All sorts of tricks were used against these part time soldiers: shoot to kill, mass murder on the streets of Derry, interment of any Catholic who spoke against the British, right down to the shameful level of running murder gangs to kill their innocent supporters, but still the British could not defeat the part time army, who worked by day and fought by night.
Eventually the British leader St Tony of Blair realized that something unthinkable had to be done: He would have to speak to the Irish Catholic guerrilla army as equals.”
First: all the hullaballoo has been brought about by the fact that for the first time it has come out that the British dealt with the IRA as equals; the representatives of two armies, both of which knew they could not win the war, sat down and thrashed out an honourable truce. It was not a surrender, it was not a giving up; it was a truce by two armies that had fought each other to a standstill.
This is the bit that the Unionist cannot countenance—the fact that Tony Blair had the courage to do what no other British Prime Minister had done before him, he had grasped the nettle and decided to end the war.
This fact was confirmed by Peter Hain, former Northern Ireland Secretary, who was part of Blair’s negotiation team, on the ‘Week In Westminster,’ radio programme.
“We didn’t tell the Unionists that we were negotiating on the ‘On The Runs’ as we knew it would be too much for them,” said Hain. There you have, straight from the horse’s mouth. What more do you want?
Hain also said that suggestions the Unionists did not know about the letters were risible.
The Canary Wharf and Manchester bombings of 1996 made Britain realize that with a £1,000 bomb, the IRA could do a whopping £1 billion of damage and Britain could not hold out to that.
Also, and this is seldom mentioned, the bankers and city financiers were not going to stay in London if the group of 300 could blow the place up with impunity; there are plenty of other financial centres without having to sit in London and wait til Paddy came along with a van bomb!
Perfidious Albion, dealing with terrorists!
To understand Northern Ireland you have to take into account the fact that it is an artificially constructed state, specifically created to separate the Unionist population from the rest Irish nationalist Ireland because the Unionist Ascendency had to be maintained.
But for ascendency you need a dominant sector who have to see and believe that the underdog is of less value than they are; the intended dominant sector in 1922 when Northern Ireland was created, was the Ulster Protestant Unionist, they wanted a Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People.
Times changed; the Ulster Catholic underdog bred and got educated after the 1947 Education Act gave free education to everyone. In 1969 the seething cauldron of hatred that Northern Ireland is, exploded.
What was made blatantly clear last week, manifested in the rage of unionist politicians and commentators, is that there is still a large section of the community who cannot conceive of the Catholic being equal.
The politicians and extremists are trying to cover it up with rage about letters and deals behind backs but the bottom line is that there are those in power who cannot conceive of a world where equality exists and they would rather tear the place apart than live with the Catholic as an equal.
Gerry Kelly, Alex Maskey and Martin McGuinness came forward to stand and talk in a reasoned well mannered fashion as others ranted and raved in their anger. Sinn Fein were handed thousands of Catholic votes last week as they were once again presented to the community as the only people who are prepared and able to stand up to Unionist intransigence.
Everyone knew there was a deal. Do you remember as a young nationalist hearing Peter Robinson talk of ‘the dogs in the street knew this or that.’
Well, it is time for Peter to listen to it back again: “Peter, the dogs in the street knew there was a deal.”
There is another point.
If the politicians and the politician’s researchers had been doing their job then all of this would have come out earlier. But it didn’t: Bradley/Eames mentioned the deal, the policing board was told about it on several occasions and there were other times that it came up.
So why now?
I believe, and it is only my opinion, that someone caught the story, ran with it and that the whole thing spiralled out of control. You see, for the Unionist, and they are right about this, the war did not end with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. All that happened was that the tactics of the war changed from one of military action into one of denying Britishness to the Unionist bit by bit.
While Sinn Fein sees it as a process, the Unionists have come to see it as domination by a drip feed of concessions. They are only allowed to march around in circles in their own area, they can’t fly their flag over the City Hall, they have to sit in Stormont with murderers and terrorists and now a letter guaranteeing freedom to an innocent man appears; it is all too much.
Remember, James Downey is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
As an innocent man he can party all he wants, he has been found guilty of no Shenanigans.
In the fury and rage all pretence at decency, the rule of law and judicial integrity has been thrown out the window this past week.
Indeed, one of the most revealing points that came up during all the talks was the utter bias of the media presenters. Radio talk show hosts and so called reporters could not hide their political allegiance. But you can’t blame them; they are products of their environment just as I am.
Then we had the infinite line of victims; the victims of our civil war, (note: we had a civil war not ‘Troubles’). The victims from our civil war need to be listened too. They need to be heard and their stories have to be told so that such a tragedy is never allowed to happen again.
But victims cannot be allowed to hold up political progress forever. Twenty years after the war has ended society should have moved on. By the way, and again this has to be said, there were not many victims of the RUC pulled out and put on the radio during the week.
It is not that lies are told in Northern Ireland. The problem is that Northern Ireland is a lie. We go back to our basic premise; Northern Ireland is an artificially constructed state that was set up to give dominance to one group. Until we face this we can never go forward.
The Unionist politicians missed the greatest opportunity that was ever given to Northern Ireland to build peace and begin to create an equal society.
Imagine this scenario:
The word comes out about James Downey’s letter and a Unionist politician stands up in the assembly and says something like this;
“We have not been aware of these letters but, however, at the time of the Good Friday Agreement our country desperately needed peace and the government had to do what was necessary to achieve that peace.”
“We do not like the fact that from our point of view certain terrorists have been given immunity from prosecution but we recognise that in order to build upon the fragile peace that exists in our land, we have to move on from these terrible times. Things happened during the troubles that we should all be ashamed off but the time has come to rebuild our community.”
On the other side, Sinn Fein might have said something akin to the fact that they were sorry for the hurt the IRA inflicted upon the land, that the time had come to put all this behind us but that at the time of the negotiations they worked for the best deal possible.
But that would take a statesman and Northern Ireland is sadly lacking in statesmen.
There have been state sponsored pogroms against Catholics, one section of the community legally armed to hold the other section in subjection and there was at least seventy years of institutional discrimination against Catholics.
We produce nothing worth talking about, we could not fund our schools or hospitals on our own, and we would starve without our handouts.
“The people on this side of the water - British parents - have seen their sons vilified and spat upon and murdered. British taxpayers have seen the taxes they have poured out, almost without regard to cost - over £300 million a year this year with the cost of the Army operation on top of that - going into Northern Ireland. They see property destroyed by evil violence and are asked to pick up the bill for rebuilding it. Yet people who benefit from all this now viciously defy Westminster, purporting to act as though they were an elected government; people who spend their lives sponging on Westminster and British democracy and then systematically assault democratic methods. Who do these people think they are?”
Do you remember that?
This is from the speech given by Harold Wilson on 25th May, 1974 when the Ulster Worker’s Council strike was at its height.
Lent has now started and we have all stood in line to receive our ashes as the priest said “Remember, man, that thou are dust and unto dust thou shall return.”
As the Unionists rant and rave in Stormont, all David Cameron has to say is “Remember now that you are beggars and unto beggars you shall return,” to put this country back in its place.
Northern Ireland as a country or a United Ireland, whichever way you want it, probably could survive on its own. But as corruption and cronyism has destroyed the Free State and left them the beggars of Europe, hatred and tribal loyalties would tear this place apart within a week of Britain pulling out.
In Dante’s “Inferno” there is a sign above the entrance to hell: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
They should put that sign up above the entrance at Belfast Airport as you step off the plane and come onto Northern Ireland soil.
If reports are true, and I have to state that I have never been in either man’s company, these two men can barely speak to each other. If they can pull this off, never play cards with them.
Is it not another Northern Ireland lie to go to the States and try to get people to invest money in a place that is falling apart? Why the pretence, why the subterfuge and dishonesty?
On Friday last, Stormont was full of men talking about integrity and truth and honesty while the two main protagonists were preparing to go to the USA and try to convince American businessmen that Northern Ireland is a stable place for them to come too and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in.
If our politicians are going to talk about being honest and behaving with integrity why not go to the States and tell the truth: ‘our country is a basket case, we are broke and we need some investment to get jobs going. And we promise to keep our hate filled wee world outside the gates of your factory.’
What the future is for Northern Ireland I cannot say. In fairness to the Unionists they have watched Sinn Fein’s call for equality turn into an action of dominance. Sinn Fein doesn’t seem to be able to stop when they receive equality; the old human nature of wanting to ‘rub it in’ is coming to the fore.
On the other hand, the Unionists appear unable to make any genuine attempt to treat their Catholic neighbours as equals. Do you remember what has now become a famous saying; ‘Can’t we all get along?’
We shall probably stumble on for the foreseeable future living on Westminster handouts as the Free State lives on handouts from Europe.
Are we a nation, either the Northern Ireland state or the so called Republic of Ireland?
In truth it is hard to see how either place could lay claim to nationhood. Our hatred north of the border keeps us all in bondage to the past. But wise men have known such things for ages, how hatred and envy destroy the soul. In ‘Paradise Lost,’ written 340 years ago, John Milton ascribed these words to Satan as he spoke of his kingdom of hell:
“Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven”
Can you think of a better description of Northern Ireland?
But the hope in Northern Ireland is that many people are beginning to see through all the noise and bluster. How many people would have taken a day off work on Friday to protest either for or against the letters?
Not many; we have more important things to worry about, such as mortgages and getting a day’s work somewhere. The ordinary Catholic and Protestant is trying to live in harmony and are way ahead of our politicians in their thinking.
Fear is still driving the politicians while the ordinary people for the most part have gone past that fear and are having to live with their neighbour simply because that is what ordinary people do, we make the best of the world we have. We do not have the luxury of big state pensions to fall back on; let the ‘folk on the hill’ have their pensions, it’s a pity they don’t let us get on with the job of simply living together.
I think we are learning to live together the best, and would do better if they all shut-up up there!
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