Irish News it was revealed that the former IRA hunger striker Dolours Price had stepped up to the plate and acknowledged her involvement in some of the Northern conflict’s most notorious incidents. It was a remarkable step made none the easier by an undoubted awareness on her part that there exists a widespread public revulsion towards disappearing people, some of whose remains have yet to be uncovered.In yesterday’s
The group responsible for the bulk of the disappearances was the Provisional IRA. In some cases not only did it disappear its victims but it bestowed the status of double disappeared on them. The very act of their disappearance was itself disappeared. This disclosure, as made public in the case of the late Joe Lynskey, has thrust a dagger into the heart of the Provisional IRA’s earlier claims to have been doing all in its power to recover the bodies of people it had secretly interred. There is not the slightest intention of recovering a body of a person never revealed as having been disappeared to begin with.
Although Joe Lynskey would seem to have disappeared in the summer of 1972, when the late Seamus Twomey was commander of the Belfast IRA, the dark practice really came into its own under the leadership of Twomey’s successor in the city, a Pinochet type character who overruled the objections of his operations officer to the new policy. In a few short months at least three people had been spirited away never to be seen alive again.
Dolours Price was reported in the Irish News as having been the IRA operative who drove Lynskey across the border from the North days before he died and who remains buried in some hidden grave. Whether Price knew the fate that awaited Lynskey before she accompanied him on that journey has not been made clear. There is little doubt however that she has undergone severe trauma as a result of her IRA involvement.
That trauma was a subject addressed by Sinn Fein president, and former Provisional IRA chief of staff, Gerry Adams. Clearly pricked that one of his former volunteers would publicly identify him as the man who issued orders to her while she engaged in IRA activity, he has sought to defuse her charges by claiming that she is opposed to Sinn Fein and the peace process. He has also called on her to take responsibility for her own actions and for former combatants to be proud of their role in the IRA.
It very much seems, as reported in the Irish News, that Dolours Price is taking responsibility for her actions. What appears to have enhanced her trauma is that others have failed lamentably to accept responsibility for theirs. Her trauma has caused her to remember. Maybe others are not traumatised because they have conveniently managed to forget – that they were even in the IRA.
IRA volunteers have every right to look back on their role with pride. But it does not fall upon them to be proud of everything the IRA did. No volunteer can claim to derive pride from actions that were demonstrable war crimes. And if the IRA is something to be proud of, why does its one time chief of staff deny that he was ever in it?
Taking responsibility for our actions is indeed laudable and for which Dolours Price deserves praise. Taking action to avoid our responsibilities is shameful. The IRA did many wrong things but it was not so terrible that we need to be ashamed of it.
Did those most ashamed do the most terrible things?