|Anthony and Carrie|
Today I read a very thought provoking and disturbing article penned by Carrie McIntyre who amongst other things is the wife of political commentator and former political prisoner Anthony McIntyre.
In her article Carrie draws comparison between her personal experience and the suffering and anguish felt by Máiría Cahill, with Carrie having been vilified for her vocal stance on injustice and for her involvement in Boston Oral history project. It is clear to any objective individual that the Boston History project was carried out in good faith with it's purpose to gather testimonies from republican and loyalist paramilitaries to ensure their side of the story is told in the future.
I first met Carrie McIntyre whilst I was propping up a large picture board in support of Marian Price during the 2013 annual March for Justice in Derry. As I waited for fellow campaigners to get off the bus which had arrived from Belfast Carrie walked towards me, introduced herself and then to my delight thanked me for my efforts in the campaign for Marian Price which for me was somewhat of an unexpected and rare occurrence.
At the end of the march Carrie again approached me to say goodbye and wished me well. The next time I met Carrie was in her home last year in the company of mutual friends. During the short visit I could sense that both she and Anthony were under extreme pressure despite the brave faces they put on it.
As someone who has highlighted human rights and social justice issues I have the utmost respect for the McIntyres who not only raise their heads above the parapet but when needed stick their heads through it. I am today deeply saddened to learn of the severe impact the continued vilification of this family has had on them, particularly Carrie. Anthony who spent years in prison for troubles related offences spent a large part of his prison sentence on the blanket protest which has no doubt taken it's toll both mentally and physically. Sadly years on it would appear that he is now suffering at the hands of those he once called comrades, something that has been ongoing since he and Carrie spoke out against the murder of Joe O'Connor in broad daylight in Belfast.
Admiration is all well and good but it is clear Anthony and Carrie are in need of more than admiration they are in need of what they have given and continue to give to others and that is full support. I must stress this is no attempt on my part to dismiss the support they have and continue to receive. No family should have their name dragged through the mud or plastered on walls for avoiding revisionism and telling the truth.
No person should be reliant on medication as a consequence of living in fear for speaking their mind and fundamentally no woman or man should fear to sleep because of veiled threats from those who ought to know better. Those who pay tokenistic lip service against such behaviour, those who vilify and criminalise murdered teenager Paul Quinn, and those who belittle the bravery of Máiría Cahill.
Those involved in this endless vilification of the McIntyre family are merely justifying and fuelling the malevolence of British establishment who I would add were relentless in their quest to access and compromise the Boston project. With these tapes said to be worthless in a court of law we can only assume these efforts were made to either strengthen their hold in the north, cause further division or to ensure that history is written by them as the victors. My guess is they will be successful with all three.
For those blind to the above factors I would add that the British establishment are now in a privileged position in that they have mastered their age old art of divide conquer and employed it to great effect here in the north as they continue to peddle their part as a neutral buffer between warring sectarian muck savages. Further to this and to reinforce their position they present to the world the hilarious ongoing comedy of the numpty narcissists in Stormont as democracy in action. And if I'm honest each time I see the footage on TV of the Carson statue on the long drive up to Stormont I'm always waiting on Woody Allen or Mel Brooks to come tumbling out from behind Carson in a fit of laughter at how we've been had.
But this is no comedic farce, yet it remains a farce nonetheless and the sad truth from reading between the lines in Carrie's statement is that it is clear that she continues to knock on doors for support. So the question is do we sit back and allow her to continue down a lonely path or do we join her to ensure her knock is heard and her call is answered? Do we ignore the plights of the Quinn family in South Armagh, Máiría Cahill, or the next victim of injustice who has the courage like the McIntyres to raise their heads above that lonely parapet?
These people cannot and should not be held accountable for the action or in-actions of the British State, irrespective of how their cohorts try to justify or spin it.
Ironically as the McIntyres continue to suffer and lose sleep the members of Northern Ireland Assembly who have remained silent on the issue are currently involved in promoting a new initiative in an attempt to deal with the past. This initiative known as a truth recovery process will involve encouraging former paramilitaries to come forward and have their version of events documented in order to shed light on the past. Sound familiar?
The difficulty with this truth recovery commission is depending on the immunity offered and secured, the submission of statements for some could result in a two year prison sentence as was agreed under the Good Friday Agreement. Were as with the Boston tapes there is seemingly less chance of securing a conviction.
So lets say we apply the logic of those involved in demonising the McIntyre family to the proposed truth recovery process, with this logic it could be argued that those behind the initiative are engaged in attempts to initiate a type of touting programme? Yet I doubt these names will ever appear on any wall.
Maybe if some of those involved in vilifying the McIntyre family would take time and form an opinion of their own they would realise that they too could find themselves in a similar position and for merely formulating a different opinion.
Onwards and Upwards!