Belfast Telegraph

No difference in dissidents and Provos says leading psychiatrist

Dr Philip McGarry
Dr Philip McGarry
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A leading consultant psychiatrist has dismissed the idea that the New IRA are "deluded and crazy" and insisted they are "doing what the IRA always did".

Belfast-based Dr Philip McGarry said using physical force to pursue a political agenda, then producing a "nauseating statement" justifying murder is exactly what some of those now criticising the murder of Lyra McKee had "unashamedly done themselves" during the Troubles.

Dr McGarry, a former chair of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland, warned that unless "the traditional rhetoric after killings" is addressed, Ms McKee will not be the last victim.

"The world which has looked on appalled at Lyra McKee's murder and listened to all the condemnation must firstly be bemused by and then disgusted at such a brazen endorsement of violence," he said.

"Some commentators have referred to the New IRA as 'deluded' and 'crazy', that they are 'monsters' and even 'the Antichrist', engaging in 'senseless' activities. That is misleading.

"The New IRA are not mentally ill, nor psychopaths, and their aim to kill police officers, far from being senseless, is exactly what they had hoped for.

"These individuals are doing what the IRA have always done, which is using physical force to pursue a political agenda."

Dr McGarry referred to his late father, who was a surgeon for 40 years at the Mater Hospital in Belfast.

He recalled: "He once wryly told the medical students, 'You know, a Protestant spleen with a bullet in it looks just the same as a Catholic spleen with a bullet in it'.

"If alive today, he would recognise the nauseating statement of Saoradh justifying the murder of Lyra McKee as being exactly the same as those issued by republicans and loyalists throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

"The New IRA will doubtless note the cognitive dissonance of those who criticise them for doing what they had unashamedly done themselves.

"If we are serious about genuinely ensuring Lyra's killing is the last, then we must demand of every community leader, political, religious and others, that the cause of Ireland and the cause of Ulster/the Union does not justify the taking of a single human life.

"They must also state that just as the killings on Bloody Sunday, and almost certainly some other security force killings, were unjustified and unjustifiable, every killing by the IRA/UVF/INLA/UDA was unjustified and unjustifiable.

"It would also help if they were to desist from repeating the dangerous formulation of two communities, which artificially divides us further.

"After all, which so-called 'community' was Lyra McKee part of?"

Dr McGarry also referred to Ms McKee's belief that we can only deal with the present by making sense, in an honest way, of the past.

He added: "Let us do this in her memory, and also for the good of our and future generations."

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