Monday, January 09, 2006

The Easter Commemoration Parades took place this year in the North as usual . At the regular venues - Belfast , Derry , Crossmaglen , Newry - the same Proclamation was read , the usual speeches were made and the routine Army Council message was delivered to the faithful .
The only difference this year was that by Good Friday the North's death toll since 1969 had reached 2,500 and Ireland's longest period of civil disturbance appeared no nearer an end .
Behind much of the violence stands the Provisional IRA , organisers of most Easter Parades and , by their own claims , direct lineal descendants* of the men of 1916 . But how strong are they and for how long can they continue the military and political struggle ?
PATRICK MURPHY reports from Belfast .
First published in 'NEW HIBERNIA' magazine , May 1987 .
(* In 1986 the Provisional IRA abandoned that lineage and offered their support to what was to become a Leinster House-registered political party.)

Recent killings prompted the RUC to issue a unique statement in which they asked for support from the public (!) ; it is only this type of support which can counter the PIRA operations , but it is unlikely to be forthcoming from all Nationalists in the foreseeable future and thus the bullet in the back of the head strategy is likely to be with us for some time to come .

Logistically , it is but one step up from shooting UDR men at or near their homes or at other so-called ' soft targets' in their place of work or recreation . Militarily , the PIRA operations are simple , and represent the first serious 'cost/benefit' analysis by the Provos in recent years and they provide a unique form of 'occupational therapy' for what would otherwise be a bored standing army .

Politically they do neither harm nor good in the context of support for (P) Sinn Fein ; Gerry Adams will be returned as MP for West Belfast no matter how many RUC/UDR men live or die . The deaths simply keep the political pot boiling , and represent a challenge to the Hillsborough Treaty (the 'Anglo-Irish Agreement') - the killings maintain the high level of sectarian fear within which the Provos can continue to operate . ('1169...' Comment - any 'sectarian fear' on this island was 'introduced' , maintained and , indeed , encouraged , by the British for their own purpose ie to allow Westminster to claim themselves as 'neutral peace-keepers' in Ireland.)

And the PIRA can continue to operate indefinitely because militarily they cannot lose * : equally true is the fact (?) that they cannot win , but if you were Chief of Staff of the Provisionals what would you do ? Fight on or give up ? There is only one alternative open to the Provos because to give up is to disband .......
(* "...cannot lose.. " ? The Provisionals 'lost' to themselves : any organisation , which has elements within its leadership who work for over two decades for the alleged enemy , is bound to 'lose' . )

First published in 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

On Friday July 31st 1981 , Paddy Quinn's mother authorised medical intervention to save her son's life because she could not bear "...the sight of him kicking and screaming in so much pain.. " Paddy had prematurely slipped into a coma after forty-seven days on hunger-strike .

Bishop Daly of Derry lost no time in exploiting the situation by recommending Mrs. Quinn's action to the mothers of all the hunger-strikers . At 1.00AM on August 1st 1981 Kevin Lynch died after seventy-one days on hunger-strike . That evening , at a meeting which was attended by , amongst others , Cardinal O'Fiaich , Fr. Faul , Bernadette McAliskey (of the 'National H-Block/Armagh Committee' and a staunch defender of the prisoners) and Belfast solicitor Oliver Kelly , the 'monitoring committee' proposal was formally dropped and in its place the 'Help the Prisoners Committee' was formed . All that was missing was the actual words ' help themselves..'

This Committee issued a statement supporting the prisoners' July 4th position - that was one of only two statements issued by that Committee to find its way into print . On Sunday August 2nd 1981 Kieran Doherty TD died at 7.15PM after seventy-three days on hunger-strike . His father , Alfie Doherty , who , along with Kieran's mother , Margaret , had been exhaustingly active in the hunger-strike campaign , had verbally attacked Fr. Denis Faul for putting pressure on the prisoners and their families instead of on the British . Then Fr. Faul announced a meeting of relatives of all protesting prisoners to take place in Clonard Hall , Belfast , on Friday August 7th 1981 : the idea for such a meeting came from Mrs. Alice McElwee , mother of Thomas McElwee , who viewed it as a means of mobilising all the
families of H-Block prisoners to involve themselves in the hunger-strike campaign .......

From 'MAGILL' magazine , April 1982 .

In early April 1982 , members of Sinn Fein The Workers Party seriously injured an American reporter outside McEnaney's Pub beside Andersonstown RUC Barracks and left him unconscious on the footpath . His 'offence' was to be in the company of a woman who was selling the IRSP newspaper .

The brother of a well-known SFWP member was present during the beating of the reporter and then walked by saying that he had seen nothing . In 1973 a former member of SFWP was beaten by two very prominent members of SFWP in a bar in Belfast for 'indiscipline' - they cracked his ribs and broke his nose . One of the people involved in this beating is a very prominent spokesperson for SFWP in Belfast .

Later this same victim was kneecapped by the Official IRA having been enticed to Dundalk , County Louth .