LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES (London) in March 1985 . Warning: Slightly toned down by the Editor.
From Mr Donal Kennedy
Your meandering leader (March 2) following the devastation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s barracks n Republican Newry touches on the truth at three points. Murder is murder; words are weapons in this war; and, as Solzhenitsyn says, force is used to support a system of lies.
Your own record, and that of the Government, in the use of verbal weapons should be recapitulated. You have been censured by the PRESS COUNCIL for not correcting an implication in a report you published in May 1981, that almost all violent deaths in the North of Ireland since 1969 were inflicted by Republicans and suffered by Protestants.
Subsequent to your censure Sir Humphrey Atkins again falsely attributed all such deaths to IRA action, in an article in the Daily Mail.
You seem to have learned nothing. You describe the RUC, a force equipped with firearms and practised in their discharge, as civilians. It was said of their RIC predecessor s by Britain’s Secretary for Ireland in 1919, that they were “a semi-military force, and subject in many respects, to the same conditions as the Army”. What distinguishes the RUC from the RIC?
You lump the IRA with international terrorists, claiming tat they use force as an instrument of first resort, and say that the Soviets would support them, having taken the armed road to power themselves.
In passing, you may note I have eschewed Westminster’s Newspeak definition of Ulster!
You forget that when the Soviets were seizing power Sinn Fein (1918) won a landslide electoral victory. In Ulster three counties elected no Unionist MPs, a fourth but one (to Sinn Fein’s two), a fifth but one (to Sinn Fein’s one), and that in none of the four other counties did Unionists have a clean sweep. Outside Ulster Sinn Fein took a clean sweep of most counties.
Irish Nationalists have tried various strategies to turn that moral victory into the kind recognised by powers and princes. Many support the IRA as the last, best hope of their share of mankind’s rights. Since Mrs Thatcher ruled out the pleas of the Forum politicians it is hard to argue with them: witness Mr John Hume!
A perusal of the Cameron and Scarman reports would dispose of your suggestion that the RUC had no idea that there was a war on. On the contrary, they imagined one and replied to ii when they were the only armed force in the field. Later, Mr Maudling told the Commons that Britain was at war with the IRA when many peaceably disposed Irish Nationalists felt that Britain was at war with them.
I might compliment Solzhenitsyn’s observation that lies are used to support a system of force, and cap it by suggesting that THE TIMES is a product of the long, incestuous union of The Mother of Parliaments and The Father of Lies.