Monday 26 February 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Deadly silence puts Sinn Fein on the spot

The reaction would be thunderous if a TD from any other party faced such accusations

Eilis O'Hanlon

They may not have known the full extent of what he did when he was, by his own admission, a senior IRA activist, but those who voted for Sinn Fein's Dessie Ellis in Dublin North West at the last election would hardly have been under the impression that he spent those years twiddling his thumbs.

So does it really matter that secret papers from the British embassy in Washington, revealed under the 30-year rule, have now claimed that Ellis was forensically linked to 50 murders in the North and the Republic?

There's an abstract political argument to be made that it shouldn't. That's certainly the one which Sinn Fein supporters were hiding behind last week in a desperate attempt to cover Dessie Ellis's back. He's a democratically elected representative; those were different times; British forces were up to no good as well. . . All undoubtedly true. That figure of 50 does also look a bit dodgy. The IRA murdered about 1,800 people. That would make Dessie Ellis responsible for nearly three per cent of all Provo killings, a remarkable feat in an organisation which saw up to 10,000 members jailed. There is undoubtedly an element of propaganda in the British claim, especially as it was made to US officials in 1982 when Ellis had been arrested on immigration offences.

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