War And Its Unjustifiable Justifications

Thomas Dixie Elliot responds to a piece in the Belfast Telegraph by Malachi O Doherty. Thomas Dixie Elliot is a writer and artist. As a former republican prisoner he took part in the prolonged blanket protest in the H-Blocks.

Again we have the finger pointing in one direction, the IRA, forgetting that the conflict came about as the result of pure bigotry. The likes of the Belfast Telegraph won't publish a truthful analysis of what was in effect a dirty war on all sides so we are left to read half-truths. 

How can those who work in the media call Adams a liar then twist the truth themselves? It's a bit like Fagin calling the Artful Dodger a 'con man'.

The fact is, that Nationalists were attacked by the RUC and Paisleyites because they were demanding Civil Rights. The ensuing riots brought British Troops onto our Streets and this is where the argument begins that they arrived as peace makers. 

However Internment further fuelled the fires because it was selective to one side of the community and unjust. In Ballymurphy and Derry innocents were gunned down by British Paras and a smear campaign began to cover up these massacres.

All this resulted in an angry youth, mainly still in their teens, joining the IRA in order to fight back.

The British met the IRA in July 1972 in Cheyne Walk, London and offered the same terms which Adams and McGuinness, among them, many years later accepted in the GFA: the withdrawal of Troops and an Amnesty for IRA prisoners. They stated that they could only go by the wishes of the majority in regards to a United Ireland. 

These proposals were contained within the framework of the Sunningdale Agreement within a year, 1973, but on both occasions this was rejected by the IRA who, swelled by a membership eager to fight back against injustice, decided to push on for a United Ireland. 

On the Protestant side Unionists encouraged their youth to fight back against the threat to their Britishness and strongly supported by the British a bloody sectarian war took hold. 

No side can stand back and say our hands weren't bloody. The fact is it should have ended well before it took hold and innocents died needlessly. Politicians sitting together today in Stormont, some preaching peace like it was always in their hearts, were to blame for it continuing on past 1972.

The British played their bloody part by controlling and directing loyalist killer gangs instead of trying to resolve the issues that could have brought about a lasting peace.

We are no closer today to a United Ireland than we were in 1972 but had it ended then how much closer might we be today if it were not for the hatred born of years of bloody conflict?

The problem with the Boston Project is that it was allowing those on both sides to tell the stories which might well never have been heard. It was about truth but the truth can be damaging to those on both sides who gave orders from a safe distance. We know that the likes of Adams fears what former IRA members have to say about his leadership and he wants to keep it buried. 

However I believe that PSNI moves to get the tapes were on the behest of those on the British side who feared not only what loyalists might have to say but maybe perhaps that there might be those who ran them who would want to air the dirty linen after their deaths.

More so, do the British fear the truth of just how much control they had over many in the IRA leadership? 

The truth can only ensure it never happens again. The whole truth and not one sided truths. If our youth can learn that war profits only the politician and those who create the weapons of death then they'll think twice about being cannon fodder.

The trouble is, war is justified when those who have the most to gain from it say it is justifiable.


  1. Timely piece Dixie. The Brits were quite happy to string out the long war because, as you've pointed out, it would entrench sectarian division. Divide and conquer is their golden rule