The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Tragic Legacy


Mick Hall • 22 February 2005

More than three weeks after the killing of Robert McCartney, the PIRA has still not delivered up the murderers of the Short Strand man, despite the fact that on the 16th of February, the Provisional IRA issued a statement signed by its nom de plume P O'Neill, saying that as an organisation they had no part in the murder and ''We wish to make it absolutely clear that no-one should hinder or impede the McCartney family in their search for truth and justice. Anyone who can help the family in this should do so." As far as we are aware, since this statement, no one has come forward to give evidence to the PSNI as to what they saw in Magenniss’ bar on the night Mr McCartney was murdered, preferring to trust their well being to a lifetime's experience of living alongside the PIRA, rather than attempt to interpret P O'Neill's true intentions. What does this say about how the PIRA is now viewed within this community and beyond? There was a time when P. O'Neill issued a public statement on behalf of Oglaigh na hEireann, no one would doubt its authenticity nor the meaning of what was written. These days far from being the final word from the PIRA, P. O'Neill is little more than an arm of Connolly House's propaganda department. How the mighty have fallen.

This being the case, if the PRM is to regain the same degree of trust that once existed between them and the people of the Short Strand, and indeed similar communities across the north of Ireland, they have no choice but to deliver up the guilty men. Indeed the fact that not a single Sinn Fein Short Strand Councillor has demanded this of them sadly shows only too clearly the political time warp many of these local politicians seem to be in. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than by SF’s Alex Maskey’s behaviour directly after the murder, when he condemned the PSNI for going about their business trying to solve this crime. It is high time many of these Councillors made a break from their past and realised their job today is to represent those who elected them: they are not there to provide cover nor orchestrate applause for the IRA, for they, as we have seen over Mr McCartney’s murder, are well able to do this for themselves. Having said this it is still not too late for these SF Councillors to come forward and do the decent thing by demanding PIRA turn in the guilty men.

It is all very well for Gerry Adams to babble on about witnesses going to a solicitor or priest if they have any evidence. But in reality it is hardly helpful nor is it going to encourage people to come forward. It would have been more helpful if Mr Adams had got together with his fellow nationalist party leader, Mark Durkan of the SDLP, and asked witnesses to approach the two of them; Durkan and Adams would then accompany these understandably frightened people to the PSNI. Too fanciful, no matter; there is a far simpler alternative for Mr Adams. He could, if he was only willing, demand that his fellow Republicans at the top of the PIRA turn their members who committed this crime over to the Garda Síochána (it is said one of those who allegedly carried out this crime is now hiding in the south ROI) or PSNI. There was said to have been at least fourteen serving volunteers in Magenniss Bar on the night of Mr McCartney's death. This being so the leadership of the PIRA will have been fully informed as to the identity of the murderers. So they will know only too well who the guilty parties are.

If this does not happen and these killers remain at large, the seventy odd people who witnessed this cowardly act or were in the bar when the deed was done will spend the rest of their lives forever blaming themselves for not having done the correct thing, yet fearful of the consequences for themselves and their families if they had. For the Nationalist communities of the north in general, whilst the failure of PIRA to act will not be as personal, it will leave them in no doubt that these days the PRM sees the best interest of the people of Ireland as secondary to that of their (PIRA) own selfish interests and self preservation. This from a movement whose members have fought heroically against enormous odds for the last thirty odd years, whose members freely gave their lives whilst on hunger strike so that their comrades and thus the communities from which they came would not be tarred with the criminal tag. Others suffered greatly, some for decades in British jails so the people of Ireland could be free of the British States oppressive yoke. I say again the leadership of the PIRA have shown by their refusal to turn these men in that they are self-interested bastards who are willing to betray all that has gone before.

Admittedly this one callous act does not wipe away any of the above sacrifices. But unless the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann get to grips with this murder and follow the lead of the local community, then their organisation will undoubtedly be tarred with the criminality tag, not only by the usual suspects but by the very people from whence they came. What a tragic legacy this would be. They will be making a grave mistake if they feel given time things will quieten down and soon all will be back to normal in the Short Strand. If this is their plan, then they should understand they will be inflicting upon the people of the Short Strand their worst nightmare, i. e., the monsters who so brutally murdered their neighbour will once again be strutting their streets as if the very pavement belongs to them.

PIRA should re-learn the following: acquiescence can be gained through fear — respect and loyalty have to be earned, again and again. After all, they have the living example of another organisation even more secretive than their own, the Roman Catholic Church, which for decades covered up and kept in place child abusers and sexual deviants. Yet in the long run the Church was forced to listen to its parishioners and clean its stables, although not before enormous damage was done to the Church's reputation.

The current leadership of the PIRA have the legacy of Oglaigh na hEireann in its hands. Most Republicans, in their hearts, know the days of armed struggle to remove the British State are over. Thus this legacy the leadership of the PIRA now hold may well be how history views their movement, a grave responsibility indeed. One can only hope they live up to it, although of late there is little sign they will.



Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

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

24 February 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Socialist Objection and Alternative
Eamonn McCann

Taking the Peace
Jimmy Sands

Life Amongst the Proveau Riche
Brian Mór

A Far Cry from the Hunger Strikers' Sacrifices
Anthony McIntyre

Tragic Legacy
Mick Hall

Some Economic Results of the Civilizing Mission
M. Shahid Alam

21 February 2005

Time to Go
Anthony McIntyre

Stand Together in Pursuit of Justice for Robert
Catherine McCartney

The Murder of Eoin Morely
Ivan Morely

Exclusion Orders
Brian Mór

The 'Gud Auld' Days
Dr John Coulter

The Courage of Ward Churchill
Ghali Hassan

Awaiting the Prisoner of Zion From Within Israel's First Circle
Mary La Rosa



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices