Belfast Telegraph

Why we mustn’t give keys of the Aras to McGuinness

By Kevin Myers

I see. The poor, broken Republic clearly still has some way to sink.

Pitting Gay Mitchell and Michael Higgins against the Sinn Fein electoral machine in the battle for Phoenix Park is rather like deploying the Kirov girls' ballet school to protect the Winter Palace from the Bolsheviks' Third Shock Army.

The last I heard, the IRA army council had not been disbanded. The last I heard, Martin McGuinness was still on it. Ergo, are we close to putting an IRA army council member into the Park?

Martin McGuinness sat at the top table of the IRA throughout the futile war of 1970-1996.

He was a senior IRA leader when 10 Protestant workmen were massacred at White Cross, as he was during Bloody Friday, the Birmingham bombings, La Mon, and the Brighton and Downing Street attempts to assassinate two successive British cabinets.

Yet he has successfully transformed his image from being a war-monger to a peacemaker.

The central myth of the Provisional IRA self-justification is that its war was forced on nationalists by the British government.

Gerry Adams recently wrote an article (in that abject vehicle of English self-loathing, The Guardian) describing the Troubles as “the British war in Ireland”.

Better still, that treacherous, simpering reptile Tony Blair has apparently made some admission, which the Shinners are of course repeating ad nauseam, that the British were responsible for the war.

Throw in the fiction of widespread official collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and the outcome is the IRA narrative for the Troubles, which has turned a fascist-terrorist war, in which nearly 60% of the dead were killed by ‘republicans’, into a human rights struggle.

And so, of course, Martin McGuinness says he will answer questions about his time in the IRA.

As in: “All loss of life is regrettable, even of our enemies in the British Army, and I'll also accept now that Event X, for example, was wrong. Mistakes happen in war, and X was such a mistake. But you've got to ask yourself: why did the war begin?

“The nationalist population of Occupied Ireland was confronted not merely by an armed and bigoted Orange police force, and the might of the British Army, but also the loyalist death-squads, armed and trained by the British. Are we to be lectured by the people who gave us that, never mind Dresden, the Black and Tans and the Croke Park slaughters?

“The war, which was forced on the nationalist people, was only brought to an end by the foresight, courage and determination of the republican leadership and our devotion to peace.”

Bitter experience shows almost no broadcaster can repel such bamboozling, lying bluster from the Shinner snake-oil salesmen.

One almost-legendary RTE interview with Gerry Adams last year resembled a lighthouse being savaged by a dog-eared moth.

Needless to say, Adams wasn't pressed on any of his utterly disingenuous and evasive answers.

Worse still, not one of the three main parties contesting the Louth election with Sinn Fein this year had the courage to raise the disposal there of the remains of poor Jean McConville.

Gerry Adams was accordingly elected (with twice the quota) in the very county that had served as the improvised ossuary for a widow's old bones. These three same supine, silent, parties are now all that lies between Martin McGuinness and Aras an Uachtarain.

But the war was all such a long time ago, goes the plea. Sorry, not good enough: the deeds of some individuals cannot simply be eradicated.

Even an amnesty should not mean amnesia: we must never forget the vast moral gulf between who and whom, and the evil deeds which created that great difference.

The few of us who were critical of the peace process said throughout that too many compromises were being made: the vital thresholds that are essential to a law-abiding democracy were being lowered so as to bring killers in from the cold.

No repentance over past atrocities was required, never mind innocence; merely outward compliance with the new institutions of state, which had been created to suit terrorist organisations.

But now, with all the normal standards obligingly abolished, even the existing institutions are open to usurpation: behold the Manchurian candidate.

If elected, Martin McGuinness — who I believe is still a member of the IRA's army council — will also then become de facto commander-in-chief of the Republic’s army.

And what then happens if, as president, he calls in the permanent defence forces' chief of staff and asks to see the military intelligence files for 1970-1996?

Glorious times lie ahead.

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