Back in the bloodiest days of the Provisional IRA’s campaign of murder and bombing in the early 1970s, elected representatives of the Catholic Nationalist population had no difficulty meeting with IRA leaders both at a local level and at a much higher level.
In Derry/Londonderry, whether it was the diminishing Nationalist Party [Eddie McAteer] or the rising Social Democratic and Labour Party [Gerry Fitt, Paddy Devlin, John Hume], contacts were regularly made with IRA leaders – people who were by then often ‘on the run’ and wanted for murders and bombings.
In fact, after the IRA mass murder atrocities of the Bloody Friday Bombings and the Claudy Bombings – after tales of IRA abductions, torture and extra-judicial ‘executions’ with corpses dumped at the border – contacts continued as before.
IRA leaders such as Dáithí Ó Conaill – who was then on the IRA’s Army Council – stayed at John Hume’s home in West End Park for talks during which nights there were tales of bottles of whiskey being downed.
British Governments themselves proceeded with secret and not so secret meetings with the IRA leadership, sometimes at the behest of the Nationalist Party or the SDLP.
On June 18th, Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw met SDLP MPs John Hume and Paddy Devlin who said they believed the IRA was willing to talk if the government released Gerry Adams, the 23-year-old republican activist held under internment. Viscount Whitelaw agreed and the meeting was on.
According to the papers, the historic meeting took place at the home of Colonel MW McCorkell at Ballyarnett, near the border with Donegal.
Representing the government was Frank Steele, described in the papers as a government official but known to be an MI6 agent, and Philip John Woodfield of the Northern Ireland Office.
Representing the IRA were Daithi O Conaill (described as David O’Connell in the papers) a senior republican strategist, and Gerry Adams.https://alphahistory.com/northernireland/ira-british-secret-meetings-1972/
These secret meetings culminated in the most famous meeting between a Conservative government and the IRA at 96 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea in July 1972, to which meeting McGuinness assured me he and the other IRA leaders carried their ‘personal protection weapons’.
On June 26th, the IRA called a “bilateral truce” and talks followed on July 7th 1972.
Arriving at the secret meeting at Cheyne Walk in London were Sean Mac Stiofain, the then IRA chief of staff, Daithi O Conaill, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Seamus Twomey and Ivor Bell.
The well documented meeting was a disaster. Sean Mac Stiofain effectively demanded the withdrawal of British security forces and the right for “Irish self determination”, the end of Northern Ireland as the IRA saw it, within a few years.https://alphahistory.com/northernireland/ira-british-secret-meetings-1972/
The long and the short of all of this is that Nationalist Ireland never had any difficulty meeting with its extremist murderous IRA sons, regardless of their most foul atrocities recently committed.
Even when the IRA’s front persons publicly accused SDLP leaders [and party members] of being ‘Quislings’ [Nationalist equivalent to Lundys] and ‘geriatrics’ – contacts still continued.
Despite their public and private differences, elected nationalist leaders continued secret meetings with IRA terrorists who were wholesale murdering their constituents – it was all part of the political game, wasn’t it?
Even when Catholic church leaders referred to IRA murderers as ‘followers of Satan’, contacts between Catholic church leaders and the IRA still continued.
Even Unionists not alone talked with IRA leaders – even those who had personally committed or else had ordered scores of murders of Protestants along border areas, including Human Bombs – even Unionists could easily stomach not alone talking with IRA leaders, but also APOLOGISING to IRA leaders for such slights as their having to hear a single verse of God Save The Queen.
Remember Mike Nesbitt scurrying across to apologise to IRA Mass Murderer Martin McGuinness after one of the IRA’s most extreme killers had to listen to a verse of God Save The Queen?
Okay, the Alliance Party’s David Ford got to McGuinness first.
Why was Mike Nesbitt apologising?
Ulster Unionist leaders falling over themselves to treat unrepentant, IRA-glorifying IRA leaders with kid gloves…
But – on one level – you have to RESPECT such extreme solicitude for paramilitaries, right?
It wasn’t like Martin McGuinness had ever RESIGNED from the IRA in protest at its 1,700 murders very many of which he had personally carried out, ordered or else had entirely agreed with.
It wasn’t like McGuinness hadn’t listened coldly to pleas for mercy by alleged informers whom he had personally later murdered or else given the orders for their murders – did he need sympathy and coddling because of a verse of God Save The Queen sung initially by the massed ranks of the TUV choir behind him?
He had no problem shaking the hand of the Queen whose Pardons affected some of his closest comrades.
So – with all the Ulster Unionist Party care for Martin McGuinness, unrepentant and gone to his grave below a gravestone trumpeting his IRA membership unto death itself – how to explain the extreme dislike of Loyalist Activist Jamie Bryson?
Yes, Bryson is a critic of the Ulster Unionist Party and its various leaders, past and present, but he expresses his politics without leaving 1,700 dead citizens in his wake and/or tens of thousands of maimed and injured victims.
There’s nothing illegal about opposing Southern Irish “Free State” interference in Northern Ireland – I mean, the IRA and Sinn Féin for years referred to Southern governments as “Free State bastards” and urged them in song to take the national flag “down from the mast, Irish traitors”… – no shortage of Free State Lundys in Sinn Féin’s vocabulary…
Apart from utilising social media, the law and freedom of expression, why does Bryson’s particular political outlook not earn him even a percentage of the warmth radiated on unrepentant IRA mass murderers?
What did Bryson ever do to earn the IRE of the Official Unionist Party worse than Martin McGuinness did?
Is he not guiding young Loyalists toward politics and the Law?
Because they view us Loyalists as an embarrassment, happy to use us back in the day to do the dirty work but just as the Shinners are rewriting their history so are the mainstream Unionist parties. The Duppers and Uupers and Tuvers do NOTHING for the Loyalist working class and Bryson is rightly pointing this out.