The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Six Against the Rock

'Even without the Troubles these people would still have been scum. They're psychopaths who have been empowered.'
- Paula McCartney

Anthony McIntyre • The Other View, Spring 2005

Sitting with those who have just undergone bereavement is an unsettling experience. When empathy wells up within the listener there is still no deep sharing of experience. The loss of a loved one strikes those who loved in a way that does not touch others. Gestures of comfort are always proffered awkwardly, accompanied by awareness that they are far too sapless to tip the scales away from grief towards peace of mind. Where can words find a starting point to address the huge deficit occasioned by grief? Time alone, when it can, soothes the torment of bereavement.

In those instances where the loss of a loved one results from a gross injustice, then the sense of abject frustration caused by death can be offset to some degree by restoring equilibrium, by bringing the unjust to account. Assisting grieved relatives who need to speak out, so that their words reach as many ears as possible, is perhaps the one way in which the writer's utterances of condolence become transformed into real acts of solidarity. Suddenly words of sympathy seem less flat, less passive, less hollow.

When I arrived in east Belfast to meet the sisters and partner of Robert McCartney, murdered by members of the Provisional IRA, but not by the IRA as an organisation, almost two weeks earlier, I felt a need to do much more than merely listen. So many had absorbed their anguished voices for two weeks, but at the end had to walk away and melt back into their own lives. Asking questions of the killers or those who shield them holds its own fears. Memories of Robert would always serve as a grim warning, 'challenge our power at your peril.' Being a writer I had not visited the McCartney home to walk away. I had to allow their pained words to shape my pen so that it would prove a weapon every bit as pointed as that which was wielded by Robert McCartney's murderers. I wanted my pen to cut and thrust in the name of justice; to stab through the heart of the cover-up inflicted on the family and wider community since the unarmed and defenceless Robert's life was violently snatched away from him.

At a time when it might have been easy for the sisters and partner of the murdered man to lash out in their grief and anger, they exuded a calm sense of dignity throughout the three hours I spent with them. There was no blaming the IRA or Sinn Fein for the murder of Robert. The women were focussed, at all times directing their opprobrium towards the men who had chosen of their own volition, without any prior sanction or approval from the organisation to which most of them belonged, to snuff out a human life because the person whose body that life filled had the 'audacity to believe' something different from his killers.

Robert McCartney was a family man. He devoted his time to his partner Bridgeen and their two small sons, Brandon and Conlaed. He had no highly tuned set of political beliefs, for which he was prepared to give his own life or to take that of another human being. He didn't even regard himself as a republican but a nationalist who voted Sinn Fein because he felt the party was the best bet to improve the lot of fellow nationalists. The belief that Robert died for was simply that others had no right to lord it over their supposed equals; had no right to arrogantly order others about; had no right to hack and kick his friend to death in a scene reminiscent from a Rwandan village circa 1994.

Paula, Gemma, Claire, Donna and Catherine McCartney along with Bridgeen struck me as people who are not driven by political concerns. Fiercely intelligent and articulate, they spoke with passion of Robert while his two young boys, one four the other two, played gaily, oblivious to their father's absence being an enduring feature for the rest of their lives. The six women have their own lives, families and careers. But their brother and partner had been snatched away from them and they are not for going silently into the night. Never once did they utter as much as a syllable hinting at a need for revenge in kind. They want Robert's killers brought before the courts. This is as much about protecting other innocent members of the community from the killers' viciousness as it is about having the perpetrators atone for their murderous act.

There has been much public discussion in the wake of the robbery at the Northern Bank about the alleged criminal nature of the IRA. The IRA described in public discourse in no way resembles the IRA for which Bobby Sands died. Yet there was no sense in the McCartney household that the IRA was a vast criminal conspiracy out to shaft and exploit its own community. Two of the sisters in the living room with me had been Sinn Fein voters, as was their mother. This is a normal working class nationalist family of moderate views. Hailing from the Short Strand they had witnessed too much over the years to be fooled into accepting media and government accusations that the IRA was a mere gang of criminals.

However, the six women know that the organisation has harboured criminal elements, some of whom are psychopaths of the type that inflicted the fatal knife wound on Robert. They are not alone in describing some local IRA members as being thugs with a long history of sexual violence, wife battering and bullying behaviour. They wonder if the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams can have any possible idea of what goes on at ground level in the Short Strand otherwise he would never venture his view that no republican can be a criminal. They are determined that he shall address the fact that some of his party's election workers are knife murderers.

As it stands justice, in the view of the six women, is being thwarted by the Republican Movement which has been covering up for its own; hitting out at PSNI investigators with a venom not directed towards the murderers; intimidating witnesses into silence, and forensically erasing evidence of their colleagues murderous odyssey.

Leaving the six women to make my way back to West Belfast, I knew that they would prove a formidable force for truth. Nonsense that they are out to damage the peace process shall be swept aside with contempt. With help from others, the rock upon which murder and organised lying sits can be toppled by the relentless quest of six women for justice.












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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

28 March 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Writing's Off the Wall!
Catherine McGlinchey

Ireland: Republican Movement faces disintegration
Paul Mallon

The IRA is Morphing into the 'Rafia'
Anthony McIntyre

Truth and Justice!
Sheila Holden

Greet the Lion to Kill the Cat
Àine Fox

Concerned Republican
N. Corey

Six Against the Rock
Anthony McIntyre

Our Patriot Dead Are Turning in their Graves
Margaret Quinn

Easter Oration 2005
32 CSM

Easter Statement from the Leadership of the Republican Movement 2005

RSF Vice President Calls On Provisionals To Disband
Des Dalton, RSF

Easter Statement from the Leadership of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement
Andy Gallagher, IRSP

Easter Statement from the Irish National Liberation Army Prisoners of War

Caribbean Sinn Fein Easter Message
Jimmy Sands

22 March 2005

A Must Read
Mick Hall

Green Paper on Irish Unity
32 CSM Press Release

The Advisocrats
Anthony McIntyre

Fig Leaf
Dr John Coulter

Democractic Killers
Fred A Wilcox

Eamon McCann

No Dodging the Moral Dilemma
David Adams

After St Patrick's Day, Where Goes the Peace Process?
Fr. Sean Mc Manus. INC

The Left Way Could be the Right Way for Sinn Fein
Eamon McCann

Robert McCartney
Carol Mallon

Don't Lose Perspective
Richard Wallace

Anthony McIntyre

Is Spring Banging at the Doors of the Arab World?
Michael Youlton

The Letters page has been updated.



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