Engaged In A Just War

From The Transcripts Stephen Nolan (SN) interviews former IRA Intelligence Director Kieran Conway (KC) via telephone from Dublin and has Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson Doug Beattie (DB) on the line from Belfast. (The Nolan Show advises: ‘Please note this programme has been edited since transmission.‘ – Ed.)

The Nolan Show
BBC Radio Ulster
3 November 2016
Audio Player

SN: Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has said he’s disgusted at a BBC interview with a former IRA intelligence officer, Kieran Conway, has said he had participated in a number of armed robberies in England, half a dozen commercial bombings and shootings including a number where soldiers were killed. Mr. Beattie, who is his party’s justice spokesperson, has asked the Minister for Justice and the Chief Constable what action they intend to take following these revelations. I’ve been speaking to Doug Beattie and Kieran Conway and I started by asking Kieran Conway what he did in the IRA.

KC: I participated in IRA operations as you’d expect an IRA man to do.

SN: Can you give me a sense of what some of those operations were?

KC: No, I described them in my book and in various interviews. I participated in gun battles with British soldiers. In a number of them soldiers had died though I can’t be sure if it was my bullet that caused the damage. I participated in a very small number of commercial bombings and I did armed robberies in England and I engaged in all sorts of other IRA activity.

SN: And when you say you involved yourself in commercial bombings – did you plant bombs?

KC: I planted a couple, yeah.

SN: So you carried a bomb into a commercial area and set it down, did you?

KC: I did, yeah. I’m not prepared to go into any more detail on that yet but I did a number of commercial bombings, a very small number.

SN: And what was in your head when you’re leaving a bomb in the middle of an area where there are civilians?

KC: Well your main concern would be that no civilians got hurt and after that you would be concerned about your own get away and it would be in that order.

SN: How can you leave a bomb, Kieran, in a commercial area and pretend that you’re concerned about civilians?

KC: Well no civilians were ever hurt or far less killed in any bombing that I participated in and I’m very grateful for that because I (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN: But they could have been, couldn’t they, if it’s a commercial…

KC: …clearly they’re dangerous things…

SN: …Yeah, if you mean a commercial area…

KC: …actually no, they couldn’t…

SN: ….if you mean a commercial area you mean…

KC : …(crosstalk) (inaudible)…

SN: …you mean where people shop are, right?

KC: …they couldn’t because of the precautions that were taken.

SN: But you left the bomb where shops were – where people shop?

KC: Yeah, well on occasions these were at night when the street were deserted and on maybe just one occasion it was in daylight – daytime – and there would be police and a warning was phoned in and the area was definitely cleared.

SN: Well that was very good of you to give a warning.

KC: Yeah well, that’s what the IRA always tried to do. There were mistakes – most notoriously Birmingham, Coleraine – a number of others which just don’t come to mind at the moment – incidents like Claudy where they couldn’t find a functioning phone box, the telephone exchange had been blown up the previous week – so yeah it was IRA policy to give a warning, very, very strict policy, and there were always investigations if bombs killed civilians and people were court-martialled, if necessary, for being careless.

SN: I was being facetious when I said it was very good of you, of course, because to…

KC: …No, no – I understand that.

SN: Yeah. To take the risk of leaving – I just , I’m trying to understand how someone like you sleeps in your bed at night when you know you leave a bomb down and men, women, children might get blown to smithereens.

KC: Well men, women and children did not…

…they might have though.

KC: …as a matter of fact. No, they might not because, as I said, suitable precautions were taken and in the one incident where it was a daylight bombing and there was people in the street the area was cleared following a warning given to the authorities.

SN: And you committed armed robbery with the IRA?

KC: I did.

SN: Robbing what type of institutions?

KC: Banks, factories for wages – things of that sort.

SN: So you pointed a gun at someone working a nine to five job?

KC: Yeah. With some regret – not a very nice thing to do but the IRA needed money and those things happen during revolutions. Armed robberies have a long and perfectly respectable history within the revolutionary tradition as revolutionaries need money – they have to get it somewhere.

So to hell with the person that’s traumatised for the rest of their life.

KC: Well look yeah, it’s unfortunate but yeah – that’s the way it is during war or revolution.

SN: You call yourself a soldier?

KC: I do. I do most definitely. We were engaged in a just war which ended badly for us – in total defeat. But yeah, that’s what we were engaged in as far as I’m concerned. I feel no guilt or remorse or anything except that I feel a general remorse because the outcome that has been achieved could have been achieved without the spilling of a single drop of anybody’s blood. So all of that were a waste, a waste of life, completely unnecessary and in that respect should not have happened.

SN: So people like you call yourselves soldiers and yet you said, just a matter of moments ago, that you take a weapon, you take a gun – did you point it at women?

KC: No…

SN: …in some of these jobs?

KC: No…I was in a couple of banks where there would have been women cashiers – none of them were directly affected though…

SN: So you just pointed them at men then that might still to this day have the post-traumatic stress disorder because of people like you.

KC: You just held the gun, you just pointed the gun and yelled in the direction of the person that you wanted to rob.

SN: Yeah. I just try to understand how you then go home and live a life after you’ve done that to another human being. You know, that’s not war, is it? That’s not war.

KC: Well look – I mean look at what the British did during World War II. Look at something like Dresden, you know, warring (inaudible) deliberately decide to slaughter civilians – three hundred thousand killed in massive fire bombs you know – that’s the real thing – at least we gave warnings.

SN: Doug Beattie, what’s your reaction so far to what you’ve heard already?

DB: You know, I understand the nature of conflict but when I use the word disgusted, and I don’t use that word lightly, I’ve actually been staggered. What we’re talking about here – is a man you’re talking to on the other end of the phone who knew about the Birmingham bombing – who planted the bombs, who planned it, who debriefed them – twenty-one people dead, a hundred and eighty-seven injured, six innocent men going to jail for life and he knew about it and said nothing. He’s already admitted himself that he knows about at least a dozen war crimes and he’s not willing to say who done that. Does he know who killed Jean McConville? Does he know anything about the Stakeknife incident?

He has openly said, himself, that he has attempted to murder and possibly even murdered British soldiers. Now how on earth is this man not behind bars for what he’s done and what he’s said about withholding information? I am staggered. I am staggered that the Republic justice system has not got hold of this guy by the scruff of the neck. I am staggered that the British government hasn’t tried to extradite him and I would want to know: Does this man hold a comfort letter? Does he have an OTR letter? What gives him such a brazen attitude that he can sit here and quite openly say he’s done what he’s done?

SN: Well, did you have an on-the-run letter, Kieran?

KC: No, I don’t. The only people that would have got those were people who sided with the leadership – I would not be such a person.

SN: Why do you think you haven’t been extradited?

KC: Well you can’t be extradited for questioning. I mean there’s no evidence against me other than what’s in my book. Now I could be charged with IRA membership, that is certainly possible but as for being charged with – that would be up for debate.

SN: You’ve just said openly on this programme you’ve been engaged in armed robbery.

KC: Yeah well look, I mean they would have to charge me with armed robbery at a place unknown, on a date unknown, of people unknown you know, I mean that’d be a stretch even for the British justice system. There’s no evidence….

SN: You think you’re clever, don’t you?

KC: …unless I chose to make a… No, not particularly. There’s no evidence unless I chose to make a confession and I certainly won’t be doing that.

SN: Do you know who was involved in the Birmingham Pub bombings?

KC: I do. And so does everybody else. It’s public knowledge. It’s been published several times. It’s been on television – the names of the people. The only bit of information that I have, which would not be of any material use to the authorities, is the name of the second man who did the debrief. He is an IRA man that is still living and I won’t name him.

SN: Why not?

KC: Because I simply do not finger IRA men.

SN: So you’ve written a book about all of this – I’m actually minded to think is any of this true? Are you just trying to sell a book? Do you like the attention to such an extent that maybe you didn’t do any of this?

KC: No. The book, its contents, are all true. It hasn’t been challenged by anybody. As I said, it’s a truthful memoir.

SN: Have you killed people?

KC: I don’t know. I say that in the book and I’ve said it repeatedly in the dozens of interviews I’ve done since.

SN: What do you mean you don’t know?

KC: I don’t know. I was present when British soldiers died in gun battles but I can’t be sure that it was my bullet that caused the damage.

SN: So you were complicit in it?

KC: Yes. I was an IRA activist. That’s what IRA activists did.

SN: How many people might you have you killed?

KC: Very few.

SN: Doug?

DB: Stephen, if I can jump in here – Now let’s put this into the narrative that Kieran is using – let’s put this as a narrative as a war. Okay so I’m a soldier and I go out on the ground, I have a rifle in my hand and I know that the likes of Kieran is going to try and kill me. Fine. I’m happy with that. And do you know what? Within the rules of engagement if I get Kieran with a weapon within my sights I’m going to kill him. That’s fine – I can live with that if that’s the narrative he wants to use. But he is saying he knows about war crimes. This is the abduction, the torturing, the murdering of civilians and he knows about it and he’s not going to tell us? Now there needs to be action purely on that if nothing else. So whatever narrative Kieran wants to use he can’t justify knowing about war crimes and not telling the authorities about those war crimes. There are families out there – and we just seen it yesterday – the families of the missing who are still waiting to get their loved ones bodies back. Does he know anything about that? If he does he needs to go to the authorities and he needs to tell them.

SN: Do you know anything about that, Kieran?

KC: I don’t know anything about the ‘disappeared’. ‘Disappearing’ people was quite definitely a war crime. Another war crime is Kingsmills and the shooting of uninvolved Protestants was always a war crime. They were killed in, supposedly, in retaliation for UDA (Ulster Defence Association)/UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) attacks on Catholics but retaliation of that sort on civilians is forbidden by all laws of war and should not have occurred and were war crimes so there were more than the half, many, many more, than the half-dozen that I suggested there were. Another war crimes that was, fortunately, a short-lived use of human bombs by the IRA where people were strapped into vehicles with a large amount of explosives, directed to drive to a barracks or whatever and were then blown up by remote trigger. That was a war crime. Yeah, those are crimes.

DB: Absolutely, Kieran, and I lost a friend, Cyril Smith, by one of those human bombs that was (inaudible). As a soldier, if I know about a war crime I will report it. I will go out of my way to make sure that action is taken. If you call yourself a soldier, if you have any decency whatsoever, you should be going forward with any information you have of war crimes and passing it on. This nonsense of omerta within the IRA doesn’t really work.

KC: Well, I don’t have specific information. I’d imagine that the authorities do. For instance in relation to Kingsmills, possibly the most notorious of them, I was not in the IRA at the time so I just don’t know. And I don’t know about the ‘disappeared’ and I don’t know about any of the other assassination of (inaudible) etc etc that I’ve mentioned.

DB: But as a former intelligence officer, Kieran, you’ll know that every small piece of information can link to something bigger so therefore you should bring yourself up to Northern Ireland, hand yourself to the PSNI and let them question you about what you do know.

KC: Yeah. All I can do is to repeat that I don’t know anything.

DB: Could you not come up and let them question you? Let them ask you? Let them see if… (crosstalk) (inaudible)

KC: …No, if I come to Belfast I would expect that I might well be arrested and charged for membership back in the ’70’s and ’80’s because I’ve admitted in my book, I’ve said it in various interviews so there’d be plenty of evidence there. I wouldn’t be answering police questions. I’ve been in custody many times and I’ve never answered police questions.

SN: So why can’t – why can’t they…

KC: …but that is the only evidence against me is the evidence of myself that I was an IRA man and I participated in IRA…

SN: …So I’m trying to understand it. Maybe you could – you’re a lawyer now, Kieran, is that right?

KC: I am, yes.

SN: So educate me then – why can’t the authorities here in The North not extradite you based on the crime of IRA membership then?

KC: They could. I don’t know whether the courts in The South would give me up. They quite possibly would and (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN: There hasn’t been an attempt to?

KC: No, but I knew I was taking that risk when I wrote the book and I went ahead and wrote it anyway. So yes, that’s something that is conceivable.

SN: I dare say there might be quite a few people listening to this today that would like to see a bomber like you in jail.

KC: Oh yeah, I’m quite sure there would be, yeah.

SN: So Doug…

KC: My view in all that, just to finish this, is that a conflict of this sort should end with a general amnesty that should include, for instance – and this is why the Republicans won’t go for it – it should include an amnesty for the soldiers that were involved in murder on Bloody Sunday and on other occasions. There should be blanket amnesty for everybody.

SN: Doug, why – have you asked the Minister for Justice why there’s no attempt to extradite this man?

DB: I’ve written to both the Minister for Justice and I’ve written to the Chief Constable. I spoke to the Minister of Justice late last night. She was just coming back from an event – she couldn’t say much but she intends to raise the issue with the Chief Constable herself and I await to see what the outcome is of that. Because I mean, you know until somebody stands up and boastfully sort of starts talking about what they’ve done with no real compassion but then that’s where the issue really lies here – that people are able to do this. And I really am disgusted. And I can accept narratives of different shapes and folds and I can accept that some people see it as a just war you know. But what of these six innocent people who were jailed for life for Birmingham even though the likes of Kieran they were innocent and allowed them to go to jail, you know – how can that be justified?

KC: It’s not true that I allowed them to go to jail or that the IRA allowed them to go to jail. The British justice system put them in jail. The British justice system knew that they were not guilty. They needed scapegoats and they chose them. The IRA said from the outset that they were innocent and they had nothing to do – they said it repeatedly.

DB: And the IRA didn’t admit carrying out the Birmingham bombings ’til you did it yourself, I believe, in 2014?

KC: No, no, that’s simply not the case. It was admitted many, many years ago.

SN: Do you think then the ease with which you talk about being involved in armed robbery, the ease with which you talk about shooting at people and Ach, yeah – you don’t know if you killed people or not, the ease with which you left a bomb in a commercial area, shops in other words – there might have been a woman pushing a pram beside that – maybe she wouldn’t have got away after your warning, might have been blown up, do you think you’ve got psychopathic tendencies?

KC: I don’t. Short answer.

SN: So process that in your head. You don’t really care if you’ve killed people or not.

KC: I’ve processed it. I’ve processed it. It’s not true. I was engaged in a war. Things happen in a war as I said… (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN: Well ISIS, who put people in cages and burn them alive, think they’re engaged in a war.

KC: Yeah well – they’re engaged in – they’re most clearly engaged in a conflict but their means are ruthless and criminal.

SN: Possibly psychopathic.

KC: Yeah, I’m quite sure there are psychopaths in ISIS.

SN: But of course, you’re not one.

KC: No, I’m not. And if this interview is going to descend to that level of abuse we might simply call it a day.

SN: Oh, really? You’re getting sensitive now – you’re getting sensitive Mr. Bomber?

KC: No, no. But I’m sensitive to the charge of being a psychopath. I deny it.

SN: So you don’t like the hard questions.

KC: No, that’s not a hard question at all. That’s just common abuse.

SN: Really? Common abuse?

KC: Yeah.

SN: From a man who planted bombs in commercial areas?

KC: Yeah.

SN: Are you for real?

KC: Yeah.

SN: What would you like me to say?

KC: I am for real, yeah but it’s not…

SN: …What would you like me to say?

KC: Frankly, I don’t care what you say. Look, I’m here to answer your questions and I’m doing so in as civil a manner as possible and I will react badly if I’m called a psychopath.

SN: Tough. The actions of a psychopath are those people that can inflict harm and injury and violence on another human being and they don’t feel the emotion associated with it. That’s why I feel it’s a legitimate question. Do you feel emotion? Does it weigh on your conscience? Do you find it difficult sleeping at night when you think about what you have done?

KC: No, I have no difficulty sleeping at night.

SN: Do you feel any sense of guilt?

KC: But as I said, as I said I have no sense of guilt except I have a huge general remorse in relation to everybody that was killed – British soldiers, RUC men, everyone – because, as I said, this conflict was not worth a drop of anybody’s blood.

SN: But in terms of you, personally – because I think we do need to individualise this – in terms of you personally, process for me why you think you don’t have any sense of guilt or remorse when you get those flashbacks of literally of leaving, the actual action of setting a bomb down and walking away. Tell me why that’s not ingrained in your mind?

KC: Well look – it was all a long time ago. I seldom think about it. I don’t really think about it unless I’m reminded in interviews like this. As far as I’m concerned I was engaged in a just war. And millions of soldiers have gone to war over the centuries, I’d imagine that a few of them did feel of remorse, do you know what I mean, and guilt over things that they did, but I’m not one of those. The vast majority of soldiers just get on with their lives when the war is over.

SN: Doug?

DB: Well, I have a conscience. I feel remorse. I’ve held a dying six year old in my hands and it weights on my conscience heavily. I’ve had difficulty sleeping at night – they’re the natural feelings of a soldier who’s had to engage in something terrible, a terrible conflict, and suffers the scars afterwards. But what Kieran’s describing is somebody who just doesn’t seem to care. And in fact, in his interview he said he happily, as a lawyer, defends dissident Republicans and he’s happy for the work. Now I don’t know what you read into that when he says he’s ‘happy for the work’ you know but there’s something severely wrong here. And do you know, what I can see in the likes Kieran feel they’ve moved on – and fine –and I think people should be allowed to move on but if they have information, if he really has information, then he needs to make that information known. To me it’s simple. And if it was me, if I knew information, if I told anybody that I could get information about a particular crime then I would be the first one who was going to be in front of the police to answer questions. And I think that Kieran needs to do that. Now, if it’s not going to be in front of the PSNI then it needs to be in front of the Garda but he needs to answer these questions. I think it’s incredibly important that he does.

SN: Okay. We’re going to have to leave it there. Kieran, thank you very much for talking to us today. Doug Beattie, thank you. (ends)


  1. Would mr Nolan ask an r.a.f bomber involved in the shock and awe of Iraq if he's a psychopath? Usual establishment biased questioning

  2. Good to see even after being away so long that Nolan is still a f**king tw*t.

    I read Conway's book, it was quite clear that he believed in what he was doing was right. Exactly the same impression I have had from Spook's, Squaddies and Loyalists I have known.

    What good does it do to rake over old wounds? An Amnesty won't happen either for the reason he points out.

  3. What a pompous,self-preening arse Nolan is, I wonder if he was wearing a poppy when he was tossing around these psychopath labels?

  4. Conway dealt with it pretty well.

    Nolan seeks to inflame rather than inform his audience. Current affairs is pantomime for him where he is the central character.

    I don't think people should do his tabloid TV or radio.

    I invariably decline.

  5. Do you think Beattie was sitting on Nolan's knee during that?
    His take on ‘soldiering’ was truly romantic....holding a dying 6 year old....fuck I was in tears after that. I wonder if he would have cradled the 6 year old if it was Colin Duffy's child?
    I have never listened too or watched Nolan and now I fully understand why. May be he has issues with his potty training...sounds like it.

  6. "I started by asking Kieran Conway what he did in the IRA."

    I thought ok so far, but after that Nolan just went downhill and resorted to a diatribal rant. I did not expect him to like Conway but really he could have been more professional. Likewise with Beatie -you'd think these men would be careful not to discourage any former paramilitaries from voluntarily opening themselves up like Conway has.

    Whatever one thinks of Conway he has made a bold move, and, as a lawyer he knows the potential consequences of his disclosures as he refers to in the interview.

    Nolan was only appealing to a select audience -he could have been critical of Conway while maintaining some professional objective balance rather than present himself as a one man mob.

  7. When I hear of politicians cradling dying children,it doesnt automatically fill my head with noble images, more likely they are getting the last reach around in (ala Saville). (DB apart of course)

  8. KC gave a very reasonable interview. One may not concur with his view that his was a just war, but one can see the integrity of his thinking.

    This is a good example: 'My view in all that, just to finish this, is that a conflict of this sort should end with a general amnesty that should include, for instance – and this is why the Republicans won’t go for it – it should include an amnesty for the soldiers that were involved in murder on Bloody Sunday and on other occasions. There should be blanket amnesty for everybody.'

    I've argued that since 1994.

  9. Wolfsbane,

    Out of all the unsatisfactory options this is the most workable. It is an improved position not a perfect one. But improvement rather than perfection is the most we can expect.

  10. Wolfsbane/AM,

    An Amnesty would need to be across the board though, and I reckon it wouldn't just be the Shinners having a vested interest in one not happening!

  11. Steve, yes, the main objectors have been all the main Unionist parties and the churches (where they commented).

    But I'm convinced that they all can be brought to see the propriety of a general amnesty. Their objection is based on a misguided sense of the general innocence of the population at large - as if the war was a criminal enterprise rather than the outcome of conflicting ethnic demands, demands they shared in every bit as much as the terrorists who acted on it.

    Both constitutional Nationalists and Unionists wanted someone to get their demands for them. They were happy enough if the British government would do their killing for them - let the Army/police bring their enemies to heel. John Hume wanted British bayonets to bring about a United Ireland; Molyneaux and Paisley wanted the same to enforce a British Ulster. Paisley was happy enough to have loyalists help out too.

    When we all respect the other community in its national identity, then we will be able to look back with regret and learn for the future.

  12. I've just recently finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche's 'Half of a Yellow Sun'. In my opinion an emotive and moving tale of love and war; an imagined account of life during the Nigerian-Biafran conflict.

    An interesting post-script carries an interview with the author.

    Q: Are memories of the Nigeria-Biafra war still alive in Nigeria, talked about on a regular basis, or do you feel the conflict is being lost to history as time passes and that it has become less important to Igbo culture?

    Author's reply: The war is still talked about, still a potent political issue. But I find it is mostly talked about in uninformed and unimaginitive ways. People repeat the same things they have been told without having the full grasp of the complex nature of war, or they hold militant positions lacking in nuance.

    Sadly the inflexible limitations of ethnic post-conflict thinking and behaviour are as much in evidence in the North as they were and are in post-conflict Nigeria. Many on both sides to a greater or lesser extent remain fixated on their tribal position; few on either side seem to be willing to creatively and responsibly re-examine the causes and the nature of the conflict. Until more people on both sides can re-imagine alternative historical narratives things I guess won't change that significantly.

    Whereas I too would support a general amnesty for all parties to the conflict I don't see that happening in the short or medium term. This tin can, I predict, will be kicked down the road for years and maybe even decades to come.

    (Much as I admire Wolfbane's attempts over time to re-imagine our pasts I doubt if there's much evidence to suggest Hume wanted the British to force the Unionists at bayonet-point into a United Ireland. Most of his declarations were unambiguous about uniting peoples before territory).

  13. Henry JoY:

    I certainly have recall of having that understanding of Hume's position. Of course he would still hold to consent - just that the bayonet would be used to get the consent.

    The tone I remember as well as the words - but I might have misread them.

    A quick google led to this on first try:


  14. Henry JoY,

    "Whereas I too would support a general amnesty for all parties to the conflict I don't see that happening in the short or medium term. This tin can, I predict, will be kicked down the road for years and maybe even decades to come."

    Maybe that's what they want? Wait long enough and our young will only know memories of what went before? With no 'turning point' like Bloody Sunday or the 3 Scots Soldiers maybe the young will have a better future?


    If an Amnesty was called tomorrow there would still be plenty of people fleeing retribution from the own communities however.

  15. Wolfsbane

    that Hume would literally use a bayonet to achieve consent may be a perspective that you and probably many other PUL's would wish to attribute to his position. On the other hand CRN's might counter that they had lived in a cold house for long enough under Unionism and also that Britain had been remiss in its responsibilities in tolerating that discriminatory regime to persist for so long. Hume's view articulated CRN's well founded concerns that there was no viable potential for a successful resolution for as long as a hard Unionist veto existed. Hume's position was that a hard Unionist veto would continue for as long as the search for a solution was confined to or contained within an exclusively Northern Ireland context. He proposed that Britain needed to be reminded of her responsibilities towards the minority community. And articulated that even then, if the British could influence Unionists to behave towards that community with more decency, that CRN's would need the Dublin government and others to act as guarantors that the heating would indeed be turned up and maintained so.

    If you choose to portray, what were to most reasonable observers, legitimate political manoeuvres as some sort of coercion then so be it. Such like interpretations could be considered a reflection of how hard it has been for many PUL's to relinquish their dominant position and for yet others a bitter expression of domineering supremacist leanings.

  16. Steve R,

    'If an Amnesty was called tomorrow there would still be plenty of people fleeing retribution from the own communities however.'

    Yes, that's a pity. But a firm resolution to punish those who take vengeance would keep it to a minimum. If that resolution is missing, then we will just have to live with a defective society.

  17. Henry JoY,
    'Hume's position was that a hard Unionist veto would continue for as long as the search for a solution was confined to or contained within an exclusively Northern Ireland context. He proposed that Britain needed to be reminded of her responsibilities towards the minority community. And articulated that even then, if the British could influence Unionists to behave towards that community with more decency, that CRN's would need the Dublin government and others to act as guarantors that the heating would indeed be turned up and maintained so.'

    If a guaranteed fair deal for CRNs was the only intention of Hume's efforts, then we PULs did indeed misinterpret them. We took the broad picture he and the rest of the CRN leadership painted to be much more than that. We took it that fair treatment for the CRNs was merely an incidental, a temporary step on the way to the only acceptable outcome, a United Ireland. Were we paranoid in thinking so? Had not his colleagues sold to the CRNs the 1974 Northern Ireland Assembly/Sunningdale Agreement/Council of Ireland as just such a temporary step?

    OK, looking back I can see how many such political statements were for internal consumption only, and not meant seriously. But they were not kept internal, nor could they be. Unsophisticated PULs, as I was, took people at their word - be it Paisley, Hume or others. We had much to learn. You call them 'legitimate political maneuvers' - we did not see it so, perhaps due to our naivety. But even now, how can one be sure that what a man says is not what he thinks, especially if what he says is in line with his historic position?

    You may say this is an example of 'domineering supremacist leanings', but I can speak for myself and quite a few other PULs I have mused with over many years - we regard our CRN neighbours as our fellow-citizens and desire for them all the rights and responsibilities we have. Our disagreement, the one point we cannot agree to, is being removed from the UK and into a UI. If being in a UI is a right, then it is a competing right to our right to be in the UK. Seems to me an internal settlement in NI, with any necessary guarantees from RoI and the UK, is just and fair to all.

  18. The society is defective as is global politics in general. An across the board amnesty should be applied to all ex combatants, security forces and paramilitaries alike. That may be a bitter pill for bereaved families to swallow. They should be compensated if they haven't been already. There was no shortage of cheer-leading, setting up of work mates - and comrades and gloating at the 'other side' getting it by non combatants.

    SF and the DUP should consider a $500 a plate Christmas nosh up at Stormont in the spirit of the GFA and Peace process. Invite ex RUC/UDR IRA/UVF members and bereaved relatives. It makes sense. It also makes good PR sense to video the event. THAT could be an all time best seller.

  19. Wolfsbane

    I've heard it said 'every sinner has a future and every saint has got a past'.

    I too was once young and naive.
    Most of us were prejudiced by our respective socialisation processes, most of us were incapable of rational and critical evaluations ... especially so given the heightened tensions of the times.
    Thankfully some of us are lucky or 'blessed' enough to have matured beyond the shibboleths passed on by our respective cultures. In general its seems you and I are largely in agreement about a workable solution, a solution that affords a more hopeful future. That solution lays, as you articulated in an earlier post, 'in respecting the other community in its national identity'.

    Equality and respect was at the heart of Hume's position. That preferred solution implies and necessitates continued inputs from both London and Dublin as reassurance for both CRN's and PUL's. Though we may continue to differ on this I'd contend John Hume's fingerprints are all over the templates for much of the positively imperfect changes that have occurred in relationships on the island.

    Just because Adams became more like Hume doesn't mean Hume was ever like Adams!!!!
    Hume legitimately aspired to an agreed Ireland. He never to my knowledge advocated for coercion of Unionism.

  20. Henry JoY

    Thanks for your insights. I'll take on board your assessment of Hume's position. I can certainly agree that he later had the consent principle to the fore - and that he led the peace process because of that. Trimble too had moved to consensus politics by that time - a happy confluence! Adams and Paisley were dragged there by the force of reality or ambition I believe. And of course, as a Christian, I know God opened either their hearts or minds to do so.

  21. Steve R

    The amnesty can is probably considered too divisive and hence too hot to handle. I expect this to continue being kicked down the road for a long time to come. Is this a good or a bad thing? Can't say but it is probably the least potentially destructive option. I have a hunch that many (but not all) outstanding arrest warrants are unofficially in a place of limbo.

    (Apologies for not responding to your comment quicker. I wanted to keep my focus on the conversation with Wolfsbane).


    Thanks for your inputs. As a result I think I have a better understanding of the motivations and responses of the PUL community. I guess very few of us would react well to our removal from a privileged position, or indeed from a perceived privileged position.

  22. Henry JoY,

    No apologies needed, I thought as much anyway, and I agree with your synopsis.