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Billy Mitchell Reponds to Steve McWilliams

Billy Mitchell


Steve Mc Williams writes, the Omagh bombing was accorded the same impact as events so momentous as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the D-Day landings. Why is this? The answer must be clear - the Omagh victims were "British subjects" while the Dublin and Monaghan victims were ‘only Irish”.

Could I suggest another reason why the Omagh bombings received such great coverage. Omagh was a disastrous “own goal” insofar as it killed as many nationalists as it did unionists, and it didn’t have the endorsement of the PIRA Army Council. Had “Omagh” been Newtownards, Carrickfergus, or Ballymena it would have received no more coverage than Monaghan, La Mon or the Abercorn.

Adams and Mc Guinness would not have been so quick to condemn it and they most certainly would not have visited any of these towns in the aftermath. Had it have been sanctioned by PIRA, Sinn Fein would either have denied PIRA involvement as they did after the Abercorn and Claudy blunders, or they would have simply expressed regret that sometimes the innocent get killed in war as they did after La Mon, Bloody Friday and the Shankill. Condemning the Omagh bombing had more to do with attacking their republican critics than it had to do with any concern for the victims. Omagh simply provided the Shinners with an opportunity to have a go at their opponents.

“Omagh” was an attack on an alleged peace process endorsed at the time by both unionists and nationalists, so killing nationalists along with unionists at Omagh was probably par for the course. The unionist casualties were good value for it because they were, to use Steve Mc Williams' racist distinctions, “British subjects”, while the nationalists were good value for it because they supported a ‘treasonable’ peace process that sold out the “mere Irish”. Perhaps, to use Steve Mc Williams analogy, pro-agreement nationalists were considered to be only three-fifths nationalist in the eyes of the Omagh bombers.

As an Irish person, just as Irish as Steve Mc Williams, I object to the racist remarks about “Irish” and “British” victims. The people killed at Omagh were just as Irish as those killed in Dublin and Monaghan. Admittedly not all unionists are willing to accept the term “Irish”, but quite a number are. But it is clear that the nationalist victims of the Omagh bomb were as Irish as the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombs. Could it be that Steve regards them as only three-fifths Irish because they live on the wrong side of the border? I wonder what he thinks of the several million members of the Irish Diaspora who were born and raised in England: one-fifth Irish perhaps! Maybe less.



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