I recently came across the following quote from Gerry Adams, justifying the IRA’s murder of Lord Louis Mountbatten (along with a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and an 83-year-old woman) in Sligo in 1979:
‘What the IRA did to him is what Mountbatten had been doing all his life to other people; and with his war record I don’t think he could have objected to dying in what was clearly a war situation.’
It’s a strange one. Mountbatten and his companions were blown up while on a fishing trip in the Republic of Ireland – by no stretch of the imagination was this ‘a war situation’. The four people who lost their lives could, and probably would, have objected to dying in this manner.
Mountbatten’s war record mainly relates to the Second World War: he played a prominent role in the Royal Navy. We should not forget that the IRA sided with the Nazis.
A detailed IRA document containing information on military installations in Belfast was seized in Dublin in 1941 before it could be handed to the German legation. The Luftwaffe had mounted two major attacks on Belfast earlier that year, causing devastation and the loss of over 1,000 lives: the IRA decided that in the event of further Luftwaffe attacks ‘a picked body of men [was to] be selected to stand by for operations against police forces and firefighting services during air raids … armed with grenades and sub-machine guns’. The IRA actually planned to attack firemen in the course of their work!
Whether the IRA’s support for the Nazis was purely pragmatic (‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’) or more ideological (both parties were extreme nationalists), it’s lucky for us all that it ultimately came to nothing.
Clearly Adams’s Provisional IRA had much in common with fascism: its authoritarian streak; its cliquishness; its contempt for the will of the people (see its claim that its ‘army council’ was the legitimate government of Ireland); its self-appointment as arbiter of life and death.
The guns have been put away: the fascist mindset has not. It’s still a ‘war situation’ as far as Adams et al. are concerned; the turn away from mindless violence is a matter of strategy and tactics, not of morals or basic values.