Bury terrorism along with Kevin Barry
Sectarian thugs deserve no honour or legitimacy, here, or abroad, says Alan Ruddock
ONE day we'll probably wake up to discover that the men who bombed Enniskillen are being commemorated.
Statues in their honour, a parade through the streets, maybe a state funeral.
The legitimisation process is fast upon us. It is a steady assault on history, one that says terrorists were freedom fighters, that the IRA mostly gave warnings, that the hunger strikers were fasting for us all.
A classic example came in Friday's Irish Times, where Robert Ballagh described the starving to death of ten young men as 'uplifting'.
Possibly startled by Ballagh's tone, the IT decided to remind its readers that the hunger strikers were all convicted terrorists, and listed their crimes alongside Ballagh's piece.
Wherever you turn, legitimisation is all the rage.
The hunger strikers were commemorated in South Africa, allowing Gerry Adams another opportunity to pretend the ANC's struggle against apartheid can be equated to the IRA's bombings and shootings.
On any logical level, there would never be any valid comparisons drawn between the two, but that has not stopped the propaganda from working.
Northern Ireland's very own hatreds, played out graphically in Ardoyne, may run deeper than most, but the depth of the hatreds cannot disguise the shallowness of the differences between the two tribes.
A Sowetan wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
Still, republicans would have us believe that IRA terror is up there with the great freedom struggles of our time.
And even now, under the calm leadership of Mr Adams, the republican movement is desperately trying to salvage peace from the wreckers of unionism.
It is nonsense, but say it often enough and loudly enough and some people will believe you especially if the government of the republic, rather than challenging the republican version of history, tries to get in on the act by staging its own commemoration of men who killed, and were killed, 80 years ago.
The State funeral for Kevin Barry and his comrades in arms must have seemed like a good wheeze to the Fianna Fáil spinners when it was first mooted. It would allow Fianna Fáil to remind people that it, and not Sinn Féin, was the true republican party.
Maybe a great big state funeral would help stem the flow of voters to Sinn Fein.
All it shows, of course, is that terrorists age well.
If Barry deserves a state funeral in 2001, why not Bobby Sands in 2031, the fiftieth anniversary of the hunger strikes?
By then, Robert Ballagh's view of history may have taken sway. We will all have forgotten how vile, and unnecessary, and how illegitimate was the IRA's campaign of terror; instead we will see it as a key element in the struggle for freedom and justice in the six counties.
We tolerate this rewriting of even our most recent history because we are lazy, and because we are so pleased that the bombings and the murders have almost stopped, that we will do anything for a quiet life. Face down the republicans, and you risk sundering the 'peace process', so better say nothing.
WELL, Bertie Ahern if he can rip his mind away from the abortion debate and the Bertie Bowl could change all that at the Barry commemoration, and rescue something that looks all the more inappropriate after September 11.
He could remind his audience that the modern IRA were not inheritors of some ancient tradition, they were a collection of thugs and terrorists who continue to shoot and beat their own people in Northern Ireland.
He could use his speech to praise the constitutional nationalists in Northern Ireland who stood firm against the IRA and its threats, and who never swallowed the republican lies.
He could say that terrorism can never be justified, and that the murders of the past in our name shame us all.
As he buries Kevin Barry, Ahern should try and bury Irish terrorism. He should remind Mr Adams that the Irish people want the IRA to decommission now last Sunday's opinion poll made that abundantly clear and that we have all lost patience with the posturings of republicans.
Terror is terror, whether it is launched by Islamic fundamentalists or Irish fundamentalists of either extreme.
And what of the pipe bombers, and the murderers of Martin O'Hagan, and the spitting, urine throwing yobs outside Holy Cross? Why my focus on republican rather than loyalist terror?
Because the loyalists, unlike the republican thugs, do not claim legitimacy from us. They will never claim that their murders deserve a place in the pantheon of Irish nationalist heroes.
Loyalist terror is as vile as republican terror, and as barbaric, but all we can do from here is condemn it. Mr Ahern can do much, much more about republican terror.
Mr Adams needs to be told, in unequivocal terms, that our government wants to see IRA guns decommissioned, and wants IRA violence decommissioned.
And we should also demand though we will never get it an apology from the republican movement for the misery, mayhem and murder that it has needlessly subjected us to over the past 30 years.
We need to say, loudly, clearly and repeatedly that the IRA had then, and has now no legitimacy. That there will be no rewriting of history, no commemorations for the murderers of the 70s, 80s and 90s: they are a stain on Irish history, not some glorious chapter in it.
It would be good if Mr Ahern said all this when he gives his oration at the Kevin Barry funeral.
It would be good to confront Republican fantasists and make the case for democrats. If he does, then perhaps the state funeral will have served some purpose.
Otherwise it is nothing more than a piece of republican theatre which sends out the message that terrorism pays, the state is still wedded to the romantic notion that it's a great idea to kill and be killed for your country, and, that like the legions of virgins awaiting the suicide bombers, Ireland's terrorists can look forward to rehabilitation and commemoration.