IRELAND AND THE BIG LIE
[Blog 7 April 2018]
I was thinking about ‘the big lie’ – a ploy relied upon by politicians most recently in UK by Brexit campaigns (leave/remain) and earlier, before the US presidential election, and repeatedly since then by the execrable Trump and his duped disciples. Currently both UK and Russian governments are disputing and arguing by way of ‘the big lie’ (viz. ‘we’re right, you’re wrong’) regarding which of them, if either, is responsible for the life-threatened predicaments of the (allegedly) poisoned retired spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. [And I wish both a speedy return to ‘good health’.]( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Sergei_and_Yulia_Skripal )
Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_lie) to the rescue with a reliable definition:
“A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."
IRELAND’S BIG LIES
The big lie has always been a dependable ally of Irish political charlatans in their lust for power over the rest of us. In Ireland, our big lie predated Hitler’s drivel by several decades. It currently proclaims: Northern Ireland’s political, social and economic problems are down to the British connection: Irish unification is the only answer. Currently one Irish political party bases its entire policy platform (“A United Ireland by any and all available means”) on that big lie. The remaining parties, or ‘gangs’ as I prefer to think of them, including those elected to Dail Eireann, i.e. the Oireachtas or legislature of the Irish Republic (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Solidarity-PBP, Independents 4 Change, Social Democrats, and independents) live in the complex, real world of 2018 et seq. The remaining elected representatives (you know who you are) wrap themselves in the mummifying blanket of that big lie, attached to, depending upon and viewing their world through its distorting lens.
I’ve wondered long and hard about why they cling unquestioningly to this mythical cure all for Ireland’s ills. One obvious reason is that Sinn Féin [SF] - for that’s what they call themselves: it translates, appropriately as “Ourselves”, or even “Ourselves Alone”- the political voice of a failed, and now (we’re told) dissolved, violent revolutionary gang of assassins, do not know when they are beaten. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinn_Fein) again to the rescue, tells us what we, who survived the 30 years plus of Irish slaughter by PIRA and other equally murderous ‘loyalist’ killers (1966-1998), already know only too well:
“Sinn Féin is the largest Irish republican political party, and was historically associated with the IRA, while also having been associated with the Provisional IRA (PIRA) in the party´s modern incarnation. The Irish government alleged that senior members of Sinn Féin have held posts on the IRA Army Council. However, the SF leadership has denied these claims. The US Government has made similar allegations.
“A republican document of the early 1980s stated: "Both Sinn Féin and the IRA play different but converging roles in the war of national liberation. The Irish Republican Army wages an armed campaign... Sinn Féin maintains the propaganda war and is the public and political voice of the movement".
That ‘propaganda war’, included use of a variation of the big lie, when Sinn Féin’s then national chairman Mitchell McLaughlin’s (2005) agreed with the arrogant, contradictory and nonsensical assertion, articulated on RTE, the Irish national broadcaster:
‘that the IRA was “the only legitimate government of Ireland”’.
Multiple sources accessed, including on 8 April 2018 at: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/mitchel-mclaughlin-claimed-jean-mcconville-s-murder-was-not-a-crime-1-6517640
To conclude with a cupla vignettes, illustrated by newspaper reports, discussing how two now middle-aged former IRA volunteers, and SF members/supporters, cope with the wretched legacy of their violent revolutionary roles in ‘the war of national liberation’.
The above named petitioner recently engaged in widely publicised defamation litigation in Dublin, Ireland. I shall simply repeat here some of what ‘The Irish Times’ (published online 15 February 2018), an Irish newspaper of record, reported about Mr Kehoe. A former IRA volunteer, who was jailed in 1974 for possession of firearms, Kehoe received a 12 year sentence of imprisonment for attempted kidnapping in 1983 during which gunshots were exchanged with members of An Garda Siochana, the Irish police service.
“When [it was] suggested he [Mr Kehoe] could not now pick and choose which parts of the IRA campaign of violence he supported and which were OK, Mr Kehoe replied: “I would say most or all the campaign was wrong for violence, it was wrong that people were killed”. He agreed that while he saw his activities in the historical context, the vast majority would see it as criminal. Mr Kehoe agreed that the 1,196 people killed by the IRA during that campaign never got to do things he had . . . Asked was he proud of his activities in the IRA, he said: “No. I would not be proud”. When counsel asked: “Are you ashamed?” he replied: “I would be, in a context” (“The Irish Times”, 15 Feb 2018).
Kehoe’s statements were unprecedented. For a currently active Sinn Fein member like Kehoe to concede that the IRA’s serial killers (1970-1998) were criminals represented a major shift in that duplicitous political gang’s attitude to the past behaviour of their paramilitary partners during “the war of national liberation”.
By contrast, a former “senior” Sinn Féin national chairman and past elected representative (Mitchell McLaughlin) refused to acknowledge that the PIRA's controversial killing of a mother of ten young children, Jean McConville, in the early 1970s, was a crime, as he claimed it had taken place in the context of political conflict (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4186887.stm). This represented Sinn Féin’s deployment of the big lie (i.e. it’s OK to kill as long as it’s for our political cause) to escape responsibility for murder. Politicians from the Irish Republic, along with the Irish media, strongly attacked McLaughlin's comments in 2005 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinn_Fein).
To my knowledge, no Sinn Féin or PIRA member, other than Kehoe, has yet publicly acknowledged their shame regarding their involvement, directly or indirectly, in PIRA’s 30 year killing spree. In the next paragraph, a second former PIRA volunteer’s self-reported behaviour and his attitude to it, is summarised. It represents the lamentable outworking of a variation of a Mitchell McLaughlin-type big lie that appears to facilitate a good night’s sleep for this flawed individual.
According to “The Irish News” (5 April 2018) it was reported that this gentleman, an IRA volunteer, was appointed in 2017 to the NI Victims and Survivors Forum, whose function includes helping a government agency, the NI Victims & Survivors Commission, in “understanding the needs of victims and survivors”. It is beyond irony to attempt to get your head round what McClenaghan’s expertise in this area might be. Other forum members were not informed of his PIRA past. And what did the bold Robert say 7 years ago about that? As reported in the “The Irish News” (5 April 2018):
“. . . McClenaghan said [in 2011] he was ‘immensely proud’ of having been an IRA member in the mid-70s, during which he learned to use weapons to ‘kill people’ and planted bombs ‘big and small’ in central Belfast . . . he expressed no remorse for any loss he may have inflicted on others” (“The Irish News”, 5 April 2018).
If you can endure it, you can listen to bomber McClenaghan and watch his selectively self-justifying blethers in a 36 minute Dutch film “When the war ends” (https://vimeo.com/85810659), released in 2011, that makes no reference whatsoever to the lives lost, and innocent fellow citizens injured, maimed and traumatised, directly or indirectly by his terrorist* brutality, in conjunction with his deluded mates, before he was apprehended and jailed for 12 years in 1976. He was apparently released on licence in 1988, but we have incomplete information about what he then got up to.
I am a pacifist. In my opinion, there is never any justification for taking the life of any human being. If you are against capital punishment, as I am, then it’s a straightforward read across to hold that human life is priceless in all circumstances. I’ll let you engage in your “what about” debate with yourself about killing fellow-humans in self-defence, in a “just war”, or by abortion.
As for the dirty, deceitful, power-lusting killing spree, admitted by and indulged in by Kehoe, McClenaghan and their deluded mates: this was and remains a salutary example of how not to problem-solve Irish political issues. The fact is that McClenaghan and his mates, and their mirror-image counterparts identifying as British loyalist/unionist in outlook, were led into murderous, criminal acts, as armed pawns in a power game planned, orchestrated and led by so-far unidentified, psychopathic manipulators – the armchair generals – from the secret safety of their anonymous backgrounds. These cold-blooded killers were previously naïve, simple-minded, easily led but essentially ‘good human beings’, before being “radicalized” by the lies and false promises of Irish republican / British loyalist propagandists. They morphed into automaton-like puppets on a real life stage, using explosive munitions and automatic firearms to take the lives, and to destroy the livelihoods of their neighbours, other ‘good human beings’, at massive cost but zero benefit.
Over 30+ years from mid-1960’s to late 1990’s, Kehoe, McClenaghan and hundreds of their like-minded psychopathic mates, both in and out of “uniform”, sent over 3,500 fellow-citizens to the slaughter, into the ground decades before their time. For a really convincing demonstration of what Irish / British terrorist (aka political) violence delivered, be prepared to weep while having an extended look at ‘Lost Lives’ (McKitterick et al., 1999/2004). This masterly publication briefly but comprehensively describes the violent circumstances of each of these prematurely ‘lost lives’.
Of course the most blatant ‘big lie’ that continues to be spouted day and daily by Irish republican propagandists relates to and underpins their false claim that they had no alternative but to take up arms in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s against the British state. Anyone who wishes to take the time, will eventually acknowledge, understand and accept that during those decades, Irish terrorism was neither justified nor justifiable as a problem-solving approach to the Irish National Question. I’ll conclude with a relevant sentence or two in response to the question: was PIRA terrorism justified:
“No, I don’t believe so. There was a peaceful civil rights movement, it was operating in a country that had a democratic process. In time the inequalities could have been addressed by peaceful protest and the political process. The violence of the IRA only delayed that process and caused untold suffering to both communities.” ( https://www.quora.com/Was-the-Irish-Republican-Army-justified published 2 May 2014 and accessed on 15 April 2018.)
McKitterick, D., Kelters, S., Feeney, B., Thornton, C. and McVea, D. (1999/2004) Lost Lives –the stories of ther men,women and children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Edinburgh/Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Ltd
Oxford Dictionary (2018) Terrorism, defined as violence against civilians for political ends. Hence ‘terrorist’*: a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
Accessed online on 13 April 2018. [https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/terrorist]