Ken Funston: We must never let any revisionist Troubles agenda win out

Following a period of conflict in any country, all sides attempt to justify their position with a somewhat jaundiced view of the past.

The aftermath of the Enniskillen bombing
The aftermath of the Enniskillen bombing

Our recent history was dominated by sectarian strife during the Troubles with the security forces attempting to keep a lid on the situation.

We are now led to believe that it actually was a ‘glorious war against inequality,’ and those who prowled the night with murder in their heart were actual freedom fighters.

Revisionism may be described as the theory or practice of revising one’s attitude to a previously accepted situation or point of view; it is a re-interpretation of the moral meaning of the historical record.

Ken Funston

We are now assaulted daily with an opinion that is somewhat different to what actually occurred.

I listened recently with interest to Good Morning Ulster on November 9, when Noel Thompson had writer/journalist Peter Taylor and Tommy McKearney, the convicted IRA murderer, as guests.

I was somewhat surprised with the latitude given to both guests by the interviewer whilst they discussed the atrocity committed by the IRA at the Enniskillen Cenotaph in 1987.

McKearney commented the Enniskillen bomb “was devastating as far as the IRA is concerned”.

Ken Funston

I’d suggest it was more devastating for the affected Enniskillen families and the wider community in the area.

How devastating would the bomb in Tullyhommon have been is today unquantifiable.

This is McKearney’s attempt at making the bombers and the IRA the victims; no thought was given to the real victims.

Peter Taylor goes on to say “I don’t think the intention of the bombing was to kill civilians; the target was the security forces who were at the cenotaph for the Poppy Day parade”.

As an experienced journalist, and his research would indicate this, PIRA always carried out reconnaissance in their operations.

Yes, Mr T,aylor, local people assisted in the placing of the bomb and not, as you suggest, outsiders who didn’t really understand what they were doing.

They would have been fully aware that it was civilians who stood beside the Reading Rooms, and they were totally indifferent to whether they murdered civilians and/or members of the security forces.

Mr Taylor went on to say “the deaths of the civilians obviously lies with the IRA, but in particular with the active service unit which I think was a cross-border unit who planted the bomb in the library in front of which many civilians were standing”.

I’d suggest Mr Taylor would also be fully aware there were a number of other IRA units involved in this operation, and local guides assisted in scouting routes and guiding the bomb to its destination.

McKearney then goes on to say “there never was a policy of killing innocent civilians”.

Now I cannot speculate on the BBC’s standpoint on this, but why was this statement not challenged?

I don’t have to list the many hundreds of pre-planned operations where the IRA targeted and murdered civilians, including my own brother, yet the BBC gave this platform to McKearney and Taylor to give this interpretation of the past that bears no resemblance to what really happened.

Mr Thompson at one point asked: “Do you think they were murdered?” McKearney replied “I think they’re killed obviously in the course of the conflict; I’d always be reluctant to use the term murder”.

I am at a loss to understand McKearney’s mentality, and if in his mind no-one was murdered throughout the Troubles, why are republicans pursuing retired members of the security forces and demanding public inquiries and Article 2 inquests?

What is abundantly clear is that whilst many commentators refer to the re-writing of history, this advance of revisionism is being assisted by organisations and individuals who should be more responsible in their reporting.

Ken Funston is the advocacy manager with the South East Fermanagh Foundation