Coming soon? The IRA- a true story of bloody terror

by PETER HITCHENS, Mail on Sunday
January 13, 2002

OF course the British Government should say sorry for the Bloody Sunday massacre in Londonderry. It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder. No single action by British arms in Ulster has given more aid and comfort to the gangsters of the IRA.

If British troops had shot down marchers on the streets of Portsmouth or Nottingham under exactly the same conditions the Government would have fallen, and rightly so.

The Irish Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen are as entitled to justice as every other citizen of this country.

If anyone can think of any clearer way in which I could say that, let me know.

As a dedicated opponent of the Good Friday Agreement, and as someone who believes that the terrorists of both factions should still be inside their prison cells, I find it hugely frustrating that I am assumed to be an uncritical defender of everything my country has done in Ireland.

Far from it. I wish we had handled the whole thing better from the beginning.

It is a grotesque tragedy for this country that we have managed to turn the Irish, who are probably closer to us than any other people, into our enemies around the world when they should be our friends and allies. We pay for it each day.

But our opponents have not been perfect either, by any means. And we have not always been wrong. From the moment that direct rule was imposed on Ulster, we had a chance of creating a society of true equality in Northern Ireland, where Protestant and Catholic could actually begin to forget their differences and live together in genuine friendship.

The Good Friday Agreement, as we see in the streets of North Belfast, has done the opposite of this.

It would be a relief if someone, somewhere in our film and TV industry began to admit that there was much good on the British side and plenty of evil on the IRA's.

What purpose do they think is served by warming over the 1972 shootings again?

Why, when we have already had quite enough pro-IRA movies, will Channel 4 and ITV1 both be showing films dealing with Bloody Sunday at the end of the month ?

HOWabout a film (you might call it The Godfather) about the career of a terrorist who, in a culture of killing, torture and intimidation, climbs to political respectability?

How about a dramatisation of the attempted murder of the British Cabinet in a seaside hotel? Or a thriller about a Roman Catholic RUC man, torn between his duty to the law and his colleagues, and the threats made to his family?

Perhaps a true-life depiction of the beginning, end and aftermath of one of the many IRA operations that led to the deaths of entirely innocent people, showing the bombers back home exulting over the carnage, crosscut with archive film of the corpses and the funerals?

These were not mistakes, as Bloody Sunday was.

These were deliberate acts of ruthless cruelty and terror.

My God, ours is not the only apology due, nor the only injustice left crying out for judgment. Nor is Bloody Sunday the only massacre that needs filming.

God save the Church in the battle for Lambeth PRAY for an Archbishop of Canterbury to replace George Carey, above, and one who believes more in God than government, and more in human kindness than high taxation. If they pick the wrong man, the Archbishop after that will not have a Church to lead.

The wrong and the short and the tall I AM ashamed to say that I doubled up with laughter at the sight of Royal Marines and paras patrolling in pairs with Afghan 'policemen'. Partly it was the sidelong glances that they kept giving each other, a mixture of amazement, embarrassment and sheer disbelief, I think. Partly it was the wondrous uniforms of the Afghan constables, who looked like a mixture of traffic warden, bag lady and First World War Tommy. But mainly it was the feeling that this was the thoughts of President Blair made flesh - the soppy and unrealistic belief that Dixon of Dock Green, long abolished back home, can somehow be brought back to life and sent plodding through the ruined streets of Kabul.

Crime figures are pure fraud INTERIOR Minister David Blunkett says the chances of being a victim of crime now are at their lowest level for 20 years. Tremendous news indeed. My own research reveals that the chances of being the victim of a false or fiddled Government statistic are now almost as high in Britain as they were in Moscow 20 years ago. As for poor Oliver Letwin, Mr Blunkett's Tory shadow, it is distressing to see a clever man so completely missing the point. Of course we need to have a more neighbourly society. However, in the meantime we need a police force that patrols the streets, and makes criminals afraid of the law. Mr Letwin's scheme is as unrealistic as, well, as letting a complete stranger come into your house for a pee.

BBCeuro bias borders on the ridiculous THE BBC is still trying to give the euro-rouble a plug when everyone else has given up. A pitiful report on Thursday evening's TV news showed French people from Strasbourg crossing the frontier into Germany to buy petrol and play computer games because such things are cheaper over there. Apparently, we were told, the poor dears had only just realised that these things were cheaper because they were now priced in euroroubles on both sides of the border. Was there nobody at Television Centre to ask a) if the French had only started nipping over the border after the euro-rouble was introduced and b) whether exactly the same thing doesn't happen on the Eire/Ulster border, where there are still two different currencies in operation? In which case this wasn't a BBC news report, but propaganda. Or perhaps the French haven't yet invented the pocket calculator.

No, I don't want Tony Blair to spend more time here. He can circle the world for the next four years for all I care. He is not such a wonderful saviour that mere presence makes things better. Calls for him to come home make look as if he is the beloved father of the nation, rather than a politician with too much makeup.

WHAT is the point of treating captured Afghans so harshly? Even if they are not technically prisoners of war, which sounds rather like hair-splitting, this deliberate humiliation is not justified or right. It looks suspiciously like bullying and robs our side of its moral superiority.

DESPITE a total lack of evidence that eating sheep can give you CJD, scientists seem determined to spread panic about the idea. Since they have yet to prove that the recent mad slaughter of millions of cows did any good, I think they should shut up. But isn't it odd that we are so anxious to believe that beef and mutton will poison us, at the same time as we are so desperately trying to convince ourselves that cannabis is harmless? I know which sort of joint I prefer, and which is safer.

WHY do courtiers blab about the private secrets of the Royal Family? If such people no longer keep to the code of their fathers, of utter discretion and loyalty, then the monarchy cannot survive.

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