Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Gerry Adams second home

'Economical with the truth? Well only a wee bit.'
Newton Emerson keeps a careful watch on Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and he had another interesting insight in the Irish News column A look back at the week (16  February):
Gerry Adams must have complicated personal finances.  Questioned by RTE over how he affords his several homes on the average industrial wage, Mr Adams said: 'I am currently in negotiation with the bank over the house in Donegal because we're in deep trouble.'
When he was asked a similar question about the Donegal house on RTE in 2007, Mr Adams said: 'Sure the bank owns it.'
However it was quickly established that the property was mortgage free.  Might Adams have suffered the same confusion again?
Now we are all aware that Gerry Adams has a memory problem.  For example, he can't remember being in the Provisional IRA.   Now it is clear that he is suffering from both short-term memory loss as well as long-term memory loss!  It seems that he can't remember that he owns his own house 'mortgage free'.
Sinn Fein make much of the fact that their politicians are all on the 'average industrial wage'.  Yet in 2007 RTE established that Gerry Adams' second house was 'mortgage free'.  I wonder how many people on the 'average industrial wage', other than Sinn Fein politicians, have a mortgage-free second home?
Moreover Gerry is certainly not the only Sinn Fein politician on an 'average industrial wage' to own more than one home.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Jim McDowell and the Sunday World

Sunday World editor, Jim McDowell
The Sunday World has printed another 'story' about my blog and in particular recent posts about the influence that the Workers' Party had at one time within the newspaper.  The earlier articles were by Richard sullivan but this time it was Jim McDowell who took up the cudgels.

The article by Jim McDowell features on page 1 and then again on pages 4 and 5.  It is certainly big on space, spread over three pages, but like many Sunday World articles, there is really no substance to it.

Much of the front page is filled with the headline and that is simply a bit of corner-boy abuse.  The rest of the article isn't much better!

Such articles are rather self-defeating because they actually increase the number of pageviews I get for the blog.  Moreover this article is also self-defeating because it fails to answer the core point that I made and that failure is very obvious to anyone who has read the blog.

The fact is that I simply quoted a short section from the standard history of the Workers' Party and the Official IRA.  The Lost Revolution: the story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party was written by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar and has won an award for the quality of its research and analysis.  Here is what it said about the SundayWorld:
The Sunday World remained an outlet for WP [Workers' Party] publicity and its populist analysis of the political situation was often in line with the party's positions. The paper steered clear of any reference to the actvities of Group B [Official IRA], but its exposes of criminal activity by other loyalist and republican paramilitaries was not without its costs: its Northern editor, Jim Campbell, was badly wounded in a UVF shooting in May 1984.
Those are not my words.  They were written by the authors of an award-winning book, one of whom is an academic in Liverpool University and the other a journalist.

The Sunday World even calls for me to resign ... because they don't like what I wrote, or rather what I quoted from a the standard history of the Official republican movement.  So just because Sunday World journalists don't like something in an award-winning book, they think I should resign.  What planet are they on?

If Jim McDowell and Richard Sullivan are getting so uptight about it, then let them take action against the authors of the book.  Let them try to prove that what the authors said was untrue.  But of course they don't and they can't!

Jim McDowell also accuses me of 'demonising the deceased Martin O'Hagan and the people who still work for this newspaper.'  I had merely reported that Martin came from a strongly republican background and had joined the Official IRA - FACT.  I also said that he had served a prison sentence for transporting guns - FACT.  I also reported that another member of the O'Hagan family had joined the Provisional IRA - FACT.

As regards the staff 'who still work for this newspaper', I did not mention them.  As stated above there was a period where the Workers' Party had strong influence in the Sunday World, as indeed it had a strong influence in some other sections of the media.

It seems that for Jim McDowell it is perfectly acceptable to scrutinise other areas of society but unacceptable to ask questions or report facts about the media.  That is a very dangerous line for any society to follow.  Moreover I am not aware of anyone else taking that line.  Down through the years I have read many articles about the influence of the Workers' Party in the media, both print and broadcast media.

The Sunday World specialises in writing about the activities of paramilitaries and has always done so but in the period where there was a strong WP influence in the paper it did ignore the criminal activities of the Official IRA, the paramilitary and fund-raising wing of the Workers' Party .. and that's a FACT.

Of course the murder of Martin O'Hagan was wrong and the perpetrators of every murder must be held to account but that does not mean that the Sunday World should be immune from scrutiny.

Climate change?

As sometimes happens my attention was taken by two short articles that I read recently in local newspapers, both about global warming and climate change.

David Attenborough
The first was in the Belfast Telegraph (12 February 2013) and concerned the BBC and the well-known broadcaster David Attenborough.  It reported that the BBC 'had re-edited an episode of Sir David Attenborough's Africa series to remove a disputed claim over climate change.  In the episode Attenborough told viewers, 'Some parts of the continent have become 3.5C hotter in the past 20 years' but the BBC later admitted that this figure is 'disputable'.  The line was then removed from the repeat episode and the re-edited version replaced the original version on the iPlayer.

A BBC spokesman said, 'There is widespread acknowledgement within the scientific community that the climate of Africa has been changing.'  However he admitted, 'We accept the detail is disputable and the commentary should have reflected that, therefore the line of commentary has been edited out.'
'The detail is disputable' and yet the original programme was prepared to present it as established scientific fact.
David Bellamy
The other article was in the News Letter (23 January 2013) and concerned botanist David Bellamy, who said the BBC had dropped him because he does not believe in global warming.  He said, 'When I was at the BBC, I could do whatever I wanted.  In those days you could say what you liked.  You can't now.  The world's gone bonkers.'

Bellamy was once a regular broadcaster on BBC and he was a very colourful character but in recent years has disappeared from their programmes.  I am sure the BBC will deny it but Bellamy is convinced this is the reason why.

In so much of the cultural establishment there is now a strict 'party line' and anyone who deviates from it is marginalised or mocked.  We hear a great deal about equality, diversity and inclusivity but obviously that does not include those who deviate from the cosy consensus.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Jude Collins and Sean Kelly

Jude Collins is a retired educationalist and a part-time journalist and commentator.  He is also one of the most sectarian journalists I have ever come across and that's saying something.  But in his latest post on his own blog he has really excelled himself.
Collins has posted about Sean Kelly, the man known as 'the Shankill bomber' and a man who was convicted of the murder of nine innocent Protestants.  Here is what Jude Collins said:
I have a question: why is Sean Kelly hated so much by unionists? “He murdered nine innocent people,you idiot!” might seem a reasonable reply. Except that my dictionary describes murder as “the unlawful premeditated murder of one person by another”. What Kelly did was unlawful - he helped carry a bomb into a crowded area of people - but the premeditated bit is slightly less clear. He was bent on killing people, but the people he killed weren’t those he had premeditated on killing. The reason behind the bomb was that it would catch a UDA meeting that was said to be happening above the fish shop in the Shankill. Those were the people that Kelly and his companion Thomas Begley were intent on killing, not the people in the fish shop. Then the bomb went off prematurely. The evidence for this is that they very nearly were both killed themselves in the blast. If that is the case - and it seems to me impossible to construct it any other way - then Kelly was not guilty of the premeditated killing of the ten people - including his companion - who died. He was guilty of the premeditated intention to kill the UDA people but failed. Only if you ignore that fact does the unique hatred he generates make sense.
Sean Kelly
By reason of some rather twisted and tortuous reasoning, Jude Collins argues that Sean Kelly was not in fact a murderer!  So what were the facts?

On 23 October 1993 two IRA terrorists from Ardoyne entered a fish shop on the Shankill Road.  They were Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly and they were planting a bomb.  It was a Saturday afternoon, the road was crowded with shoppers and families who were out for the afternoon, and the fish shop was packed with staff and customers.
Forensic evidence showed that Thomas Begley was holding the bomb at the counter of the shop when it exploded prematurely, killing Begley and nine innocent victims.  They included the owner of the shop Desmond Frizzell, his daughter Sharon McBride, George Williamson, Gillian Williamson, Leanne Murray, Wilma McKee and a family of three, Michael Morrison, his partner Evelyn Baird and her seven-year-old daughter Michelle Baird.  Meanwhile fifty-seven innocent people were injured, some of them seriously.  Begley's accomplice, Sean Kelly, was also injured.
The impact of the atrocity was profound and it caused a very deep hurt within the unionist community, a hurt that was exacerbated when Gerry Adams carried the coffin of Thomas Begley.
The only one of the victims I knew personally was Desmond Frizzell himself. He was a fine Christian and a gospel singer and he sang on several occasions in the church I attended.  However, although almost twenty years has passed since the atrocity, I can still remember that awful day and the days that followed.

Afterwards the Provisional IRA claimed that their intended target was some members of the UDA who had on occasions used a flat above the shop, as if that in some way minimised the gravity of their crime or explained it away.  However the plain truth is that the bomb was being placed downstairs, in a shop which was packed with customers.  Moreover even if the IRA bomb had killed members of the UDA, it would still have been murder.  No one has the right to take life and certainly not members of the Provisional IRA.

The IRA also claimed that there was an 11 second fuse on the bomb and that if it had not exploded prematurely those 11 seconds would have given the staff and customers time to get out of the shop.  However 11 seconds would almost certainly not have given the people in the shop time to get away.  I can well imagine the chaos and confusion as customers came to terms with what was happening around them and then tried to make their way out into the street.  No, that excuse doesn't hold.  Those more senior IRA men who planned the terrorist attack and those IRA volunteers who planted the bomb had no regard for human life.
In spite of all the twisted and tortuous reasoning of Jude Collins, this was murder, cold, callous murder.
At the trial of Sean Kelly, Lord Justice MacDermott said, 'This wanton slaughter of so many innocent people must rank as one of the most outrageous atrocities endured by the people of this province in the last quarter of a century.'  Lord MacDermott was certainly in no doubt as to what happened that day on the Shankill Road - this was one of the most outrageous atrocities of the Troubles.  That was why Kelly was convicted of murder, nine counts of murder, and why he was given nine life sentences.

Sean Kelly served seven years of his life sentence and was then released in July 2000 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.  However he was returned to prison on 18 June 2005 by Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, who said that he had directed the return to prison because of 'security information'.  He also said he was satisfied that Sean Kelly 'had become re-involved in terrorism'.  He was then re-released on 28 July, just six weeks after his arrest and the day before the IRA Army Council announced the end of its terrorist campaign.
Jude Collins' article is nasty and squalid and of course his article says much about its author.  Why on earth would anyone want to write an article arguing that the Shankill bombing was not murder? 
For many years Jude Collins was a lecturer in education at the University of Ulster.  It is sad to think that for so many years the minds of young trainee teachers were exposed to the views of such a warped individual.  Fortunately he is no longer a university lecturer. 

However from time to time he is invited on to BBC radio and television programmes as a contributor or commentator.  I sincerely hope, in the light of this appalling article, that such invitations will now come to an end and I for one will be writing to the Northern Ireland controller to draw Jude Collins' views to his attention.

The best man for Mid-Ulster

Mike Nesbitt (UUP), Nigel Lutton & Peter Robinson (DUP)
There is a desire within the pro-union community for greater co-operation between the unionist parties.  That is something I hear expressed by unionists time and time again.
The announcement that Nigel Lutton has been selected as an agreed Unionist candidate for the Mid-Ulster by-election on 7 March is therefore one that will receive a warm welcome.  He has the support of both the DUP and UUP as well as many other unionists.
It is therefore particularly disappointing that John McCallister MLA has chosen the selection of an agreed Unionist candidate as the issue over which he has resigned from the UUP.  On a night when the selection of an agreed candidate should be the main item on the news McCallister has thrown a tantrum and resigned.  However that is his choice and in due course the electorate with deal with John McCallister.
Nigel is an ideal candidate for the constituency and for an election in which he will face Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy MLA.  According to Lost Lives, his father, Frederick John Lutton, 'was shot by the IRA as he locked the gates of Argory House, a National Trust property near Moy, on 1 May 1979.  Two men wearing stocking masks pulled up in a car, jumped out and shot him at close range.  He was hit in the stomach and legs and died minutes after being taken to  South Tyrone hospital in Dungannon.'
Frederick Lutton was 40 years old and was married with three children.  He was a former member of the RUC Reserve and had resigned a few months before he was murdered.  He had worked at The Argory for fifteen years and stayed on when it was taken over by the National Trust.
In 2007 David Simpson MP, the DUP member for Upper Bann, used parliamentary privilege to name Francie Molloy, now the Sinn Fein candidate, as being suspected of involvement in the murder.
Nigel Lutton is therefore not only the standard-bearer for unionists but the standard-bearer for innocent victims of IRA terrorism.  He is the best man to go forward as the standard bearer for unionism in Mid-Ulster, the best man to confront Francie Molloy, and I wish him well.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sir Henry Wilson MP - murdered by the IRA

Ulsterville Presbyterian Church
Recently I bought a history of Ulsterville Presbyterian Church in south Belfast and was surprised to read that before being named Ulsterville, it had been proposed that the congregation be named Wilson Memorial, in memory of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (1864-1922) who was elected as the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down on 21 February 1922 and was then murdered by the IRA four months later on 22 June 1922.  Two IRA gunman shot him dead outside his home in London as he returned from Liverpool Street Railway Station, where he had unveiled a war memorial.

The Ulsterville congregation was formed at the start of the 20th century 'under the wing' of Windsor Presbyterian Church and at first it was known as Lower Windsor. 
Back in 1894 a site for a new church and school had been purchased at the foot of Tate's Avenue and Donnybrook Street and Rev J C Ferris, the first minister at Windsor, held 'cottage meetings' in Great Northern Street.  In January 1901 a new schoolhouse was opened on the site at Donnybrook Street at a cost of £1,050.
Services started in the new building on 13 January 1901 and paved the way for the formation of what was called Lower Windsor Presbyterian Church.  'A meeting of those interested in Lower Windsor Presbyterian Church was held in the school in Donnybrook Street on Sabbath 7th April 1901' and an interim session met on 8 May 1902 to receive intending communicants.  The first communion service was conducted on 11 May 1902 at Donnybrook Street Hall and in June 1902 the General Assembly gave permission to form a congregation in the district of Lower Windsor.  In June 1903 the name was chaged to Ulsterville.
From 1903 to 1922 the congregation met in a church building in Edinburgh Street, which had previously belonged to the Congregationalists and to the Primitive Methodists.
A new church building was then erected on the Lisburn Road and the foundation stones were laid on 21 April 1923.  The previous year and shortly after his election to Westminster, Sir Henry Wilson had offered to lay a foundation stone for the new church but he was murdered shortly afterwards, on 22 June.  Immediately after his death the committee asked Lady Wilson to lay the foundation stone and agreed unanimously that the name of Wilson Memorial be submitted for her approval.  However there is no record of any response and no further reference to the proposal.

This led me to think of other memorial to Sir Henry Wilson and there is a fine memorial in Liverpool Street Station in London, adjacent to the war memorial that he had unveiled shortly before his death.  here is also a fine portrait of Sir Henry Wilson in Belfast City Hall.  But are there any other memorials to this Ulster Unionist MP who was murdered by the IRA?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Gary Spedding - Alliance Party activist

Yesterday (8 February) the Belfast Telegraph carried a letter headed 'Alliance party policy on flags dates from 2002'.  It was a defence of the Alliance Party's vote to restrict the number of days on which the Union flag flies from Belfast City Hall and it was written by Gary Spedding, who described himself as 'Campaigns Officer, Alliance Youth'.

The name rang a bell with me as I was sure I had seen some contributions from a Gary Spedding in relation to Israel and Palestine and so I resorted to google.

Gary Spedding is indeed a member of the South Belfast Alliance Association and campaigns officer of Alliance Youth.  He is also a zoology student at Queen's University and an active campaigner on several fronts.

Spedding founded the Queen's University Belfast Palestine Solidarity Society in 2010 and was president of the society but in November 2012 he was elected vice-president. 

The Palestine Solidarity Society takes a strong anti-Israel stance and on 23 February 2011 members of the society disrupted a lecture at the university by Solon Solomon, a former member of the Israeli Parliament's legal department.  According to a report by Ben Finch in The Gown (23 February 2011) Solomon had been invited by Sally Wheeler, head of the School of Law, to deliver an academic lecture on international law.  However the PSS members heckled the lecturer and after seven minutes the lecture was brought to a close.  Members of the panel were then removed by security staff for their own safety.  After disrupting the lecture members of the PSS gathered outside and tried to block the taxi taking Solon Solomon away.  Some students hit the car and tried to stop it but security staff were able to clear a route for the vehicle.
According to the report in The GownGary Spedding said, 'I didn't sanction anyone to hit the taxi, I didn't sanction anyone to stop the taxi, my society doesn't condone violence.'  'He also said that he didn't necessarily disagree with it at the same time.'  Meanwhile Megan Fearon of Ogra Sinn Fein and now a Sinn Fein MLA said, 'It's a disgrace we invited a war criminal.'  It's a bit rich when a Sinn Fein MLA objects to war criminals!

Elsewhere Spedding is quoted as saying: 'I would agree with my friend Norman Finkelstein when he described Israel as a lunatic state.'
Spedding is also active as a campaigner for 'homosexual rights' and is campaign coordinator for Equal Marriage NI, which was launched at Queen's University on 5 July 2012 and which campaigns for 'homosexual marriage'.
Pink News (5 September 2012), Europe's largest gay news service', carried an article by 'LGBT campaigner Gary Spedding' in which he said:
As a community our first priority has mainly been inwardly focussed on our own rights. This has seriously effected how LGBT people and our allies go about our daily lives; we prefer to holiday in gay friendly countries, we are more likely to drink in gay or gay friendly bars and we typically show unwavering support to countries that are good on LGBT rights issues.
Interestingly Pink News also described Spedding as a 'freelance journalist covering the Israeli and Palestinian conflict'.
Spedding is representative of a young ultra-liberal section of the Alliance Party.  The growth of this faction within the party will be a source of trouble for them, both with more traditional Alliance members and with the electorate.

Gerry Adams - delusion and desperation

Gerry Adams TD and Conor Murphy MP were in Dundalk yesterday for the local launch of Sinn Fein's campaign for a border poll.
Adams argued that republicans should try to persuade unionists to support a united Ireland.  'This is a significant challenge but one I believe we are up to and can succeed in.'
This is just blind desperation on the part of Gerry Adams.  Support for the Union is stronger than ever. 
As Nigel Dodds MP said in the Newsletter this morning:
Those who have spent 40 years campaigning for a united Ireland received a severe body blow with a BBC poll showing two thirds support for the Union.  Not only has Sinn Fein's campaign failed to convince Protestants that a united Ireland is a good idea but a majority of Roman Catholics said they wanted to stay in the United Kingdom. ...  The BBC report is very uncomfortable reading for nationalists - 79 per cent saying they want to stay in the United Kingdom with 23 per cent of Sinn Fein supporters expressing the same view.
Sinn Fein cannot cope with this reality and do not really know how to handle it.  When the poll was announced on a BBC Spotlight Special on Tuesday Gerry Kelly was caught flat-footed and simply retreated into an absurd state of denial.
The plain truth is that Gerry Adams has failed to acheieve his goal of a united Ireland.  His problem is that he dare not admit his failure and so he holds out to his followers the prospect of convincing unionists.  It seems he hasn't even managed to convince all his own followers!
We could call on Gerry Adams to be honest with his own people but there's not much chance of that.  He refuses to be honest about his past so there is little hope of him being honest about the future.

Phil Flanagan and An Taoiseach

I don't tweet  or follow people on Twitter but Newton Emerson has picked up on a tweet from Phil Flanagan on Tuesday.  Phil, a Sinn Fein MLA from Fermanagh, tweeted: 'Note to all BBC journalists.  The 'Irish Prime Minister' is called An Taoiseach. '
Well Phil if you are going to use the Irish Gaelic term for the prime minister of the Irish Republic, then perhaps you will also accept the Irish Gaelic version of Ireland.  The country south of the border is then Eire and of course that was how it was named in many Northern Ireland newspapers through to the 1970s.
According to John Thomas Koch, in his book Celtic Culture: a historical encyclopedia, it is an early word meaning 'leader' and appears in a 5th or 6th century ogham inscription in both the Gaelic and Brythonic languages.
The term An Taoiseach was introduced by Eamon de Valera in the 1937 constitution and replaced the earlier term President of the Executive Council.

The word that Gerry Adams will not use

Gerry Adams has a weekly column in the North Belfast News and I think the same column appears in the Andersonstown News.  It carries the title 'Gerry Adams TD - He hasn't gone away you know', but of course he has gone away, south of border, to county Louth.  He has a new job in another country.

Today he deals with 'the killing of Adrian Donohoe' on 25 January and 'the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O'Sullivan in Adare in June 1996'.  However the one word that Adams has refused to use is the word 'Murder'.   According to Gerry the Provisional IRA didn't 'murder' anyone.

He referred to his apology for the 'killing' of Garda McCabe by the Provos but criticised unionists who 'have demanded an apology for the deaths of members of the RUC and British Army.'  Adams then stated his position very clearly: 'I do not believe the fact that citizens took up arms against oppression in the North, and against those forces that inflicted violence on behalf of the British state, is a matter of apology.  I take no satisfaction  from the killing by the IRA of British soldiers and RUC officers.  and I am very conscious of the suffering of their families.'

Sinn Fein have condemned the murder of PSNI officers by dissident republicans and have apologised for the 'killing' of Garda McCabe by the IRA.  Such progress is limited but it is welcome and of course it only came because of pressure from politicians, from the media, from public opinion and from the families of victims.  That pressure on Sinn Fein must be kept up until Adams and his party acknowledge that the 'killing' of RUC officers and British soldiers was equally wrong and was indeed 'murder'.

The fact that Adams felt it necessary to write such a tortuous article about this matter shows that he and his party are troubled by this pressure and it must be maintained.  We must not allow them to succeed in their strategy of trying to rewrite history. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Magdalene laundries

Magdalene laundry in Ireland
The report on the operation of the Magdalene laundries in the Irish Republic has been published and has been covered extensively in the media.  Around 10,000 women passed through the laundries between 1922 and 1996 and the conditions in them were extremely harsh.
The start date for the report is simply the start of the southern state but in fact Magdalene laundries were in operation long before 1922.  The first Roman Catholic home in Ireland for 'fallen women' opened in Cork in 1809 and the last asylum, which was in Waterford, closed on 25 Setpember 1996.
Former inmates have demanded an apology for the treatment they received and it has been a difficult day for the Roman Catholic orders that ran the laundries.
However this is not the first time that the Roman Catholic laundries have been the subject of comment and controversy. 
Indeed a century ago there were demands for the public inspection of the laundries.  Among those who campaigned for inspections was the South Belfast MP Thomas Sloan (1870-1941), an Independent Unionist, who was associated with the Belfast Protestant Association and the Protestant Alliance.
Convinced Protestants such as Sloan were to the fore in calling for the inspection of Roman Catholic laundries while the Roman Catholic Church argued that such inspections were interference and that they had the right to operate without 'interference'.

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Workers' Party and the Sunday World

On Saturday 26 January I posted on this blog about the Workers' Party and the Official IRA and in the course of the post I quoted from the standard history of the Workers' Party, The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party.
This seems to have upset Richard Sullivan, a journalist with the Sunday World, who managed to devote an entire page in his newspaper yesterday (3 February) to attacking both me and the post.
The authors of the book from which I quoted are Dr Brian Hanley and Scott Millar.  Brian Hanley lectures in history in the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and Scott Millar is a journalist.  The book itself is highly regarded and in 2010 the Political Studies Association of Ireland honoured the authors by awarding them the prestigious Brian Farrell prize for the best political science book published in 2009.
This is the book from which I quoted a short extract and it is this extract which has annoyed Richard Sullivan!  So what was the extract?  According to Hanley and Millar:
The Sunday World remained an outlet for WP publicity and its populist analysis of the political situation was often in line with the party's positions. The paper steered clear of any reference to the actvities of Group B [Official IRA], but its exposes of criminal activity by other loyalist and republican paramilitaries was not without its costs: its Northern editor, Jim Campbell, was badly wounded in a UVF shooting in May 1984.
Based on that short extract I commented:
The silence of the Sunday World about the criminality of the Official IRA contrasted sharply with its focus on the criminality of other paramilitary organisations and is therefore all the more remarkable. Moreover this was no accident. There were people on the staff of the Sunday World who were or had been members of the Workers' Party or the Official IRA. Are we to believe that they had sources of information about every other paramilitary organisation but no sources of information about the Official IRA? I think most people will find that rather hard to accept!
The question becomes all the more interesting in view of a document written in 1989 by Sean Garland to the Communist Party in East Berlin, admitting that the Officials were engaged in criminality to raise money for the party. The recent discovery of this document by the Irish Times sheds a new light on that era of the Officials and the journalists and others who were at various times associated with the Official republican movement.
Richard Sullivan had a whole page at his disposal, so did he mention Hanley and Millar or challenge their book?  No he never mentioned them at all and he did not respond to what they had written.  Here is what Richard Sullivan said in response to my post:
The Minister goes on to allege the Sunday World was a mouthpiece for the Workers Party and even suggests we covered up the activities of the Official IRA.  Both ludicrous statements, as the record of this paper will show.
In fact I merely quoted from a book which was written by two respected authors and which has been in print since 2009.  Whatever Richard Sullivan might think about the 'record' of the Sunday World, it certainly didn't convince the authors of The Lost Revolution.  Furthermore, if Richard Sullivan is so upset by what this book states, why has it taken him so long to deny something that appeared in print three years ago?

That is really the core of his article but in true Sunday tabloid fashion Sullivan manages to fill out an entire page with a lot of irrelevancies, a lot of distractions and a blatant untruth.  The irrelevancies I will dismiss as unworthy of comment but there is one particularly vile untruth.  According to Richard Sullivan: 'Nelson fails to condemn the killing.'
No, Richard, certainly not.  Here is what I said about the murder of Martin O'Hagan and it couldn't be clearer:
Before turning to the subject of this post let me be absolutely clear - human life is given by God and murder is a sin - it is always wrong and those who are guilty of murder should be punished.
Moreover, in regard to the murder of MartinO'Hagan, I used the word 'murder', the word that Gerry Adams did NOT use in relation to the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe.  It should not even be necessary to say that murder is wrong because murder is always wrong.  The use of the word 'murder' says it all.

So once again Richard Sullivan gets his facts wrong!  It is not the first time I have had to correct him and it probably won't be the last.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Murder after murder

Forty years ago, Ulster was in the midst of a cycle of sectarian violence and every day the death toll was rising.  In the year 1973 alone 250 people were killed, 5,018 bombs were planted and there were 1,007 explosions.

On one day, 2 February 1973, three people were killed in Belfast by paramilitary organisations, two on the Springfield Road and one at Ballysillan.
The two who died on the Springfield Road were James Greer, a twenty-one year old Protestant, who was shot dead by republicans.  He was a glazier and was working in the firm of Campbell Brothers on the Springfield Road when two armed men walked into the workshop and lined up the employees.  They singled out Greer, one of only two Protestants working at the firm, and murdered him.  The Protestant was killed and the Roman Catholic staff were ignored.
Also that day Patrick Brady, a twenty-eight year old Roman Catholic, was abducted and shot dead.  At the inquest a detective said it was a confusing case but according to Lost Lives 'reliable loyalist sources' said that the UDA were behind the killing.  Brady had been a member of the Catholic Ex-Servicemen's Association, a nationalist vigilante organisation which described itself as a 'people's army'.
The other victim that day was Robert Burns, an eighteen year old Protestant from the Sunningdale estate and an apprentice mechanic.  He and five others young people had just left the youth club at Eglinton Presbyterian Church and they were standing near the junction of the Oldpark Road and the Ballysillan Road.  IRA gunmen opened fire from a passing car and Robert was heard to shout to the others to get down.  Robert was shot dead by the gunmen and four of his friends were hit by gunfire but survived. Here is what Lost Lives says of the murder:
One of the survivors said the gunfire came from a yellow Mini with two or three people inside.  A short time later an army foot patrol  found two youths inspecting a yellow Mini in a garage in Ballycarry Street, off the Oldpark Road, a mile from the shooting.  A crowd throwing stones and bottles attacked the soldiers, forcing them to withdraw.  When the soldiers returned in an armoured vehicle they came under heavy fire from the same weapon used to kill Robert Burns.
An RUC detective-constable told the inquest that the two youths found with the car and its owner knew nothing about the crime.  The shooting appeared to have been a sectarian assassination, since all those shot were Protestants, he said.  He added that it was in all probability carried out by a republican grouping, probably the IRA.
Three days later, on 5 February, Seamus Gilmore, an eighteen year old Roman Catholic who worked at the Mount Pleasant filling station on the Ballysillan Road, close to Sunningdale, was shot by three loyalist gunmen, believed to have been members of the UVF.  Gilmore lived nearby in Rosscoole Park and it was suggested that the shooting was in retaliation for the earlier killing.
I have detailed the deaths on that awful day as a reminder of what Ulster was like in the early 70s.  There are still people in our society who are intent on violence but thankfully the terrible carnage of those days is in the past.  Nevertheless, in most cases, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice and the families of innocent victims are left with no sense of closure after the loss of their loved ones.
The events of that day are also a reminder of what the campaign by the Provisional IRA was really like.  Sinn Fein and other republicans often argue that there was a particular difference between the IRA campaign and those carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, that loyalist killings were sectarian but that republican killings were not.  Indeed such claims form one strand of the Sinn Fein strategy of rewriting history.
But the murder of James Greer at his workplace and the murder of Robert Burns as he stood with other young friends were as sectarian as they could possibly be.  Sinn Fein must not be allowed to forget and we must continue to press them to acknowledge that the campaign of violence by the Provisional IRA was indeed sectarian.  Republicans seem to think that Protestants are sectarian but that republicans couldn't possibly be sectarian.  The events of that terrible day forty years ago blow that fiction apart.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Alex Maskey at Auschwitz

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in September 2005 as part of a project involving the Belfast Jewish community and supported by Belfast City Council.
Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi concentration and extermination camps during the Second World War and was described by Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler as the place of 'the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe.'

This week at Stormont there was a small exhibition of photographs from Auschwitz as well as an accompanying booklet which contains photographs of Auschzwitz and as short introduction by Alex Maskey.
Jewish victims at Auschwitz
I welcome the fact that Maskey was brought face to face with the horror of Auschwitz and I welcome his visit for a number of reasons.

Recently Gerry Adams apologised for the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe by the IRA and he is now being challenged about the murders of many RUC men in Northern Ireland.  The murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland is no different from the murder of a policeman in the Republic.  Murder is murder and it is wrong.
But Sinn Fein has also to face up to earlier episodes in the history of Irish republicanism and one of those is the Second World War.  During that war, when many Ulstermen and Irishmen were fighting the Nazis and the Fascists in Europe, the IRA collaborated with the Nazis..  They collaborated with the people who were responsible for Auschwitz and every other evil of the Nazi regime.
That is part of the IRA story that republicans want to forget and of course they are good at forgetting what they want to forget.  I have posted before about the collaboration between the IRA and the Nazis and indeed books have been written about it and television programmes have been produced about it.
Moreover it cannot easily be dismissed by the current generation of Sinn Fein as merely some ancient aberration with which they have no connection.  The IRA emphasises and honours the idea of continuity with the past.  They see themselves as another stage in the struggle, building on the struggles of their forebears and they make much of those who can look bace to earlier generations in their families who perhaps fought in the War of Independence or in the ranks of the IRB. 

I hope that members of Sinn Fein will reflect not only on the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps but also the fact that the IRA collaborated with the Nazis, albeit in a wholly incompetent manner.  That incompetence does not in any way minimise the guilt of the republican movement.