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The McGuigan Killing: Written On The Barn

The Broken Elbow carries a piece from Glenn Patterson on how the killing of Kevin McGuigan ignited memories of the murder of Paul Quinn.
Thanks to Lin Solomon for sending this interesting piece from Belfast novelist Glenn Patterson which appeared on the London Review of Books blog. Enjoy:
Glenn Patterson 25 August 2015

I have recently had occasion to reread a piece I wrote in November 2007 following the beating to death of Paul Quinn in a shed on the southern side of the Irish border by – local people said – the Provisional IRA. I mentioned Gerry Adams’s categorical denial of IRA involvement, I noted that the British and Irish governments were reassured by his call for those involved to be brought to justice, and referenced the further calls, from the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Féin’s partner in the (then new) power-sharing executive to wait to see if there was evidence of ‘corporate’ IRA responsibility, a phrase whose ‘Blairite banality’, I suggested, masked ‘a volte-face to rival Orwell’s “four legs good, two legs better”’.

Substitute the name
Kevin McGuigan for Paul Quinn and the piece might have been written yesterday.

Last week Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said the PSNI believed that Action Against Drugs – the gang that murdered Kevin McGuigan – included past and current members of the Provisional IRA. Cue the denials, not just of IRA involvement, but even of its existence. The IRA – Sinn Féin’s MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, was the first to come out with it – had, in a phrase revived from 2005, ‘left the stage’. (The
Irish Times, misquoting Kelly repeatedly, used the term ‘left the State’, which might be wishful thinking.) Cue the calls for caution until it is proved the killing was sanctioned by the leadership, the warnings against other parties making political capital from it. Pace Sinn Féin, it is not only or even mostly ‘Unionists’ who are blaming the Provisionals: the people in the streets where Kevin McGuigan lived are blaming them. One Ulster Television news report claimed the laneway down which the gunmen made their escape was referred to locally as ‘Provo alley’.

At the weekend the PSNI’s chief constable, George Hamilton, clarified Geddes’s statement. The Provisional IRA continued to exist,
he said, but in a much altered form. It was not involved in the preparation or commission of terrorist acts. Its main purpose was to ensure that republicans remained committed to peaceful and democratic means.

This is what is known as ‘a line’ and everyone is sticking to it. If this was a Radio 4 panel show there would be klaxons and cheers from the audience at the end of every interview. And if it was a Radio 4 panel show the winner, this week, would undoubtedly be Theresa Villiers, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, who, while saying she was satisfied that all parties in the executive remained supportive of the principles of democracy and consent,
blithely said she wasn’t surprised that the IRA continued to exist. We are surprised, Secretary of State, only because you and your predecessors have spent the last decade trying to convince us, in the face of evidence to the contrary, that it does not.

To return again to that 2007 article, I have a vague memory of feeling the Animal Farm allusion was perhaps overstating it. Nearly eight years on I don’t think it’s going too far to say the ladder is lying broken in the farmyard, the paintbrush and overturned pot of white paint beside it. And I really wouldn’t be surprised if, statement by statement, in the weeks ahead, we are asked to believe that what is now written on the barn is what we signed up to all along.

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Anthony McIntyre

Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher

2 comments to ''The McGuigan Killing: Written On The Barn"

  1. The people that killed Kevin McGuigan basically have become the "Provisionals Group B". In that like the Republician clubs/ Workers Party political side claim the Official IRA the 70's 80's did not exist in public.

    But in private were used for fund raisers and other forms of enforcement, the underbelly work, the Provo leadership have basically followed suit with the identical claim publicly "When we get all sorts of claims that"the IRA have left the stage, the people that done this murder were criminals, and so on and so forth."

    Here's the thing, members of OIRA group b were told if caught, they had to say they were not members of the OIRA and serve time as ordinary criminals in the attempt not to embarrass or trip up the political side of the operation.

    So there you go, that answers the rational behind that.

  2. So it seems that the establishment wants to present the idea that being on a "housekeeping footing" rather than a "war footing" is compatible with the purely democratic path PIRA and PSF signed-up for. It is all very neat, unless of course you happen to be the focus of that housekeeping - AM, you yourself were "housekeeped" out of Belfast and a number of people have fared worse and been "housekeeped" out of existence.

    The reality seems that the British & Irish governments just want to deal with one entity, PSF and as such are happy to allow PSF stifle and suppress any dissent or contrary views and use fascist like tactics to maintain their position within the nationalist community.

    Fast forward a few weeks and this new "crisis" will have passed and PSF will still be at Stormont along with all the other puppets. In the meantime some wordsmith will come up with a statement that will allow everyone to pretend that there is really nothing to see here....


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