Question Time

It is reported in the news today that Dr Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has said there can be no progress in the devolution process in Nothern Ireland until it is shown the latest Sinn Fein/IRA peace moves are genuine. This will require, “a prolonged period of assessment,” he said. “We will judge the IRA’s bona fides over the next months and years based on its behaviour and activity.”

In the mainstream Media, he is viewed as out-of-touch, obstructionist and, even, a down-right trouble-maker. (Though evidently not everyone within his community would agree with this portrait, because the DUP 1 is now the largest political party in the province).

However, Dr Paisley’s only real “failing” is to be raising the sort of awkward issues that the Media would rather skip. The Media are in a unique position to put across such questions, but rarely will they challenge those with whom they share a common agenda.

It is also disclosed today that three members of the IRA, convicted and sentenced in absentia for aiding marxist terrorists in Columbia, are currently living the life of Riley in the Irish Republic. (It was hardly likely they would be found living anywhere else now, would they?) The government of Eire has no formal extradition treaty with Columbia, so has an excuse for taking no action against them. (The lack of such an arrangement should not preclude persons from being detained for serious crimes committed abroad, and there are plenty of precedents.)

So here are a few, topical questions that I would like to see some intrepid reporter pop at an opportune moment:

To Bertie Ahern, Irish Prime Minister: “If your government is committed to the fight against terrorism, why will you not take action against these three men implicated in bombings in Columbia?”

To Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein President and former IRA Army Council member: “If, as is now proven, the last time you claimed to be engaged in a peace process, your organisation was actively engaged in international terrorism, what guarantees can you give us that you are not doing the same right now?”

To the American Irish: “Did you know – and are you content in the knowledge – that money you gave for the ’cause’ was being spent promoting terrorists in South America, not all that remote from your own country’s southern border?”

To Peter Hain, UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: “In response to the recent Sinn Fein/IRA statements, no time has been wasted taking down British Army watch posts, as I see already from the pictures on TV news; where can I find the corresponding pictures of the terrorists’ weapons being decommissioned?”

It came as no surprise that, when the BBC was selecting comment on the motives behind the 7/7 attacks, one of those they sought out was none other than… Gerry Adams. (Though I admit he may be more qualified to speak on the subject than I’ve given him credit for.2) No surprise either when Mr Adams’ recommendations were seconded a couple of weeks later by al-Zawahri. Again, to be absolutely fair, I suppose it is more convenient for the journalists to attend one of Mr Adams’ press conferences. They had to wait for the video from al-Zawahri to turn up in the post.

All of this proves the lie to another Media Class line, “not all terrorists are the same.” A more appropriate expression might be, as thick as thieves; and it is not just the bombers to whom I refer.

1. DUP Home Page
2. BBC News “On This Day” 15 March 1976

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