Kevin Myers: Arise, Sir Martin McGuinness of Londonderry
Last week, RTE News announced that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain was to meet Martin McGuinness in Belfast. Phew. I'm certainly glad they told us it was Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and not the Queen Elizabeth of Togo, or the Congo, or Peroo. Except that is not her title. She is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The kingdom of Great Britain exists only in Sinn Fein-IRA's political lexicon.
But at least this episode serves to remind us that Sfira's kulturkampf continues. Sfira lost the war, as "republicans" always do, and so now it's trying to win the peace. You no doubt expect me to denounce the proposed handshake between Martin McGuinness and the queen, but alas, I must disappoint you. I'm not sure what to think. I see no reason why she should be expected to shake his paw, but maybe she wants to. After all, nearly half the IRA Army Council were, apparently, informers. In any given IRA court-martial, the Operations Officer, the two interrogators who used the IRA's drowning bath to extract the confession from the poor accused, the trial judges, the driver to the place of execution, the shooter, the lads with spades and the girl taking the notes, all -- except probably the accused -- were probably working for MI5.
Sorting out pensions must be hellish for poor old Whitehall. So who am I to say whether Martin McGuinness was or wasn't an agent? By God, I certainly hope that he was -- in which case, the queen is surely entitled to meet and thank one of her truly heroic servants. And it's the least he deserves on this, her jubilee year.
That said, the culture war in the media is being won hands-down by Sfira. Most young people now accept the bizarre Sfira myth that it fought a 26-year human-rights struggle against a dastardly British apartheid system. We opponents of this myth strive in vain with our lists of IRA atrocities, of the disappeared, of the shoppers blown to kingdom come, of the revellers slaughtered in Birmingham and Guilford and La Mon.
The republican narrative is like an anaconda; no uncomfortable truth is too big for it to consume and conceal. It just unhinges its jaw and swallows the lot: that's what it's always done, from the slaughtered Protestants of Wexford in 1798 to the slaughtered Protestants of west Cork 1922. And of course, Irish historians have always obliged the Sfira python. Why did it require a mere newspaper journalist nearly 25 years ago first to re--expose the Cork killings? Why a Canadian historian, the late Peter Hart, to follow his lead and to analyse the killings closely? Why a novelist, Gerard Murphy, to expose the mass murders of local Protestants by the IRA leader Martin Corry in Cork city?
But there is another corrupting component that works alongside chronic amnesia. It is the concept of unprincipled forgiveness. Now contrary to what those creepy moral apologists for the IRA insist, Christian teaching does not demand that one forgives one's uncontrite assailant as one forgives the repentant ones. The entire sacrament of absolution depends on unconditional repentance and a "firm purpose of amendment", namely, an intent never to repeat the sin. It is clearly absurd to treat the unrepentant and the repentant equally. To forgive all unconditionally is to indulge an unprincipled sanctimony that liberates offenders from whatever remains of their consciences. Such "forgiveness" -- whatever that term may actually mean - thereby makes more murder more possible. Why would anyone cease to kill if the bereaved repeatedly exonerate those who bereave? It is simple: to forgive the unrepentant killer during a terrorist war is morally irresponsible.
But like all important moral concepts, this takes us to extremely uncomfortable territory: for am I saying that Gordon Wilson was wrong to forgive the killers of his daughter in Enniskillen? Well, I certainly could not possibly condemn him for those words of Christian charity, spoken after he had been trapped beneath six feet of rubble beside a dying Marie. But did his forgiveness shorten the IRA campaign by even a day? Well, hardly. The war lasted nine more years, and took another 718 lives. When the IRA ceasefire finally began, all other terrorist campaigns ended shortly thereafter. The Troubles were thus largely an IRA confection, in which the very possibility of "forgiveness", either through corrupt IRA chaplains within the Catholic clergy, or amongst the victims, or by abject historians, must surely have been a vital psychological-enabler throughout.
Sfira remains unrepentant about its criminally stupid and unwinnable war. Instead, Sfira has created a bogus and winsomely chaste narrative about its peaceful struggle for human rights. Most young nationalists today, having been raised in a culture which instinctively fetishises victimhood, even when conspicuously counterfeit, now accept Sfira's fictions as fact. So if the queen's private handshake with Martin McGuinness serves to endorse Sfira's toxic mythology, it will be a very bad day's work indeed. On the other hand (so to speak), the queen might just whip out the old sword and secretly knight him, for secret services secretly rendered. One rather hopes so.
Arise Sir Martin McGuinness of Londonderry.