week we took two American friends who stopped overnight
with us to see some of the political artistry that
adorns the gable walls of the area in which we live.
The community here suffered greatly for its resistance
to the British state. The walls pictorially narrate
something of its experience. Their powerfully evocative
imagery always holds an attraction for visitors,
who never cease to marvel at the dexterity of the
artists. Last week, same as this week, such was
the talk of the deal of all deals being struck between
the DUP theocrat and the Sinn Fein autocrat, that
I suggested to our New York friends that they should
not be surprised if we come across a mural of Connolly,
Pearse and Paisley. Those who would see nothing
untoward about it would be the same people who still
believe that decommissioning never took place, and
who would happily assemble at Dunville Park for
the 3 o'clock spacecraft to take them to a united
Ireland simply because it had been advertised in
the local party front-paper.
the murals had been photographed - thankfully, none
of which were of Padraic Paisley or Peadar Mac Robin
- our loquacious and exceptionally witty taxi driver
sped us over to Milltown Cemetery and the burial
place of IRA volunteers. At the grave of Bobby Sands
our three-year-old daughter skipped and laughed.
She had only recently been told the story of 'Brave
Bobby Sands, the wicked witch Maggie Thatcher and
the H-Blocks.' No matter how much I dress it up
she insists it is a 'terrible story' and demands
to be told Dora The Explorer instead. Nevertheless,
she advocates that we should get a rope and 'pull
poor Bobby out from the bury hole.' In response
to her toddler-style graveside laughter, my wife
reminded me of Bobby's revenge being the laughter
of our children. His place of rest seemed a fitting
spot for Fírinne to be laughing, in some small way
unintentionally providing the only revenge he achieved.
this reason, my daughter's laughter offered but
small consolation. Standing at the grave and thinking
back over the terrible suffering that Bobby endured
before his comrades placed him in the clay one dank,
dismal Thursday afternoon, I gritted my teeth at
the sheer futility of the sacrifices made by the
men and women lying beneath our feet. They gave
up everything they had, every last shred of a personal
future in the belief that others would be rewarded
with a victory over the British state in Ireland.
They fought and died for a free Ireland and now
their leaders discuss giving them free Presbyterianism.
we took part in the Adams war we did so with a view
to getting the British out. We deluded ourselves
that we were fighting for Ireland when all we were
doing was fighting for Adams. He became the author
of our meaning, distorting it into a wholly fictionalised
account. He succeeded so well because most of us
preferred belief to reason; our involvement was
reduced to a question of faith, defined by Nietzsche
as not wanting to know what is true.
Were I to have suggested a course of action during
my H-Block days that would lead republicanism to
where it is today I would have found myself residing
in a loyalist wing.
of us know what way the republican dead, had they
survived, would have viewed events of today. We
do know, however, were they not beneath the damp
clay of Milltown, they would be allowed no input
into decision making. That is the prerogative of
a small leadership clique. IRA volunteers empowered
the clique so that it in turn could disempower them.
Defrauded of any rightful return on the investment
they made in terms of emotional energy, personal
liberty and lives, their reward is one of deception
and lies, not to mention marginalisation if they
opt not to nod their heads obediently every time
they are fed some rubbish by the leadership lie
machine. They are allowed to mould strategy and
objectives the same way that a cow shapes the journey
of the train it watches from a field. They can give
freely of their lives for the cause but not of their
opinions. They would be hounded if they publicly
spoke out against a process that is leading to an
outcome which would leave the North being compared
with Iran. Courtesy of Sinn Fein, a western European
state or statelet - supposedly situated in the intellectual
tradition of the Enlightenment - faces the prospect
that a theocratic fundamentalist may at some point
has told the world of his plans to humiliate the
current IRA. Its volunteers must publicly wear sackcloth
and ashes to sate his vengeful urges. When we were
told the same thing in 1976 the first blanket man
Kieran Nugent defied the British. He threw down
the gauntlet; challenging them that if they wanted
him to wear the sackcloth called 'prison uniform'
they would have to nail it to his back. He emerged
from the prison three years later with scars on
his back but no sackcloth. He was a volunteer in
an undefeated IRA. There is no chance of the current
IRA taking such a stand. It is a defeated IRA. Many
years ago it began to eat the elephant of total
failure - one bite at a time, not remembering the
previous bite and never seeing the next one being
served up. Ultimately, there is nothing else it
can do other than eventually ask for two pieces
of sackcloth, so that those who populate its ranks
shall have a fresh one for Sundays. No amount of
nonsense about the greatest leadership ever and
the undefeated army can explain how a combination
of both, in return for our toil and the ultimate
sacrifice of our comrades, brought us to a point
where, in the words of Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein
will be putting Ian Paisley into power.
Bravo the undefeated army!
Bravo the greatest leadership ever!
Bollix to both of you.