back in April:

    Some further and more detailed thoughts of mine here that are related to the matter under discussion as I wrote them after a previous instance of being similarly accused of engaging in apologia:

    If you somehow don’t think Britain bears a very significant responsibility for Ireland’s woes, I would suggest that your understanding of Irish history, the divide-and-rule tactics of British imperialism (stretching back centuries in Ireland) and the “Troubles” is rather suspect. Don’t you know what provoked the emergence of the Provisional movement and fuelled its growth and popularity? The British army were on Irish streets employing violence from August of 1969, nearly half a year before the Provisional movement ever emerged. The Provisional movement was formed in direct reaction to the presence, aggression and brutality of the British army.

    On “the Disappeared”, they were executed and disappeared not because they were civilians, but because they were suspected informants and thus were deemed legitimate targets by whoever ordered their execution as they were endangering lives. That’s not in any way to condone what happened to them, but simply to outline the rationale behind their disappearances; they weren’t randomly targeted because they were civilians. (And for what it’s worth, Robert Nairac was a British soldier.)

    You’re naive if you believe the British army had no role to play in the eventual demise of Jean McConville or in that of Peter Wilson. Both were vulnerable persons whose respective circumstances were exploited by the British army so as to help the army gather information on republican communities from within republican communities. The British army placed (or possibly even entrapped) them in (what proved to be fatally) compromising positions during the midst of a ruthless intelligence war. If you’re genuinely interested, there’s further insight into the context of Jean McConville’s death here:

    And I note you’ve refused to answer my question again, so I’ll repeat; seeing as you’re happy to apply the label “terrorist” to at least some forms or brands of politically-motivated violence, why don’t you refer to the British security forces as “terrorists”?

    Most of their “Troubles” victims were civilians, after all. 54.4 per cent of the British security forces’ victims were civilians. (For comparison, 35.6 per cent of the victims of republican combatants were civilians.) Do you regard those civilian victims of the British army as having been deliberately targeted in the same way you claim the IRA’s civilian victims were deliberately targeted? If not, why do you apply a double standard?

  • clivegsd

    Again a load of meaningless words. I’m guessing you are trying to defend the IRA because of your support for Corbyn, if so that is shameful.

    Bombs will mainly kill civilians when planted in city centre pubs or shopping centres, this was the main targets for the IRA so again you are either being deliberately wrong (lying) or you have no idea of what went on.

    “On “the Disappeared”, they were executed and disappeared not because they were civilians, but because they were suspected informants

    ” <— They were civilians no matter what they were suspected of, you won't acknowledge that fact that the IRA targeted civilians!

    The British forces were not terrorists <— simple enough for you? The IRA were simply a murderous terrorist group, something you fail to say time and time again, but then again Corbyn has never called them terrorists to my knowledge.

    "If IRA volunteers were "nothing but cold-blooded murderers", what explained the IRA's cessation of military struggle in the mid-1990s?" <— The main reason would be the drying up of funding from the USA and then the realisation they could not murder their way to getting what they wanted – much to the dismay of Corbyn and McDonnell who wanted the IRA to continue their murderous ways.

    Peter Taylor, this idiot you mean?
    So that's where you get your distorted views from, I was beginning to wonder. He is wrong, you are wrong, the IRA DID target civilians and to say otherwise is a bare-faced lie

  • Corbyn has nothing to do with thoughts I’ve expressed on this matter throughout previous comments. Nor does Peter Taylor, for that matter. Why would you assume that? My thoughts on the conflict are grounded in personal knowledge and experiences, as well as the knowledge and experiences of people I know, and were formed long before I’d ever even heard of Corbyn, considering I grew up in the north of Ireland at the tail-end of the “Troubles”.

    For what it’s worth, I think Corbyn possesses an understanding of Irish history and a sympathy for Irish republican ideals that most of the British public don’t share and that’s part of the reason why I admire him.

    I’ve acknowledged that IRA volunteers targeted civilians on numerous occasions, but to say the IRA had a guiding or over-arching policy of intentionally targeting civilians is, at best, factually contentious and, at worst, simply historically inaccurate. History is a lot more complex and nuanced than you seemingly wish to acknowledge. Of the 19,000 improvised explosive devices detonated by the IRA between 1970 and 2005 (that’s an average of one every 17 hours for three and a half decades), only a fraction of those led to civilians casualties. Naturally, those are the ones that stick in the public consciousness.

    If the IRA were targeting civilians for nearly three decades of conflict, they’d have ended up causing the death of many more than the 700 or so civilians that they did kill. Adequate warnings (and, of course, there were multiple exceptions, as I’ve repeatedly acknowledged, despite your odd repetitions stating the contrary) were evidently given in the vast majority of cases where civilians might have been in harms way on account of commercial or economic infrastructure being targeted. Indeed, any volunteer suspected of intentionally targeting civilians could have been court-martialed and, if found guilty, potentially executed.

    For the sake of argument, even if the IRA did target civilians as a policy, civilians evidently could not have been their “main targets” (as you bizarrely claim), considering only a third of the IRA’s total victims throughout the conflict were civilians, who would have been much more numerous and vulnerable to attack than members of the British security forces.

    For comparison, over a half of the victims of the British security forces were civilians (and that’s not even including civilian deaths – a family cousin of mine being one – that resulted from collusion between the British state forces and loyalist paramilitaries who effectively acted as proxies in carrying out many operations that were obviously considered beyond the legal remit of the British army). Do you believe the British army’s civilian victims were all deliberately targeted too? If not, why not and why do you apply a double standard? You denounce the IRA and accuse them of intentionally targeting civilians in a blanket fashion because of their use of potentially-lethal weapons in public areas during the conflict, but the British army did the very same thing resulting in similarly fatal consequences, so why not denounce them in the same light?

    Those who came to be known as the “Disappeared” were killed very much discriminately as they were suspected of being informants. They were not killed indiscriminately or because they were civilians selected at random. Their civilian status (with the exception of Robert Nairac) was incidental to the fates they suffered. That doesn’t justify what happened to them, but there is a qualitative distinction to be acknowledged in their cases. Contrast those cases with the case of those who were killed at Kingsmill, for example; those who were massacred at Kingsmill were targeted for the very reason that they were Protestant civilians.

    Believe what you wish, but the statistics support my contention. And belittle, moralise and pontificate all you wish too, but you’re on shaky ground if you’re going to get into that, considering you’re clearly and repeatedly avoiding answering my questions, presumably out of a fear that your hypocrisy and double standards will be exposed. I’ll unfortunately have to assume you’re just trolling me if you continue this exchange in such a manner.

    I already know you don’t apply the label “terrorists” to the British army. I was asking you why you don’t apply it to them if you see fit to apply it to other combatants. Re-stating your belief doesn’t explain why you hold that belief. What criteria do you employ when deciding which combatants are or aren’t, in your opinion, deserving of the label?

    Funding from Irish-Americans for the IRA declined mainly after 9/11 (so post-2001, in other words). The “Colombia Three” case of that same year also had an impact on support in the US. The provisional republican movement’s association with a Marxist guerrilla movement wasn’t popular amongst Irish-Americans, who tend to be quite conservative.

    Still though, the provisional movement’s ability to raise funds in the US remains quite impressive and is unmatched by any other Irish political party. The Friends of Sinn Féin group raised $12 million from US-based donations between 1995 and 2015. The most lucrative fund-raising period was actually between February and June of 1995, after the 1994 ceasefire. Contrast the €12 million raised between 1995 and 2015 with the $3.5 million raised by Noraid between 1971 and 1990.

    See here for further information:

    The importance of US funding to the IRA is over-stated, besides. See here for further information:

    Libya was a much more important and fruitful source of weaponry for the IRA, especially in the latter years of the conflict. See here for further information:

    Ed Moloney, who has spent a journalistic career covering the “Troubles” and the IRA, supports this contention. Even with the interception of the huge ‘Eksund’ shipment in 1987, the IRA still had the capability to continue their struggle indefinitely due to previous Libyan shipments. In fact, journalist Brendan O’Brien (who, like Maloney, also wrote a book on the IRA) asserted that the IRA possessed an “over-supply” of weaponry approaching the mid-1990s, which is when they decided to call their major ceasefires to ultimately help bring the conflict to an end. O’Brien is of the opinion that the IRA were, by then, equipped with a quantity and quality of weaponry and explosives never available to them at any other phase of their history, so why would the organisation call a ceasefire if they were simply intent on “nothing but cold-blooded murder” when they still had the clear capability to carry out such an intent?

    The ceasefire was called because of the combination of a military stalemate and progressive political developments. The IRA’s bombs in British financial centres during the 1990s were some of the costliest to the British government throughout the entirety of the conflict, so the IRA clearly still had capability to thwart British attempts to contain the conflict to the north of Ireland and were still able to do serious damage in Britain when a cessation of military struggle was declared. Those bombs were what ultimately convinced the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.

    The 1994 ceasefire was called by the IRA to enable Sinn Féin to participate in multi-party talks, but when the Tory government of the day, who became increasingly dependent upon unionist votes to stay in power, suspended Sinn Féin from the talks under the insistence that the IRA first decommission their weapons before Sinn Féin could be re-admitted again, the IRA’s ceasefire came to an end with the 1996 bombing of Canary Wharf. The bombing of the Arndale in Manchester soon followed. Once Sinn Féin were re-admitted to multi-party talks by the new Labour government in 1997, the IRA’s ceasefire was re-instated.

    Those talks culminated in the Good Friday Agreement the following year. The final peace settlement fell short of the original aims of all parties involved, but that’s because compromises were offered from all sides. If a desire for “nothing but cold-blooded murder” was truly the IRA’s driving motive, none of these political developments would have made any difference whatsoever to the contemporary actions of the IRA.

  • clivegsd

    All those words, all those lies and misinformation, reminds me of the farmers in our locality slurry spreading. Take your anti Bit – Ira sympathising backside somewhere that it will be believed because your distorted view of those times is offensive

  • Funnily, I’m the only one here substantiating my points with any evidence. You’re just lobbing insults and won’t even answer a simple question up-front.

    I’m dismayed you feel that way, but I’m free to voice my opinion here, so long as I’m not breaking any rule (and I’m not aware that I am breaking any rule). So, if you’d prefer not to engage with me, well, you know what to do.

    For what it’s worth, your ahistorical denial of British responsibility would be regarded as just as offensive by many Irish people who’ve been on the suffering end of British state violence down through the decades (or centuries even), so no need for the lecturing.

  • clivegsd

    Your argument was flawed the moment you tried to make out the IRA didn’t target civilians, that is a lie.
    Oh and the attempt at smearing our armed forces is pretty crappy too. Our armed forces were easy to make out for the scumbag terrorists to target, our armed forces had to make judgements on cowards that hid amongst the population wearing civvies. The deaths that our armed forces caused can be put down to the IRA cowards.

    Best go back to defending the terrorists you seem intent on making martyrs eh?

  • You’re again misrepresenting my actual argument, but that doesn’t seem to be getting through despite my numerous efforts to clarify my position for you, so there’s probably little point in continuing to waste my time on that front.

    The Provisional IRA didn’t even exist until nearly half a year after “Operation Banner” had already commenced – in August of 1969 – and the British army were already killing civilians on Irish streets and buttressing the by-then long-established brutality of the RUC (who were also beating and killing Irish civilians throughout 1969). The death of the IRA’s first victim was at the end of June of 1970.

    I’m afraid your armed forces discredited their own reputation when they were here, if indeed they still had a reputation at all to hold on to after previous imperial misadventures around the globe:

    As for Ireland, you seem either unaware or intentionally ignorant of the sort of thing those you seek to lionise actually did here. Let me inform/remind you…

    We had: the massacring of innocent civilians (Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy, for example); extensive collusion with supposedly-illegal loyalist paramilitaries; extra-judicial killings emanating from a shoot-to-kill policy; legalised death-squads (that intentionally targeted civilians) operating from within the British army in the form of the Military Reaction Force, the Special Reconnaissance Unit and the Force Research Unit; false-flag operations; torture and abuse (including waterboarding and electric shocking) of detainees; mass internment of “suspects” (who were rounded up simply because they matched a certain demographic and who were overwhelmingly nationalist by an approximate ratio of 19:1) without trial; a curfew; widespread use of potentially-lethal rubber and plastic bullets; use of individual civilians and entire residential estates as “human shields”; intimidation and harassment of nationalist communities; wanton destruction of nationalist households; blowing up border roads and bridges (thus worsening the already-detrimental effects of partition and further depriving many border communities of their social heart-beat and of the capability to fulfil their economic potential); and black propaganda.

    Whilst you hold the IRA entirely responsible for the deaths they caused, you assert that the British army weren’t responsible for any of the hundreds of deaths that they caused? Your double standards are as insulting as they are mind-boggling and untenable.

  • clivegsd

    You stated the IRA didn’t target civilians yes?
    Your other anti Brit armed forces bullshit doesn’t cut any ice with me. If they weren’t in NI then how many Irish people would the IRA have murdered and disappeared and maimed? Hey, some that number could have included some of your relatives but don’t let that bother you any.

    You show yourself for what you are which is an IRA sympathiser and apologist who shows no concern to the victims of that vile terrorist group and then put the blame on the armed forces that were trying to stop their murdering actions! Which makes you no better than Corbyn, McDonnell or Abbott by the way.

    I hope you are enjoying the peace brought to you by the same people you try to slur….unless members of your family were part of that discredited band of murderers?

  • I said the IRA didn’t target civilians as a general policy or rule, but that there were numerous exceptions to that rule of thumb. I can’t be any clearer. I even mentioned the Kingsmill massacre as an example, and there were plenty of other examples too. That must be about the fifth or sixth time at least that I’ve had to clarify that for you.

    You’ve got cause and effect mixed up. The Provisional IRA may not even have existed or been able to sustain itself if it wasn’t for the British army’s presence and actions in support of the bent RUC. The British army certainly didn’t bring peace to Ireland; don’t insult us. What did Bloody Sunday (the shooting dead of unarmed civilians demonstrating against mass internment without trial), for example, have to do with stopping the IRA? If anything, Bloody Sunday and incidents like it were recruitment coups for the IRA as, in their aftermath, nationalists (in their hundreds) sought to defend – through taking up arms – themselves, their families, their streets and their community from such massacres occurring again. What other protection did they have?

    The British army colluded with the UDA/UFF in the death of one of my relatives, so your talk of the British army coming to my relatives’ “defence” is a bit hard to stomach. Even now, the present British government remains in breach of its ECHR article 2 (right to life) obligation to provide an effective, independent and transparent investigation into his case (as well as the cases of many others who were also killed by the state or who were killed as a result of suspected state collusion). That’s perfidious Albion for you…

    See here for further information:

    You’re utterly wrong to say I have no concern for victims and I deeply resent your suggestion. I’m interested in a process of truth and reconciliation for all; a process along post-Apartheid South African lines is something I would advocate.

    What I’ve written about the British army isn’t bullshit in the slightest. It’s rather evident that you’re simply unwilling to hear anything that contravenes the fantasy narrative you’ve constructed in your own head. Here are a list of links documenting everything I mentioned in the list above, so knock yourself out:

    I’m afraid your moralising and pontification carries absolutely zero credibility in light of your own hypocrisy, so you can give it a rest. In fact, you perfectly illustrate the genuine difficulty with talking about the conflict to some English people who still happen to retain unreconstructed pre-1998 views that are rooted in historical denialism and a difficulty in coming to terms with the implications and ramifications of the Good Friday Agreement; so profoundly ignorant of Irish history and of so much that went on during the “Troubles” and yet so stubbornly unwilling to learn more about it at the same time, despite being presented with insight and evidence.

  • clivegsd

    More words more bullshit.

    As I said your argument fails the moment you say the IRA didn’t target civilians, they did, end of story. In a conflict more headlines are gathered by slaughtering civilians – as the IRA did – than murdering the armed forces that were there to try to keep the peace or politicians, if you are stupid enough not to comprehend that then that is your own fault and I STILL do not get your devoted support of a terrorist group, you sad you were a child so not able to understand what was going on at the tail end of the conflict, why not share why you are defending the kneecappers, murderers and executioners, or don’t you have the balls to?

    As for using Wiki pages to prove your point? Mate I could go into each one and edit them to say “Donald Duck was leader of the IRA”, would you believe that because its on a Wiki page?

  • clivegsd
  • “As I said your argument fails the moment you say the IRA didn’t target civilians, they did, end of story.”

    Except that’s not what I said, is it? You’re putting words in my mouth and erecting a straw man.

    I can acknowledge that there were grave wrongs committed on all sides. The British army targeted civilians on numerous occasions too. That’s something that you haven’t been prepared to properly acknowledge – despite me providing you with ample evidence – and yet you inexplicably feel entitled to pontificate to me despite your hypocrisy and double standards. The closest you came to acknowledging it was by suggesting that civilian deaths (which also happened to include 61 children) at the hands of the British army were actually the responsibility of the IRA. Utterly warped stuff.

    My point is simply that if you’re going to hold certain acts against the IRA – which is fine – at least have the moral integrity, courage and consistency to hold it against the British army too when they have committed similar acts. Why not apply your principles consistently and denounce the British army too? One could just as easily apply labels like “colluders”, “torturers”, “bombers”, “murderers” or “executioners” to them in light of what they were engaged in during the confilct. Why don’t you apply the label “terrorists” to the British army if you see fit to apply it to other combatants? What criteria do you take into account when determining which combatants are or aren’t, in your opinion, deserving of such a label?

    I provided links to Wikipedia as it gives a general overview of some of what I was referring to and the content therein is substantiated by an abundance of references. Are you seriously trying to deny the truth of what I’m saying now? Your denialism is getting more and more desperate and tedious. I can easily provide other reputable sources if it’s truly necessary.

  • Zeno

    “Why don’t you refer to the British armed forces as “terrorists”, out of interest?”

    The Armed Forces are the Security Services of the State.
    The didn’t appoint themselves.
    They are appointed by the democratically elected government.
    Their purpose is to protect us.

    Appoint themselves. They don’t protect anyone. They use murder to try and achieve power for themselves.
    It’s difficult to see why you would be confused over the two groups.

  • clivegsd

    That is exactly what you have said over and over again, so care to outright condemn the IRA for being the murdering terrorist cell that is was or not?

  • Zeno

    The IRA did deliberately target civilians.

    Patsy Gillespie was used as a human bomb.
    It wasn’t accidental, it was deliberate targeting of civilians.
    Of course to justify it they made them part of the occupying forces.
    Then you have Bloody Friday when 25 bombs were set of in Belfast which was packed with shoppers in less than 30 minutes. How on earth you can say they didn’t target civilians as policy is beyond me and anyone else with half a brain.

  • If you want to have a serious, sincere and forthright discussion with me instead of this tedious and ignorant moralising ad nauseam, could you at least start engaging with the numerous points and questions I’ve posed to you above instead of repeatedly dodging and ignoring them? I’ve done you the courtesy of sincerely answering every question you’ve directed at me.

    I’ll continue the discussion when you’re ready.

  • I’m well aware of those incidents. Coshquin is only down the road from me and I often pass Patsy Gillespie’s memorial plaque. Awful incidents they were. I don’t think they contradict anything I have said though.

    Brendan Hughes outlined the rationale behind the multiple bombings of Belfast’s city centre at 55m14s here:

    He explained that civilians were the last people the IRA wanted to hurt during the commercial bombing campaign and claims that warnings were not passed on by the authorities as the British attempted to manipulate the situation and turn it and public opinion against the IRA.

    The IRA’s chief-of-staff at the time Seán Mac Stíofáin also later said:

    “It required only one man with a loud hailer to clear each target area in no time. Republicans were convinced that the British had deliberately disregarded these two warnings for strategic policy reasons.”

    And in one of the Boston College interviews, Hughes stated the following:

    “I was the operational commander of the ‘Bloody Friday’ operation. I remember when the bombs started to go off, I was in Leeson Street, and I thought, ‘There’s too much here’. I sort of knew that there were going to be casualties, either [because] the Brits could not handle so many bombs or they would allow some to go off because it suited them to have casualties. I feel a bit guilty about it because, as I say, there was no intention to kill anyone that day. I have a fair deal of regret that ‘Bloody Friday’ took place … a great deal of regret … If I could do it over again I wouldn’t do it.”

    Hughes admits to experiencing guilt, seemingly on account of possible recklessness on his part. If you think he’s being insincere in what he says, fair enough; that’s your call and judgment to make.

    What came to be known as Bloody Friday was a total PR disaster for the IRA. What would the advantage have been to randomly targeting innocent civilians that day, seeing as you believe that to have been the plan?

  • Are you saying that “democracy” confers a sort of blanket legitimacy and justification for whatever violence a state might wish to carry out? You’re effectively saying that states cannot be guilty of what you regard to be terrorism or terrorist activity simply by virtue of the fact that they are states? Is that your position; that all state violence is therefore valid and legitimate?

    Of course, your premise is suspect anyway. Who in the north of Ireland ever democratically elected a British government? And the northern statelet was hardly a beacon of civil democracy itself, was it? That’s primarily why the conflict erupted.

    British colonialism was imposed upon Ireland by force; that wasn’t a democratic process. Likewise, to suggest that the partition of Ireland might have been a democratic process would be highly contentious. You might argue that it was, but I disagree as it contravened the democratic voice of the Irish electorate expressed as a unit in 1918 and was imposed upon Ireland after the threat of, first, violence from the UVF and, later, “terrible and immediate war” from David Lloyd George. The very formation of Northern Ireland as an entity was anti-democratic. So, considering there were obvious issues of democratic legitimacy with the foundation of a statelet that was gerrymandered in order to secure a convenient and suitable majority, where does that leave your overly simplistic argument?

    I also tend to avoid use of the word “terrorist” in my discourse as it’s such a meaningless and manipulated propaganda term that doesn’t appear to have any fixed or agreed meaning. It is selectively applied to discredit the acts of political opponents rather than used consistently to define particular acts, irrespective of who has carried those acts out. It generally tends to be about the identity of those committing the violence being labelled (or the identity of the victims or targets) and generally seems to have little or nothing to do with a neutral or objective assessment of the acts being labelled. Indeed, this is how you seem to employ it yourself. Seeing as you appear happy to selectively apply the label, what criteria do you use to determine who is or who isn’t a “terrorist”? What exactly do you mean by the term? Are the criteria you’ve outlined above the only ones you take into account?

    Many people would also find insulting the suggestion that the British army entered the scene “to protect us”. Who is the “us” you’re referring to? Certainly not its many victims and the community that was subjected to its brutality and harassment anyway. The British army’s purpose was to buttress the unionist status quo; to protect and enforce the will of power.

    And, for what it’s worth, many communities did regard the IRA as protectors against a bent state. Why do you think so many queued up to join after incidents like Bloody Sunday? That was the reality of what was a desperate situation, whether one likes to admit it or not. Indeed, many voiced their assent or support by democratically electing Sinn Féin representatives to office.

  • Zeno

    When you hear someone who has just exploded 24 or more bombs in a busy Belfast City centre in 25 minutes …. actually have the cheek to say.

    ” there was no intention to kill anyone that day. I have a fair deal of regret that ‘Bloody Friday’ took place … a great deal of regret … If I could do it over again I wouldn’t do it.”

    Anyone, and I mean anyone would see that exactly for what it is and that is bollox.

  • Zeno

    The IRA deliberately murdered civilians, the IRA carried out sectarian murders, they were responsible for the deaths of 10 times men women and children than the Security Forces. Any claim that they were protecting the Catholic community was nonsense because they brought more death to their own people than any one. Quite simply they can be described as a sectarian terrorist murder gang who failed in their objective.

  • A considerable number of nationalists regarded them as protectors, just as a considerable number of the PUL community saw loyalist paramilitaries as their protectors.

    On the sectarianism charge, this is another evidence-based piece by Liam O’Ruairc (who I mentioned above) that makes for interesting reading:

  • Zeno

    Murdering people because of their religion is like it or not sectarian.
    It’s black and white. You can’t murder people say it wasn’t policy and that makes it not sectarian. Innocent Protestants were murdered just because of their religion. You could probably make a good case that the UVF weren’t sectarian using your logic.
    The IRA were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the people they were fighting against.
    The UVF policy during long periods was that every time a member of the security forces was murdered they would murder a Catholic, any Catholic.
    The IRA of course did not let up and caused the deaths of many hundreds of innocent Catholics. Even apart from that the IRA were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the the UVF . So protecting people is a myth.
    The carried out 5 sectarian bomb attacks on the Shankill Road just to goad the loyalists into action.

  • “Murdering people because of their religion is like it or not sectarian. ”

    I agree and the IRA did engage in sectarian attacks. However, O’Ruairc makes the following point in light of the statistical evidence:

    “According to Malcolm Sutton’s “Index to Troubles related deaths” (Beyond the Pale, Belfast, 1994 – a reliable source of figures), the Provisional IRA has been responsible for the deaths of 1758 people in the period between January 1 1969 and December 31 1993. Of those, 345 (19.6% of total IRA killings) were uninvolved Protestant civilians (uninvolved meaning they were not active loyalists or working for the security forces etc.), a third (106 of them) killed in 1975-1976 alone. And among those 345 deaths, 133 were the result of deliberate sectarian killings. It also should be noted that 85 of these sectarian killings took place in the 1975-1976 period. The majority of IRA victims (around 1000 that is more than 50%) were members of the British security forces (British Army, RUC, UDR, …). From these figures, it is clear that the IRA campaign was directed against the British state rather than the protestant community. It was not sectarian in nature, although some individual sectarian attacks and murders unfortunately did take place (like the Kingsmill massacre in 1976). But sectarian murders committed by the IRA were more the exception than the rule (as they represent 133 killings on a total of 1758), especially given the fact that the vast majority of them (85) were committed in a short period of time (1975-1976). Relative to loyalist killings, the non-sectarian nature of the IRA campaign becomes even more evident. ”

    Weren’t the UVF and other loyalist paramilitaries avowedly sectarian though? The explicitly targeted Catholics for the sole reason that they were Catholics and such was clearly a guiding policy in light of the statistical evidence.

    As O’Ruairc wrote:

    “In the 1969-1993 period, loyalist paramilitaries have been responsible for the killing of 911 people. Of those, 612 were uninvolved innocent catholic civilians (67.2%), and a substantial number of the rest were Protestants killed because they were married to or mistaken for a Catholic.”

    On what basis could you argue they weren’t sectarian? To which alleged logic of mine are you referring?

    Also, loyalist paramilitaries killed nearly double the number of Catholics killed by the IRA, so I don’t think your claim is correct. Here are the relevant statistics:

    That’s taken from here:

    I stated that a considerable number of people regarded the IRA as their protectors against the British state and loyalist paramilitaries. Are you denying how these people felt?

  • Zeno

    In todays Irish News Patrick Murphy points out that while not all the IRA’s actions were sectarian in intent, all were sectarian in outcome.
    Prior to that he says. (paraphrased)
    The IRA welcomed the war with the British in which their main weapons would be IRA informers and Loyalist death squads. They then lost.
    Since 1922 the IRA abandoned politics and became very good at war, but they never understood when and why war should be waged.
    He says…
    Sinn Fein and the SDLP amazingly accepted the legitimacy of partition, abolished Dublins territorial claim over the North and abandoned the concept of the Irish Nation including unionists. (and left the power to call a referendum with the British SOS). End.

    The only conclusion any reasonable person can reach is all the death achieved nothing other than to further divide the 2 communities. The IRA rejected a Bill of Rights in 1970 saying it was revisionist but that is now the main plank in SF’s demands.
    Making excuses for sectarian murderers belittles you. Doing maths on the numbers of sectarian murders belittles you. As if one side being less sectarian is a great victory. It was a dirty little sectarian squabble when the psychos on both sides found new and inventive ways to sate their urges.

  • “The only conclusion any reasonable person can reach is all the death achieved nothing other than to further divide the 2 communities.”

    I think it’s quite evident that the conflict reinforced communal divisions, but you present it as if the IRA were solely responsible for the conflict, its continuation and resulting deaths. Out of interest, do you hold the British state, its army, intransigent unionism and loyalist paramilitaries similarly responsible for the significant roles they played in furthering communal divisions?

    “Making excuses for sectarian murderers belittles you.”

    I have not made excuses for sectarian murders, nor would I.

    “Doing maths on the numbers of sectarian murders belittles you. As if one side being less sectarian is a great victory.”

    So, let me get this straight; it’s fine for you to peddle statistical falsehoods and discuss selected figures when it’s convenient for the narrative you wish to advance – you did so in your previous two comments up-thread – but I’m belittling myself when I counter with facts and alternative statistics that I deem to be relevant? Something not quite stacking up there…

    I think your accusation that I belittle myself is simply a faux-moral cloak to disingenuously conceal your reluctance to accept any evidence I might produce that happens to undermine your assertions.

  • Zeno

    “it’s fine for you to peddle statistical falsehoods”

    I assume you have a list?

  • Your claim that “the IRA were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the people they were fighting against” is demonstrably false (as evidenced by the statistics relating to those responsible for Catholic deaths during the conflict that I presented above).

    Care to answer the other question I posed?

  • Zeno

    They were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the British Army RUC UDR and all Security Forces added together.
    They were responsible for more than the UVF UDA RHC UFF etc etc

  • I already clarified this for you here:

    Here are the relevant figures again:

    Out of the 1,543 Catholic deaths, republicans were responsible for 381 (24.7%), loyalists were responsible for 735 (47.6%) and the British security forces were responsible for 316 (20.5%).

    You’re simply not correct, according to those figures. What figures have you got?

    Besides, even if you were right, aren’t you (to apply the clearly hypocritical standard you attempted to apply to me above) belittling yourself with such talk. Essentially, your position is that contrast and comparison by statistics is fine, but only so long as you’re under the apprehension that the selected statistics suit your agenda (although you’re incorrect in this case, as it happens).

    And I note you’ve again ignored the other question I posed. Another dodger?…

  • Zeno
    Religion Summary by Organisation.
    The PIRA alone was 337
    RUC 44
    B Specials 1
    British Army 253
    UDR 5

    So the PIRA alone were responsible for the deaths of 337 people + over 100 more from other republican terror groups. Don’t forget they were supposed to be protecting Catholics. Then don’t forget the sectarian attacks deliberately carried out to provoke a response from the loyalist terror gangs like the bombings carried out on the Shankill Road.
    The entire Security Forces were responsible for 303.

  • Self-reflection clearly isn’t your strong point. If what you said about me “belittling myself” was true, then aren’t you also belittling yourself with this sort of statistical talk, considering it is for the purposes of comparison and contrast?

    Anyway, more to the point, you made the following statements:

    i) “The IRA were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the people they were fighting against.”
    ii) “[T]he IRA were responsible for the deaths of more Catholics than the the UVF.”
    iii) “[The IRA] were responsible for more [deaths of Catholics] than the UVF UDA RHC UFF etc etc”

    All of those statements are demonstrably false. Stop deflecting and pretending otherwise.

    Can you also please desist from misrepresenting me? I never said the IRA were “supposed to be protecting Catholics”. I said that many nationalists regarded the IRA as protectors against both loyalist paramilitarism and the violence and brutality of the British state.

    I don’t support child killers either. You’re an incredibly disingenuous provocateur. Furthermore, as you implicitly point out yourself, all combatant groups had child victims*, so why do you ignorantly moralise and pontificate in light of the fact that you support the child killers (to use your rather emotive and melodramatic terminology) of the British security forces yourself? Your misplaced sanctimony is just so utterly tedious. Is your self-awareness seriously so lacking that you can’t even see your own blatant hypocrisy when you pathetically attempt to slander me?

    I also note once again that you evaded the other question I’d asked you. I’ll try asking again; do you hold the British state, its armed forces, the RUC, intransigent unionism and loyalist paramilitaries similarly responsible for the central roles they played in the origin and continuation of conflict and the consequent reinforcement of communal divisions in the north of Ireland?

    Your comments in respect of the motivation behind particular attacks is speculative, but you also neglected to furnish me with further details of the two other Shankill Road bombs you mention?

    *I suspect that the overwhelming majority of child deaths during the conflict were “collateral” in nature. Even the UVF leadership had enough moral gumption to call off at the last minute the Glenanne gang’s plan (which originated from a former UDR colonel) to kill 30 Catholic school-children at south Armagh’s St. Lawrence O’Toole Primary School in the aftermath of the Kingsmill massacre:

  • I’ve only realised I missed your comment at the time, so just responding now. I’ve already acknowledged that IRA volunteers targeted civilians for the sole reason that they were civilians on numerous occasions. Kingsmill was one example of such, as I already mentioned. So, once again, please stop misrepresenting me and putting words in my mouth. Whether or not upper sanction was received for such operations, I’m not certain; perhaps it was in some instances and perhaps it wasn’t in others. If you have any evidence you’d like to share to substantiate your position that it was, please do so.

    Why would you assume I wasn’t affected by the conflict in any shape or form? It’s an odd assumption to make that is grounded in further ignorance, in spite of everything I’ve communicated to you. I’d nearly get the impression you’re not actually reading my responses to you. I was born in 1985 and grew up along the Donegal-Derry border; the conflict still raged for the first decade of my life, so of course I was affected. I can remember things vividly. If you want to know a little more about my background, I’ve written a bit about it in the recent past here:

    As for your making demands of me, why on earth would I do something just because an evasive crank like yourself might want me to do it?

    Anyway, if you’d bothered reading what I’d linked you to earlier, you’d have known that I don’t find the politics of condemnation to be particularly useful or constructive in terms of understanding causes or in terms of moving situations of conflict between contrasting moral perspectives forward, so I tend to avoid it. I try to apply that universally. I actually find there is mich greater moral worth in holding people to their own professed standards.

    Here’s the link again:

    I’d appreciate it if you read it this time before making any further ignorant statements about me. Thanks.

    But, as I was saying, seeing as morality is a social construct and we’re all different people with differing experiences and circumstances, I tend to find there’s greater moral worth or weight in holding people to their own professed standards and principles rather than trying to hold people to standards that you possess and standards that have been shaped by your experiences. At least that way you’ll be engaging with someone within a moral framework that is intelligible to them then. That’s not to say I don’t have my own personal morality, but of what value is pontification from me? Who am I to be lecturing others and holding them to my standards?

    However, seeing as condemnation is clearly the sort of thing you’re into – in fact, so obsessed with it you are and so egocentric you are that you attempt to badger others into feeling the same as you and doing likewise – why do you apply your condemnation inconsistently and only selectively?

    For what it’s worth, I also tend to avoid use of the word “terrorist” in my discourse as it’s such a meaningless and manipulated propaganda term that doesn’t appear to have any fixed or agreed meaning. It is – like your hypocritical expressions of condemnation – selectively applied to discredit the acts of political opponents rather than used consistently to define particular acts, irrespective of who has carried those acts out. It tends to be about the identity of those committing the violence being labelled (or the identity of the targets) and generally seems to have little or nothing to do with a neutral or objective assessment of the acts being labelled. Indeed, this is how you employ it yourself. So, seeing as you seem happy to selectively apply the label, what criteria do you use to determine who is or who isn’t a “terrorist”? What exactly do you mean by the term? Please define your use of the term for me.