Sunday, March 20, 2005

Not so very cross-community and a bit too inclusive

It's a bit depressing, actually. Saint Patrick isn't the "property" of either community in Northern Ireland, though the local festivities haven't always reflected that. But we seemed to be moving away from the political football that has dogged the Belfast St. Patrick's day celebrations. We seemed nearer than ever to an event that Protestant and Catholic, Unionist and Nationalist, could feel a part of.

Sadly, the McCartney saga took another twist.

The IRA apparently expelled (and claimed to have offered to shoot) three of its members for the murder of Robert McCartney. Unfortunately these "expulsions" didn't seem to have stopped two of the suspects from taking a key role in the Short Strand Saint Patrick's parade in Belfast. Not exactly what you need to make decent folk feel included - and a bit of a slap in the face for Robert McCartney's family.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin are publicly urging people to give evidence about the murder, even as the McCartney sisters complain of continued intimidation of the witnesses. What is going on?

One Sinn Féin activist (who seemed to have been quite distressed on the night in question) has remembered that she didn't actually see anything after all, while she was drinking at the murder scene. If you had information, would you be listening to what Gerry Adams says, or watching what the organisation actually does?

It wouldn't be the first time the Provos had intimidated people after a murder. During the trial of Bart Fisher for the stabbing of James McGinley in Derry, the family said they had been harassed and intimidated before and during the trial by the Provisional IRA, who summoned them to meetings, told them who could attend the trial, and threatened them. The family launched their Justice for Jimmy campaign this month. Interestingly, the convicted killer claimed not to have been in the IRA - which raises the question of why the Provos were carrying out the intimidation (or, if you think they are less evil and more stupid, allowing it to be carried out in their name over a sustained period).

It seems that the McCartney affair is not out of character.

In all of this, we should remember that this is not just bringing shame on the IRA and Sinn Féin - it is a personal tragedy for the relatives and loved ones of the victims. But, if the IRA (and their mirror images across the barricades) can be got rid of, and murderous private armies can be banished from Irish politics, then something good may yet be salvaged from these human tragedies.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Yeah... they seem to have a more relaxed attitude about some of that stuff over there, which is great. What I'm not so sure about is the relentless shamrockery and begorrah of the genuine irish bars ™ you sometimes get abroad. But that's a whole other rant ;-)