To argue, as Michelle O’Neill has done, that the Provisional IRA’s bloody campaign was justifiable and unavoidable is not only a lie, it is yet another grotesque attempt by Sinn Fein to rewrite history.
Unfortunately, that is a project that has brought them some reward. Such is the ‘greenwashing’ of the period of The Troubles that today, twenty five years after they ended, a generation of young nationalists, which knew nothing of their terror, butchery and ultimate futility, blithely chant pro IRA slogans as they play out their odious tribal rituals.
Michelle O’Neill and the Sinn Fein machine knows exactly what they are doing when they glorify three decades of atrocities, sectarianism and barbarity.
They are playing to their own gallery, consolidating the lowest denominator in their support base and, using very specifically tailored language, constructing a counterfeit history in which everyone else is to blame.
It is worth remembering that the Provos were no friends of the Civil Rights campaign. They opposed it, they attacked it, they condemned it. But they did not support it. Nor did they support the efforts of all those who were working for a better and more democratic society.
They rejected the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 only to, eventually, sign up to the Good Friday Agreement twentyfive years and three and a half thousand deaths later.
The only inevitability about the IRA’s actions was that, like all forms of militant nationalism, British and Irish, they will always revert to the elitism of violence rather than join with others in a united approach to tackling the injustices of society.
There was no justification for what the IRA did over three decades. There is no legitimacy in its glorification or in attempts at its justification today.
Hugh Scullion is Chair of the MId-Ulster Branch of the Workers Party