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Did McGuinness complete his journey?


DavidCaldwell

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By the lights of large strands of Nationalist tradition, Martin McGuinness was a great man, not only for his role as a peace-maker, but also for the determination, bravery and leadership he showed during the conflict.

One of the reasons why, on his death, McGuinness has been widely honoured is that, while the wider world, on the whole, believes that what McGuiness and the IRA did in the conflict was wrong, it accepts that a Republican viewpoint would see McGuinness’ actions as justified. Arlene Foster and Bill Clinton were doing what Martin Luther King articulated – “I judge a man by his principles, not my own”.

If you agree with my initial statement, you might want to consider the implications of “By the lights of …”. This implicitly recognises that there are other viewpoints. If we accept the principle of the equal worth of all people, then due weight has to be given to the full range of viewpoints and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we need move towards judging right and wrong, justice and injustice with due consideration to all viewpoints, to all people.

This would have been the final step in Martin McGuinness’ journey from conflict to peace. He would have recognised that, although the IRA’s actions were justified from a Republican point of view, they were not justified from other points of view – most importantly, from the point of views of the victims of the violence. And he would have come to conclusion that, in consequence of this and the fact that there were alternatives, the IRA violence was wrong.

Norman Tebbit has stated very publicly that he believes that McGuinness never made this step, never “atoned for his crimes.” I myself believe that McGuinness did complete his journey and did realise that it would have been better if there had been no IRA violence.

Why do I believe this? McGuinness acknowledged publicly that those bereaved by the IRA generally see the killings as murder. McGuinness was an intelligent man and would know that current Republican emphasis on the importance of equality implies that this viewpoint is no less valid than the Republican viewpoint. Hence, it follows that one cannot make any simple conclusion that the killings were right. And if they were not right, then they were wrong.

If so, then why did McGuinness not express some regret? One possible answer is simply that it was not yet the right time. Republicans were both perpetrators and victims of the violence. It is only human nature that dead friends and family weight more heavily in our minds than dead strangers. When you feel that, overall, you are the wronged one, it is difficult to say sorry.

I believe that, together with McGuinness and Paisley, most of us here have completed the journey. Most of us would agree that, as Vivabrigada puts it, “it wasn’t worth a single life.” Again, we, on all sides, find it difficult to say sorry, but we do wish that “many things had been done differently.”

I have two questions.

Firstly, for anyone who disagrees with Vivabrigida’s statement – is this possibly because you are seeing things only from a distance, from far away from Belfast or only from the present time?

Secondly – do you agree that McGuinness completed such a journey from conflict to peace?
 


mac tíre

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Irish Republicans are reaching out their hands.They have been doing so for ages, though I can understand why some don't trust or accept that.

I have never hidden the fact I am an Irish Republican.

The hand is still there to be shaken. Take it. It is genuine.

*Puts out hand*
 

Cruimh

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Secondly – do you agree that McGuinness completed such a journey from conflict to peace?
No.

His movement from overt violence was not made willingly. There was no transformation on a road to Damascus, He only abandoned terrorism because the IRA had lost the war and he wanted to salvage what he could, both for his party and for himself.

As for "current Republican emphasis on the importance of equality" people should realise that they are using 1984-speak when they talk of equality. We saw their equality from Conor Murphy, Gildernew and Ruane.
 

Tough Paddy

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I don't believe that McGuiness sought to atone for anything. In the early part of his life he believed that violence was the best means to achieve one's aims. In the later decades of his life he reallsed the futility of such violence and as such pursued a differeent path. It really is as simple as that.
 

DavidCaldwell

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@mac tire,

I will take your hand and hope that we continue the journey towards being a community that may well be diverse, but is free of divisions.
 

mac tíre

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@mac tire,

I will take your hand and hope that we continue the journey towards being a community that may well be diverse, but is free of divisions.
Why not? We may want to go in different directions but let us explore the possibilities together.
 

Tough Paddy

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No.

His movement from overt violence was not made willingly. There was no transformation on a road to Damascus, He only abandoned terrorism because the IRA had lost the war and he wanted to salvage what he could, both for his party and for himself.

As for "current Republican emphasis on the importance of equality" people should realise that they are using 1984-speak when they talk of equality. We saw their equality from Conor Murphy, Gildernew and Ruane.
What happened on bloody sunday against the local population in Derry was terrosism. Do you recognise that as terrosim? Until you do, you have no right whatsoever to label what you see fit as terrosim.
 

DavidCaldwell

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I don't believe that McGuiness sought to atone for anything. In the early part of his life he believed that violence was the best means to achieve one's aims. In the later decades of his life he reallsed the futility of such violence and as such pursued a differeent path. It really is as simple as that.
If the violence was futile, then, given the human suffering it inflicted, surely it follows that it would have been better if the killings and bombings had never been carried out?
 

mac tíre

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If the violence was futile, then, given the human suffering it inflicted, surely it follows that it would have been better if the killings and bombings had never been carried out?
Better,and easier, to say we should admit we have made mistakes, both British and Irish. That was the message and will be the message. We all hurt each other. Let us make it better. And that is obviously including the British, who have their own role to sort out.
 

Tough Paddy

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If the violence was futile, then, given the human suffering it inflicted, surely it follows that it would have been better if the killings and bombings had never been carried out?
Of course it would have been better had the killings and bombings never been carried out. As well documented, the Good Friday agreement was the Sunningdale Agreement for slow learners.
 

mac tíre

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If the violence was futile, then, given the human suffering it inflicted, surely it follows that it would have been better if the killings and bombings had never been carried out?
Hamburg. Darmstadt. etc.

We agree.
 

DavidCaldwell

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Better,and easier, to say we should admit we have made mistakes, both British and Irish. That was the message and will be the message. We all hurt each other. Let us make it better. And that is obviously including the British, who have their own role to sort out.
I am very happy with this formulation and I suspect McGuinness would have been too.
 

GDPR

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Of course he did.

Twenty years of peace, against all the forces which would undermine it- Unionist intransigence, Dissidents, Tory bloody-mindedness, BREXIT etc etc.

He held everything together.

Neither you nor I, Mr Caldwell, will ever be faced with that degree of responsibility and therefore we can have no idea how we would discharge it.

My first thought when MMG died was "Can we do this without him?"

And then I realised, yes we can, because that is what he showed us. Over 20 years.
 

DavidCaldwell

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No.

His movement from overt violence was not made willingly. There was no transformation on a road to Damascus, He only abandoned terrorism because the IRA had lost the war and he wanted to salvage what he could, both for his party and for himself.

As for "current Republican emphasis on the importance of equality" people should realise that they are using 1984-speak when they talk of equality. We saw their equality from Conor Murphy, Gildernew and Ruane.
I would argue that, while McGuinness was not ready to give apologies, this was because he felt apologies were inappropriate (because he or at least the people he represented believed that they were the more wronged and so did not need to apologise), rather than because he continued to believe that the violence was justified.

If you would argue that Adams still believes the violence was justified, I would be unable to disagree. But McGuinness recognised that the killings could be seen as murder. I believe we should ponder the implications of that and recognise that sometimes it may be difficult to say sorry.

Indeed, it may be that it is often that the more solid is one's own position, the easier it is to say sorry. It was relatively easy for Cameron to say sorry about Bloody Sunday in part because doing so did not in any significant way undermine the moral authority of the government - yes, it has its flaws, but it is a modern democracy with rule of law and checks and balances.
 

roc_

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I strongly disagree with your assumption that a Republican viewpoint must see McGuinness’ earlier actions as "justified".

The turn the "provisionals" took following the '69 split went abominably far beyond using force in defense and even justified retaliation.

That turn may have been justified for a very short period of time when the old IRA failed to protect the communities in their remit.

But the continued and bloody adherence to this "turn", when the initial exigency passed, when all possibly adequate justification had passed, when extreme youth and naivety were not mitigating factors, was never ever justified by any viewpoint other than a crass, peasant-minded, murderous, idiot's viewpoint.

The "atonement" is a separate matter. That atonement is the only factor any thinking person was ever interested in or gave credence to.
 

Ardillaun

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No.

His movement from overt violence was not made willingly. There was no transformation on a road to Damascus, He only abandoned terrorism because the IRA had lost the war and he wanted to salvage what he could, both for his party and for himself.

As for "current Republican emphasis on the importance of equality" people should realise that they are using 1984-speak when they talk of equality. We saw their equality from Conor Murphy, Gildernew and Ruane.
So kind of on that topic, Cruimh, what do you think about a United Ireland out there in County Londonderry which I am presuming is not ironic? It's (UI) been in the news recently quite a bit as something inevitable which we all better get used to. How are you getting ready?
 

DavidCaldwell

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I strongly disagree with your assumption that a Republican viewpoint must see McGuinness’ earlier actions as "justified".
I should have been more carefully in my wording. I would agree that, while some Republicans saw the PIRA campaign as justified, many (OIRA etc) did not. Indeed, it is very interesting to note the complexities of the fact that Sinn Fein's vote has been much higher after the renunciation of violence (25% and more) than it ever was during the violence (10-15%), suggesting that many current Sinn Fein supporters never agreed with the violence.
 

Mickeymac

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Of course he did.

Twenty years of peace, against all the forces which would undermine it- Unionist intransigence, Dissidents, Tory bloody-mindedness, BREXIT etc etc.

He held everything together.

Neither you nor I, Mr Caldwell, will ever be faced with that degree of responsibility and therefore we can have no idea how we would discharge it.

My first thought when MMG died was "Can we do this without him?"

And then I realised, yes we can, because that is what he showed us. Over 20 years.

Best post I ever read Lady in quite some time.
 

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