Written on: 21. 2. 2021 in the category: Uncategorized

The Canary That Still Sings

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Twenty-five years ago this week, mass rallies across Ireland after the IRA’s murderous Canary Wharf bombing told the republican movement that it was time to end its 26-year long war. Since then, an entire generation has grown up in Ireland without any knowledge of the real meaning of paramilitary violence. This has not been because Sinn Fein-IRA have abandoned their ambitions or renounced their methods. They remain as committed to the former as ever and have never repudiated the latter. They have accepted that certain events – such as the abduction, torture, murder and secret burial of some Catholics – though in themselves ‘wrong’ were exceptions to a largely laudable war fought by morally acceptable means. And this delusion – based on outright lies and on surreal distortions of fact, all bound by the hallucinative connective-tissue that makes virtually any theory believable for the post-truth young – now dominates nationalist Ireland’s memory of the Troubles.

Thus relatively few people know what SF-IRA were and remain; a moral plutonium in the heart of Irish life, corrupting its core, duping the innocent and mesmerising the ignorant. They started a war, thousands died before they admitted they had lost it, yet now they successfully present a fictionalised account of what happened, aided by some winsome balladry as a psychological preparation for the next phase of the struggle; the final push.

Sinn Fein-IRA began the peace process because they knew they were riddled with informers, but long before they had declared the moral bankruptcy of their cause. Any arguments about the ‘rights’ of their struggle were completely destroyed forty-five years ago last month when an IRA Einsatzcommando lined up eleven Protestant workmen at King’s Mills in South Armagh and shot them. The men were then finished off synchronously with headshots: eleven victims, eleven handguns, eleven bullets bearing eleven different rifling-grooves and of course, eleven cubs blooded and bound to the IRA forever. But not quite, for one of the Protestants, despite being shot eighteen times, survived, meaning that one of the IRA men, poor lad, had not actually killed anyone.

The shame of it! Better luck next time.

The IRA’s soulmates in the INLA clearly felt they were being were outshone in the contest to kill innocents, so a couple of days later  they laid a booby-trap outside Portadown, blowing apart a fourteen-year-old Catholic named Thomas Rafferty. Ah, said the IRA, see you and raise you one: that night near Cookstown, the IRA staged an ‘accident’ in which a car appeared to have left the road and crashed into a field, its headlights still on. Two Protestant Good Samaritans, twenty-year-old Rachel McLernon and her sixteen-year-old brother Robert, arrived at the scene. Seeing the headlights in the dark, Rachel and Robert got out of their car to help, and one hundred kilograms of explosives blew them to kingdom come.

Rachel (20) and Robert (16) McLernon. Remember them.

That February, the Lockington family of Newry were returning home after watching a rugby international in Dublin (result: Ireland – including four Ulster Protestants –  9,  Wales 34) when they drove into an IRA ambush at the Border, and 57-year-old Marjorie Lockington was shot dead.  Maybe Mrs Lockington’s murderer had been the unfortunate IRA man who hadn’t managed to kill his Protestant at King’s Mills, but this time he struck lucky.

Five days later, not far away, UDR man Joseph McCullough went to feed his dog at his home in Tullyvallen, which he’d abandoned because life there had become too dangerous. But IRA men were waiting, and after stabbing him five times, they finished him off by twice cutting his throat.

It might be said that Mr McCullough was lucky to be alive when he was killed: a member of the Guiding Star Temperance Lodge, a couple of months earlier he’d been out on UDR patrol when the IRA attacked a meeting of the lodge at Tullyvallen, shooting dead five men, none of them in the security forces or in the first flush of paramilitary youth, being aged 40, 40, 67, 70 and 80. A nap hand,  which the McCullough killing then turned into a neat half-dozen. However, Joseph wasn’t the first of his family to be murdered by the IRA. A cousin, William Meaklin, had some time earlier been abducted from his mobile shop near Crossmaglen – was there ever an easier target than this poor hapless Protestant selling groceries from the back of his wee van through the townlands of South Armagh? – and then given, according to republican sources, “an awful death”. And when South Armagh says awful, they mean it.

William Meaklin: remember him too.

Four years before Canary Wharf, the IRA nearly managed a slaughter that would have put Kings Mill in the shade.  In  January 1992, at Teebane just outside Cookstown, an IRA landmine blew up a bus containing fourteen Protestant workmen, killing eight and critically injuring six. Of this Nazi-horror, the heroic Bishop Edward Daly, who was remarkably lucky not to have been part of the Paras’ Butchers’ Bill in Derry, called on the media to focus on “the current oppressors of the people of the city, the Provisional IRA.”

This, now, is the armed struggle that the Sinn Fein leader Marie Lou McDonald regrets not being able to join.

So here we are today, twenty-five years after the IRA ended its first ceasefire, and the unapologetic heirs of the foregoing atrocities are in government in the North and nearly in government in Dublin. Indeed, in the latest eructation of Fianna Fail’s pathological addiction to wrecking the state, which it has done repeatedly, from the Civil War, to funding the formation of the Provisional IRA, to GUBU and to the uncontrolled madness of the Celtic Tiger, much of the party now favours a coalition with Sinn Fein.

This is certifiable insanity. The IRA has not disbanded. Sinn Fein is controlled by the IRA’s army council, which is almost entirely Northern: Ireland’s Sudetens are calling the shots for the whole island, their weaponry now being cultural, educational and political. They have sharpened the legacy-issues of the Troubles into a filleting-knife with which to eviscerate the morale of the unionist community. The demand for constant plebiscites on Irish unity is another means of further destabilising an already fraught people. Even the funeral of an IRA man such as Bobby Storey was showcased to prove how valueless Protestants are. Eight grieving Protestant families were excluded from Roselawn Crematorium to make way for his cremation, which presumably included his recently-acquired English lung, courtesy of the British NHS.

Young minds, untutored by fact and chronically susceptible to IRA folklore, have been fed the grotesque lie that Sinn Fein-IRA conducted a human rights struggle between 1970-1997. That other participants in the utterly squalid war behaved atrociously is indisputable: but as Liam Kennedy has made clear in Who Was Responsible for the Troubles, the IRA turned the largely incoherent communal violence of 1966-70 into a ruthless, focussed war. The figures are irrefutable: republicans, drawn mostly from around 33% of the population, killed nearly 60% of the dead of the Troubles. The disproportion of victimhood/authorhood is most startling for the Ulster Defence Regiment, which lost some 200 dead, though having been responsible for just 8 killings.

The fiction that many killings by “loyalist” terrorists were actually the work of UDR-men is just that: for the UDR were privy to the names and addresses of vast numbers of IRA men and women, yet relatively few republicans were targeted by “loyalist” killers (the inverted commas remind us that these homicidal thugs were not remotely loyal). Over 40,000 men and women faithfully served in the UDR, and only a wicked few colluded with terrorists in shameful events such as the Miami Showband massacre and the murder of Loughlin Maginn in Rathfriland – all of them, you note, free of republican association. Indeed, the murderous sallies of the UDA/UVF from their drinking dens to slay hundreds of harmless Catholics (and hardly ever any republicans) enabled the IRA to take little bank holidays, knowing that their brainless opposite numbers were keeping the pot boiling.

The results were immensely gratifying: a general intensification of terror, the destabilisation of politics, the diversion of the security forces and best of all, the chance to chant more propaganda-lies about “collusion”. Seldom has any military force ever had such splendid allies in its enemies as the IRA had with the murderous boneheads of the UDA/UVF. But then, seldom has any terrorist group had such eager diplomatic and political assistance as SF-IRA repeatedly received from the governments in Dublin, London and Washington.

The Canary Wharf bombing should have ended the peace process twenty-five years ago; but instead, the culprits were abjectly courted by the Major, Blair, Ahern and Clinton governments. Murderers were feted, butchers absolved and the inconvenient dead conveniently-forgotten, with the politically calamitous results that are, a quarter of a century on from Canary Wharf, only too clear across the island of Ireland. Worse, far worse, might yet lie ahead.

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