From Sir Jeffrey Donaldson <[email protected]>
Subject Violence has no place in politics
Date June 10, 2023 6:59 AM
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Challenging Sinn Fein’s attempts to rewrite history is not about being stuck in the past, rather it is about respecting the sons, daughters, mothers and fathers who were cruelly murdered by balaclava wearing IRA terrorists.

I will use every fibre of my body to stop Northern Ireland ever being gripped by the terrorism of the 1970s, 80s and 90s but part of that is honestly reflecting the barbarity of taking 12 innocent workmen from a van in South Armagh. The one Catholic was told to run away and the remaining 11 Protestants were lined up and shot with only one surviving to tell the story.

That is the truth about the Provisional IRA in South Armagh.

I am mindful that those listed on the “South Armagh Roll of Honour” have family who grieve. They have the right to remember, as do we all. This is not the problem, but rewriting history or eulogising terrorism most certainly is. Celebrating anyone’s membership of the IRA or any other terror group is wrong. Violence or the threat of violence has no place in politics.

The IRA, alongside others, was guilty of some of the most stomach-turning human rights abuses ever witnessed on these shores. IRA torture squads mutilated their victims before leaving their lifeless naked bodies at the Armagh roadsides or in some cases, they never gave families like those of Captain Robert Nairac ([link removed]) a body to even bury.

As I write this, I think of Paul Quinn’s family. The South Armagh IRA battered that young lad in a cow shed ([link removed]) so there wasn’t a major bone left in his body unbroken.

The people who carried out such brutality must have had psychological problems to walk away from such scenes of inhumanity.
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I recognise that there are a great many decent, law-abiding people living in South Armagh but the IRA gave the area a bad name. South Armagh was not only known for the sectarian violence of the IRA but it was noted far beyond these shores as ‘bandit country’ where all forms of criminality funded the IRA’s terror campaign. Fuel laundering was the most notable trade on these border roads. Lost revenues that could have been used to fund our hospitals and schools was funnelled into the IRA.

Where is the leadership from Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O’Neill, Conor Murphy or John Finucane?

It’s time the Sinn Fein poster team stepped forward and spoke some honesty about the gun in Irish politics.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined Ulster Defence Regiment comrades in Clogher, Co Tyrone where we held a church service in remembrance of those who served in that area and who were murdered. I am proud of serving in the UDR and wearing my uniform on the streets of Ulster.

I draw no parallel between the UDR and the IRA.

The UDR was a legally accountable regiment in the British Armed Forces where the command structure was open for all to see. Records were kept and soldiers were brought before the courts where wrongdoing was identified. The task of the regiment was to uphold the rule of law and protect the community from terrorism.

In contrast, the IRA was a proscribed terrorist organisation that operated in darkness, and refused to recognise the rule of law. Their command structure required members to never speak of their actions or that of their comrades. Indeed this was proven very publicly when Martin McGuinness refused to tell the truth ([link removed]) at the Saville Inquiry bowing instead to a “republican code of honour’.

On Thursday this week Conor Murphy attempted to draw a comparison between His Majesty’s Armed Forces and the IRA. He was on the ropes and desperately struggling to defend his position.

If Conor Murphy truly believes in this warped comparison, then let him call for the IRA members’ names to be published and let them be subjected to the same legal rigour that soldiers up and down this United Kingdom have been subjected to over the last decade.

Sinn Fein’s attempts to distract and deflect from the evils of the IRA by comparing them with others is an admission of failure, a failure to recognise that we don’t raise this from a political standpoint, we raise it on behalf of the innocent catholic and protestant IRA victims who find the rewriting of history repulsive.

We challenge this narrative of the past because failure to do so will aid some misled young people to think violence in some cases is honourable and justifiable.

The Sinn Fein leadership have a responsibility to honestly address the role of violence in Irish politics. Unless this fundamental is tackled, there will always be a mindset which believes if their objective is not being advanced electorally or politically, then violence must be the only path to progress.

This mindset has been recycled many times on this island. Indeed, the pipe band at Sunday’s IRA commemoration is named after Joe McKelvey who hailed from Tyrone and was executed by firing squad in 1922 by the Irish Free State forces.

Any student of Irish history and honest nationalist or republican will accept that the Irish civil war was one of the bloodiest and must cruel times on this island with family turning against family and neighbour against neighbour.

Sinn Fein’s behaviour on Sunday and constant glorifying of the IRA without pointing to the flawed mindset that violence is never justified, only serves to fuel the republican terrorists who sought to murder Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell a few weeks ago.

My comments are not mired in the past, they are looking to the future.

I want a future for our children and grandchildren where innocent victims are not subjected to such offence and which is free from the gun and the bomb. That is what we as a Party will continue to strive for.

Best wishes,

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader
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