The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Rewriting the Past to Suit the Present

Mick Hall • 31 July 2005

Consider this. A leading Western nation goes to war under what most of the world's population regard as dubious circumstances, bordering on illegality; a sizable section of the said country's own people feel much the same about their Governments justification for war. Nevertheless the armed forces of this country are called upon by its politicians to do their duty, which, as is their way, they do without question. Thus a few weeks into the conflict, the young pilot of a warplane along with his navigator/bomb aimer take to the sky to destroy an enemy target. Prior to take off they had been briefed by their superiors that their mission would be extremely dangerous, as they would be attacking the enemy's main military Command and Control bunker, which was situated in the heart of the
enemy's capital city. Over the target, the bomb aimer did what he had to do, then launched the planes missiles. Unfortunately due to a fault in the weapons guidance system, instead of hitting the intended target, one of the missiles landed in the center of a busy downtown market, killing tens of shoppers, men, women and children who were about their daily business.

When the air crew returned to base they are told of this and understandably are distraught, but are told by their superiors, and later also by their nation's leading politicians and media pundits, that unfortunately this is the nature of modern warfare; the important thing to do is put it behind them and get on with the job. Little more is heard of this matter, bar that is, in the hearts and minds of the families of the innocent victims of this 'act of war'.

The above scenario was taken from an actual incident involving members of the British Royal Air Force during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, change the location to Belfast 1993 and replace the high tech weaponry with a standard explosive device manufactured by the IRA's engineering department. Change the young RAF air crew for two IRA volunteers of a similar age, who have been briefed by their senior officers to enter into the heart of enemy territory, to place an explosive device, the purpose of which is to kill the senior ranks of the loyalist terror group the UFF/UDA, individuals who were at that time overseeing a bloody campaign to terrorize the nationalist population into accepting the then status quo in the North of Ireland.

This campaign had already taken the lives of countless Catholics, often in the most barbaric manner, the majority of whom had no connections with armed Republicanism.

The two IRA Volunteers were ordered to enter the shop below the flat where the UFF leadership were meeting, order everyone out, place the bomb on the stairs leading up to the flat above, set the timer and make good their escape. Unfortunately for all concerned, the bomb exploded prematurely, devastatingly killing nine innocent people who were either working, or waiting to buy fish and chips, in the shop below the flat. One of the Volunteers was severely injured in the blast whilst his comrade was killed outright. As to the UFF/UDA tops, it appears IRA Intel had been faulty, as the UFF leadership had already left the building well before the PIRA active service unit arrived.

Of course in the latter incident, the surviving volunteer was Sean Kelly, who having being released from prison on license under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, had recently been returned to jail by the Secretary of State for NI Peter Hain, only to be re-released immediatly prior to the latest IRA statement.

Mr. Hain has never made public his reasons for acting as he has done, beyond claiming that Mr Kelly had broken the terms of his release. Unless Mr. Hain publishes his reasons for returning Sean Kelly to jail and then re-releasing him, it is difficult not to believe he acted due to political pressure, firstly from Unionist politicians and their henchmen and women in the media and British parliament, and then from the PRM. In other words, political expediency, not the rule of law was his motivating factor.

Sean Kelly has become a particular hate figures for these people, as they see a convenient peg on which to hang their prejudice to gain political advantage. The latter group, ever since Mr. Kelly's release on license, have done all they can to stoke the fires for his return to jail, making it almost inevitable, unless, that is, on his release he had gone off and become a hermit in the Sinai desert. In their attempts to return him to jail, and by so doing re-write the history of the struggle Mr Kelly and his fellow volunteers were engaged in, he has been continuously described by them as Ireland's foremost mass murderer, as if when he committed the act for which he was imprisoned he had acted as an individual, totally divorced from the political and military environment he then lived in. He has also been compared unfavorably with pedophiles and called countless other unhelpful names. Whilst one could understand the families of those who lost loved ones due to the
explosion in Fizzell's expressing themselves in this manner, for unionist politicians and much of the media to follow suit appears to me to be an attempt by them to demonize and re-write history.

Mr. Kelly and his fellow Volunteer were not suicide bombers, nor were they psychotic as some in the media have described them. They considered themselves soldiers on a mission, the purpose of which was to kill people who had been responsible for countless cold blooded murders of their totally innocent Catholic near neighbors, and were in the process of planning more of the same. Of course what happened on that fateful day should, in a civilized society never have occurred. [And incidentally the same goes for those innocent shoppers atomized whilst buying food in the Baghdad Market.] However back in 1993 the north of Ireland was still far from being such a society. Bringing that about was after all what we were told the torturous GFA negotiations were, and sadly still are, all about.

The responsibility for the death of those nine innocent people on that dreadful Saturday sits on the shoulders of far more people than Sean Kelly. Those of us who are old enough all have to take some responsibility for the type of unequal and oppressive state-let that evolved in the north of Ireland, which led members of the UFF/UDA to regularly sit in the flat above Fizzell's chip shop and plot the murder of their near neighbors with impunity, which in turn led to Sean Kelly and the organization he belonged to attempt to stop them by force of arms.

To demonize, attempt to criminalize and return to jail the likes of Sean Kelly simply will not help an already difficult situation. We all have a duty to those thousands who have had their lives stolen in this conflict to oppose all those who wish to engage in the re-writing of history in the aforementioned manner. For if history is rewritten to suit the powerful (that is, the very people who got us into this mess in the first place), as it so often has been in the past, it is hardly surprising if it repeats itself, over and over again. For how can future generations learn from such a tardy re-writing of the truth?



Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

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

1 August 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

An Open Letter to Gerry Adams
Dolours Price

The Inevitable
Anthony McIntyre

PIRA Statement 'Neither Surprising nor Historic'
32 County Sovereignty Movement

'Provisional IRA Should Disband Completely'
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

A Momentous, Historic, Courageous and Confident Statement
Jimmy Sands

When History Was Made
Brian Mór

Roundup on the IRA Statement
Liam O Ruairc

The Way of the Apache and Lakota
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Strange Bedfellows?
Eamonn McCann

Rewriting the Past to Suit the Present
Mick Hall

Shoot to Kill: Getting Away with State Murder
Eamonn McCann

Parents of the World Unite
Fred A Wilcox

31 May 2005

Justice is the Right of All Our Victims
Gemma McCartney

Quis Separabit? The Short Strand/Markets UDA
Anthony McIntyre

Civil Law as an Instrument of Resistance
Peter Mason

A Salute to Comrades
Dolours Price

Behaviour of Young Gets Worse
David Adams

Recognising Similarities, Delivering for the People
Mick Hall

One Republican Party
Dr John Coulter

Venezuela: A Common Brotherhood
Tomas Gorman

May Day versus Loyalty Day
Mary La Rosa

One Eyed Morality
Anthony McIntyre

Lying in Wait for the Dutch Tsunami…After the French Earthquake

Michael Youlton



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices