“In Northern Ireland”, Peter Hain opined in his autobiography Outside In (pictured left), there is “always a crisis around the corner” (p.323). There is more of a feel of truth than truism to the statement, especially as the on-the-runs scandal dominated recent headlines (before being eclipsed by developments in the Crimea). I’d be surprised if a good few Irish viewers watching the BBC 2 drama miniseries 37 Days, on the slide towards the First World War, haven’t felt there is something queasily apposite in the scenes where the UK Cabinet’s attention is wrenched away from the “muddy by-ways of Fermanagh and Tyrone” and towards a developing European Crisis. Continue reading “What the Dogs in the Street Know: On the Runs and Hanging Peter Hain Out to Dry”
Martin McGuiness today offered to hold talks with anti-Good Friday Agreement Republicans who remain committed to violence. But could these talks occur and if so, where would they lead? McGuiness, once a firm proponent of violence, threw down the gauntlet to anti-GFA Republicans stating:
My message to those who remain committed to violence is that it is not much of an achievement to think that the only thing you have shown the capability to break are two fine women’s hearts.
This statement can be, and indeed was likely intended to be interpreted in two ways. To most this is a simple appeal to the humanity of those still supporting violence. However it must be born in mind that McGuiness is no soft hearted pacifist. At the 1986 PSF Ard Feis Martin McGuinness gave a speech in favour a motion to recognise Leinster House where he stated: Continue reading “Dissident talks?”
The murder yesterday of Ronan Kerr, a Catholic PSNI officer, by violent Republicans has brought condemnation from across the political spectrum and left many asking who could believe that the seemingly arbitrary killing of unarmed police officers could advance the cause of Irish unity. The blame for this violence has often been pinned on a ‘blood lust’ and those responsible have been accused of having ‘no strategy’. Although it is true that these groups maintain that violent resistance is a duty (post to follow in the coming days on the ideology of violent Republicans), this violence is not arbitrarily applied.
The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland today released its report into how the RUC responded to their suspicions that a Catholic priest was involved in the bombing of Claudy, Co. Derry on 31 July 1972. The bombing, which was carried out by the IRA, caused the death of nine people and over thirty further injuries. According to the report, which is summarised here, the RUC became aware that a Catholic priest–Fr James Chesney–was suspected of involvement in the bombings and, as part of the investigation, decided to approach the Catholic hierarchy. Following these discussions Fr Chesney was moved to a parish in Donegal and was not arrested, questioned or charged with any offences relating to the bombing. The Ombudsman’s report found that the investigation was deficient for its failure to pursue a line of questioning and investigation that would have either confirmed suspicions or resulted in Fr Chesney being eliminated from the investigation. This report reveals not only the commitment–seen in many other contexts–of the Catholic hierarchy to immunise members of the Church from police investigation, Continue reading “The Claudy Bombings: Report of the NI Police Ombudsman”
In the aftermath of the Megrahi contretemps in the UK which at present shows little sign of abating, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been forced to row back from his earlier refusnik position by offering “dedicated Foreign Office support” to the families of victims of IRA bombings whose campaign for compensation from Libya has been given an unexpected fillip by the controversy. The IRA’s relationship with President Gaddaffi first became apparent in March 1973 when the Irish navy boarded The Claudia off the Waterford coast and found five tonnes of weaponry supplied by the Libyan government. Semtex supplied by Libya became the IRA’s useful weapon is attacks such as the Enniskillen bomb in 1987 which killed 11, the Ballygawley bus bombing in 1988 which killed eight soldiers, the mortar attack at Downing Street in 1991 when the IRA tried to wipe out John Major’s Cabinet, the Warrington bombing and about 250 other booby-trap bombings.