One should not speak ill of the dead, but let their deeds speak for them is an old adage (see Shakespeare on Julius Caesar).
Equally, as a Christian, I leave it up to God to judge them. But some of the sycophantic eulogies crawling out from much of the media and ‘has-been’ politicians are beginning to fall into the re-writing of history category.
Indeed, one gets the impression that the ‘anything to preserve the sainted Belfast Agreement’ brigade now have a complete stranglehold on all contemporary commentary.
Equally, the language that is used is now definitely part of the re-writing of history. Does it matter? Well, as Karl Marx once observed: “History tends to repeat itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.”
It does matter if we are to avoid the errors of the past. And to do that one needs honest debate and critical discussion, almost wholly absent both during the Agreement referendum, after and now.
McGuinness was an hardened terrorist in a nasty, squalid and wholly non-legitimate terrorist campaign that murdered and maimed in a most cowardly manner and whose sole purpose was to destroy.
There was no war here: war is a legally recognised state in international and domestic law, terrorism defies all the legal requirements of war and other legally recognised forms of conflict and is rightly universally condemned as criminal and treated as such in the UK, the Republic and internationally.
And McGuinness was a leading terrorist who had rank and file credibility within the IRA because he had blood on his hands.
The real peace process, that drove McGuinness and his fellow terrorists, was a long arduous, often unglamorous but highly successful countre-terrorist campaign conducted by the security forces, operating wholly within the rule of law and liberal democratic government – the very things the terrorists sought to destroy. Because the security forces won convincingly the terrorists were forced to concede defeat.
The somewhat dubious ‘peace process’ since 1998 (no one told the electorate that it was only a process) was based on mass murderers getting off virtually scot free, whilst keeping their weapons and being guaranteed soft, cushy and well-paid jobs in Stormont.
Concurrently they were able to continue with their highly profitable organised crime rackets. No wonder McGuinness was pleased with it. Meanwhile, they could continue to undermine the state from within as part of an ‘inclusive’ executive with the latent threat of violence behind them (IRA arms and organisation still existed) if they could not get their way.
There was an old joke about Hitler: ‘Hitler wanted peace, a piece more of this and a piece more of that.’
James Dingley, Belfast BT9