Kevin Myers: Shinners show true colours over RIR parade
Published 24/10/2008 | 11:00
All good men and women should rejoice at the decision of the Shinners to have counter-marches in Belfast to greet the return of the Royal Irish Regiment from active service in Afghanistan.
I'm only sorry that I can't be there on the street, applauding them for their honesty and their decency in revealing, yet again, what a shower of pitiful and bitter infants they actually are.
And dear God, to think republicans, not so long ago, were killing left, right and centre, and using the same moral compass that now causes them to protest at the return of Irish soldiers from UN-authorised duties fighting Islamo-fascists.
I imagine the debate preceding the decision to have counter-marches against the Royal Irish was probably conducted with the same intellectual gravity that the Shinners' forefathers had shown before throwing in their lot with Hitler.
If something is Brit, it's bad. Hence the Nazi agents being smuggled into Ireland with IRA assistance: hence the IRA lighting fires on the Black Mountain to guide Nazi bombers to Belfast; hence IRA U-boat missions to Ireland — all in all, the Shinners' contribution to the Final Solution. And the Shinners can't say that all this was just part of a confused and ignorant past, because until recently, before someone cut it down, they continued to have annual commemorations at the statue of Sean Russell, the Nazi stooge who died on his way to further the aims of the Third Reich in Ireland.
Now, I confess, I'm profoundly grateful to the Shinner leadership that they've stopped killing people, even though I really don't know why they've done that, any more than I understand why they thought they had the right to start killing people in the first place. But there you are: having Shinners about the place is rather like having a demented uncle in the attic. You've no idea when he's going to stop knitting tea-cosies and instead, reach for the carving knife and resume his feud with the neighbours.
The timing and the reason are for him to decide, though not to explain; for no explanation is possible. And I have to say, that if the mad uncle in the attic is going to expend his energies complaining about Irish soldiers serving in Afghanistan, that's a considerable improvement on what he was doing before, which was murdering them in their homes.
Of course, it is irrelevant that in my lifetime there has barely been a more lawful war than that in Afghanistan: it is being fought on a UN mandate against an enemy that is an active ally of al-Qai'da. We know the calibre of this enemy; we know his project; it was encapsulated by the murder of Gayle Williams, the British aid worker who was assassinated the other day in Kabul, and by the regular murder of little girls in Helmand province who are guilty of the heinous crime of being able to spell. And of course, to remind you all, these were the fine people behind 9/11.
What I'd really, really like to do is to put some Afghan women democrats in the same room as a group of Shinners, and to get the latter to outline their position on Afghanistan to the former. Similarly, I'd love to have got the Shinners of yesteryear to sit down with a train-load of Jews bound for Auschwitz and explain to them why they supported the Nazis.
Or equally, I would love to have heard Mary Lou McDonald, MEP for Dublin, get up in the European Parliament and explain why three years ago she gave the annual oration at the statue to Sean Russell, the Nazi collaborator.
Ah well. It is not to be: alas, life is full of such little disappointments. And another little disappointment is that the general furore over the US presidential election means the US media are unlikely to notice that Sinn Fein is now taking an effectively pro-Taliban, pro-al-Qai'da stance. At least, the Shinners have sought permission from the Parades Commission to have their anti-Royal Irish march. Dissident republicans (who actually are visitors from the planet Zog) have announced that since they don't recognise the Parades Commission, they're not going to seek permission to have their Royal Irish counter-marches, and they're just going to go ahead with them anyway.
Which of course makes their marches illegal: and you can be reasonably sure that if the peelers enforce the law against the loonies from Zog, then the other Shinners, their slightly less demented cousins from Xog, will revert to type and start complaining about police brutality. But I suppose, at one level, one can understand the position the mad Zog-Xog family are in. The Provisional IRA has largely disarmed, though it prides itself on being an undefeated army: yet here the Shinners will see the British army marching through the streets of Belfast, thereby reminding people what an undefeated army really looks like, and worse, how utterly pointless the IRA war really was.