Is RHI really a bigger scandal than the terrorism of Martin McGuinness and the IRA?

Martin McGuinness, left and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams carrying the coffin of former senior IRA commander Brian Keenan in west Belfast in 2008. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Martin McGuinness, left and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams carrying the coffin of former senior IRA commander Brian Keenan in west Belfast in 2008. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

In the last wee while, I have found, the unrelenting auld guff written about Martin McGuinness nauseating.

In the context of RHI, the contrast in attitude to actual terrorism and to implementation failures or even potential fraud is bizarre.

Aileen Quinton, whose mother was murdered by the IRA

Aileen Quinton, whose mother was murdered by the IRA

How does an administration, which includes unrepentant terrorists, get brought down by RHI?

The RHI scandal has rightly created a furore. It is a very serious matter. However even if we ignore the murders and maimings, what was and is the cost to the public purse of McGuinness and his ilk?

I do not subscribe to the “rot in hell” school of thought as I cannot see how someone, regardless of how vile, suffering eternally with no scope for change, helps anything.

However I do find it preferable on a moral level to the eulogising pap.

Alberta Quinton, mother of Aileen Quinton, in her RAF days. Alberta was killed in the 1987 IRA bomb in Enniskillen at the age of 72

Alberta Quinton, mother of Aileen Quinton, in her RAF days. Alberta was killed in the 1987 IRA bomb in Enniskillen at the age of 72

Similarly, although I would wish that any terrorist had died instead of their innocent victims, I don’t wish him dead now.

Generally, when such a person does die, I don’t mourn him. I mourn his innocent victims and indeed mourn what he could have been.

My father once said to me as a young child, “you should never hate people, just the things they do”.

So although I hate what McGuinness stands for, I can honestly say that I wish him and all mankind the best.

The scene of the Enniskillen bomb seconds after the blast. Picture Pacemaker

The scene of the Enniskillen bomb seconds after the blast. Picture Pacemaker

We all can do with improving but for people as evil as the Bogside Butcher, the priority of “the best” is that they cease to be evil, not that their health improves.

If McGuinness had repented in a meaningful way, it would be a different matter. The “the best” could have more focus on his physical wellbeing.

There have been many reports linking him to my mother’s murder in the Poppy Day massacre including Clarke’s From Guns to Government and evidence to the Northern Ireland Select Committee about the HET investigator being forbidden to question him about it,

So I might still have found it difficult to deal with him as an individual.

First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in 2007. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in 2007. Photo: Paul Faith/PA Wire

However, “difficult” doesn’t really matter. “Immoral” does.

Martin McGuinness repenting would involve ceasing to eulogise IRA terror and terrorists, admitting that it was all morally wrong and passing on all information about any serious crime that he was involved in or knows about.

The continuing failure so to do shows that he has not changed where it matters and where it should have mattered to Paisley et al.

How do a few tactical political changes render that continuing omission OK?

How is it not a crime in itself?

McGuinness hasn’t made much of a “journey” or decommissioned his mindset in terms of justifying the slaughter his IRA was involved in.

Patsy Gillespie made a journey. One of the most horrendous journeys made in Northern Ireland.

Whenever McGuinness goes to his grave, in contrast to his innocent victims, the major tragedy about him will be how he lived, not that he died.

• Aileen Quinton’s mother Alberta, 72, was murdered in the 1987 IRA atrocity at Enniskillen. Like many other IRA massacres, no-one was ever convicted for the murders