Either a number of commentators – notably from the Indo – are strangers to some of the grimmer facts of life, or they are pretending to be shocked and horrified when they’re not. What am I talking about? I’m talking about Dessie Ellis.
Mr Ellis is a Sinn Féin TD who has never, as far as I know, made any secret of his former membership of the IRA. For several decades the IRA was engaged in a conflict/war/terrorist campaign (take your pick) against the RUC, the UDR and other British armed forces in the north. What happens in conflicts/wars/terrorist campaigns is that people try to kill each other. Put like that it sounds brutal and it is brutal. You might even say barbaric. But that’s what happens in conflicts/wars/terrorist campaigns. The winners are the ones who do the most killing or threaten to do the most killing ( cf Lloyd George’s threat of ‘terrible and immediate war’ in 1921).
Now British documents hitherto under wraps allege that Mr Ellis was involved in over fifty “murders” during the conflict/war/terrorist campaign in the north. I’m not sure what Mr Ellis’s role in the IRA was, but it’s generally accepted that he played a prominent part. And since conflicts/wars/terrorist campaigns involve by their nature killings or attempted killings, the allegation could be true. Except, of course, that conflicts/wars/terrorist campaigns don’t usually term the object of the exercise as “murder”. We don’t say “President Truman ordered the murder of 255,000 Japanese civilians in Hiroshima” or “Winston Churchill arranged for the murder of 25,000 Germans in Dresden” or “Between them, George Bush and Barack Obama used drone bombs to murder 2680 people, including 173 children” or “Opposition forces in Syria today murdered 18 state soldiers”.
That’s because we don’t always disapprove of killing. We use “murder” when we want to say we disapprove, but we say ‘take out’ as in ‘Americans took out Osama bin Laden’, when we don’t think the killing was too bad an idea. When we think that the killing was a very good idea, of course, we pin ribbons and medals on the chests of the men who did the killing. Sometimes we erect statues to them.
My point? That when Indo writers such as Fiach Kelly talk about Dessie Ellis and alleged murder, they mean that they disapprove of the IRA campaign in the 1970s and 1980s. Which most of us already knew. Had they been talking about the IRA campaign of Michael Collins in the second decade of the last century or the Arab Spring last year or countless other conflicts, it’s a safe bet they would have used another word and shown considerably less moral outrage.
PIRA killings WERE murders by definition as there was no “war”. The ordinary criminal law applied. That is factual.
Even the brits eventually realised it was a political struggle. Just because you didn’t fight the war, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a war.
“For several decades the IRA was engaged in a conflict/war/terrorist campaign (take your pick) against the RUC, the UDR and other British armed forces in the north.”
Can we also get to take our pick as to who the IRA was really engaged in a campaign against Jude. Because from where I’m sitting it looked like fun runners, australian tourists, shoppers, shopkeepers, little spanish boys, textile workers, musicians, dog club members and an awful lot of people who don’t quite fit your list.
I’m pretty sure that if Winston had turned up in a west Czech town, picked a random sample of the population, separated out the Sudeten germans, sent away the Czechs and then machine gunned his captives we’d agree he was a murderer. It’s all about context, choice, duress and alternatives really isn’t it?
Do you really think there was no ‘collateral damage’as the yanks like to call it in WWII, or for that matter any war? No ‘sectarian killings’. I’m not offering an argument in favour of the IRA’s campaign, but millions of civilians have been killed in wars this century, perhaps hundreds of thousands in Iraq in the past ten years.The British or Americans generally don’t offer telephone warnings before they drop their bombs. 3000 people died in the course of a 30 year conflict in the North. Your right, it is all about context.
Otto, innocent people will always die in war, look at Dresden. Who was Britain’s target it that night? 25,000 citizens blown up in their sleep.
So Indo writers disapprove of the I R A campaign in the 70s and 80s.No surprise there.What’s your opinion of their campaign?Do you approve or disapprove? An unambiguous answer would be nice.
because the country of occupation applied their so called rule of law wise up hitler invaded poland and applied his rule of law was that right you clampet
Shocking pro-PIRA bias by Jude.
The PIRA were/are a criminal murdering shower of scum. They need to answer for their own inhumanity and disgraceful deeds, throwing allegations back at others is not sufficient.
Let the murdering, killing, bombing scum who were PIRA, and who held this country to ransom, murdered at will, and by their actions held back economic development, explain themselves. Pointing towards the sins of others is not the way to go.
Criminality,not war is what was going on this Island for 30plus years. Criminality is done by criminal scum and PIRA meet this definition.
In reply to Otto. Your Winston was a strong advocate of the use of poisioned gas against uncivilised tribes in Iraq in the 1920’s. See G Simons: Iraq from Sumer to Post-Saddam (2004)pps 213-214.”Winston” was also high up in the British Govt when large scale atrocities were taking place in Kenya in the 1950’s with the help of one Frank Kitson (in charge of “counter-gang” strategies). See The Blood never dried, A Peoples History of the British Empire by John Newsinger (2006) pps 192-193…Keep up the great work Jude. D
Didn’t realise he was my Winston. If using first names equals support Jude will need to watch out. Anyway I happen to think every deliberate or reckless killing here that didn’t involve the duress of an immediate threat to life (including self-defence) was murder. But I don’t have to pretend there was a war here.
Jude – when you talked about the shooting of Pat Finucane on 12th December you had no problem describing it as murder without any equivocation. Should we follow your advice above and treat your use of “murder” as just an expression of your own personal prejudice or do you believe that generally, even in war, the killing of unarmed lawyers is murder?
Murder is a term that can be used in a conflict situations if a killing constitutes a war crime. Given the proportion of IRA killings that appear to be due to deliberate targeting of civilians, anyone involved in 50 killings stands a high chance of being involved in murder – even on the terms of the most duplicitous IRA apologist.
I see over on Mr Fealtys site, he only broke ranks for 1 particular issue over the festive period, care to guess what is it was he felt needed discussed above all other….?
No surprise there is there?
Well said Jude. See that Charlie Flanagan is getting all excited. Perhaps he could give some answers to the Justice for the Forgotten group while he is up there on his high horse. Of course there is no political capital to be made out of the deaths of Collette Doherty and her baby, Geraldine O’Reilly and all the others whose families would like some answers. Could be mighty uncomfortable for FG on that high moral ground if they had to answer some questions on those murders.
And those behind all of this would not have written anything incriminating about Dessie Ellis now would they?
It’s a familiar refrain from Jude. Churchill Truman Obama Blair.
As though any of that has any bearing on the facts of what Dessie Ellis did.
Let’s have the truth and the people can decide if it was justified in the cause, or if it was senseless murder.
Couldn’t agree more, let’s have the WHOLE truth from all sides and let the people and history make the judgement. The last lines of the poem rhythm of time comes to mind.
Just love it when Jude hits the hornets nest with a big stick, keep up the good work.
Actually it was the British poking the hornets nest by releasing these documents.
Jude is the one being stirred, not the stirrer.
The question is: Do the people of all of Ireland have a right to be free from the oppression and abuse which has always been the preferred method of control of the occupying British government? It was in India, and numerous other countries. Britain is a specific land mass. It does not include the island of Ireland, and never has. What method would be acceptable for the Irish Nationalists be gain freedom from being out from under the control of the UK? When the British military killed people who were doing nothing to threaten them, such as Bloody Sunday, and numerous other mass murders, was it murder then?
The people of Ireland, consistently and overwhelmingly demanded and voted for constitutional, lawful, reform. Their right to that constitutionalism was stolen from them by macho extremists bent on military adventure, not by the British.
In 1968 Martin Luther King was shot for opposing discrimination. Segregation was still lawful in southern states. Black constitutional reformers were derided as Uncle Toms by Black Power and Nation of Islam tough guys. Liberal reformers were treated by extremists much as Alliance are being treated today by loyalism and as Gerry Fitt and cross-community labour was by “republicans” in the ’60’s and early ’70’s.
Where would African America be now if the US had suffered 30 or 40 years of small town bombing, judge killing and general mayhem by black secessionists demanding independence for majority black states. Republican militarism stole two generations of social and economic progress from the northern Irish people. You could do us a favour by ending this pretence that there was anything democratically legitimate or even historically determined by the paramilitary campaign and letting us get on with trying to put things back together now that you’ve finally stopped holding us back.
Excellent work Jude. The usual suspects have turned up again, GIOOTO. I think from reading their various musings they have been schooled in a very narrow way. By that I mean a diet of school history books,a couple of autobiographies (official biographies such as churchill, Luther King etc) & of course large helpings of the MSM. There can be no other explanation for their blinkered view of the world. I am not having a go at them personally but this worldview usually translates into loyalist street protests that DUPUUP started but then distance themselves from. Some advice to GIOOTTO. Try perusing alternative news websites. Go to Amazon or similiar websites & look up, for example, Unpatriotic History of the Second World War by James Heartfield, or Cruel Britannia:A Secret History of Torture by Ian Cobain. BTW Giootto why do you use the term “we”? Who would you describe as “we”? D
Am I part of Giootto?
You seem to be making the assumption that I am trying to defend actions by Western governments. Do you think anyone who disagrees with the shinner narrative must be supporter of the DUP? A very narrow view of the world.
I am only pointing out that Jude always tries to muddy the waters around IRA activities by throwing up all the usual irrelevant stuff.
It is a weak defence of the indefensible.
I wondered what he was on about. Thought it had something to do with renaissance painters.
Anonymous of 11:32. Thanks for your concern for my enfeebled protestant education. Is it not enough that I read Jude’s blog? I’ve also read Billy Leonard’s book if that helps. Didn’t find as much meat as Jude promised but I was amused to find out that Formula 1 star Eddie “Ervine” comes from Ballymena. I’d heard of Eddie Irvine from Conlig but I didn’t know we had two Formula 1 racing drivers. Get your books proof read Billy!
Cheap points aside I do actually agree with Billy that the best way forward is to go native and I have lots of selfish reasons for doing so but I can see why Billy left Sinn Fein. It’s dis-spiriting to have arrived at what seems a reasoned, principled and progressive conclusion that you are a protestant Irish nationalist and a contented Irish man only to find that so many other nationalists are just the mirror image of the worst kind of DUP head case driven by nothing but tribalism. I wasn’t in his cell but I wouldn’t be surprised if news of atrocities like Scullabogue drove poor Wolfe Tone over the edge.
Your points above are well made but sadly we are unlikely to get any indication from Jude as to what his personal view is on the I R A campaign of the 70s and 80s.We can infer that he is supportive but as he has a policy of not replying to anonymous posters we will have to remain in the dark.
The last time I was in Shannon airport the terminal was full of foreign soldiers in battle fatigues. I understand that is the norm. Rhousands upon thousands of them appear to have been shuttled through there in recent years. But in Ireland no one has anything to do with killing. The hands of everyone are as pure as driven snow. Unless you were in the IRA as some stage. And even then it depends on what IRA you were in or supported. I notice the Irish media never have any questions for the Tánaiste about his past. But then he is doing a job fo work for the ruling circles ….
Giotto, You use the issue of African Americans to illustrate the different outcomes or results in different wars/conflicts/denial of rights scenarios if I read correctly. The problem is that today the African American makes up a high percentage of the prison population & are still a long way from acheiving anything near equality. Secondly, you have not answered my reasonable query as to who is the “we” you refer to? Are you representing someone? On the general point of Judes Blog, I think the majority opinion appears to be that a full truth commission would be the best way forward to provide proper context etc. Anon 03.33 great points made there…Ireland like most of Europe is only an advance station for US & the Irish media in general is not the place to look for a full picture…D
“You use the issue of African Americans to illustrate the different outcomes or results in different wars/conflicts/denial of rights scenarios if I read correctly”
You do. In 1967 the aptly named “Loving” couple had to take the State of Virginia to court for the right to marry. My mixed religion parents had to ask permission of a priest and make a promise they didn’t keep but things weren’t quite to hard for them. Now a man of mixed African American and European descent is starting his second term as president but our community seems as divided as ever.
No two scenarios are exactly alike but one can’t help wonder how many converts to nationalism were lost by the target selection decisions of the IRA, let alone the paramilitary campaign as a whole. Then again one could also contrast the segregationism of the catholic church with the enforced bussing of pupils to facilitate integration in the US. Imagine if in a parallel universe Sinn Fein had demanded universally integrated schooling as the best way to end orange bigotry in a generation.
All a bit boring I’m afraid. Not as exciting as comparing our situation with drone attacks in northern Pakistan.
You stated earlier that Martin Luther King was shot for opposing segregation? You must have inside information to make such a statement. If you care to read Howard Zinn’s books, either “A Peoples history of the US”, page 644, or “Voices of a peoples histroy”, page 390, you might find that near the end of his life MLK “explored more radical forms of revolutionary forms of organisation & protest”, wanted the madness of the US war in Vietnam war to cease & stated that “the evils of racism, economic exploitation & militarism are all tied together”. He was planning a Poor Peoples March on Washington but didn’t live to see it.
You also implied that African Americans appear to have acheived something because Barack Obomber is Pres. If you wish please go to Znet & check out writers like Noam Chomsky, Paul Street, John Pilger & others who provide loads of info re Obombers pedigree as a CIA employee & his financing by Wall St etc. Here is a link to get you started http://www.globalresearch.ca/barack-obama-his-mother-and-the-cia/31756. But you can also just try google. D