It is unusual for foreigners, especially foreigners who are in public life, to intervene in the internal affairs of a friendly, democratic country. A few years ago, a band of Australian republicans managed to persuade the misguided and myopic local executives of two foreign companies, one Japanese and one American, to sponsor their attempt to get rid of our National Flag.
The foreign companies pulled out when they realized the enormity of their indiscretion. The only international figure to support the push for an Australian republic was Gerry Adams, the leader of the so-called political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein. Adams campaigned in the media,calling on Australians to vote Yes in the 1999 referendum.
The Sydney Morning Herald (16 March 2005) says he was once a VIP. The Herald should know. He was received once in the Fairfax editorial suite in Sydney as a VIP. They say he is now persona non grata.
Mr Adams has not changed. It is just that many journalists and politicians are beginning to admit what everyone else knew. And Gerry Adams’ extraordinary intervention in the referendum campaign is not the only connection the IRA has had with Australia. It raises funds here. But let us not forget that the IRA brutally murdered two young Australian men in the Netherlands in the eighties. Its excuse, if excuse is the correct word, is that their thugs thought the two Australians were British soldiers. The IRA declined to name them or hand their murderers over for trial. (Nor incidentally did they do what has recently made their cause even more infamous. That is they did not offer to murder the murderers.)
Their apology was contemptuously rejected by the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. The IRA’s latest Australian connection has been the robbery of over $60 million from a bank owned by the National Australia Bank, a robbery in which bank employees were threatened with the murder of the kidnapped members of their families if they resisted. Although a terrorist organisation, ithe IRA had until recently achieved a level of acceptance which would make Osama bin Laden envious. Received not just at Fairfax,or at book signings in Australia and the US, Adams was also received as if he were a statesman at the White House in the Clinton years.
In addition, the terrorist organization was actually allowed to raise funds in the US. No more, although it seems they can still raise funds in Australia.
It is worth recalling what the IRA did to reverse its fortunes. It began with the brutal murder of Robert McCartney outside a Belfast pub. This initially seemed as if it were only one more IRA murder.But it was to turn many of their sympathisers, even Senator Edward Kennedy, against them. Only of course after they saw that the people of Belfast had had enough. The Senator has now actually done which he should have done years ago, joined the calls that the IRA be disbanded
The Spectator ( 12 March 2005) described in clinical and brutal detail how the IRA murdered Mr McCartney. Using iron sewer rods, they split his abdomen from his navel to his breastbone, severed his jugular vein and gouged out one of his eyes. Then they jumped on his head. They had the gall, then, to deny any involvement in this crime… But when protests from even their traditional constituency grew too loud, they said that witnesses should come forward, but definitely not talk to the police. The people of Belfast know what happens if they do talk to the police.
But as Charles Moore put it in The Spectator, when they realized they were losing their supporters,the republican constiuency, they had a brilliant idea. They went to Mr McCartney’s family and ever so thoughtfully offered to shoot the murderers! This they said, would be done cleanly, in contrast to the gruesome way they murdered Mr McCartney. How considerate of the IRA! (As I have said this was something they did not offer when they murdered those young Australians, whose families are no doubt still grieving.)
I suppose they said they would "execute" the murderers of Mr McCartney. I am appalled whenever I hear or see the media misuse that word, to execute. Whatever you think of capital punishment, the word execute conveys the notion of a trial followed by a lawful execution by the state. We should speak plainly- terrorists do not execute people – they murder them.
Anyway, as Charles Moore says, the IRA seemed perplexed that their proposal they murder their own found favour neither with the McCartney’s nor with public. Both of course would prefer that the criminals be brought to justice, dare I say British justice, than Mr Adams criminal terrorists go on another rampage.
And as Charles Moore points out, we now have confirmation from the Irish justice minister, what we all suspected. This is that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness both sit on the governing council of the IRA! They run it.
The editor of The Spectator called the IRA’s proposal to murder the murderers as so boneheaded, so stunning in its stupidity, so stereotypically moronic, that if it had not come from a bunch of thugs and killers we might be tempted to say that it is almost sweet. The brave sisters of Robert McCartney have gone to America, where the IRA, when it is not robbing banks, raises vast amounts of money. The sisters, who are to be received by the President, merely want the many witnesses to his murder to be able to testify free from IRA death threats.
The Spectator says that to judge by the slogans appearing on the walls of some Republican housing estates, so do a good number of traditional republican supporters. As The Spectator says, the most remarkable thing about this outrage is that anyone should express surprise, with the Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy reacting as if Mother Teresa had been revealed as a drug-runner!
The British government, The Spectator says, full well knows that the IRAs programme of killings and punishment beatings has continued unabated throughout the peace process; it is merely the bombs in Oxford Street which have been suspended.
Yet British ministers have turned a blind eye to the lot. They carried on releasing prisoners, says The Spectator, inviting Sinn Fein leaders to photo opportunities in Downing Street, and even briefly installing the former terrorists in Northern Irelands government in spite of the obvious and growing evidence that IRA/Sinn Fein (for no one can claim they are not one and the same thing) had no intention of changing its spots.
It warned that for the Home Secretary to exercise his powers of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill against suspected Muslim terrorists but to refuse to do so against IRA terrorists would be pure racism. The effect of the peace process, writes The Spectator, has been to sideline moderate republican political parties in favour of Sinn Fein. It is with them that all the deals have been done, and for whom the power-sharing arrangements have been made. Sinn Fein has been treated as if it were the sole representative of all Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Nothing, it seems to the editor, will change Mr Blair’s starry-eyed view of Gerry Adams and his henchmen: not even the £26 million (over $A 60 million) bank robbery. What has been the government’s reaction to this? The Spectator replies: to suspend the parliamentary expenses paid to Sinn Fein MPs in spite of their non-attendance at Westminster! It is worth recalling that they had earlier refused to swear allegiance to The Queen.
Mr Blair’s approach to Sinn Fein, the editor says, has sadly been copied by the Bush administration. In response to December’s bank robbery and the killing of Mr McCartney, President Bush has disinvited Gerry Adams from the White House on St Patrick’s Day. Yet, so as not to offend Sinn Fein, other Irish republican parties have been disinvited too: effectively punished for the crimes of the IRA.
It is an outrage, The Spectator says, that politicians committed to democracy and the rule of law should be treated in this fashion. Catholics repressed by the IRA for decades are finally summoning the courage to turn against the fascist bully boys who have marred their lives for so long. The Spectator ends with this demand: it is about time that the British government, and that of America, had the guts to support them.
In the meantime it is not too late for the Australian Republican Movement to distance itself from the strong support offered to their cause by the IRA leader, Gerry Adams.
Just imagine the furore if the leader of an international terrorist organization came out in support of our constitutional monarchy, and was received by many in the Australian media as if he were a visiting statesman. Just imagine how the republicans would have used that, and would still be using that.
Until next time,