Colonialism has done much harm on this island and throughout the world, dividing communities and provoking and promoting violence. Colonialism is about greed and the lust for power and property. In many colonies people seeking freedom and dignity have always reacted with physical force when they saw no alternative. Martin McGuinness did not wake up one morning and decide to go to war. No, as someone said, ‘the war came to him.’ The media never dwell on the violence of the state against the citizens. Their focus is always on the violence of the citizens who rebel against the state. That’s because the media like the BBC is owned and controlled by the state. Mr Stephen Nolan has chosen to be a mouthpiece for he British state.
There are those in the north of Ireland who are making a career out of being victims or representing victims. Some of them jumped on the media bandwagon when Martin McGuinness died. When the media are looking for an angry victim they have a list of people to contact. They have a list of people whose relatives were killed by the IRA. They are then interviewed once again on TV to remind viewers and listeners how they have suffered and to remind people that SF are responsible. When they have given their interviews they go home satisfied that they have struck another blow for ‘the vicitms’. Of course, according to this narrative, there is only one set of victims.
As Fr Canny said at the funeral Of Martin McGuinness in Derry, the IRA were not blameless and people ‘find it difficult to forgive and impossible to forget’. Why did the IRA carry out killings? Because that is what insurgent armies all over the world have done to achieve their goals, which is usually about achieving freedom from the colonial oppressor. There is a long tradition of physical force against colonial rule in Ireland. It is what Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen did in 1798. It was how the Young Ireland and the IRB responded during the 1800s. It is what the IRA did in 1916 and afterwards when De Valera was in charge of the rebellion aimed at overthrowing British rule in Ireland. It is what Nelson Mandela’s ANC did in South Africa to end apartheid or what Che Guevara did in Cuba to overthrow the dictatorship. It happened in many colonies. To his great credit, and at great personal risk, Martin McGuinness moved the IRA away from armed rebellion towards the political path. After the 1998 Agreement, Martin McGuinness often said that he was prepared to deal with his past in a Truth Recovery process like they had in South Africa. As part of a healing process, he wanted the British also to deal with their past. He insisted that there were victims on both sides.
Those who wish to dwell on IRA victims are being dishonest and totally biased. They refuse to focus on British state violence and torture. It is time for truth. It is time to recognise how far we have come and to acknowledge and thank those who have made it possible rather than seeking to score points about the victims. I know all about the victims of state violence. I attended many funerals. I know the pain of those who lost loved ones. I sympathise with all victims in the great loss of their loved ones. But it happened on both sides. It has been brought to an end by people like Martin McGuinness.
We must always remember that there were victims on both sides of the conflict.
I want to deal with the victims of British state violence which included several friends who were killed by British forces. I include the RUC and the UDR and loyalist death squads in the British forces. Between them, they carried out hundreds of killings. Why were these people killed by the British? The answer is that in all their colonial territories the British organised and killed innocent people in order to undermine the insurgency. It was part of their strategy to defeat an uprising by the downtrodden people. It was clearly described by General Frank Kitson in his book, Low Intensity Operations. None of these murders could be justified though many in the DUP like Geoffrey Donaldson try to justify them. The British were more interested in suppressing the people’s rebellion than granting justice and equality. They did the same in all their colonies. Of course the pro-British media will never mention this fact. They are too busy with the propaganda and people like Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Sir Stephen Nolan are busy defending British murder.