The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Oderint dum Metuant

Some said the vigil was a sign of the growing unease at the criminal activities of what one person called a "Goodfellas" gang of IRA "peacetime" paramilitaries. People complained of IRA punishment beatings, racketeering, intimidation and sexual violence over recent years - Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

Anthony McIntyre • 9 February 2005

Whatever the time of the year funerals are invariably cold occasions. At least that is how they are stored in and replayed from the memory bank. Looking back over those that I have attended I cannot think of any that were without chill. The least bit of warmth in the body is involuntarily pushed out by the first peel of the chapel bell, which tolls for the deceased as they begin that final journey to the grave. Even if the day in question was sunny nothing of the sun bursts through when later the mind's playback button is pressed.

Yesterday's funeral in East Belfast for Bert McCartney was a cold occasion in every sense of the word. Those of us who stood outside St Matthew's Chapel shifted from foot to foot as the funeral mass took place inside. I watched a senior PSNI member leave the church towards the end and walk by us. The day previous he had appeared on television outlining the progress in the investigation of Bert McCartney's murder. Having been at odds with the cops all my life I was somewhat surprised and confused by a desire welling up inside me to bid him 'good luck' in his effort to remove the cut-throat killers of Bert McCartney from the streets of Belfast. While I said nothing, the thought that he should have good luck remained with me all day. Watching the victim's distraught loved ones, his tiny children, and anguished friends and neighbours walk in the cortege that winded its way through damp streets, to wish failure on the cops on this one would simply be to deny justice to everyone who shed tears yesterday. The butchers of Bert McCartney are no different from Mark Wright and James Fisher, the two Scots Guards members who plied their murderous trade to end the life of Peter McBride. Why should the cops be denied the luck needed to ensure Bert's killers no longer stalk Belfast streets?

Watching news coverage of the funeral later in the day, the comments of the officiating priest may have passed me by as eulogising words sincerely offered as a balm to his family were it not for the observation of my wife. She said that the sentiment 'greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,' showed that Bert had more in common with Bobby Sands than those who murdered him had. An image flashed through my mind of Bobby, defenceless and naked in the H-Blocks, surrounded by screws ready to tear into him. Reading Brendan Devine's account in the Irish News of how his friend was confronted with thugs reinforced such imagery. Bert had stood, hopelessly outnumbered, holding up his hands as he reasoned with his would be killers, 'nobody deserved this. We didn't do anything.' Reason died and hate slithered away to cover up the evidence of its crime.

Talking to locals as the funeral procession weaved its way along the Mountpottinger Road, I listened as they spoke not only of their abhorrence but also their fear. And the source of their fear was members of the organisation which had sprang into existence as their defenders. I teased this out, suggesting that the IRA had never been populated by Shankill Butcher types and would hardly want them about the organisation now. They accepted the logic but protested that some republicans had visited homes in the area telling people to stop discussing the events surrounding the murder. One long time Sinn Fein voter mentioned one of those named in the grapevine as having plunged the knife into the two drinking buddies and said, 'you know yourself he is a sadistic scumbag and has been so all his days.' I could hardly dispute it, mentally recalling complaints that came through regularly about the same person when prior to the Good Friday Agreement I had staffed a Sinn Fein office in the Lower Ormeau Road. Had I failed to sufficiently flag it up years ago?

If there is to be any consistency or justice, then the same affront felt within the wider nationalist community when Fisher and Wright were readmitted to the British Army needs to be on public display today. If the long stated opposition to a hierarchy of victims is genuine then there can be no hierarchy of murderers.

Despite what has been said of the IRA in recent weeks, or what motivates its leadership, it is still very difficult to conceive of the body of its membership as being motivated by criminal self-aggrandisement. Some of those named as being suspects in the Northern Bank robbery would have ability in abundance to plan and execute the raid but they would be clueless when it comes to thinking like criminals. The minds they are equipped with lack criminal intent. Yet it is indisputable that a strain of vicious criminality does lurk within the IRA, a parasite feeding off the legitimacy that association with the IRA provides. Its one attitude towards the community it feeds upon is that of the emperor Caligula, 'Oderint dum Metuant': 'let them hate as long as they fear.'

In such circumstances it is futile to resort to platitudes and advise those who are frightened that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. That will hardly dissuade the knife plungers from coming to the door. Today's Guardian graphically described the fear that grips the community. Yet, if the Butchers are not tackled the tyranny of the knife will rule over the lives of the most vulnerable in areas like the Short Strand. There the community has been robbed of one of its most decent members. It cannot be fitting that those who murdered him should find any solace or succour from within that community. No organisation or group should shield them. Bert McCartney's killers have no right to a hiding place. They should be cast to the tender mercies of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, where together with the screws they can share common cause as having participated in the murder of Irishmen willing to lay down their lives for their friends.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

9 February 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Oderint dum Metuant
Anthony McIntyre

Life Amongst the Proveau Riche
Brian Mór

Can Republicans Succeed Without Upholding National Sovereignty?
Francis Mackey

The Party or the Process
Dr John Coulter

Sean Russell and the Nazis
Mick Hall

Counting the Bodies
Liam O Ruairc

Elections' Aftermath
Ghali Hassan

What did Aeschylus write in "Daughters of Danaus"?
Toni Solo

4 February 2005

Burdens Unbearable
Anthony McIntyre

The Generals' Dance
Mick Hall

One Year After the Kelly's Incident: Bobby Tohill Speaks
Liam O Ruairc

Loyalist Elements Feuding with UVF - Blamed for Attacks at Unity Walk
Sean Mc Aughey

The Possibilities With Brown
Dr John Coulter

Report of Bloody Sunday Commemoration in Glasgow
Seamus Reader

Uniting Against Radicalism
Harun Yahya



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