The gun and gunfire display on Friday evening last by 15 masked Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) paramilitaries in front of the mural to dead hungerstriker Patsy O’Hara in Ardfoyle (just off Bishop Street) in the Brandywell area of Derry City came as as surprise to many.
The INLA has clearly been able to enlist and train young men and to source, transport and store weapons and ammunition as before through the Republic of Ireland.
The group had no problem in moving the uniforms, weapons and ammunition from secure ‘dumps’ in the city to Ardfoyle where 15 members of the group felt safe enough to offer a public display of gunfire, unmolested by any authorities passing down the adjoining main thoroughfare of Bishop Street.
They were able to disappear themselves and their weapons afterwards without difficulty in full view of many witnesses in the open and spacious Ardfoye estate.
But why in front of the mural commemorating Patsy O’Hara?
The gun and gunfire display was not just about commemoration.
Hungerstriker Patsy O’Hara has become a potent symbol of resistance not only to The Brits, but more recently to what is widely seen to be the corrupt IRA and Sinn Féin organisation of Martin McGuinness in the city going back some years.
Patsy’s mother, Peggy, was held in high esteem for the many troubles she encountered in her life, not least in losing a son after an agonising 61 days on hunger strike, while her two other sons did time also for ‘the cause’.
Peggy’s funeral in July 2015 saw a massive display of INLA paramilitaries (or sympathisers dressed as paramilitaries) while shots were also fired over Peggy’s coffin outside her home.
Peggy’s coffin was transported by a horse-drawn carriage that slowly clipclopped through the streets…
The INLA ramped up the more common funeral theatre to new heights with fanciful slow salutes:
and street genuflections near the old mural to Patsy on Bishop Street:
and in a few more locations for photographers:
So what was the REAL reason for all the funeral theatre?
The real reason was to challenge Martin McGuinness about his personal and political corruption, and the first challenge was a very public statement by Peggy’s granddaughter on social media telling McGuinness (and everybody else) that he in particular was not welcome at Peggy’s funeral.
It was not just what was seen as Martin McGuinness’ sell out of the republican struggle by caving in to British demands to disband the IRA, to decommission IRA weapons and to recognise and participate in the partitionist parliaments of Stormont and Dáil Éireann.
No, it was the fact that in 1976 Martin McGuinness sent a gang of 13 IRA volunteers to beat up Patsy O’Hara when Patsy, Mickey Devine (Patsy’s comrade INLA hunger striker) and others had begun to form the INLA in city.
One of the attackers sent by McGuinness to attack Patsy was an IRA volunteer accused later (by former Derry Brigade Staff officer and ‘hooded man’ internee Mickey Donnelly) of being a police informer – that IRA volunteer was Raymond McCartney. [For more about McCartney see here.]
[McGuinness also sent a gang to kill Mickey Donnelly in his home, but that attack failed in a bloodbath. Donnelly had annoyed the IRA Chief of Staff by claiming that he was a British Agent.]
On the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) website it is still possible to read a statement issued on behalf of the O’Hara family in April, 2011, calling for an apology from Sinn Féin for Martin McGuinness’ attacks on Patsy and on Mickey Devine:
After the O’Hara family directed Martin McGuinness to stay away from Peggy O’Hara’s funeral, McGuinness could not let it go and he issued a statement critical of the INLA.
McGuinness was hypocritically criticizing INLA gunfire in Derry while two months earlier IRA commander Gerard ‘Jock’ Davidson had been murdered in Belfast, some years after Davidson was chief suspect in the IRA murder of civilian Robert McCartney.
So the allegedly unarmed Derry Brigade of the IRA Sinn Féin now finds itself – in the eternal absence of Martin McGuinness – besieged by the armed and dangerous old style republicans of the New IRA in Creggan and by the armed and dangerous and bitter revolutionary socialists of the INLA in the Brandywell while its Army Council Directorate parent body in Belfast has declared it toxic and of no further use to the struggle…
The Derry Brigade IRA Sinn Féin has grown immensely wealthy and capitalist on the British payroll system, mired in nepotism, cronyism and alleged financial corruption, with millionaire members jetting off to Dubai to holiday on yachts owned by pals such as the wealthy Royal Navy Officer friend of Raymond McCartney.
To top it all, IRA Sinn Féin in Stormont is imprisoning republican prisoners of various shades in Maghaberry Prison – the former IRA prisoners are now the New IRA’s prison guards.
Derry City is in more ways than one a powder keg.
It’s the city where many claim it all began in 1968.
And it’s the city where the New IRA and the New INLA might want it to kick off once more.
Who would be a toxic McGuinness Shinner in Derry city?
And the man who is trusted to bring Law and Order to Tombstone is Sheriff Simon Byrne who granted the IRA the gift of a No Go area in West Belfast for a day to bury one of its Army Council chiefs, prison escapee Big Bobby Storey.