Walk In Commemoration Of Ahern And McElwain

The 1916 Societies organized a commemorative walk in honour of dead IRA volunteers.

On Saturday the 29th July the Matt Fitzpatrick, 1916 Society Newtownbutler held a very successful commemoration walk for Volunteers Seamus McElwain and Tony Ahern. The men were both killed while on Active Service just outside the town of Roslea.

Tony (Anthony) Ahern was a Cork native grew up in St Joseph’s Park in the Mayfield housing estate in Cork city, he went to school in North Monastery. He was a keen sportsman and a member of Clann Éireann athletic club. Despite being many hundreds of miles away from the conflict, Tony joined the Cork Brigade of Óglaigh na hÉireann and went on to fight alongside his comrades in Fermanagh/Monaghan border. At aged 17 Tony was killed in a premature explosion, the first Volunteer from the South to be killed on Active Service in the Occupied Six Counties. At the time Tony’s coffin was refused entry into the Catholic Church in Roslea because of the inscription on his coffin, it was eventually allowed entry after the inscription’s removal. Tony is buried in Carraigaline, Co Cork.

Seamus McElwain grew up on a small family farm in Knockatallon. He joined Na Fianna Éireann at 14 yrs old, later join joining the ranks of Óglaigh na hÉireann. At 19 he was the OC of the Fermanagh Brigade. Seamus was given the opportunity to study in the USA, but refused stating ‘No one will ever accuse me of running away from the struggle”. Seamus was arrested in 1981 and took part in the mass escape from Long Kesh 1983 in which he played a major role. He went straight back to Active Service. Seamus was described as one of the most influential guerrilla fighters within the Republican Movement of the era. He was eventually killed on Active Service in 1986, aged 26.

There is a mile between the spots where Tony and Seamus were killed, 13yrs between these tragic deaths. This was a serious loss to the Movement and to everyone who knew them, especially their families; they are still mourned to this very day. There were many such tragedies during the 30 years of armed struggle. The legacy of that 30-year war is still with us today. People today might, with justification, ask: “What was it all for?, What did we actually gain?. What was achieved, that justifies the loss of Seamus, Tony or the thousands of others who died during that 30 year period?

To all the families who are still suffering today, was it worth it? To live in a society that has such poverty, unemployed, and marginalisation. To have such epidemic proportions of those suffering from mental illness, and such a lack of proper medical facilities and provision.

After 50 years of struggle on from the Civil Rights Movement, What have we anything to show for it? It is a sad indictment of all of us who participated in this struggle. A ‘Peace Process’ that is anything but peaceful, as it seems to do more increases sectarianism than to address it.

People vote along factional tribal lines rather than for any real policies. The Political Institutions lurch from one crisis to the next, using the latest crisis to cover up the mistakes of the last and no one is ever held to account.

We are certainly not against peace, but we are against a peace that creates division, that pits people against one and other. The we want a peace that brings proper and lasting change to ordinary people’s lives. That brings about real, proper, practical and lasting change, that people can stand up and say they’re proud to be living in a proper democracy; Our democracy, a democracy that upholds ordinary people rights and gives them a say in how we live and organise our lives, that empowers.

The day of handing over your vote and your taxes unquestionably to an unaccountable institution has to come to an end. That you only hear from you elected representatives at voting time and never seeing or hearing from them until they need your vote again, must also come to an end.

The time is up for this outdated system of a so called democracy that is designed to keep the powerful and wealthy in control. To hell with your reforms, we do not want our chains lengthened we want them smashed completely and smelted down never to be used on us again. No accountability equals corruption and zero democracy.


  1. More to the point, what was the point of the numerous murders that McElwaine reputedly took part in . Please do not try to protest non-sectarian credentials. As an O/C of the Fermanagh Brigade of PIRA, Seamus McElwaine would have been central to the low level ethnic cleansing of Protestants in Fermanagh designed, according to Henry Patterson, to thwart any power-sharing accommodation between the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP.

  2. This was one of the most impactive commemorations that I have ever attended. The humility of the country people mingled with an ever present but suppressed expression of traditional militarism which those from the region, or at least I, naturally most identify with. We commemorated the men through a 'walk' and not so much a 'show' which is important because, on a walk we are all just together, simply aiming to reach the one destination ourselves, in a show we are trying to prove something.

    To honour McElwaine while hearing of the people's struggle was unique and, although the emotional attachment to militarism was provoked by the presence of crown forces and of course the place in which we stood, the expounding of what what matters above what 'feels right' was a revolutionary experience. My thanks to the organising body. Saoirse go deo!

  3. The "people's struggle" and "traditional militarism" you speak of, Tarlach, was in reality a squalid campaign of low-level ethnic cleansing against the Protestant population of County Fermanagh in Seamus McElwaine wuld have been involved as Fermanagh O/C; far removed from the idealism of a Wolfe Tone. When will you diehards realise that the "armed struggle" will always be doomed to failure?

  4. Wise words Tarlach. I think we have good work still to do but are on the right track. Rest in peace the fearless Seamus McElwain - the salt of the earth and of whom we are forever proud. Young Ahern with him. I look forward to the contribution I can see you are going to make. Tiocfaidh ár lá.

  5. Barry

    all conflict arises from impositions of will.
    Until relevantly recent times Irish history would, I'd contend, be viewed by almost all unbiased observers as a long series of exactions upon the native stock from our nearest neighbours along with those of their planted agents. Colonial British impositions over the centuries are myriad. To conflate armed resistance against paid militias of the coloniser with ethnic cleansing, even if qualified as low-level, is largely unsustainable and perhaps mischievous. Patterson, coming as he does from the Unionist tradition, is hardly neutral.

    I do understand that many people have labeled this part of the campaign as you have called it. However these admonishments are lacking in objective and rigorous findings of fact. Supposition and speculation are allowable but until we have supporting evidence with regards to motivation it remains only that.

    I am currently reading 'In Praise Of Forgetting, Historical Memory And It's Ironies' by David Reiff. One of the distinctions the author makes is that of collective memory and that of academic history. Historical memory tends to be largely constructed, with the function of serving group identity and cohesiveness, whereas a more scholarly approachment seeks out and contextualises the factual narrative.

    As a result of a fabricated Republican foundation myth coupled with a factual narrative of subjugation and oppression a legitimate campaign for equal civil rights descended into a squalid conflict. The perspective that ethnic cleansing was ever seriously contemplated, never mind initiated, I'd hold is both spurious and greatly overstated.

  6. Tarlach,

    most commemoration is merely a vehicle to sustain and reinforce collective memory. As outlined to Barry, collective memory is a construct to maintain the herd. Alas for you, even with all your commemoration, your herd is on the decline and your myths are on the wane and thankfully becoming less sustainable over time.

    (Though I won't claim absolute authority on this, I suspect the article's attributed status to Seamus as Fermanagh OC is a bit of myth building too. Sources tell me that the more factual narrative of PIRA structures in Fermanagh were of three separate operational, support and command structures. One which operated in the Pettigo, Belleek and Garrison region with command and support in Sligo/South Donegal ... a second with command and support in Ballinamore and operated from Kinawley along the border through to Enniskillen and reaching as far Trillick in Tyrone. And finally one which operated in Roslea/Donagh/Lisnaskea regions with support and command in Clones and Monaghan in which Seamus played a leading role from an early age and may have commanded for periods. Of course these were relatively fluid structures with personnel occasionally migrating within those loose parameters).

    The saddest and most irrefutable remembrance contained in the article was that of serial inducement of boys, many not more than children, into warfare, prison and death.

  7. Barry

    I have read Prof. Henry Paterson's book 'Ireland's Violent Frontier' in which the accusation of ethnic cleansing is favourably analysed. It seems that nearly all the Professor's examples were members of the security forces. For ethnic cleansing to have taken place it has to be down to ethnic, religious or other factor but the crucial thing about that factor is that it must be something over which you have no control.

    Did the IRA target security force members purely to disguise the fact they wanted to kill innocent Protestants? Why target Catholic members of the security forces if that was the case?

    The IRA killed Catholics in the security forces. They also targeted some innocent Protestants outside border areas. I think the former negates the charge that those in uniform who were killed were killed purely for their religion. The latter point negates the charge that the border was somehow treated differently because of location. But you need a specific area for the ethnic cleansing charge and this is the final part on where the argument falls.

    The murder of non-combatant Protestants purely because they were Protestants undoubtedly took place. It was naked sectarianism and abhorrently wrong in every sense of the word but it was no where near as sustained or on a sufficient scale or as proportionate of total victims as to warrant the charge of "ethnic cleansing".

    The murder of innocent non-combatant Protestants was a hugely significant problem, there were atrocities and they should not be trivialised in any sense, but describing the situation as ethnic cleansing in turn paradoxically trivialises actual ethnic cleansing.

    There were undoubtedly war crimes/crimes against humanity but ethnic cleansing? On the face of it it sounds like a decent argument to attack Republicans with but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    Why not stick to the facts? There are plenty of valid arguments to attack Republicanism with: Kingsmills, Le Mon, Bloody Friday, Enniskillen Cenotaph, etc. Torture of suspected informers, infiltration, Knee-capping, Treatment of abuse victims, etc. Why bring baseless arguments into the equation it just undermines other valid criticism.

    The border areas were much more likely to see recruits to the UDR than anywhere else. This is a significant factor when considering the status of victims of Republican violence in the border areas and explains to some degree the focus on UDR members in those areas. It doesn't justify the killings but it helps explain the emptiness of the ethnic cleansing charge.

  8. The victims' organisation South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) argue that it was ethnic cleansing of a sort as many of the victims were murdered at thier workplace, farms or had actually left the UDR. The desire to claim land may well have been a factor.

  9. Pointing the sectarian finger never works.


    "Why target Catholic members of the security forces if that was the case?"

    One would imagine to send a very powerful message to other Catholics in the security forces.


    There's no need to imply a low level ethnic cleansing campaign, in the border areas the fact that a lot of those targeted were part-timers clouds the issue. Besides, Belfast PIRA were according to Gerry Bradley, were nakedly sectarian so the point about the border is moot.

  10. Steve,

    "the fact that a lot of those targeted were part-timers clouds the issue"

    Au contraire, mon frère ... it's the fact of the matter that a large majority of those targeted were Protestants that clouds the issue ... those executed were targeted solely because they were, or were believed to be, members of the security forces. Their faith, if considered at all, was secondary.

    It is worth remembering though that in the earlier years of the campaign there was a restriction imposed by the leadership forbidding attacks on those out of uniform. It could be argued that the decision to drop those restrictions was based on the 'any Taig will do' tactics adopted by Loyalist paramilitaries and also may have been influenced by the gratuitous torture inflicted on some of those innocent victims. Some of the deaths faced by innocent Catholics was the stuff of snuff movies ... absolutely horrific! As is the nature of conflict, the more depraved the nature of one side's violence the greater the tendency to ratchet up the intensity of the responses. Unfortunately, its turtles all the way down the descending spiral from then on.


    SEFF are at some level mirroring the Societies insofar as their efforts are essentially atavistic attempts to retain the old collective memories, to reinforce and hold us in the past. I read recently where SEFF are running bus tours through the area in commemoration of those events. This, I'd hold, is just more futile remembrance, rather than an informed attempt at healing.

    Unfortunately, dependent to the depth of trauma experienced, its almost impossible for certain cohorts on both sides to move on. Sadly, inaccurate historical evaluations and justifications does little or nothing to help those unfortunates move on. In fact, I'd contend, it serves and fuels continued emotional arousal, further debilitating them and thus denying them possibilities of more reasoned, rounded and contextualised appraisals of our painful past.

  11. Steve R,

    I am not denying the sectarian nature of killings but sectarianism doesn't equal ethnic cleansing. Particularly when the statistical breakdown of Republican victims' status and religion shows otherwise.

    "One would imagine to send a very powerful message to other Catholics in the security forces."

    So on the one hand Protestants in the security forces were targeted not to put Protestants off joining, but to ethnically cleanse Protestants, and Catholics were targeted to put them off joining. How very convenient.


    "many of the victims were murdered at thier workplace, farms or had actually left the UDR. The desire to claim land may well have been a factor."

    Many were targeted at their workplace, farms etc. probably due to practical reasons like them being easier to target. They were soft targets. They were cynical killings.

    If they were targeted in uniform does that make a difference? That wouldn't have affected land/property any differently. And many were indeed targeted in uniform.

    The ethnic cleansing circle can't be squared.

    As for those retired security force members this comes at a time when people were on the whole being targeted by Loyalists purely because they were, or probably were, Catholics. With much collusion by the security forces. I guess if all Catholics were potential targets, all Republicans, all Loyalists, many Unionist politicians were targets why should retirement from the security forces put you in the realm of non-combatant Protestant civilians who were on the whole not targeted? It might sound cynical but it's only an interpretation after looking at the evidence. It is only an interpretation but a better one than ethnic cleansing.

    Just look at the statistics which is the only way you can judge the Troubles as a whole.

    It may just come down to retired people being softer targets.

    Nobody is denying Protestant civilians were killed purely because of their religion. Kingsmills and the other examples above demonstrate this.

    Ethnic cleansing claims because UDR men were killed at their farms are spurious. Republicans were targeted by security forces when they were back in civilian roles also. That's when they were in fact targeted, rather than the norm of random Catholics. Considering collusion, targeting and intimidation by their colleagues of course off-duty members were targeted by Republicans.

    It would surprise any objective observer if they weren't. It wasn't exactly big boys rules as SAS like to say but it also wasn't "Can't shoot you now you're back at the farm" or "just taken off your uniform at the barracks" or anything in-between. It was a callous conflict and callousness therefore shouldn't surprise.

    I don't mean to sound flippant but any conflict involves the targeting of the enemy at any opportunity. The RUC, British Army, Loyalists etc. targeted IRA men when they weren't on active service and you'd be surprised if it was otherwise. What does surprise is the focus on Catholic civilians to such a virulent and enthusiastic extent. That's what is a surprise not the opportunistic killings of combatants.

  12. The traditional militarism of the area which I speak of incorporates the Rosliath district where we had gathered. Only a mile from where we gathered stands a monument dedicated to 3 men who were brutally executed by England, in 1797, for having had asserted the rights of ‘Catholic protestant and dissenter’ in the ranks of the united Irish men. The Republican history of the area impacts upon each epoch of Republican history and the legitimate struggle to attain the rights of the Irish nation. Disagree with this if you will but it is the undeniable truth.
    The myth of ethnic cleansing in Fermanagh doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny to be honest. The fact that the extreme majority of casualties were or had previously been active members of an imperial occupying war force, very much’ rains on that parade’
    It is however understandable that, as many of these war mongers, lived locally and derived from the Unionist/Protestant tradition, opportunists such as the MRF supporter, Kenny Donaldson, sees a money making opportunity and therefore has no issue in exploiting the genuine fears of Protestants in the area. There were no retaliatory attacks after the Naan-Murray murders, Clones/monaghan/Belburtbet atrocities or any of the atrocities that were conducted in the area by the British, or British backed unionist death squads though, so it is difficult to entertain the notion of a ‘gung-ho I.R.A. just killing people for the sake of their faith.
    The reality, backed by the statistics is a Fermanagh I.R.A. Brigade who ruthlessly targeted serving members of the British crown forces. That was of-course their stated role and a role which they did not shy away from. How that equates to ‘ethnic cleansing’ is, as I said, just a myth that is peddled for a funding scam.
    Obviously Seamus McElwaine pursued the same ideals as Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmett, James Connolly and all the other leaders past. His prowess on the battle-field, while only a boy made him a legend but his modesty and humility makes him all the more a legendary figure today.
    We have a right to commemorate his struggle, a struggle which he conducted for the freedom of us all yet in commemorating him we are not suggesting or promoting a return to the methods he employed in his time, nor do we deny them, this is why this particular commemoration, in the face of wide-spread cuts to public services in the area, was so poignant for myself. I do not advocate armed struggle but I do deem the struggle of the people as being equal and as necessary.

  13. HenryJoY,

    Sorry, I did not express myself clearly. My point was that I do NOT believe there was a deliberate campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' on the border but that Barry would be better served to look at Belfast PIRA for the sectarian angle, as evidenced by Gerry Bradley. It still is much of a muchness. Obviously those targeted were going to be of the PUL community so claims such as those are disingenuous.


    "So on the one hand Protestants in the security forces were targeted not to put Protestants off joining, but to ethnically cleanse Protestants, and Catholics were targeted to put them off joining. How very convenient."

    No, see what I said above. Obviously part time SF members would be overwhelmingly protestant but it's really beside the point.

    Wouldn't targeting Catholic members of the SF be advantageous to the Provo's then? I mean, they would be much easier to identify and their killing send a message to other Catholics to stay away? With the added benefit of the Shinners being able to say about the RUC/UDR "Look see? It's overwhelmingly protestant ergo it's sectarian!"?

    It seems like basic strategy to me.

  14. The Provisionals, INLA, UDA, UVF and all the alphabet soup of terror organisations who waged spurious "war" on behalf of their "communities" were sectarian and corrupt to the core. End of. Just as Confederacy statues are being dismantled in the former slave states in the US, all symbols of the idolatry of terror should be taken down in Northern Ireland.

  15. Thanks for clarifying that Steve. (I was wondering if you'd stubbed your toe or something)!

    With the level of polarisation that previously existed across Northern society its hard to imagine that we weren't all, to some degree, influenced and compromised by our own passed-down biases. Its not always easy to untangle those prejudices.

    Partition delivered contrived power imbalances based on ethnicity. This in turn was misaligned with an over-ambitious Republican/Nationalist founding myth. Both fed into each other and contributed to the fear-based intolerance that permeated Irish society. The conflict was never over any differences in religious dogma. Even if Unionism did once define the State as a Protestant one for a Protestant people I have always felt it was erroneous to label the conflict as one based on sectarianism. It was, as with all conflict, rooted in power and control resulting in impositions of will which disregarded tolerance, never mind accomodation, of difference.
    Whatever the genesis, many of us lost our capacity for a heartfelt compassion for 'the other'. People perhaps had become too entrenched in their fearful positions to see, never mind prevent, what was unfolding. And as we know, the more visceral the experience, the less possibilities for reason to prevail.

    Though I can understand many PUL's will find this difficult to take on, Republicans did attempt, and did succeed to a fair degree, at curtailing any urges to respond to Loyalism with purely sectarian warfare. The IRA, albeit naively and over-simplistically, framed their war in terms of national liberation ... freedom from the old colonial and imperialist master.
    That said though, they also feared that Ulster just might fight ... might fight, might fight and fight hard, and fight hard and fight dirty. Restraints on full-on sectarian targeting was necessitated as much by responsible pragmatism as it was in adherence to an ethical ideology.

    Whatever Gerry Bradly may have stated, his claims when scrutinised don't support his allegations. Strategically, to undermine support and sympathy for the IRA in their own communities, Loyalism resorted to random targeting of innocent CRN's. The IRA for their part were more selective and despite the painful and hoffic casualties inflicted upon PUL's through sometimes wanton wrecklessness they very, very rarely carried out random targeting based on religion/etnicity alone.

    And so the story ends, the bad guys won and the noble heros Got Fuck All.

    And what they'e got was all that was coming anyway ... as Seamie Mallon said "Sunningdale for slow learners" (blah) ... what a pernicious legacy the leaders of 1916 bequeathed onto us all!!!!

  16. Steve R. Surely the pressure to stay away would apply to anybody regardless of faith.

    The arguments about killing Protestant security force members due to a campaign of sectarianism and Catholic members due to a campaign of dissuasion is a good stick to beat Republicans with but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    Security force members were killed full stop. If it was all part of a grand plan of sectarianism why so veiled?

    Why target people of unknown faith in uniform? How's that a message of dissuasion unless it dissuades everybody?

    The explanation of why Catholic security force members were killed suits, as those killings don't fall into the sectarian category and ruin the theory of sectarianism. It's an easy explanation but things are often simpler than the theories.

    Of course, there is always a foundation of truth to the theories as potential members may have been put off joining but the dissuasion would apply across the board. Catholics in the security forces wouldn't live in Nationalist areas anyway and would be unlikely to be under significantly greater risk.

    The social impact of the Security force misbehaviour; disproportionately against the Nationalist community would be perhaps a factor of dissuasion also. Maybe even more so. Extra-judicial killings, torture, collusion, plastic bullet firings and deaths, stop and search, arrest, charges brought, sentencing, jail terms all disproportionately affected Nationalists.

  17. Simon
    It is all down to perception. You may believe that protestant, landowning, orange order members were murdered by their neighbours purely because they were in the UDR or RUC reserve but that is not how it is perceived in our community. In our community those murders are perceived as being part of a sectarian campaign to "green" mixed areas. Catholic civilians were duly seen as fair game for retaliation. Looking back on it now you realise just how fucking awful the whole thing was. Whether it be Spain during the civil war, apartheid SA, Palestine or Northern Ireland, when neighbour kills neighbour the stench is great and long lasting.

  18. Barry,

    I imagine there're many who would agree with your proposals. Yet I can't help but think they are both simplistic and unachievable.

    Sure ... these acts of remembrance are perceived as distasteful and absurd by more and more people but suppressing such gatherings and the removal of memorials is most likely to be counter-productive. The harder these groupings are pushed against the greater will be their resolve to continue. Better, I believe, to just let them at it. Save but for the traumatised forgetting is adaptive. The evidence seems to suggest that events like these are garnering less and less support and thankfully with each year that passes these practices are being recognised as shibboleth. For a vast majority of the clear-thinking population they have little meaningful purchase.

  19. Peter, the stench is great you are correct. It looks like it's behind us although many still live with disabilities and loss.

    I understand perception is important. I guess it's not beyond the realms of possibility that people were murdered so people had no option but to sell their farm. Seems an unlikely basis for a campaign though.

    As discussed above Catholics and Protestants were killed in the security forces. I don't believe there is work on the breakdown of the victims' faith of those in the security forces but I guess no matter what the breakdown you can predict the theories behind the statistics.

    One reason there is little work on the breakdown of security force victim according to faith is that members of the security forces fall into the same category. On the other hand the civilian breakdown is broken into faith as that demonstrates something.

    One problem with the argument that the entire campaign was based on sectarianism is that most academic commentary depicts the struggle as not one of religion but of competing nationalist aspirations.

    The statistics also do not support the sectarian theory.

    Another problem is if it was all down to sectarianism why were more Protestant civilians not targeted? I understand many were, all in-excusable and criminal, but the focus was on combatants.

    There was definitely an element of sectarianism but it wasn't a guiding factor. Why waste valuable resources and time mainly targeting combatants when you could save resources and time and make life generally easier targeting randomly?

    As I said perception is important but it should be based on evidence. Perhaps the subjective view that your community was being targeted as a whole can't be dismissed outright but where is the evidence?

    Many were killed who were not specifically targeted like casualties in bombs who were of all faiths. But those targeted purely because they were Protestants is less than a tenth of the total of those killed by the IRA. Some studies put the figure around 7.5%. Those non-involved Catholics targeted by Loyalists on the other hand is around 75-80%. In fact Loyalists killed more fellow Loyalists in feuds than they killed active Republicans. The focus on civilians by Loyalists is explained as bringing the war home to Republicans.

    Why didn't Loyalists focus their ire on active Republicans? I guess if their perception was all Protestants were being targeted even though they clearly weren't, the perception that targeting Catholics was returning the serve was equally erroneous.

    Catholics were targeted purely because of their religion out of a misguided and atrocious attempt to change Republican minds. Often Loyalists state that the deaths of innocent Protestants inspired them to get involved in killing. Yet they believed killing innocent Catholics would have the opposite effect on Republicans. That killing Catholics would disuade Republican violence! This mindset of having your cake and eating it is prevalent amongst Loyalists. Loyalists have a history of misperceptions. None of which stand up to scrutiny.

  20. Peter,

    yes it descended into a sordid mess and yes perceptions are allowable ... and yet for a fuller understanding, for more accurate appraisals and greater opportunities for learning or healing we must make distinction between perceptions and actualities. Factual history, wherever possible, must triumph over collective memory. Failure to courageously establish and maintain factual recordings and labelings of events leaves future generations more susceptible to the myth building manipulations of either sides subjectively constructed narratives. We need to be ruthless in objective appraisal.

    'Catholic civilians were duly seen as fair game'

    Pray tell me when it is appropriate to consider civilians, of any denomination or none, expendable. Explain to me whats the difference between your position and that of those who would justify or attempt to rationalize away the Darkley Hall and Kingsmills massacres. At some level your attitude on this (the random targeting of civilians for no other verifiable reason save that of ethnic identity) is akin to Larry Hughes's " right fucking up them" stance towards Loyalism!

    I'd suggest some cool reflection on Simon's stats above and recommend reconsidering your position.

  21. Henry Joy
    At no time were ever seen as fair game by me.

  22. Peter,

    the meaning of our communication is not simply what we intend, but also the responses we get.

  23. Henry JoY,

    Peter is right in saying that it was how our community perceived the murder of Protestants, you have to remember that the wearing of a Crown uniform did not in our mind take away that they were Protestants first and foremost.

    Simon is also right, but the reason why ordinary Catholics were targeted was far more simplistic. They couldn't get to the Provos so fell back on the CRN community at large. "Get them to squeal enough to get the provos to stop." Horrific, but lots of things were back then. Just some more madness in the asylum.

    Whatever happened to the illustrious Mr Hughes by the way? Normally he'd go berzerk by now! Haven't heard from him since I got back (AM-did you get my article?)

  24. Steve,

    I get and respect that many PUL's and others like Barry G have an attachment to the perception that the campaign against the paid militias of the UDR and RUC reservists was one of ethnic cleansing ... I'm challenging that narrative and promulgating a more factual counter argument.

    I'd also reiterate that we're in agreement as to the strategic underpinnings of the Loyalist campaign of murder and terror. That mindset was created and maintained in in the Unionist collective memory by creation and sustenance of the myth that Home Rule would be Rome Rule.

    The main thrust of the argument that I'm making is that we must commit ourselves to separating the myths of 'collective memory' from the factual narrative and allow ourselves opportunities to re-imagine and re-integrate our histories in a more wholesome and useful fashion. The benefits of that for all are surely self-evident.

  25. Fair enough HJ, though you will find that an impossible task as the unionist community would view it as nothing else but an attempt to rewrite history.

  26. Steve,

    my comments are observations ... mere explorations and attempts at understanding, primarily for myself, of some of the overarching dynamics that may or may not be at play. Its about the processes involved rather than setting tasks for anyone.

    Seemingly intractable situations such as those that existed between sections of our respective communities benefit best from time and patience. Trying too hard to force change or to pace adjustments too quickly are unlikely to be helpful in such situations. Consolidation of the successful removal of arms from the strife and the consequent ending of political killings still needs occasional referencing and continued respect and so, even if there is that implication in my commentary that the Unionist collective memory needs reframing it is neither a demand nor even a request. In the end of the day the collective self-concept is not so much something that can be externally effected on demand. Its more about working towards creating and developing the necessary conditions where the communities self-concepts evolve in a self-directed manner.

    Hope that clarifies my position somewhat.

  27. It is worth remembering though that in the earlier years of the campaign there was a restriction imposed by the leadership forbidding attacks on those out of uniform.

    Nonsense and the fact that it is nonsense completely undermines your whole point that they were attcked becuase of their uniform not ther rligion.

    A number of the early UDR members to be killed were catholic and off duty. Others were protestant and in this part of Fermanagh and in at elast one case his wife was killed too.

    But if the facts do not suit your revisionism don't change your revisionism to fit the facts, change (or just ignore) the facts to fit your revisionism

    The third