Modern-day revisionism is not exclusive to 26-county political parties
Jim Gibney’s article (January 2) on the first action in the War of Independence in January 1919 and the revisionism surrounding it, while grounded in error and laced with irony, was particularly topical although absolutely no one familiar with the area would ever associate Soloheadbeg with Clonmel; it would be akin to referencing Bellaghy from Coleraine, Clonoe from Omagh or Camlough from Craigavon.
Stan D O’Brien’s recent publication John Joe’s Story, based on his father John Joe O’Brien’s account of the that period is completely essential reading for those who wish to fully understand the Galtee Battalion of East Limerick and the 3rd Tipperary Brigade’s campaign which relentlessly hounded crown forces throughout South East Limerick, North Cork, all along the Glen of Aherlow and beyond from their Galbally/Ballylanders base. John Joe and his brother Ned had been central in providing safe billets, transportation, munitions and intelligence in that theatre of operations. Ned, of course, also executed RIC Constable Enright immediately upon him putting a revolver to Vol Séan Hogan’s head during the daring Knocklong ambush which freed Hogan while he was being transported to Cork gaol. Their close comrades Ned Foley and Patrick Moran were subsequently the last two republicans executed by British forces although the latter had played no role in the rescue.
Modern-day revisionism, which has seen the current Dublin administration list British military and local collaborators alongside Ireland’s patriot dead on the insulting Glasnevin ‘Memorial’, now seems to be seeping southwest as attempts are made to ensure that volunteers who fought to free Ireland are to be remembered together with those they killed at Soloheadbeg, as if no ideological difference had ever existed between them. Such revisionism is of course not exclusive to 26-county political parties. New Sinn Féin (NSF) have become master craftsmen at the dark art. Michelle O’Neill, a successor to a job which never existed – Sinn Féin leader in the north – now tells us that the Provisional movement was always “totally committed to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement” when that was absolutely not what was sold in small “family meetings” to republicans in the late 1990s.
Their acolytes also repeatedly preach that the (dis)agreement is ‘sacrosanct’ while genuine republicans afford only the 1916 Proclamation that singular honour and respect. Other NSF surrogates have been reduced to writing pleading ‘Letters to Leo’ seemingly ignorant of the central counter revolutionary role that his political ilk have played over the last century beginning with the execution of 77 comrades of the Soloheadbeg men.
Maybe it suits ná scriobhneoirí to remain as much oblivious to that history as it does Jim to ignore the modern ‘traitor’ outburst of his erstwhile comrade Martin McGuinness when accompanied by the ‘Clontiberet invader’ and the head of her majesty’s armed constabulary outside Stormont Castle for which he shortly later felt the need to seek approval from an ‘OFMDFM’ official. Perhaps Jim, ignoring your own political contortions may well be the purest and most dangerous form of all revisionism.
Galbally, Co Tyrone
Can murder ever be justified by political context?
Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill and Gerry Kelly (The Irish News, October 4) repeat the ‘fake news’ that the UK government and not the so-called republican paramilitaries, was the main protagonists in the Troubles. Let the independent statistics speak for themselves: killed by republican paramilitaries 2,059; loyalist paramilitaries 1,019; British security forces 363; persons unknown 82; Irish security forces five: total 3,528. The IRA was the biggest killer. Among its murder victims were 644 civilians, including 80 children.
Sinn Féin says the IRA only resorted to violence, because there was no political alternative. What nonsense. SF was never debarred from contesting elections. Its chosen first option was to support violence. At a SF conference (November 13 1989), Martin McGuinness asked: “Is there a group of people within the republican movement, or within Sinn Féin, who believe that the freedom of Ireland can be won through political involvement or in elections?... It’s a total and absolute nonsense.”
When PIRA planted the Shankill bomb, killing 10 of his constituents, Gerry Adams had been MP for West Belfast for 10 years. That murderous act resulted in loyalist tit-for-tat attacks at Greysteel and Loughinisland – in each case all murder victims were completely innocent civilians.
Mr McGuinness went on to rightly condemn dissident republicans for the more recent murders of police officers, Ronan Kerr and Stephen Carroll – but refused to admit the IRA was wrong when it similarly killed more than 300 police officers during the Troubles, claiming the context was different. Is murder ever justified by political context?
Downpatrick, Co Down
So while the intrepid taoiseach Leo Varadkar was verbally indulging himself with the ubiquitous backstop at the UK’s expense, he was paving the way to a no deal which would leave the Republic’s farming and fishing industry up the creek without a paddle.
His somnolent Ministry of Agriculture is now warning Brussels that in the event of a no deal the Republic will demand mega money in the form of aid, extending to hundreds of millions of Euro between the beef and fishing industry, a situation that EU diplomats fear will trigger a domino effect and similar demands will come from the other 23 cap-in-hand countries. Now is the time for a less euphoric Taoiseach Varadkar to meet messrs Juncker and Tusk and say, ‘Could I have a quiet word about that ludicrous border backstop?’
Emigration gravy train
While it is true that the European Union has run the Irish State into the ground, the reality is that the British still maintain proxy-rule over the not-so-free state and allowed Brussels and Frankfurt to run amok while hoodwinking the public over the fallacy of ‘living the dream’.
All this was done to maintain the emigration gravy train. An attempt to water down the English identity in England.
The fact that the IRA and UVF prisoners were willing to negotiate a federal Ireland 30 years ago, at a time when Tory MPs wanted to withdraw British servicemen in Northern Ireland on a whim, underlines just how much the British have been lied to by the House of Commons.
This has all been done on Whitehall’s watch.
Ardboe, Co Tyrone
Balancing the scales
In reply to Brian Kennaway’s assertion (January 3) that Gerry Fitt would turn in his grave if he witnessed the transformation of the SDLP into the Republican Party. If it was so then that might help balance the scales a little to the people who saw the transformation of the socialist Gerry Fitt to Lord Fitt of the British realm.
Expression of thanks
Friends of the Cancer Centre would like to thank the residents and visitors of Belfast for their support during the charity’s street collection on Saturday, September 22 which raised a fantastic £756.15.
The money raised will be used to support local cancer patients and their families.
Friends of the Cancer Centre
Belfast City Hospital