Just recently I was asked a question by someone who self-defines himself as; ‘a garden centre Prod.’
He asked: what are you and these victims bleating on about? Why should any of this rewriting of the past matter to me, it really has no relevance to my life.
George Orwell once said; ‘Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.’
The core argument advanced by apologists of violence is that: ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’
Victims and survivors are content to let the facts speak for themselves. The context behind the IRA’s campaign must first be understood. The objectives of the civil rights campaign were met in full and The Sunningdale Agreement was on the table. History confirms that ‘republicans’ were not interested in a Northern Ireland of equals, rather their driving force was to accelerate the advancement of a united Ireland through violent, criminal and terrorist guerrilla warfare tactics.
However if we assume the Provo mantra and consider that what happened here was ‘war’ then The Hague should be bursting at the seams with individuals being brought up for war crimes against humanity.
PIRA, the INLA and latterly RIRA, CIRA etc talk about the mistreatment and discrimination suffered by republicans while imprisoned in the Maze or Maghaberry but is it not the case that ultimately these republican prisoners walk out of jail into the arms of their families and supporters?
What did PIRA do with its prisoners? Where are they? The answer is that some were murdered and secretly buried in unmarked bogland. The current Assembly speaker Sinn Fein’s Mitchell McLaughlin said Jean McConville’s execution was not a crime but due process carried out by the true government of Ireland – the IRA and convicted PIRA killer Brendan Curran has remarked that internal Sinn Fein thinking was that the Disappeared were “executed touts”.
Others taken prisoner were murdered and then dumped on border roads having been interrogated and subjected to torture beyond words. This represents the gravest breach of the Geneva Convention concerning the treatment of prisoners within a ‘war’ scenario.
The targeting of the civilian population (Birmingham, Kingsmill, La Mon, Darkley, Enniskillen, the placing of bombs under school buses or in centres of population, the indiscriminate murder of men, women and children, kneecappings and other ‘punishment beatings’ are further assaults upon the Geneva Convention).
The IRA’s Green Book/Constitution was not compliant with the ‘Right to Life’ as laid down in Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Rather it encouraged the taking of life. It refers to: “a war of attrition being waged against enemy personnel which is aimed at causing as many casualties and deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their people at home for their withdrawal and a bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy’s financial interest in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term financial investment in our country”. It also allows for “defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers”.
Put simply, internal culture within the IRA was contrary to the Geneva Convention with self-appointed courts and executioners justified within. The same attitude exists in connection with sexual abuse and terror victims – protect the power of the organisation at all costs.
Protecting the integrity of the past is the best way of ensuring a sustainable peace is embedded and genuine conciliation forged as we face the future together.
Victims and survivors won’t assent to the re-writing of the past - they won’t give control of the past or the future to those who have ravaged this society in the name of ‘politics’.
The great Benjamin Franklin once said ‘justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are’.
Waken up ‘garden centre Prod’.
• Kenny Donaldson is spokesperson for Innocent Victims United