Archive for July, 2013

Sands & Collins
I can’t believe what I heard on the recent RTE doc ‘Thatcher – Ireland and the Iron lady’. Though that is as much a reflection on my own political and media naivety as anything else.

You also have to take into account that RTE, a collaborator in British foreign policy in Ireland, will only produce political programmes that do not cause upset to the British establishment.

Hence this doc omitted the fact that the IRA outlived Thatcher’s reign, her army admitted, in 2007, they could not defeat the IRA, she operated a shoot to kill policy, and led a military and media slur campaign against the IRA, that completely failed, the IRA won the Hunger Strike in getting all 5 of their demands.

This doc listed the ‘falklands’ (Malvinas) War as one of her high points.

However, most alarmingly in this doc was the admission of Ken Maginnis (former Ulster Unionist Party MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone who is now ‘Lord’ of something or other). He admitted to passing on the names of IRA activists to Thatcher. These were the activists that wiped out 8 British soldiers on a bus in Ballgawley Co. Tyrone August 1988.

These activists were subsequently ambushed by the SAS and, as Magennis described it, “that was the end of that particular team”. No hesitation in admitting it, no remorse and indeed no sorrow from Maginnis.

Was this point of no significance to RTE or any other Irish journalist? Clearly not.

That being said, in some ways I am torn over his admission myself. Just as I am torn over so many other matters that happened during the conflict in Northern Ireland since its foundation in 1922. A conflict that turned to war between 1969 and 1997. That war is now over but the conflict still continues.

Labelling of any other kind, of the conflict in Northern Ireland, is farcical at best. At worst it is compliance with the typically devious British policy of ‘normalisation’. A policy that failed to criminalise heroes.

A devious policy, which Irish politicians (Fine Gael’s Garret Fitzgerald amongst others) and media were keen to buy in to, for fear a United Ireland might de-stable the free state. Just as well the policy of partition ensured such stability down here!

They embraced British policy and resisted the possibility of treating these Irish men and women as freedom fighters. A possibility that would have heaped further pressure on the British Government to behave like civilized human beings and ultimately leave this island for good.

Why RTE et al resisted this possibility will be dealt with at a later date.

Yes, the Irish media and certain political parties bought into this wholesale and employ it to this day. It is a tactic that includes the pursuit and demonisation of the strongest Republican in the field. It is, as Ivan Yates (the failed and bankrupt Fine Gael business man) once said on Questions & Answers (another failure), “…keep Fianna Fáil to the bottom with the exception of Sinn Féin…”

For this reason they pursued Sean Gallagher in the presidential elections instead of Martin Mc Guinness. Tells you something doesn’t it?

To elaborate further on Maginnis’ (Ken) revelations, we could of course get into a nauseating debate on ‘What’s the difference between the IRA of Bobby Sands and that of Michael Collins? For the time being at least, I will simplify my response with one word – NONE! Both were honourable. Both achieved freedom and justice for Irish people at different times.

And it is on this last point that the debate hinges. Because if you believe the campaign of Sands and his fellows activists was not honourable then Maginnis was wrong to hand over the names to a head of Government. The names should have been handed over to the police. Maginnis should now be arrested for collusion in murder with the highest authority in the British government. Maginnis and those he collaborated with, should therefore finish their days in prison and disgrace.

Yet, if you believe the IRA lead an honourable campaign, then he was right to hand the names to Thatcher and the SAS assassinations that followed were legitimate.

Following that logic, Thatcher was always wrong to label the IRA as ‘criminals’. If they were criminals then treat them as such. Don’t send SAS and British army killers after them and don’t concede to their demand for prisoner of war status – all of which she did.

After all Thatcher and her collaborators (in Irish politics, the Irish media and all other fans of Orwellian double speak) said, there was no honour in their campaign. The problems in Northern Ireland were problems of security – they said. There was no war – they said. Their actions told a very different and very real story – a story of war.

How many criminals are pursued and shot dead in cold blood by the SAS? To the best of my knowledge both they and their army counterparts are used only in war. Not even during the civil war with the miners, were they used. At least not openly.

So it is clear that the conflict in Northern Ireland, from 1969 to 1997, was a war. A war between the IRA, Britain and British collaborators. In this light the killings carried out by all sides are as legitimate as killings in any war. So drop the Orwellian double speak.

In the context of a war, Maginnis was right to hand over those names. Right in terms of attempting to secure a British victory, even though that attempt would end in utter failure. And the result of his actions, which we as Irish Republicans must accept, are the same as the assassinations in Gibraltar, Loughall and elsewhere. These we must accept as legitimate casualties of war and propaganda is a useful tool of war.

Maginnis’ actions are proof that the IRA were indeed involved in a war with the British, in which all is fair.

This in turn legitimises all IRA activities of the time. Something Maginnis, Thatcher and their collaborators, as their tool of war, must always deny.