Unbelievable news today from journalist Eamonn Mallie:
‘The UDA’s five brigadiers and 4/5 representatives of their respective districts have been extended invitations to a wreath laying ceremony by Queen Elizabeth at Islandbridge in honour of the war dead. President Mary McAleese’s husband Martin has been involved with UDA leaders in community work for several years. South Belfast brigadier Jackie McDonald regularly visits Aras an Uachtarain.
Confirming the invitations on Wednesday to the Islandbridge leg of the Queen’s visit Mr McDonald said “this represents progress and is a reward for work being done. Others could learn from this.’
Yes, that’s right. On the anniversary of the British state-directed terrorist attacks in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May 1974 that killed 33 civilians and wounded nearly 300 others, the leaders of the largest British terrorist organisation in the north-east of Ireland (the Ulster Defence Association or UDA) will be attending the official ceremony by the British head of state at Islandbridge to commemorate those Irishmen who died on British military service in WWI.
As news stories go this is one of the more extraordinary that I’ve seen. As a PR exercise it is about as sensitive as inviting unrepentant Nazis to visit Auschwitz.
The simultaneous bombings in the city of Dublin and the town of Monaghan were carried out by British Unionist terrorists from the so-called Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a militant faction which was under the control of the British Intelligence services (British Military Intelligence and the British Security Service or MI5) and the then British paramilitary police force in the north of Ireland (the Royal Ulster Constabulary or RUC). Suspicions remain that elements of the British civil government were also culpable in the attacks which took place at a time of heightened political tensions.
The UDA remains an illegal or banned (proscribed) organisation in the North of Ireland because of its status as a terrorist movement (a ban the British resisted for many years until International pressure forced their hand). It was responsible for the murder and wounding of hundreds of civilians during the war in the North – many at the behest of the British Forces in a campaign of selective terror and assassination.
If the Irish people are prepared to welcome the British head of state, how do they feel about the leaders of the British terror gangs her forces harboured and directed for decades? A ‘gesture’ too far for even the most hardened stomach to accept?
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