Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Has everybody been taking crazy pills?

I don't know whether non-Brits have been following the case of the murder of Robert McCartney in Ulster. It has resulted - in combination with the recent massive IRA bank robbery - in extreme pressure being placed on the IRA and Sinn Fein. The chronology is bizarre and has just taken on a more bizarre twist.

  • Shortly after the murder, the McCartney family (who come from a staunch Catholic Republican area) took the extremely brave move of coming forward and saying that a) the IRA was behind the murder and b) the IRA was also actively intimidating witnesses from going to the police.
  • Sinn Fein spokesmen denied the IRA had anything to do with it.
  • It then became glaringly apparent that the IRA was up to its neck in it, at which point Sinn Fein's stance segued into the position that, yes, the IRA might have had something to do with it, but that it was not officially sanctioned.
  • In spite of repeated attempts to get the words to pass their lips, Sinn Fein spokesmen danced around the head of a pin for a number of days avoiding stating that witnesses should go to the police.
  • As pressure mounted on Sinn Fein-IRA, the IRA finally released a statement announcing that it had expelled those involved in the murder. This was widely seen from all quarters as a massively belated and inadequate sop in response to escalating public outrage (Sinn Fein's annual conference was picketed by protesters and the press has been as negative as I've ever known it - even the BBC seems to have lumbered off the fence). The IRA still refused to hand those responsible over to the authorities and Sinn Fein spokesmen continued to engage in rhetorical gymnastics whenever the question of whether witnesses should go to the authorities was raised.
  • Now, in another wacky twist, it seems that senior members of the IRA have met the McCartney family and offered to murder those of its membership that were involved in the killing.

To their credit, the McCartney's appear to have told them where to stick it. Quite how much longer this sorry charade can go on for I'm not sure.

Meanwhile, the BBC has learned that Mr McCartney's family are to be
invited to President George W Bush's St Patrick's Day reception.

The US government is not inviting local politicians to the White House
party, but is focusing attention on figures it believes are acting as

All credit to the President on this one. The Bush administration has, since pre-9/11, been rather less susceptible to the Congressional Irish lobby over the issue of the IRA than previous US administrations (to put things into perspective, while all the active "loyalist" terror groups are registered as terrorist organisations [quite rightly] with the US authorities, the Provisional IRA is not and was until recently able to fundraise and operate logistics from the USA with impunity. Worse, the Real IRA, who rejected the Good Friday Agreement and has never given up terrorism or even pretended to do so, remained a perfectly legal organisation in the USA throughout President Clinton's tenure and was able to raise money and whatnot. To say that a certain "asymmetry" existed would be an understatement) and it seems to me that this is a good move - more should be done to look to the views of ordinary people from both sides of the religious divide who want to put the violence behind them and get their communities back on track.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, perhaps this would be a good time to apply the Abu Ghraib factor and torture Gerry Adams until he confesses all that he knows

10:47 PM  
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