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An Open Letter to Martina Anderson

Political journalist and Unionist Revisionist Dr John Coulter is really bemused by Sinn Fein's unusual decision to appoint Martina Anderson as the party's so-called Ambassador to Unionism. He pens her an open letter and hopes she has the courage to respond

Dr John Coulter • 24 August 2006

This is an open appeal to Martina Anderson, the Shinners' recently appointed Ambassador to Unionism – tell the Prods the Provos have permanently disbanded and Sinn Fein is a purely political organisation like the now defunct Irish Independence Party.

Unfortunately, Ms Anderson, as a former republican prisoner, you face the uphill task – especially among the north Antrim hillbilly religious Rednecks – of the auld Prod saying, Never trust a Rebel.

And while you're at it – trying to convince Unionists the modern day IRA posed no threat to pro-Union voting Protestants – maybe you could tell me who from your party's military wing murdered three of the finest 'born again' Christian believers I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

One was a relative; another was a member of my father's congregation, and the third a close friend.

Just in case these brutal murders have slipped your mind, let me refresh it. My relative was 31-year-old RUC Reserve Constable Arthur Henderson who was killed by the Shinners' military wing on 8 October, 1974. The married man died when a booby-trap bomb placed in a car in Stewartstown exploded.

At Arthur's funeral service a few days later, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Dr G O Simms, said Arthur's last words before he died at the scene of the blast were: “May the Lord forgive them.”

That would have been quite a contrast from the barbaric animals who planned and carried out the attack. Arthur's 'born again' Christian attitude probably sparked hysterical laughter among your party's IRA active service unit responsible.

Three years later, on 12 February, 1977, my father – who was then minister of Clough Presbyterian Church in Co Antrim – woke me to tell me the terrible news that one of our congregation – 33-year-old RUC Reserve Constable Samuel McKane – had been shot dead, again by the Shinners' military wing. He was married with one child.

Just over a year later, on 3 August, 1978, my good friend and dedicated Christian 21-year-old RUC Reserve Constable John Lamont was also shot dead by your party's military wing. I used to always buy my shoes from the footwear shop where he worked, and he would visit me in the Christian bookshop where I had a part-time job at that time.

I, like many other Protestants, and indeed many Catholics, need closure on these horrific murders. Ms Anderson, you can begin by telling me why Arthur, Samuel and John had to die. What purpose did the deaths of these three dedicated Christians serve?

At the moment, no matter what swanky title the Gerry Adams/Martin McGuinness peace campaign awards you, your role as Sinn Fein's Ambassador to Unionism has as much chance of being taken seriously in the Prod community as any bid by Hezbollah to appoint an Israeli Community Relations Minister.

Do you seriously expect, as a former republican jail bird, to be welcomed with open arms, tea and biccies into the homes of border Protestant families who have endured the Provos' campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Unionist community?

What about the large numbers of unsolved murders of Prod RUC and UDR members during the IRA's political slaughter throughout the North? Will you help bring closure to these families by telling them who butchered their loved ones?

What about the workmen who were machine-gunned at Kingsmills? What about the Orangemen mown down at Tullyvallen? What about the people blown apart at Enniskillen, Bloody Friday and La Mon? What about the RUC officers killed in the Newry mortar blitz?

And when you're pondering what to say to those families, Ms Anderson, why don't you come up with some answers as to the so-called republican gangsters who killed three Pentecostal elders during a religious service at their Darkley church?

I do hope you will not be struck down by the terrible illness which many republicans suffer from – Selective Memory Disorder. That's where the republican movement can remember where all its arsenals and bunkers are located, but can't recall where it has buried the bodies of the Disappeared.

And don't try to bluff and insult the Prod community, Ms Anderson, by feeding Unionism some well-spun Sinn Fein crap that suffering, injustice, and grief are exclusive to republicanism.

Nor do the RUC and UDR widows and orphans want to hear any hypocritical drivel that their husbands, fathers or brothers were legitimate targets for the heroes of Holy Mother Ireland who skulked behind hedges waiting for the youth of Unionism to come home from their security shift before your IRA comrades murdered them.

If your job, Ms Anderson, is to be viewed as more than an effective publicity stunt to convince Bertie Ahern the Shinners might make good coalition partners after next year's Dail elections, then you must understand the tremendous pain and hurt which still exists daily in the Unionist community, especially along the border your Provo buddies have tried so hard to eradicate.

Protestant families need closure on the death and maiming inflicted on their loved ones. If, Ms Anderson, you want genuine Unionist trust, you need to instil in republicanism a willingness to be forgiven for the crimes the movement has committed and to publicly apologise to Unionism for the hurt and harm it has dished out over the years.

Forgiveness for victims is not one-sided. As well as a willingness to forgive, there must be the willingness to be forgiven – and the latter has never been shown by the republican movement.

This is because to show such willingness would be an acceptance of guilt for the Provos' so-called armed struggle.

And so Ms Anderson, its time to put your money where you mouth is. Tell me when Unionism can expect the IRA's willingness to be forgiven and its apology for the generation of genocide? I await your response with interest.

I will also assume that any ignoring of my open letter by you or your party is because the republican movement is still ridden with guilt at the suffering, pain and hurt it has inflicted on the Unionist community.









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Index: Current Articles

27 August 2006

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In the Balance
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The Time for Revolutionary Marxism is NOW
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No! To A Holy War
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Rendition Collusion
Eoin McGrath

Rendition Flights
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An Open Letter to Martina Anderson
Dr John Coulter

An Honest Writer: Cristóir Ó Floinn
Seaghán Ó Murchú

A Dual Presidency: An Improbable Solution to the Irish Problem
Michael Gillespie

Michéal Mhá Dúnnáin

Petition Calling for a Referendum on Irish Unification
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Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 5
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Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 6
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Number Crunching
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PFI Ventures Show the Con in all its Sordid Splendour
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Throwing the Book at Gerry
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The Question of Paisley's Legacy
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Courage, Muslim Leaders
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A Warning From History
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