Equality needed at Maze Shrine

Dr John Coulter with a piece that initially featured in the Irish Daily Star on 8th July 2013.

A shared shrine at the old Maze jail, jointly commemorating both the Provos and the Tans is the perfect solution to the peace centre debacle.

Just as Unionists have to recognise the role which the IRA and INLA played in the Troubles and how important a shrine is to republicans, so too, republicans cannot ignore the role of the Black and Tans during the War of Independence.

The only solution is a 'one shrine fits all'. If President Barack Obama's 'shared future' is to become a reality and not some fancy G8 rhetoric, then the Maze shrine will have to be a memorial to EVERYONE who died in the Irish conflict over the generations.

The Shinners cannot mouth off about equality and there being no hierarchy of victims and then try to airbrush the Tans out of Irish history.

The last time I tried to suggest a recognition of the Tans' contribution to the Irish conflict, I was branded a "war criminal" and threats made against me.

Of the estimated 8,000 Tans who served in Ireland, almost half were killed, yet there is no significant memorial to them.

The South is littered with memorials to dead Anti-Treaty IRA men who were killed or executed during the Tan and Civil wars.

The Maze shrine could also remember the more than 70 IRA men who were executed by Free State forces during the Civil war. It should also remember the Free State soldiers murdered by the IRA in that conflict.

Hopefully, too, the Maze shrine will commemorate the two policemen murdered by notorious IRA killer and TD Dan Breen, who started the War of Independence with the Soloheadbeg ambush in 1919. Breen was head of the feared IRA's Third Tipperary Brigade and he went to his grave boasting about the people he murdered.

Many people are having a go at republicans as if the Maze shrine will be a 'nationalists only' memorial. What about the hundreds of loyalists who were killed, jailed or played a significant role in the conflict?

Any shared Maze shrine must include references to dead loyalists like UFF commander John McMichael, UVF Shankill Butchers boss Lennie Murphy; LVF founder Billy 'King Rat' Wright', and the mastermind behind the Dublin and Monaghan no-warning bombs, Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson.

Republicans certainly don't hide behind any hedges when it comes to honouring their so-called 'war dead'.

The Ballyseedy memorial in Co Kerry is certainly very impressive, listing the names of well-known Anti-Treaty IRA men who were executed in March 1923 by the Free State forces. Nine were tied to a landmine, which was then detonated, killing eight.

And let's not forget the thousands of innocent civilians and members of the security forces from both sides of the Border who died during the recent conflict. Their names must also be included in the 'one shrine for all' at the Maze.

One murdering butcher whose name will definitely be on the IRA's Maze shrine is that of East Tyrone terrorist Jim Lynagh, who was killed with seven other Provos in the Loughgall ambush. Lynagh once came within 10 minutes of murdering one of my close relatives.

If Lynagh's name is on some Maze plaque, then so must my RUC Reserve cousin Arthur Henderson, who was killed in Stewartstown in an IRA booby trap car bomb.

What is needed is equality at the shrine. When people visit, they must see the whole picture of the conflict, and not simply the 10 IRA and INLA 1981 hunger strikers.


  1. Dr John-

    " A shared shrine "
    Prison officers who were killed will have a wee place somewhere in the new Long Kesh complex but still some Unionists are not happy-God knows what the black and tans have to do with the H-blocks for them to be named on site-

    " What is needed is equality "
    John calls Vol Jim Lynagh a murdering butcher so in the name of equality his RUC cousin-blow up Henderson was a murdering pig-

  2. Innocent RUC... can't for the life of me place RUC men with innocent civilians. So many in the ranks stitching people up. Verbal statements fabricating and losing 'evidence' and downright murder. UDR 4 never got a mention either John. No equality in that.

    There can't be equality John, only the IRA were murdering people in 'Ulster' the Prods were all innocently going to and from an honest, law abiding days work.

  3. Dr John:

    Your Poor Cousin Arthur Henderson, B- Special, Murdering scum, deserved to die, he and the rest of that scum had a license to exterminate Catholics. I wonder how many he executed?. How can you expect equality with sick statements, re shankill butchers etc. Two of my family were murdered by those degenerates. so you can go + fys John Coulter, your just as bitter as your Blown to pieces B-Special cousin, and your making money out of it by publishing in newspapers. No sympathy from me regarding your Cousin.

  4. Feelings running high on this one. I am not policing the debate but try and keep it civil. John Coulter is entitled to his views as much as the rest of us.

  5. Anthony:

    You allow everyone on your blog to voice their opinion, The TPQ sets an example to to other blogs, FREEDOM TO SPEAK ONES MIND.

    In my opinion John Coulter has gone well over the top on this one, ie ;

    " Any shared Maze shrine must include references to dead loyalists like UFF commander John McMichael, UVF Shankill Butchers boss Lennie Murphy; LVF founder Billy 'King Rat' Wright', and the mastermind behind the Dublin and Monaghan no-warning bombs, Robin 'The Jackal' Jackson. "

    Lets start with Lenny Murphy , set up by his own to be assassinated by the RA, King Rat, the word RAT says it all, but to even state the Robby Jackson should also be included, that's well taking the piss.

    John Coulter to me is an out and out Loyalist scumbag.

    On this one I have to speak my mind, I think you picked the wrong piece of Coulter's to post, because I do not believe for one moment Coulter is stating his views, I believe he is just taking the mickey.

    No offence meant Anthony.

  6. Itsjustmacker,

    I know you value TPQ as a site where pretty much all manner of opinion is allowed.

    I don't pick or choose 'right' or 'wrong' pieces written by John Coulter to place on the blog. I don't filter them for political correctness or soundness or to see whether they might be agreeable to me. If he writes I publish.

    His views can be provocative and they offend some. He too finds other views here offensive and provocative. But here's the thing: John Coulter is of the free speech school. He knows there is no right not to be offended. He believes that people not opinions should be defended. He must balk at the anti-religious sentiment vented on this blog but you will never hear him complain about it.

    Far from him being an out and out loyalist scumbag he is a unionist - hardly a crime - and a gutsy journalist prepared to go to jail in order to protect his sources.

    Now that to me counts for a lot. Because if we look at the latest twist in the BC saga where BC openly wants to identify to the PSNI its own confidential sources - to assist law enforcement rather than protect sources - we see that the type of fortitude displayed by John Coulter is not a widespread phenomenon.

    Myself and John Coulter hardly share the same opinion about anything: except this - it is a person's right to have a different opinion and to believe whatever they want.

    John Coulter is holding a mirror up to us in the hope that it might show us something we don't like. The response is not to break the mirror.

  7. With respects, this blog with stupid reasoning is beginning to make Jude Collins look respectable.

  8. Thue huns should stick-up their own monument at Long Kesh. Preferably 'stick it up' Coulters hole.

  9. You know when you cut through the emotion here for once I believe John may have a point, he is certainly right in stating that there can be no hierarchy of victims ,I to would feel disgusted to see Bobby Sands name on the same memorial as that of Billy Wright,the word shrine makes me cringe with its religious connotations and all that goes with such,those who died did so for very different beliefs and ideals right or wrong,so its is I think entirely reasonable that any memorials on this site should be segregated,the British legion do not erect memorials to German war dead I think nor should they be expected to, I think a memorial in a prominent position to all who have died and suffered here is worthy thought but with our current sectarian approach to each other such memorials would exist in a lonely environment,separation and segregation has been the cornerstone of this state, inspired by the Brits divide and rule ethos,and it may be more fitting if people like John were to explore why we had these deaths in the first place,memorials wont bring justice ,they just remind us all of the injustice of war .

  10. Jaysus Marty,

    seems like your good Mrs has had the necessity to slip a few sedatives into your dinner again. Or is someone assuming your identity? lol

  11. anthony, you claim that john is simply holding up a mirror to us to see something we don't like. i'm assuming that's so we can see all that's wrong with our history and current political positions, which in his opinion would be everything. but if he has the right to freely express his opinions here, words that at the best of times are enough to make one's blood boil and at the worst of times, well, make one tempted to break the mirror...then surely we can *all* respond in kind.

    i don't know the man so i can't and won't judge or attack him personally, but if i were to judge by his writings he does comes across as a bigot. no different than the rest of the hate-filled section of the PUL community in the north. if i'm wrong, so be it. but nothing he's written so far has made me think i am. and in my own personal opinion i agree with others that he has gone too far on this piece. even the idea of an evil sectarian cunt like lenny murphy, plus the rat & the jackal, being "honoured" in the same place we lost our hunger-strikers is beyond sick. it comes across as deliberately antagonising and an attempt to bait a undesirable response from republicans. again, i could be be wrong, but i'll wait and see.

    as for the whole issue of what to do with the site, i'm conflicted. for the most part i would agree that loyalists should be able to have a memorial to any of their own who passed away in the gaol. there were loyalists prisoners inside and they have the right to remember. yes, there should be equality. but due to the brit-enforced sectarian mind-set that's been drilled into the minds of our people over generations i don't think there is any other solution than to have the memorials set up in completely separate areas of the gaol. they CANNOT put the names of bobby sands and billy wright on the same monument.

    but even though i've said that, in my heart all i can feel is that there is only one memorial that deserves to stand on the grounds of long kesh -- one dedicated to the 10 brave martyrs who selflessly gave their lives in 1981 and every former blanketman and ex-POW who has since passed away having never escaped the hell of the h-blocks inside their own tortured minds.

  12. Maizzie,

    no one has been stopped commenting in kind. Republicans have a history but we don't own all history. There is a multiplicity of narratives out there some more right than others, some not right at all. For a better understanding of our past we will not achieve it by suppressing narratives. Let them compete and contest.

    Lenny Murphy was a war criminal and should be dishnoured as such. But at the same time republicans inflicted war crimes not greatly dissimilar, if at all, from Bloody Sunday. Coulter in his piece, if I am not mistaken, is inviting us to comment on that aspect of our past.

    The one memorial idea is never going to win the day even though we might prefer it. The spot is undoubtedly suitable for the type of memorial you suggest but the symbolism of any proposed venture has to extend beyond the hunger strikes.