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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Truth Hurts


Mick Hall • 8 October 2004

On the Internet, 'Martin Ingram,' the pseudonym used by the co-author (with Greg Harkin) of the book Stakeknife and a former member of the British Army Intelligence Corp, has taken to posting on an Irish Republican website, Danny Amongst some members of the Danny Morrison list, his presence there has been regarded with some confusion and a fair amount of anger. Some of them believe that it cannot be the real 'Ingram' as he would have far more important things to do than waste his time debating with the likes of them, which some may think displays a certain low self esteem. Another group are willing to accept that the poster is 'Ingram,' but either believe he is up to his old tricks never having left his former profession, or they see him as a 'Judas' who is betraying his old employers, the British military and presumably his country too. The fact that 'Ingram' these days holds an Irish passport seems to cut no ice with this group. 'Ingram' himself arrogantly wrote, after being asked why he was posting on this particular Republican list, that he was "motivated by [his] desire to educate," which in itself is pure 'Martin Ingram' — the sort of guy why cannot pass a butterfly without pulling its wings off.

Leaving 'Ingram' aside, there are issues here of some importance that could reflect on how in the long term the Peace Process pans out. If, as seems likely, PIRA is eventually stood down by the Republican Movement's leadership and the situation in the North 'normalises' in that democratic politics become primary, then hopefully in the future if some variation of a Truth Commission is established in the North of Ireland, or even a further series of the admittedly inadequate Public Enquiries which are already on the agenda, then more ex-members of the British Security Forces may come forward to bear witness to some of the more unsavoury events they have witnessed or participated in. Now for them to do this will take courage as they will be going against the group mentality encouraged in the military and the culture they have grown up with, which for most people basically boils down to one does not speak ill of one's country to foreigners or go against the herd.

Those who come forward will do so for a host of often-complicated reasons, not all of which will be entirely honourable. But whatever their reasoning, if they testify truthfully, we and the society we live in will benefit from hearing what they have to say. I'm pretty sure whistle-blowing must be one of the loneliest public things a human can do. Whether it is spilling the beans on the abuse of power made by a government, multi-national corporation, the EU or the military/police, powerful forces are stacked up against the individual making the accusations. The type of pressures that can be placed upon any former soldier thinking about coming forward was amply demonstrated during the Saville Enquiry into the events in Derry on Bloody Sunday. Whistle-blowers really do plough a lonely furrow and to call them a Judas as some do is in my opinion outrageous and more to the point will hardly help entice ex-security force members to come forward and testify.

Anyone who has ever stood up to an injustice will understand that it is not an easy thing to do, but it is often made much easier by having loved ones, friends and comrades alongside. To be alone in this position, if only for a short time, can be a crushing experience. For me anyone who consciously treads this path deserves respect. That is not to say they should not be challenged and argued with; far from it, as in my experience many whistle-blowers despite their actions still hold all the prejudices of their past professions, and why indeed would they not?

On this Judas business, I feel those who publicly express such taunts are often displaying more about their own mindset on the world than those they are abusing. For example, if those from within the Republican/Nationalist communities or their supporters from overseas consider 'Ingram' a Judas, plus it seems also those like him who may well follow in his footsteps, do they also consider those English people who joined the PIRA as traitors, say the two lads who spent a long period in jail for the Harrods bombing? Going farther back in time what about Erskine Childers, who was shamefully abused in a similar manner although in a different context, by those Republicans who followed Michael Collins into supporting the Treaty? Or indeed the Republican demi-god Padráiq Pearse, whose father was a Yorkshireman and thus Pearse could be described as an Englishman if we were to use today's criteria for picking the Republic of Ireland soccer team. As far as the latter two Republicans are concerned I doubt they would, why not? Because as far as these illustrious gentlemen are concerned people realise that Irish-English history is complicated, often over-lapping.

But they seem unable to show the same generosity to former British Service personnel who live in their own time and are attempting in their own way to make amends, or at the very least shed some light on those dark corners that have been beyond our gaze over the last thirty odd years. Perhaps much of the hostility displayed to people like 'Ingram' from Republican quarters, springs from the fact that whilst they welcome the exposure of any wrong doing done by the British State and its agencies, they are wary that ex-British Army whistle-blowers, having no allegiance to Republicanism, if genuine may also expose unsavoury activities carried out by members of the Republican movement; some of who in all probability hold current leadership positions within SF. If so and the s---- hits the fan, as far as I'm concerned then so be it. These leading Republicans will simply have to recognise their political position has become untenable and move aside, making way for a generation of younger Republicans/nationalists whose hands are not tainted. Unfair in many ways perhaps, but surely necessary for the greater good. In any case if the IRA is stood down a fair number of men and women who have given the Republican Movement equal service, although away from the public's and media's gaze will also be facing redundancy. Surely some Volunteers are not more equal than others?



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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

12 October 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

George Harrison: An Appreciation
Sandy Boyer

Derrida, doctrinaires, debate
Seaghán Ó Murchú

That Hammering Sound
Michael Youlton

Truth Hurts
Mick Hall

Left Nationalism In Euskal Herria
Anthony McIntyre


The Letters page has been updated.

9 October 2004

Death of George Harrison
Ruairi O Bradaigh, National Irish Freedom Committee and Brian Mór

Can't Deal, Won't Deal
Anthony McIntyre

Update - Youth Suicide Prevention Project
J. Terry Ryan

Father Mc Manus on Ron Lauder, David Trimble, the Orange Order, and Catholic anti-Semitism
Father Sean Mc Manus

Say it in Breac'n English (Part Four)
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Some Inconvenient Facts
Patrick Hurley

Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Irish Question
Liam O Ruairc

The Gates of Hell
Elana Golden

After the Venezuela Referendum
Toni Solo

One for the Road
Brian Mór



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