Friday, February 19, 2010

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Buried Secrets

In yesterday’s Irish News it was revealed that the former IRA hunger striker Dolours Price had stepped up to the plate and acknowledged her involvement in some of the Northern conflict’s most notorious incidents. It was a remarkable step made none the easier by an undoubted awareness on her part that there exists a widespread public revulsion towards disappearing people, some of whose remains have yet to be uncovered.

The group responsible for the bulk of the disappearances was the Provisional IRA. In some cases not only did it disappear its victims but it bestowed the status of double disappeared on them. The very act of their disappearance was itself disappeared. This disclosure, as made public in the case of the late Joe Lynskey, has thrust a dagger into the heart of the Provisional IRA’s earlier claims to have been doing all in its power to recover the bodies of people it had secretly interred. There is not the slightest intention of recovering a body of a person never revealed as having been disappeared to begin with.

Although Joe Lynskey would seem to have disappeared in the summer of 1972, when the late Seamus Twomey was commander of the Belfast IRA, the dark practice really came into its own under the leadership of Twomey’s successor in the city, a Pinochet type character who overruled the objections of his operations officer to the new policy. In a few short months at least three people had been spirited away never to be seen alive again.

Dolours Price was reported in the Irish News as having been the IRA operative who drove Lynskey across the border from the North days before he died and who remains buried in some hidden grave. Whether Price knew the fate that awaited Lynskey before she accompanied him on that journey has not been made clear. There is little doubt however that she has undergone severe trauma as a result of her IRA involvement.

That trauma was a subject addressed by Sinn Fein president, and former Provisional IRA chief of staff, Gerry Adams. Clearly pricked that one of his former volunteers would publicly identify him as the man who issued orders to her while she engaged in IRA activity, he has sought to defuse her charges by claiming that she is opposed to Sinn Fein and the peace process. He has also called on her to take responsibility for her own actions and for former combatants to be proud of their role in the IRA.

It very much seems, as reported in the Irish News, that Dolours Price is taking responsibility for her actions. What appears to have enhanced her trauma is that others have failed lamentably to accept responsibility for theirs. Her trauma has caused her to remember. Maybe others are not traumatised because they have conveniently managed to forget – that they were even in the IRA.

IRA volunteers have every right to look back on their role with pride. But it does not fall upon them to be proud of everything the IRA did. No volunteer can claim to derive pride from actions that were demonstrable war crimes. And if the IRA is something to be proud of, why does its one time chief of staff deny that he was ever in it?

Taking responsibility for our actions is indeed laudable and for which Dolours Price deserves praise. Taking action to avoid our responsibilities is shameful. The IRA did many wrong things but it was not so terrible that we need to be ashamed of it.

Did those most ashamed do the most terrible things?

12 comments :

larry hughes said...

Don't know where all this will end up...seriously messy trying to convert from guerilla to decent career politicians I suppose. Interesting to see what if anything comes of it all. I see Willie ODea resigned..thought for a while that practice was dead in the Dail too.

Joe said...

Anthony, I have cut and pasted the following paragraph from your excellent article, and I think it sums up the feeling of most volunteers:

'IRA volunteers have every right to look back on their role with pride. But it does not fall upon them to be proud of everything the IRA did. No volunteer can claim to derive pride from actions that were demonstrable war crimes. And if the IRA is something to be proud of, why does its one time chief of staff deny that he was ever in it?'

Anonymous said...

The Silence is deafening were are the great defenders of Gerry
I cant believe that he had the gall to tell a very much honoured member of the movement the she should be proud of her past while he denies ever being in the Provo’s . I remember back to the trail of another Chief Of Staff in the 90’s who said he didn’t know that Long Kesh /The Maze existed. Now here we have what Sinn Fein supporters would have us believe are honourable men , gutless cowards more like, these men sent Dolours Price and her sister to bomb the brits were it really hurts and now they deny ever being part of the great struggle. He said that the reason she is saying such libellous words is because she has always been against Sinn Fein and the peace process , could it be that maybe just maybe she is telling the truth but that is not a word Mr Adams is familiar with .Vomit is a word that comes mind.

marty said...

I think the response from Adams the s/f president for life wannabe Irish president and part time bible thumper,his response to the claims made by Dolours Price although predictable were disgusting, those who are not on line with "party policy" are against the peace process what a loada bollocks, he seems to me to be thanking his lucky stars that Dolours is currently having a few health problems , thats the real reason for her outburst, making accusations against him. He says he has no blood on his hands and I believe the cowardly fucker he got others to do his dirty work,he then has the gall to tell all volunteers to look back with pride (but dont try to go to America) while he does a Judas on his involvement in the RM, the truth re, the hunger strikes ,the dissapeared ,and the coverup of perverts is coming back to haunt the man and I hope then the king will be seen in his new clothes in the meantime Dolours can take comfort that she doesnt reside in west Belfast or she would have a visit from the local picket unit, they havent gone away ya know

Fionnuala Perry said...

This must be a terrible time for Doloures. Recently I have heard a mixture of views on the whole scenario. Republicans have never been used to speaking out, many republicans went to their graves tormented by things they witnessed or experienced.We did not have the "befrienders" in those days i.e. the new ex-prisoners support group. Few of the flag wavers or Johnny come latelys' would ever have experienced the war as Doloures did. I once heard her recount the time she and her sister Marion were on hunger strike. I remember being particularly moved by the fact that Doloures was more tormented by what was happening to her sister during that time than herself. Clearly Doloures Price is an extremely altruistic person, which is more than can be said for Mr Adams.

anamcara said...

It is clear to any Irish republican that Dolours Price was, is and she will ever be a proud IRA member and Prisoner. She might have been forced fed by the Brits during her most principled protest in an British jail.

The personal and Irish republican courage filled with integrity as always remains with Dolours Price now that she is facing once again alone, the latest inhumane force feeding and all its vile violation from the infinite SF President.

Joe said...

It sickens me to the stomach listening to Adams berate Dolours, making snide remarks about her health. He hates the volunteers who placed their lives on the line, and holds them in nothing but utter contempt. Of course, didn't mind living off their wounds and courage, and would almost trip over himself to carry a coffin of a dead vol(provided the media had been duly informed, of course) What a disgrace the creep is.

marty said...

I had a pint tonight and I raised it to the lass who stood her ground,I remember you and your sis those long years gone back I made a hippie pic for you when we were young and free and the world seemed a much better place,keep your chin up Dolours,

ewok said...

good on ya dolourus!
am, i tried emailin ya about not getting last articles emailed to me,have i been takin off subscription list??

Alfie said...

Anthony, you write here that IRA volunteers have every right to look back on their role with pride. But how can you believe this, given that you now view the PIRA campaign overall as an unjust war?

AM said...

Alfie, I think the whole war was unjust not just the IRA's role in it. It was a war that in its totality should not have been fought. I suppose there are very few wars that are just. But wars are never neat, tidy affairs. I see no reason for IRA volunteers who militarily resisted the armed British state not to be proud, or the IRA volunteers who took part in hunger strikes and prison protest. I am far from convinced that because a war is unjust it necessarily follows that all who took part in it behaved unjustly during its prosecution. Same as a just war - not everybody who took part in its prosecution behaved justly.

thepin said...

I guess it will all end up in the lap of the brits rubbing thier hands.Rep haveing Rep for breakfast,lunch and dinner.Who next to tell a tale why not anthony ask all former c/of stafs to tout on the men and women who went out on thier orders.As a proud Rep i wont be leaveing info for to be printed when i pass on from this sorry tale.