Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
Hrrrm… A number of newspapers representing the British Unionist minority in the north-east of the country are stirring up controversy over the appointment of Rosa McLaughlin as the vice-principle of St Mary’s College in Derry. The cause of their vociferous outrage is Ms. McLaughlin’s conviction in 1998 by a British no-jury, counter-insurgency court in the North of Ireland on the basis of an alleged “confession” given to British paramilitary police (the RUC) where it is claimed she admitted to being an Intelligence Officer of the Irish Republican Army. Rosa, who was 26 years of age at the time and a local school teacher, was immediately released having already served 17 months in prison while awaiting trial (and as a nod to the then ongoing Peace Process).
So, just as a matter of historical balance, I present below a picture of Peter Robinson, the head of the DUP, the largest Unionist political party in Ireland, a former member of the British Parliament, a current member of the Stormont Assembly and presently the Joint-First Minister of the North of Ireland. Here he is in 1987 attending a rally of the Ulster Resistance (or UR), a British terrorist organisation later involved in the smuggling of arms and explosives from the Lebanon to Ireland with the support of the then Apartheid-regime in South Africa, and under the direction of the British Security Service MI5. Robinson is wearing an Ulster Resistance red beret alongside others in UR paramilitary uniforms, including one Noel Little. The latter was a former British soldier (in the notorious UDR militia) and chairman of the Armagh branch of the Ulster Clubs, a quasi-military organisation which helped found the Ulster Resistance terror group, and like Robinson a member of Ian Paisley’s self-made Free Presbyterian Church. At this time Little was also a senior member of the UDA/UFF, the main British terrorist faction in Ireland, and was later arrested in Paris with two other UDA men selling stolen British missile parts to South African agents in return for further arms shipments from the White supremacist regime in Pretoria.
A year before this picture was taken, on the 7th of August 1986, Peter Robinson had led 500 Unionist militants, including members of the Ulster Clubs and Ian Paisley’s Third Force grouping, in the invasion of the small Irish village of Clontibret in County Monaghan. During the incursion, which terrified the inhabitants of the village and surrounding areas, the local station of the Gardaí (the unarmed, Irish civilian police service) was attacked, two Gardaí were taken hostage and beaten, and a “military parade” was held on the main street. The invasion was only repulsed when Garda reinforcements arrived, Peter Robinson and his supporters fleeing back across the border during which a number of shots were fired.
The second photograph below is a more recent one of Peter Robinson with John Smyth Junior, taken in 2010. Smyth, a former DUP election candidate and member of the Orange Order, recently pleaded guilty to a bomb attack targeting the home of a Polish family in Antrim claimed by a faction of the UDA/UFF. Coincidentally he is also the son of the prominent DUP Councillor John Smyth who was convicted for terrorist offences in the 1970s, including a fire-bomb attack by a UVF British terror gang on the home of a Nationalist family.
Rosa McLaughlin’s past is known. To her family, her friends, her community and her employers. But there are many others in the north-east of Ireland whose pasts remain wrapped in shadows.