I saw Gerry Adams being interviewed about Martin McGuinness on RTÉ’s Six O’Clock News. Adams spoke of the discrimination suffered by Catholics in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, and the mistreatment of Civil Rights marchers. This was used (as always) to justify the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence, which had the goal of a United Ireland, as if the two (Civil Rights/United Ireland) were inseparable.
However, this was not the case. The demands of the Civil Rights campaign were granted by the early 1970s. Politically conscious Nationalists in Northern Ireland could have worked towards the goal of a United Ireland through peaceful means, and in fact most of them (the SDLP) did exactly that. The Provisional IRA, meanwhile, disregarded the most basic human and civil rights.
To portray McGuinness as a great peacemaker is to tell only half the story, given that his organization was driving the violence in the first place. Things could have been different; other choices could have been made.
Far from achieving its one and only goal (a United Ireland), McGuinness’ Republican Movement drove people farther apart than ever. I find it difficult to see how this represents any kind of success, or anything that we should admire.
John Delaney, chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, was in the news this week after he was filmed singing a song called ‘The Ballad of Joe McDonnell’ in a pub. Joe McDonnell was a Provisional IRA member who died on hunger strike in 1981.
It seems to me that, in the predictable controversy that ensued, an important point has been missed, which is that Delaney’s singing of this song was a strange and exceptional act – it stood out. Songs from the most recent Troubles have not entered the Irish ballad tradition and are not widely sung, unlike those from 1916–23 and even one or two from the 1950s. Continue reading
Those who exempt themselves from the taboo against killing will come to see themselves as special. And so it has been with ‘the Republican Movement’ (the term that Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA have used to describe themselves collectively, while denying, when it suits, that any collectivity exists).
Sinn Féin, led by Gerry Adams, does not take criticism well. It sees itself as ‘special’, and above criticism. During the 1990s it virtually invented the word ‘demonize’ by complaining bitterly that it was being ‘demonized’ every time it was merely criticized.
It has emerged in the past couple of weeks that a victim of rape and sexual abuse inflicted by a prominent IRA man was subjected to an IRA ‘kangaroo court’, and that sexual abusers within the IRA were moved across the border, into the Republic, by that organization (while remaining active members in some instances). Continue reading