In his poem ‘Lies’, the 20th century Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote: “Lying to the young is wrong. Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.” These words are entirely appropriate when thinking about the age of the people chanting IRA slogans in Co Tyrone last weekend.
The scenes captured on video of IRA eulogising by teenagers and young people in their early twenties in Dromore, Co Tyrone, at an event taking place at the same as the Ulster Fleadh, were both depressing and disturbing.
The organisers of the Ulster Fleadh deserve credit for totally distancing their festival from these disgraceful scenes, which was part of an event totally ‘unaffiliated’ from the official programme. But the sight of youngsters, most of whom were not even born when the Belfast Agreement was secured and the paramilitary cease-fires were declared, raises serious questions about how history, legacy, truth and lies are being deliberately distorted in the post-peace process era.
It was apposite that Ulster Unionist Fermanagh/South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott focused his reaction on the youth of those singing ‘Up the ‘Ra’ at this celebration of republican violence. Mr Elliott lived through a time when the IRA’s border campaign – blatant sectarian, ethnic cleansing – was at its bloodiest. He had friends and constituents butchered by the IRA and knows the realities of the Provos’ murderous project. Those who were whooping and hollering in praise of the IRA’s so called ‘armed struggle’ have no personal memory, let alone a grip on reality, about that terror. In a sense, who can blame a generation of young nationalists, or at least a section of them, for spouting this propaganda if the party that represents the majority of the nationalist electorate still glorifies the killers responsible for atrocities from Enniskillen to Claudy(the 50th anniversary of which was marked yesterday)?
Sinn Fein continues “lying to the young” about the IRA’s immoral, futile, criminal terrorist offensive against democracy. Their sanctification of murder and mayhem poisons the souls of a new generation.