It is noticeable that Gerry Adams rarely speaks in Dáil Éireann these days without mentioning ‘The War’ as if it was some kind of event which freed Ireland from British occupation and changed the political and social landscape of Ireland.
Sadly, as Gerry spends the sunset years of his life reminiscing and rewriting recent history others will recall their version of events as something quite different, even a disaster for the Irish Nation.
For many, it is felt better to let bygones be bygones until some individual attempts to rewrite history and then it is time to speak out if only to put the record straight and hopefully dissuade for others from making similar mistakes again.
Anyone who still takes Mr Adams seriously will recall that during the long and dark days of the violence the IRA killed more innocent Catholics than the combined forces of the British Crown, hardly something to be proud of and certainly not an honourable part of the so-called ‘War’ that Gerry nostalgically speaks of in Dáil Éireann with increasing frequency.
How much better it would have been to have supported John Hume, Seamus Mallon and other more worthy individuals who led the power-sharing government of 1974 which had within its grasp a Council of Ireland, the emergence of an all-Ireland police service and many other features which would have brought about the unity of the Irish people, Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.
Sadly during the period of the power-sharing executive the IRA exploded more bombs than during any other period of our history. Out of those tragic times came so-called defenders of the Protestant community; savage and murderous criminal elements masquerading as paramilitaries and using the IRA as excuses for their acts of genocide against innocent people north and south of the border.
No one can say for certain what might have happened had the IRA – of which Gerry was never a member – hadn’t emerged. We do know, however, that their existence was of no benefit to the Irish people who found themselves beleaguered and undefended.
Today we still have ‘peace walls’ in Belfast and many more invisible ‘peace walls’ across the North as a direct result of the bitterness and hatred spawned out of our recent history and not a sign of Irish Unity despite the promise by Martin McGuinness that we would all be free by 2016!
Accepting the truth is not easy - it never was - but for as long as individuals like Gerry Adams go on talking about ‘The War’ others will build bonfires higher and higher and paramilitaries will still be exploiting communities because the unity of purpose among our people is missing and that sad fact is sadly perpetuated by both SF and the DUP.
For those of us who backed John Hume and Seamus Mallon to transform Irish history we have our regrets that their endeavours were pulled down by both loyalists and the IRA and for what? To talk about the war, paint the streets or continue with the bloodshed? Hopefully not.
John Dallat, SDLP MLA, East Londonderry