Written on: 18. 11. 2011 in the category: news

Kevin Myers: A line has to be drawn in the history of Northern Ireland – there must be no more public inquiries

FIRST things first: 40 years ago, the Parachute Regiment had become state-authorised killers in Northern Ireland. According to David McKittrick’s indispensable volume ‘Lost Lives’, the Paras killed 39 people between 1971 and 1976. Only seven of these were paramilitaries: but one of those, Joe McCann, the Official IRA leader, was gunned down, unarmed, on a May Saturday afternoon.

The death toll of 33 unarmed victims killed by the three battalions of the Parachute Regiment is more than that for hundreds of battalions of the rest of the British army and Royal Marines combined.

That’s the bloodied tip of the iceberg; what these figures don’t show were the Paras’ regimes of terror and brutality within the areas they governed.

Young men were routinely beaten by Para patrols. Hundreds of working-class houses were wrecked in random retaliatory raids.

They were a disgrace to the British army and a joy and a delight to the Provisional IRA, for which they were a major recruiting sergeant. And now the Northern Attorney General John Larkin QC has ordered a new inquest into 10 of these killings, on internment day, near New Barnsley housing estate on August 9, 1971.

One of the victims was Daniel Teggert. His son John, welcoming the decision, said that it would not end the campaign for a full independent investigation.

And the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, was of course invited onto RTE to add his voice to the denunciations of the Paras all those years ago. He wasn’t, of course, asked on RTE about the subsequent fate of the two sons of Daniel Teggert, who had been shot by the Paras.

After their father’s death, the twins Bernard and John Teggert became troubled teenagers and were sent to St Patrick’s Institute. They were aged 15. The IRA abducted them as suspected informers. Bernard pleaded with the IRA to leave his brother alone. So they just shot him, and – rather kindly – gave John the bus fare home.

Bernard’s body was dumped in Bellvue Zoo with the word “tout” on his chest. And John – with whom, by God, I sympathise – is the man who this week welcomed the announcement of the new inquest.

To be followed shortly thereafter by a huffing and puffing Gerry Adams. Do editors make real editorial decisions in RTE? Do they ever say: “Sorry, Gerry Adams is not really the moral authority to consult on the topic of serial killings by a regiment of the British army, not least because the IRA killed many more people”?

Apparently not, because he was invited on, yet again, to treat us to yet more pharisaic sermonising and egotistical humbug about the Troubles.

The two words “West Belfast” automatically mean “Gerry Adams” in the corporate minds of Montrose. Get him on, get him on. Always, get him on. To have fresh inquests into what we already know was murder is now quite meaningless.

There are no new inquests to the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub-bombings in 1974, which injured another 160 people, on a night in which there were just six ambulances available in the entire city. No new inquests into nine dead of Bloody Friday. No inquests into the 12 dead of La Mon, which included three married couples. No inquests into the 10 dead Protestants of White Cross.

The IRA culprits for these war crimes, which alone vastly exceed combined Para killings, were never caught. And this is one of the nauseating prices of the peace process: a warmonger in whose shadow lie the deaths of hundreds, including Jean McConville and the dead of Bloody Friday, is turned by the media into a cross between a Methodist lay preacher and the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, history is remorselessly examined with a one-sided agenda, refuelling a pre-existing culture of victimhood with the burning kerosene of distant injustice. Yes, an inquiry into one dead Teggert, killed by 1 PARA, but not into the other, killed by the PIRA.

And of course, that half-broken flute, the SDLP, has now entered the grievance-competition, with Alex Attwood, piping for a full, public enquiry. Saville, anyone? How long is this onesided memorialising going to go on for? And with what outcome? For we know Northern Ireland is not composed of prudent stoics who stay calm and composed, least of all on the loyalist side.

Moreover, anyone who has been on one of these gruesome guided tours of a nationalist or loyalist ghetto will know what phosphorescent myths are being created from the burning embers of the old Troubles.

Northern Ireland is now governed by a fragile and unnatural coalition which only stays together because no faction disputes the ambitions or efficacy of the other: the world’s first experiment in consensually apolitical politics, which is the equivalent of windless sailing, or heatfree steam.

The past is the one area where Sinn Fein can – by squinting carefully with one eye, and closing the other entirely – still proclaim its “principles”.

But this addiction to an Official Victimhood must stop, before Protestants explode. A line has to be drawn somewhere in the history: a line which says, Yes, Much Evil and Great Wrongs were done, BUT NO MORE PUBLIC INQUIRIES.