Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Murder is murder

I'm all for a Truth & Reconciliation Commission here, à la South Africa, but the body that may be a pre-cursor to it - the Robin Eames and Denis Bradley roadshow - has got off to a moral bad start by suggesting the IRA's campaign of murder was war. It was not.

In war, both sides attack non-defensively. The RUC did not do that, despite what Republican propaganda would have us believe. The UDR did not do that. With the inexcusable exception of Bloody Sunday, neither did the British Army. Nor did the civilians who bore the brunt of terrorist evil. Who did ambulance driver Kit Johnston and his wife shoot at in 1987 before dying in the rubble at the Enniskillen war memorial? Who did my 16-year-old schoolfriend Paul Maxwell shoot at before being blown to smithereens piloting Lord Mountbatten's boat out of Mullaghmore harbour in August 1979? No one, ever. Innocents may die in war too, but these attacks were deliberately undertaken against innocents, and such attacks were the backbone of spineless Irish terrorism.

I strongly support the inclusion of Sinn Féin in government because of its clear electoral mandate. Some may say that terrorism got them there, but if Unionists hadn't disenfranchised Roman Catholics consistently in the 50 years of shame following partition, the IRA wouldn't have had a bed of discontent to feed off. Democracy is the key to a long-term balanced society, and we've finally got there.

The "Troubles", however, were a sustained campaign of utter terror, the like of which is hard for most to imagine now. The English were rightly outraged at the London tube bombings. Imagine that scene every fortnight, interspersed with shoot-and-run murders of farmers' eldest sons or part-time policemen gunned down at the breakfast table in front of their children. That was not war. It was a concerted, professionally executed campaign of racist murder by my fellow-countrymen against their fellow-countrymen.

Re-defining the past may fit some weak people's concept of reconciliation, but lasting respect cannot be built on a lie. We must confront the past together for what it was. It cannot be undone, it cannot be changed,it cannot be forgotten; but it can be acknowledged, regretted and left in peace while we move on to brighter days together.


At 5:21 p.m., Anonymous beano said...

Well said BU. I'm sad to say I think you put it much better than I did.

At 6:55 a.m., Anonymous bill said...

Well said. The problem with going back to a selected period tends to skew things a little. I suppose we could call the black and tans and auxies terrorists or the Brit atrocities during the Easter rising might be labelled as terror. Perhaps the famine could be labelled as genocide. Perhaps, it's time to stop labelling altogether and begin to understand that each one speaks their own truth from their own perspective. All have suffered. No one got off scot-free. When people can have some understanding of the other person's view, reconcilliation can take place. Sometimes, that's pretty hard to do.

At 8:55 p.m., Anonymous perci said...

well said bill

At 3:11 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Democracy is the key to a long-term balanced society, and we've finally got there"

It was the denial by the British of the democratic mandate of complete independance for Ireland in the 1918 elections that led to the creation of the IRA, it was the threat of war by the British during the 1922 Irish election which again supressed democracy. All Ireland democracy was restored by the GFA in 1998 and would not have happened were it not for armed struggle


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