Written on: 13. 6. 2022 in the category: Uncategorized

The Decade of Centenaries: Game, Set and Match To The Provisional IRA

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The Young May Moon, the anthem of the RIC, echoed with sombre gaiety through the Guards Chapel on the Mall upon the eve of the month of May. Those present were aware of the deep ignominy of the event, for we had just learnt that the Embassy was not represented there, and two Garda superintendents who had intended to wear their uniforms had just received direct orders from the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, not to do so.

A month later, Official Ireland was similarly absent from the ceremony at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, as the band of the Police Service of Northern Ireland played The Young May Moon again. Had anyone from the Government or An Garda Siochana been present in St Anne’s, they would have had the chance to witness the line of wheelchairs at the back, containing the lolling bodies of crippled police veterans of the IRA’s fatuous war.

So once again, truth-denial by that querulous and unkind creature, Official Ireland, had triumphed over what has become a thoroughly corrupted decade of centenaries. Before the Fenian mythologisers got to work with their violence and their lies, the RIC was generally acknowledged to be one of the finest police forces in the world. It had imposed order over the chaos of rural Ireland in the 19th century, drastically reduced pagan practices, had virtually ended faction-fighting and protected the growing plant of democracy. The Sinn Fein election victory of 1918 had been only made possible within the peaceful society that had been created by the RIC/DMP.

The RIC was the force that was then murdered, both literally and metaphorically, in the insane Fenian violence of 1916-1923. That violence brilliantly and irrefutably validated all the Ulster Unionist objections to Home Rule. So too did the confessional and sectarian state that emerged after the Civil War had ended, leaving the Free State victorious. And that victory resulted from an orgy of blood-letting by the new Irish government that simply dwarfed anything done by the RIC 1919-21, or the RUC 1922-23. Over one hundred “republicans” were executed by Free State forces after fake judicial proceedings or were assassinated by the Oriel House murder gangs.

The Minister for Justice who ordered the boycott of the RIC ceremonies in London in April 2022 is political heir to the state that ordered these killings.

In July, 2001 I wrote these words in The Irish Times.

Eighty years ago this morning, as the seconds to the Truce ticked by, Alexander Clarke, a middle-aged RIC man, was returning to his digs in Townsend Street in Skibbereen. He had been in the force for 34 years, and here he was, aged 52, and still a constable, though promotion opportunities must have beckoned. Many RIC men had enlisted in the Irish Guards during the Great War, but he had still not been promoted. And nor had he been more recently, when murder and resignation had thinned the force considerably.

He was an insignificant Tipperary man, rather like the first two RIC killed in the Troubles 30 months before, but unlike them, he was going to survive. The terms of the Truce had been signed two days before, and it was now mere moments away from enactment. Did he perform a little skip of joy as he approached his lodging house, as he felt for his keys? Why not? The promise of peace and retirement into old age lay before him. What joy! At which point he was shot down, the last formal victim of the Troubles of 1919-1921.

In the coming years, how did his killer feel? Did he grow warm at the thought of how he had shot a harmless man, for no purpose but for the killing itself? Was he a hero locally, or was he treated with the silent disdain that many communities reserved for the doers of unworthy deeds during this period? Did he sit his grandchildren on his knee and tell them how one morning in July 1921 he had gloriously shot a policemen dead, yards away from his front door and minutes away from peace? Or did he stare silently into the fire, wondering about the reckoning ahead?

Obviously, I haven’t a clue. What I do know is that poor Alexander Clarke vanished from the press almost immediately – this newspaper recorded his death briefly the next day, but made no further reference to him, his funeral or his widow and children over the coming days. Ireland was at peace, or so it seemed, and the Clarkes of this world were swiftly forgotten, not just then, but in the emerging narrative about those events which had consumed so many lives.

I then identified the formation of Fianna Fail and the formal abandonment of the gun at the famous meeting at La Scala five years after Clark’s needless murder as the central items in the Irish path to democracy, and then finished with these words about the Belfast Agreement (sacrilegiously called “The Good Friday Agreement by those who like to sacerdotalise Irish history).

I don’t believe that this peace deal can stick, though I hope I am wrong. But if it fails, we must be clear why. It is because the present republican leadership has declined to have its La Scala gathering, preferring instead to retain the traditions represented by the wicked killing of a single harmless policeman 80 years ago this morning. For history tells us this: no democrat can possibly co-exist in the same political institutions with the unrepentant heirs of the murderers of Alexander Clarke.

And so it has turned out. Both An Garda Siochana and PSONI have agreed that Sinn Fein is controlled by the same (but renamed for cosmetic purposes) army council that led the Provisionals’ twenty-seven-year long war of barbarous futility. Unrepentance has been the Sfira keynote throughout, both over their doomed campaign and all the other doomed campaigns before it. So naturally, Sfira has not had its La Scala moment, because it has discovered it doesn’t need to. Official Ireland, and the Irish media, have simply aligned themselves behind Sfira’s Anglophobia, which now neatly matches the sour mood emanating from Brussels.

Put aside the revolting and wholly untrustworthy character of the British prime minister. It and he are a temporary distraction from the reality that the Protocol is causing serious anger amongst the unionist people. Also put aside the indignant accusations from Iveagh House, The Irish Times and Brussels that the British government is breaking international law by acting unilaterally on the Protocol.  It is doing no such thing. Here is the wording of the Protocol

Article 16

Safeguards 1. If the application of this Protocol leads to serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures. Such safeguard measures shall be restricted with regard to their scope and duration to what is strictly necessary in order to remedy the situation. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Protocol. 2. If a safeguard measure taken by the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, in accordance with paragraph 1 creates an imbalance between the rights and obligations under this Protocol, the Union or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, may take such proportionate rebalancing measures as are strictly necessary to remedy the imbalance. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Protocol.

We already have seen serious societal difficulties resulting from the Protocol. Jeering at unionist fears is all very well for Irish Times columnists, but they will not have to pick up the pieces if the Shankill Road or East Belfast explodes. Doug Beattie is an honourable man who recognises the dangers that the Protocol is presenting to the Union. The support of the Coalition government  and the Dublin media for a united anti-unionist front will of course suit the agenda of Sfira and Fianna Fail fellow travellers. They will then blame the British government for precipitating the very conflict that Sfira is anxious bring about, namely the British government + the Unionists versus Dublin government + the EU + the White House + Sfira (busily stoking the flames).

Through wretchedly weak or treacherous leadership by Unionist leaders Trimble and Paisley, the unionist people have yet again been left stranded on a politically hostile shore. It cannot and will not be long before rival leaders emerge from the streets, a potentially catastrophic outcome, the precedents of which this island saw with the arrival of Ian Paisley and Gusty Spence fifty-six years ago.  Repeatedly during the “peace process” the rules were rewritten to accommodate Sfira: but now that the British are attempting to prevent loyalists breaking away from the Belfast Agreement, far from Dublin seeking an accommodation with London and with the beleaguered unionist leaders, it is clearly trying to create a Brussels-Washington alliance against them.

So, in the North, the unrepentant heirs of the murderers of Alexander Clarke have now all but destroyed the SDLP, heirs of the twin traditions of the old Nationalist Party and secular Fabianism of Northern Ireland Labour. In the Republic, the unrepentant heirs of the murderers of Alexander Clarke now control the agenda for the final episodes of our dismal decade of commemorations. Two years ago, they successfully torpedoed a small private commemorative ceremony to honour the memory of the RIC, as the Taoiseach, the shamelessly abject Leo Varadkar, folded before the threats of a few hillbillies and revanchist naysayers. The future of public memory has been farmed out by the Irish state to the army council and the monument-smashers of Kilkenny and Glasnevin.

The IRA has not gone away, you know, for now it is in charge of the final moments of a decade that has already yielded such a rich harvest to the apostles of violence. This harvest will probably serve as the prelude to an official re-validation of the IRA’s fruitless wars from 1916-1998, with God knows what yet to come. For failure is the one addiction to which Ireland always and ever returns, as the glow of the Young May Moon wanes once again and dies…..

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