I couldn’t help but cringe when I heard Martin McGuinness’s statement on the Peter Taylor documentary that his Mother was traumatised when she discovered his IRA involvement upon finding a beret in their home.
When I heard him say that my thoughts went out to those mothers whose trauma was not short lived when their sons or daughters, some as young as 16 and 17 and barely out of childhood, were killed on active service? They didn’t die for equality within the context of partition as McGuinness now shamelessly claims but for a 32 County Socialist Republic.
I thought of the brave Hunger Strikers and their Mothers who were traumatised as hour by hour, day by day, they watched their sons wasting away. Gerry Adams looked the Mothers of the last six in the eyes and lied that the British weren’t moving when in fact he knew that the deaths of the first four men had already broken Thatcher’s resolve.
Did McGuinness’s mother have to trek to Long Kesh, Portlaoise or some English jail for years on end? No, for he served less than a year in southern prisons while incredibly he served only a month on remand in the North for a charge of IRA membership before a Crown Prosecutor said he was instructed to withdraw the prosecution.
“Don’t go my friends, we will lead you to the Republic,” said the man who went on to toast the British Queen and who now claims the IRA campaign brought the British to the negotiating table.
The British had, in actual fact, known from at least July 6, 1981, two days before Joe McDonnell died, that; “some of them” (The Provisional leadership) wished “to consider an end of the current terrorist campaign,” (Humphrey Atkins to Thatcher). And when they came to the table in 1998 it was with exactly the same thing they had put on a table at Cheyne Walk London in July 1972 at a meeting with the IRA leadership. A leadership which included McGuinness and Adams. The following year, 1973, it became the Sunningdale Agreement.
If anything was negotiated in 1998 it was how something which had always been on the table could be reworded to appear like a new deal called the Good Friday Agreement.
As to the question posed by Taylor in the documentary; ‘Who won the War?’
Those who benefited from it politically and financially were the biggest winners, while the real losers were a wasted generation.
Is mise le meas,