Current Affairs Politics

Second-Class Citizens, Second-Class Victims

The Ballymurphy Massacre, Belfast 1971 - British War Crimes In Ireland
The Ballymurphy Massacre, Belfast 1971 – British War Crimes In Ireland

So the political extreme of the British Unionist minority in Ireland in the form of the TUV’s Jim McAllister has bullied, intimidated and shamed other political parties into facilitating the passing by the Stormont Assembly of the Special Advisers Bill, legislation designed to prevent political prisoners who have served longer than five years in gaol taking up administrative positions in the regional government in the north-east of the country. This law is of course targeted at Sinn Féin and former Irish Republican prisoners preventing the latter from participating in the local power-sharing administration in the North of Ireland, one of the corner-stones of the Peace Process and the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

On the other hand members of the British terrorist groupings that killed on behalf of Britain in its counter-insurgency war against the Irish Republican Army will not be effected by these new rules. Nor will the conventional British forces, military or paramilitary. The reasons for this are obvious. The vast majority of the British terror gangs had little if any political motivations beyond simply killing Irish men, women and children (and making large amounts of profit into the process thanks to the largesse of the British state and its willingness to look the other way when it came to drug-dealing and racketeering as long as its gunmen-by-proxy were willing to terrorize the people of Ireland). Their political representatives were to be found in the “mainstream” Unionist parties of the DUP and to a lesser extent the UUP. That is why no political parties under the control of the British terrorist groupings ever prospered – parties representing their interests already existed in the Unionist establishment. The DUP and UUP were simply the political wings of British Unionist terrorism in Ireland, just at one remove. So few if any of the members of the likes of the militant UDA will ever be effected by these new regulations.

As for members of the British Forces who served and fought in the north-east of Ireland during the thirty years of conflict. Well since the numbers of serving British soldiers and paramilitary police officers actually convicted of murdering Irish citizens in the North of Ireland (or elsewhere) can be counted on the fingers of one hand it hardly applies. The British government ensured that its frontline fighters were immune from prosecution while conducting a war on its behalf. The Irish Republican Army “murdered”. The British Army “killed”…

Shamefully the SDLP, the minority Irish Nationalist party in the north-east of the country, allowed this discriminatory law to pass without their opposition through “abstaining” from the vote in Stormont. Only Sinn Féin and the Green Party voted against it (the latter hardly a Nationalist party as such despite its All-Ireland structure), while the Unionist parties voted en masse in favour. Thus the SDLP have participated, and with real political cowardice, in the creation of a “hierarchy of victims”. One where for all practical purposes the lives of those from the British Unionist civilian population in Ireland, the British Armed Forces, the British paramilitary police and others are placed over and above the lives of Irish men, women and children.

From second-class citizens to second-class victims.

Kevin Rooney has more at Spiked.

4 comments on “Second-Class Citizens, Second-Class Victims

  1. Mekonged

    I wonder who this victims narrative is really helping and how much longer can it dominate discourse? Republicans, of course are left with no choice but to respond to British/Unionist/Free-State shoneens constant dredging of the past for propaganda insults to denigrate the fight for Independence and Equality. And it’s this monotonous debate which deserves the nomenclature ‘tit for tat’ and not that phrase’s progagandistic use in the North from 1978 onwards. The facts are the IRA methodology never included entering East Belfast to shoot the first random Protestant they encountered, the facts are that the IRA didn’t seek out Unionist non combatants as reprisal for losses inflicted by the Brits eg Greysteel and Loughinisland. The official list of casualties and incidents of the ‘Troubles’ proves this but how can this fact be cemented into the discourse.

    Yes of course there were incidents, perhaps amounting to 200 or so fatalities inflicted on innocents. Kingsmill of course and less people remember 2 old pensioners killed because they were in the presence of the intended target in Coagh. The 1993 Shankill bombing was callous and stupid and most of all cowardly. Storming the UDA office with a commando squad should have been the plan. But the non combatents from Unionist areas can not – with any integrity – claim that they feared walking home from a friends house or pub the way Nationalists dreaded in North Belfast or the Lower Falls while the British Loyalist Proxies operated their KAT – kill all taigs – approach.

    So can a respected independent body be brought in to verify this truth and show Miriam o’Callaghan etc and all mealy mouthed haters of Republicanism exactly who we’re the real victims and the incredible constraint in which their army the volunteers of the IRA actually operated?


      • The row is good for nationalism.

        Some metaphorical blood on the carpet is: one, better than the literal sort; and two might help generate some new ideas about how to go forward (of which there are remarkably few).

        A few years back, a unionist friend warned me about one of his party colleagues, that I should be very wary of him, that he thought politics was only ever about being ‘evil’ to your opponents.

        I fear that after 40 years of a war mentality this is all most northern nationalists have been left with. It did not win the long war, and I’m pretty sure it cannot win the long peace.


        • It did not win the long war – but it did not lose it either. And in the context of the British Occupied North of Ireland, to misquote von Clausewitz, “Politics is merely the continuation of war by other means”.


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