This morning my attention was drawn to a debate on BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan Show between Malachi O’Doherty and Sinn Fein spin doctor, Danny Morrison.
The debate focused on the history of the ‘Troubles’, or IRA Campaign of Terror on all sections of the community, which ever you prefer. While it is great to see Martin McGuinness and the Provos accept Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom, Malachi makes a very good point with regard to the re-writing of history. His argument centres on the campaign by those actively involved in shooting and murder during the dark days to share the blame, i.e. everyone in Northern Ireland, regardless of class, colour or religion, is guilty and must accept the blame for the actions of a minority. The discussion which ensued on the Nolan Show originated from an article Malachi wrote in the Belfast Telegraph, focusing on the West Belfast Festival. I will not repeat what he says in the article here as I would encourage people to read it for themselves, but his point is a good one.
Malachi referred to the use of the term ‘ex-combatants’ and his distaste for it. This term has come into common use in recent years amongst those who served time in prison for terrorist acts. The media have (thankfully) not caught onto the use of this term, which is in my view distasteful and lacks credibility. Those who served time in prison for terrorist acts are just that, terrorists and criminals who held the majority of decent and law biding people to ransom. This is a point which is missed and portrays Northern Ireland and its people in a bad light across the world. Some would make people think that every paid up member of society in Northern Ireland was an ‘ex-combatant’ when it is further from the truth.
In October 2001 I was on a family holiday in Spain. This was at the time of the Holy Cross dispute when children were being ushered into the local primary school in Ardoyne under police escort. Staff at our resort were horrified when they asked where we were from. Northern Ireland my father told them. The fear, shock and distaste on their faces was unhidden and prevalent. One woman said, in broken English, “those children”. She looked at us as if we were animals and were seemingly responsible for this incident where crying and emotionally distressed children were being ushered into school at the behest of their parents.
Malachi also takes issue with the term ‘conflict’, pointing out that what we witnessed between 1972 and 1997 was a terrorist campaign in which those behind the guns and bombs were out to murder RUC men, soldiers and security personnel amongst civilians. We are only a few weeks past the fortieth anniversary of Bloody Friday when Belfast was brought to standstill as the IRA sought to overthrow ‘the British’ in a dramatic coup. Instead they killed eight civilians, one nineteen year old soldier and injured hundreds of others.
Malachi was accused by Danny Morrison of ‘digging up’ the past and I am sure I could be accused of the same here, but of course we know Sinn Fein would never engage in such a thing …
So, yes, while it is great that the guns have fallen silent and that we do not see or hear the sound of exploding bombs over Northern Ireland, we must remember what actually happened and see that the facts and truth prevails over propaganda and politically charged statements made for political means. By ensuring this we can see that the generations to come know what is fact over fiction, instead of engaging in the Provo/Sinn Fein cover up.
Share on Facebook