Irish-American politician Kevin J Boyle: I condemn only IRA ‘errors’ like Kingsmills

One of the most vocal US commentators on Troubles matters has said he is willing to condemn IRA “errors” such as the Kingsmill massacre – but stopped short of condemning its campaign in general.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 3:30 pm
Kevin J Boyle (left) and his brother Brendan, listening to an address by US President Joe Biden

Kevin J Boyle – a highly-connected figure in Irish-American politics – was responding to questions from the News Letter about his stance on the republican group’s violence.

The News Letter has reported a number of times in recent months about remarks Mr Boyle has made on social media about Northern Ireland.

He is a Democratic member of the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania.

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As such, he helps govern the fifth biggest state in the USA with around 13 million residents.

But his connections go higher still – he is also the brother of fellow Democrat Brendan Boyle, a serving member of the US Congress.

Last December he had said: “The British government – through its intelligence, army and police – ran the UDA and UVF in the north of Ireland but still want to hide that fact.

“[The] British government announcement there’d still be no investigation into human rights lawyer Pat Finucane’s murder is more of them covering up.”

In March he commented on Brexit and the Irish Sea border, saying: “Sounds like Sammy Wilson of the DUP is still heartbroken his hero Donald Trump didn’t win re-election.

“Fortunately for everyone else, President Biden’s administration will uphold the Good Friday Agreement and its core tenants [sic].”

And earlier this month he declared: “Forty years ago Bobby Sands died on hunger strike in a British jail demanding recognition as political prisoner.

“The current campaign for a free and united Ireland wouldn’t have been possible without the patriotic sacrifices he and all those other Irish Republicans in 1981 heroically took.”

Questioned about these hunger strike remarks by the News Letter, Mr Boyle elaborated: “Bobby Sands died during the midst of undeniable political conflict in Ireland.

“The facts related to his death are attributable to the efforts of the British Government to criminalize political prisoners.

“Undercutting this British argument of the conflict being criminal not political is the efforts the intelligence agencies along with RUC Special Branch took to help the UVF and UDA while they murdered innocent Irish Catholic civilians”.

He was then asked: “Do you condemn the campaign of the Provisional IRA?”

He responded: “I’ve intentionally singled out loyalist terrorism for two main reasons.

“The first relates to the fact state terrorism deserves the most scrutiny.

“British Intelligence and RUC Special Branch assistance of the UVF and UDA as they murdered hundreds of innocent Irish Catholic civilians is reprehensible.

“Second, the UVF and UDA overwhelmingly attacked civilian targets like their mass casualty attacks at Loughlinisland, Greysteel and Sean Graham bookmakers in south Belfast.

“While the IRA were different than loyalists in relation to the targeting of civilians I have no hesitation in condemning and opposing when they errored [sic] like in Enniskillen in 1987 and Kingsmills in 1976 and other times.”

Ulster University’s CAIN website states that, from 1969 to 2001, the IRA killed at least 1,705 people. The UVF and UDA killed at least 428 and 260.

Of those IRA killings, the biggest single category of victims was civilians – numbering at least 491. Meanwhile the UVF killed at least 351 civilians, and the UDA 197.

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