Irish Nationalism still to complete divorce from terrorism

Politicians were united in their condemnation of the despicable murder of Prison Officer David Black, but contemporaneous events show that “political nationalism” (to invert a well used phrase slightly) still has a long way to go before it completes its divorce from terrorism.

Firstly, like it or not, there are still “dissidents” out there capable of appalling and futile savagery. That much we know.

Then, however, there is Sinn Fein intervening in the operations of the PSNI when those operations go against it. If the arrest of Padraig Wilson over another despicable murder nearly a decade ago has caused them such angst, what would any revelations from Enniskillen a quarter of a century ago do?

Additionally, we have a senior Fianna Fail representative visiting a terrorist serving a sentence having been convicted of attempted murder. Politicians in the Republic of Ireland have supposedly moved on further than Northerners, but there was scant evidence of that there.

Surely worst of all, however, was the SDLP’s decision to endorse a motion seeking the freedom of the same attempted murderer, in the presence of the man he had attempted to murder. This followed on from its Leader’s decision to seek his early release in a meeting with the Secretary of State in May.

The SDLP claimed it is seeking Gerry McGeough’s release because his ongoing detention could be “exploited by dissidents“. There is an extremely dangerous logic there – that, essentially, Republican terrorists should be held to lower standards from the rest of us under the Rule of Law, and even let off with attempted murder, in case application of the Rule of Law be “exploited“. (Of course, they then seemed to contradict themselves over Padraic Wilson, so who knows what is going on?)

There is an even more ludicrous logic there: the only conceivable reason for releasing Gerry McGeough earlier than the minimum two years he is due to serve is that he carried out the attack before the Agreement. In other words: the SDLP believes we should stop seeking justice for anything associated with the Troubles. Is that what it really believes? If not, why is its Leader busying himself with petitions seeking the release of a convicted terrorist who is rightly serving his time? Why are its Councillors advocating an attempted murderer’s release directly in front of his victim?

Irish Nationalism – as a whole – continues to romanticise terrorism. Thus, it is hard to take seriously its words of condemnation after the appalling assassination of an innocent family man – after all, will this not just come to be romanticised too, in due course? If those guilty are convicted, will the SDLP not be petitioning for their early release too, in due course? What is the difference?

Until very recently, I had said the SDLP’s short-term future was safe because at least there was a clear differentiation between it and Sinn Fein. But now there isn’t. When it comes to trusting terrorists or the State, the SDLP goes with the terrorists. When it comes to choosing between the guilty Irish Republican or the victim, the SDLP goes with the guilty Irish Republican. When it comes to romanticising terrorism, the SDLP goes right along with it – even in front of the victim’s face.

There must be people in the SDLP who are appalled by their own party’s stance in support of convicted terrorists. They need to speak up quickly – for the sake of their cause, for the sake of their party, and for the sake of basic morality.



3 thoughts on “Irish Nationalism still to complete divorce from terrorism

  1. The SDLP disdain for internment is understandable, many members of the party were interned and were searched and were put through indignities, like the DUP it too has had members attacked by terrorists and has been vulnerable to terrorists from both sides. Arlene Foster’s attack on the SDLP for this matter was utterly disgraceful, it is an attack on the Stephen Gault who said his revenge would be “due process” not throwing back to the quick trials, easy answers and pound of flesh mentality of the Civil Rights campaign. Perhaps it’s that revenge mentality that unionism wants to romantise.

    I assume the Fianna Fáil member is Eammon Ó Cúiv who has fallen out with Martin’s leadership, it’s a load of fuss over nothing. Trimble visited prisoners as has the Paisleys as have senior government officials from the UK and Ireland, as has David Ford. It seems Alliance may have a fundamental problem with that Christian teaching on the visitation of prisoners because prisoners should be wearing sack clothes …. Wouldn’t that be a throw back to the hunger strikes?

    Both the SDLP and FF have been targeted by the IRA in the past, have had victims of loyalist violence and have condemned terrorism and draconian measures which were the propaganda ticket used to justify them killing more Catholics than the loyalists and armed forces put together. To say that the SDLP and Fianna Fáil support the dissidents is ridiculous, to say that SDLP members are sympathetic to the Enniskillen bomber or any others because of the principle of putting objective justice before wrath and punishment. These decisions are painful for the SDLP, who have been targeted by loyalists, republicans and the state for suggesting that terrorism and internment are not the answers,

    These are sick allegations used by the UUP, the DUP and the Alliance Party politicising the dead for votes.

  2. Alban’s controversial statement in full, speaking in a factual capacity as a former solicitor ….

    The SDLP has never sided with would-be murderers or with murderers. The SDLP has always taken the position that it will apply the principles of justice to any case. In Mr McGeough’s case, we believe that there are complex legal issues that should be addressed. Indeed, at this time, the legal process in relation to Mr McGeough’s case has not been exhausted. My understanding is that there will be an appeal to the Supreme Court. Currently, our courts have dealt with those issues and have rejected the arguments that have been put forward. In essence, what Mr McGeough and his legal advisers are saying is that he was dealt with in an arbitrary and capricious manner in relation to the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy.

    Mr McGeough spent many years in prison abroad. However, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and under the terms of the legislation, that is not taken into consideration in relation to remission, as far as offences are concerned.

    If you serve a sentence in Britain, in the Irish Republic or in Northern Ireland, all would be taken into consideration, and remission would be given. That is the essence of Mr McGeough’s case.

    To which Lunn having no legal experience replied with ad hominum arguments that would have no weight in court

    How can that party reconcile that record, for which I give it credit, with trying to support the case for Gerry McGeough? I have heard the legal and historical arguments. Frankly, it just does not wash. Mr McGeough is guilty of attempted murder. He is a lucky man — under the terms of the agreement, he will serve only two years instead of 10 or 20 years.?

    In the case of Marian Price — Marian McGlinchey — I have some sympathy because the lady has been locked away for a year and a half now and we really do not know on what grounds.

    And Foster’s response, playing politics with the dead:-

    It saddens me a great deal when I hear people trying to excuse and push forward meaningless arguments in this House. We have talked a little about the Enniskillen bomb today, and I am happy to hear the good news that the Historical Enquiries Team has passed a file on the Enniskillen bomb to the police to continue their investigations. I pose this question: if we are able to bring about justice for the Enniskillen bomb victims, what will the SDLP do in respect of that person, if he is brought before the court? Will it go out of its way to try to get him the royal prerogative of justice, as it has done in this case, or will it say that the matter should be left to the courts and to due process?

    clearly forgetting that in the British system royal prerogative comes under “due process” and ignoring a UUP amendment calling for …

    “all elected representatives and their families who have been targeted by paramilitaries throughout the Troubles, including “. and by extension SDLP members like Paddy Wilson as well, and indeed all those paramilitaries killed in tit-for-tat vigilantism.

    beforehand, promoting a hierarchy of victims.

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