Remembering the days 
when the IRA did go away

Bobby Storey
Bobby Storey

It’s good to talk. We all know that. But there are times when talking deeply offends and I’m not the only one who, last week, had to listen to the tripe emitted from the lips of Sinn Fein’s senior republican Bobby Storey.

He was talking about butterflies, likening the provisional IRA’s so-called disappearance off the scene to changing from a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Sandra Chapman

Sandra Chapman

Surely he can’t have been referring to the beautiful harmless Red Admirals which will shortly descend on my sedum plants or the creamy white common butterflies which delight us each spring flitting around the garden. These gorgeous, gentle creatures remind us when each new season is upon us. We love them so much that this summer season just past saw butterflies on fashion items, cushions, even Wellington boots. As quickly as they come they disappear to return again another year.

Not in a million seasons would anyone of us ever put them into a violent context because next time any of us sees a butterfly it will conjure up Storey’s weird imagery. How dare he use these delightful spring/summer visitors in this way. Isn’t it less than a year since the very same Republican declared ‘We ain’t going away you know.’

His leader Gerry Adams said much the same a few years before that. These high profile republicans can’t be trusted. If their warring cronies have ‘flown away’ then how come the PSNI and the Secretary of State think otherwise, as do the rest of us?

This is at the heart of our current impasse at Stormont. Can talks make everything better? There are so many victims who feel they will never get justice. Storey’s pathetic butterfly analogy has rubbed salt in their wounds bringing fresh grief.

In saying that there is evidence that the IRA did fade away in the past. I’m talking about what we once called the Official IRA. I was born in a mixed religious community where nationalism and republicanism was rife. In the more rural fringes lived people from the ‘Officials’ as we called them who were steeped in war mongering to get rid of all things British.

What we came to know as terrorism in which some of those local ‘Officials’, allegedly, were involved increased in the province up to the 1950s . As children we knew where the `Officials’ lived and avoided those areas.

These were men who went to their Chapel every Sunday. But then those ‘Troubles’ came to an end. They had lasted nearly half a century and the Official IRA seemed just to fade away.

The ones we knew of became old men who tended their gardens and handed out sweets occasionally. They preferred to walk in the twilight of an evening rather than daytime when locals were around. They may still have wanted rid of the Brits but were no longer active in that pursuit.

Twenty years later another generation from various parts of the Province became the provisional IRA. These are the ones Storey and Adams want us to believe no longer exist.

Catherine McCartney whose brother Robert was stabbed to death 10 years ago by the IRA has described Storey’s caterpillar and butterfly claims ‘so childish and immature they can’t be taken seriously.’ She has summed it up well.

Storey and Adams might think they are big, powerful men – Adams in particular since he has had the ear of American presidents. Yet they must realise that people are laughing behind their backs. We can’t take any of their claims seriously. They should take a leaf out of the book of the old ‘Officials’ whose dreams of a united Ireland never materialised but who earned some respect for giving up on the violence.