File:Ulster Resistance Flag.JPG

THE leader of Fianna Fail has launched an unprecedented attack on DUP describing its call for an Irish government apology for the IRA campaign as ” confrontational, aggressive and disrespectful.” Micheal Martin also hits out at First Minister Peter Robinson for adding his voice to the call which he says is based on “ a false analysis of history ” saying it represented a major failure in North-South relationships.

His comments come as an Irish News special report finds leading figures in the Republic reject DUP suggestions that the activities of the Provisional IRA were facilitated by the southern authorities. Former Fianna Fail minister Des O’Malley described the claims as ” outrageous ” hitting out at DUP MP Gregory Campbell for telling the assembly that the Fianna Fail cabinet, led by late taoiseach Jack Lynch, played ” midwife at the birth of the Provo monster “. The attack on the DUP leader comes as Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was under renewed pressure last night over fresh claims by Dolours Price that he ordered a bomb campaign in London in the early 1970s. The former West Belfast MP, now a TD for Louth, has strenuously denied the claims Price gave in an interview in which she also reiterates claims that he sanctioned the murder of Disappeared victim Jean McConville. Meanwhile, Mr Martin – who said he would be supportive of any initiative aimed at getting to the truth of the IRA – said the DUP wanted an apology they were ” asking the wrong people “. ” If the DUP wants to point the finger of blame for the emergence and subsequent activity of the Provisonal movement it needs to look much closer to home,” he said.


 FIRST Minister Peter Robinson may be vocal in his criticism of paramilitary groups but he was once prepared to support the now-defunct Ulster Resistance. The DUP leader this week joined calls for the Irish government to apologise for it’s ” clear connection ” to the Provisional IRA ” in its infancy “. 

 However, the veteran politician – who marched alongside men in military fatigues as he donned a red beret – was centre stage when the Ulster Resistance movement was formed in 1986 in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Aggreement. That year Mr Robinson led a 500-strong loyalist mob onto Clontibret, Co Monaghan. Two gardai were injured and Mr Robinson was arrested and fined IR£17,500. The judge described him as a ” senior extremist politician “. Other party colleagues who spoke at the group’s launch in the Ulster Hall included Ian Paisley, Sammy Wilson and Ivan Foster. It was alleged that the group collaborated with the UVF and the UDA in securing weapons but the RUC uncovered a number of caches and prosecutions ensued. The DUP would later insist it had severed links with the Ulster Resistance by 1987. That year three members of the paramilitary group were charged with arms trafficking after being arrested in a Paris hotel along with a US arms dealer ( in the picture above ) and a South African diplomat. The group faded into oblivion until 2007 when a number of hooded men were pictured in a Sunday newspaper, claiming they were members of the Ulster Resistance. They warned the Irish government not to ” attempt to create a united Ireland through the undermining of Ulster affairs “. They said the group had members across Northern Ireland. Nothing has been heard from them since.




 DESPITE telling nationalists to refer to ” Northern Ireland ” and not ” the north “, Peter Robinson produced a pamphlet entitled The North Answers Back early in his political career. The DUP leader hit out last week at people who do not “refer to the country they live in by its name ” during a speech delivered at a civic dinner to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant

Historian Eamon Phoenix was among invited guests at last Thursday night’s dinner in Belfast City Hall. Dr Phoenix said there had been ” some surprise if not shock at this poke at nationalists ” and that Mr Robinson had ” departed from the more inclusive sense of the dinner “. Before joining the DUP in the mid-1970s the politically minded teenager produced a number of political pamphlets and it is said the one entitled The North Answers Back was what brought him to the attention of unionist stalwart Ian Paisley. Around the same time Mr Paisley himself also talked about ” we in the north of Iereland “, according to Dr Phoenix. Speaking at the covenant dinner, Mr Robinson said those who spoke of reconciliation ” should reconcile themselves to the decades-old reality of the existence of Northern Ireland “. ” History and reality cannot be prtended away,” he said. Pointing out that  as first minister Mr Robinson is chairman of the North/South Ministerial Council, Dr Phoenix said political and cultural identity was ” a complex tapestry ” and the terms used to described the north had been interchangeable. Dr Phoenix pointed to a plaque in the chamber of Belfast City Hall that marks the opening of ” the northern parliament of Ireland ” in 1921. He said while former taoiseach Jack Lynch had spoken of ” the six counties ” it was the ” Irish unionist ” and first signatory of the Ulster Covenant Edward Carson who first used such a term when he sought the exclusion of ” the six plantation counties ” during partition.



THERE is merit in the DUP seeking an apology for IRA barbarity – but they are askig the wrong people. When I first heard about last Monday night’s DUP motion, seeking an apology from the Irish government for their role in creating the Provisional IRA, I was genuinely taken aback.

At a time when an unprecedented economic and jobs crisis is causing havoc acroos Europe and is having very dramatic consequences in towns and cities across the nortn, I was not expecting the sort of political rhetoric I thought had been left behind when the DUP formed its governing partnership with Sinn Fein. The fact that the analysis and the language being used was so inaccurate, and so out of tune with the newly improved relationships between north and south, gave me pause for thought. What has happened that would allow otherwise responsible and civic-minded public representatives to ignore the historical facts and revert to an old language of confrontation, aggression and disrespect ? The first and most obvious conclusion is that the new Irish government is no longer maintaining the sort of close and involved relationship with Stormont as the governments I was privileged to serve in always did. Finna Fail governments over the last 10 years made some well-documented mistakes but taking progress in the north for granted was never one of them. The fact that this issue got to the point where the first minister is signing his name to a motion based on a false and facetious analysis of history and is heedless of the effect it would have on the relationship with Dublin represents a major failure in north-south politics and the Irish government does need to answer questions about how it came to this.

The other conclusion that you would have to draw from this episode is that something profound is happening in the relationship between the DUP and Sinn Fein. At one level, if this is evidence of the two parties becoming comfortable with each other’s histories, it could be spun as a positive development. I know, as a former minister with responsibilities in the north, of the massive effort that was put into bringing Sinn Fein into democratic politics and of the wasted years of frustration as Dublin, London and others in the north worked hard to try and bring Sinn Fein and the DUP together. In that context, you could argue that a motion rewriting the history of the conflict which suits this relationship, is progress of a sort. But is it positive progress ? I for one don’t think so. For a relationship to develop real bonds of trust it needs to be based on truth. While Sinn Fein and in fact the DUP may take comfort from a fiction which moves responsibility for what happened in the North of Ireland over the border, the problem for both is that it just isn’t true. The DUP has sought an apology from the Irish government. I listened to some of the contributions made during the debate and it is clear that the pain and anger caused by the activities of the IRA is still raw and still real. I understand this anger. Indeed, I share it. But surely if an apology is to mean anything, it must be genuine. It must be offered by those who hold moral responsibility for the actions involved.

The death of almost 1,800 men women and children at the hands of the IRA was a hideous crime against their neighbours, against their country and against the proud ambitions of Irish republicanism. But is is not a crime for which the Irish government has culpability. If the DUP wants to point a finger of blame for the emergence and subsequent activity of the Provisional movement, it needs to look much closer to home. It could begin by seeking to better understand the role of a Northern Unionist government that actively discriminated against Catholics and then sought to crush a legitimate a peaceful civil rights movement. A diastrous decision then exploited by those who thought the interests of their community were best served through violence. Even more appropriately, it could speak directly to its partners in the current Northern government. It cuold ask Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to tell the truth of the IRA under his command. It could demand that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams account for his tenure on the army council of the IRA and ask him to answer the charges made by Brendan Hughes ( the dark ) regarding the abduction, murder and disappearence of the body of Jean McConville. I know personally, from my time in government and from the work of members of my family in the Garda Siochana, of the effort and sacrifice made by Ireland’s police and army to thwart the activities of the IRA. While the Republic escaped the worst excesses of murder and sectarian violence – with some notable and sickening exceptions – the threat posed to the stability of this state by so-called republicans was no less severe than it was in the North. So while I would fully support any initiative aimed at getting to the truth of what was done by the IRA and to extract apologies from those who were responsible, this DUP effort to rewrite history and attempt to shift responsbility to Dublin, is a fiction too far.





  1. […] Furious Fianna Fail Leader Rounds on Robinson’s Dup ! (fiannaiochta.wordpress.com) […]

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