Tuesday 22 October 2019

SF's O Snodaigh 'forgets' women butchered by IRA

JIM CUSACK A CALL by Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh for a minute's silence in the Dail to mark International Day Opposing Violence Against Women has been dismissed as an act of stunning hypocrisy.

O Snodaigh referred only to women murdered in the Republic since 1996, and made no mention of any of the women murdered by the IRA during the Troubles. O Snodaigh said the step should be taken in memory of the 106 women murdered in the country since 1996 and in recognition of the ongoing pervasiveness of violence against women in Irish society.

"These statistics are positively horrific and demand urgent action. I am convinced that if these statistics reflected a level of violence directed against any other group it would be treated as a national emergency," he said on Wednesday.

However, Fine Gael Senator Brian Hayes said yesterday: "Aengus O Snodaigh, who is now known to associate himself with convicted IRA members, has no credibility speaking out on the issue of violence against men, women or children. There is a responsibility on all constitutional politicians to take issue against the stunning hypocrisy mouthed by these people week after week. They simply have no credibility when it comes to the issue of violence."

Senator Hayes said that Sinn Fein had still to distance itself from "people who were directly responsible for murdering women from west Belfast", referring to the widowed mother of 10 children, Jean McConville who was abducted from her home by an IRA gang, taken to south Armagh and tortured before being shot dead and secretly buried on Templetown Beach in the Cooley Peninsula.

The list of people killed by the IRA during the Troubles is littered with the murders of women either intentionally or indiscriminately in bombings or shootings.

Among those deliberately targeted and shot dead was the Derry woman, Joanne Mathers, who was collecting census forms during the 1981 hunger strike and was shot in the head by an IRA gunman at the door of a house where she was collecting forms. Mrs Mathers, 25, was married with one young son. Another young mother killed by the IRA was Caroline Moreland, 34.

She was abducted, taken to south Armagh and tortured for almost a week and then taken to a lonely Border road and shot through the head. Miss Moreland, a single mother with a young daughter, was accused of beingan informer by a senior IRA man who was later himself suspected of being an informer.

At the time she was murdered Caroline Moreland was receiving treatment for cancer from which she was unlikely to survive. The IRA team that killed her knew of this at the time. Another young west Belfast woman who was shot dead after being accused of being an informer was Catherine Mahon, 27, who was shot dead in September 1985 along with her husband Gerard.

An IRA team led by the infamous 'Border Fox', Dessie O'Hare, also shot dead a young Protestant woman, Margaret Ann Hearst at her family farm in south Armagh in October 1977.

Miss Hearst, a single mother of a three-year-old girl, had taken up work as a part-time member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. The IRA gang shot her as her daughter was asleep in a cot and then fired shots into the cot, narrowly missing the child.

And the IRA in Fermanagh shot dead a 21-year-old Protestant woman, Gillian Johnson in March 1988 apparently because they wrongly suspected she had become engaged to a young man who had joined the Ulster Defence Regiment. It turned out her fiance had no connections with the UDR.

The IRA unit that murdered Gillian Johnston was led by a woman who later emerged as a member of Sinn Fein. Another young woman deliberately shot dead by the IRA was Mary Travers, the 27-year-old daughter of resident magistrate, Tom Travers, as she and her father left St Brigid's Catholic Church in south Belfast in March 1984. Miss Travers was shot dead by an IRA gang that included a close associate of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

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