AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH

eye 1

They still want an an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Revenge seems to be  the motto .The argument about” what a victim is ” is still fastened to the lips of  William McCrea’s own  Democratic Unionist Party {DUP}. They  cannot move on without a definition set down in law that proclaims exactly what a “victim of the Troubles” actually means. They doubtless obsess about this definition because they want us all to believe that a victim is someone who has been at the receiving end of  non-state violence alone. In their mind’s the state is unblemished and therefore their kith and kin in its forces are also unstained.That sets up a few  puzzling conundrums, for sure.

Recently ,the same William Mc Crea who  at one time ,shared a platform with a known terrorist killer has said….

“It is immoral that the current definition places the perpetrator and the victim on a par.“It is unacceptable that the terrorist pulling the trigger should be treated the same way as the innocent victim.”

Now I have no idea as to the personal morality of William McCrea. What I do know about him has been gleaned from the  public media. His close friends and allies might know a man that you or  I have never seen. He  had worked as a civil servant before involving and devoting  himself to right-wing unionist  politics , becoming  an MP connected to the Democratic Unionist Party .He has  had some religious fixations expressed in his role as a Free Presbyterian Minister which would also find little purchase in a questing mind. My understanding is that he professes to be a Christian although  he seems to favour a more Old Testament , pre-Christian aspiration.Those old revenge tracts seem to better  fit his ilk than the forgiving indulgences of a Jesus Christ. .He is also something of a  gospel singer of some unquenchable sanctimony.This Irish/C ountry  variation  on the territory of  Mahalia Jackson and the Staple Singers is guaranteed to leave lovers of real gospel music  tearing their collective hair out .It is a lugubrious and over- sanctimoniously sweetened version of same.

Mr McCrea’s real claim to fame is his association with Loyalist and Unionist paramilitaries. His attachment to religious morality seems to have been no barrier to him becoming a member of the Shankhill Defence Association. In 1971, he was convicted of riotous behaviour in Dungiven which probably did his inherent policital  leanings a certain  amount of good.

Later in 1975 he led a prayer service at the paramilitary funerals of  Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle. .You might think that it is a very forgiving thing to do.While most of us  spent our days and nights working  hard to put bread on the table  and attemped to keep within the moral law, working for our families and hurting no one, here was a man giving succour at the deaths of these two men.Well you  might think that until you heard that these two men had been responsible for the murdering of  members of a pop group .Yes …a pop group.

This was no military  or “republican” target .The people these two “upright citizens”  had murdered were musicians travelling as members of the “Miami” showband . This band was possibly one of the best little touring  cabaret  and dance  bands of its type ,at the time .Their handsome , smiling faces would have been seen regularly in “Spotlight” , Ireland’s pop  music newstand  magazine .We mightn’t have revered them like rock musicians  Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, Horslips or Planxty , but they were the popular ones who featured in the local adverts in our small local press; the ones who kept the dancers dancing  in the hotels at the weekends They played across Ireland and were respected and loved , as popular musicians, though . They had no political axe to grind , either. This wasn’t  a John Lennon, supporting every left-wing cause he could conjure up. Who would have time, as a working musician to do anything else, other than drive and play? They would only have had a notional idea of the deep hatreds  masquerading  as society in Norneverland from their vantage point onstage..

The two men who had murdered the band members were blown up themselves while planting a bomb in the group’s van.You have to ask yourself what was going on in these peoples ‘ minds?Were they irrational., insane or just plain bad…Or were they a product of a very twisted society ? It went something like this:

In July 1975 the band had been  working hard, playing at a date in Banbridge , near Newry  and were probably tired , heading home in the band minibus like a thousand other pop groups,  to their families in Dublin , when they were stopped by one of the, then, ubiquitous moveable army checkpoints  .The persons who stopped them wore British Army uniforms. The band were lined up by the roadside , on that summer night , probably  bored and shuffling their feet and yawning at this unwanted  interception .This was actually  an Ulster Volunteer Force group{UVF} they had encountered,  but at least four of them were also members of the Ulster Defence Regiment{UDR} .The two groups were almost interchangeable, it seems, being drawn from the same basic gene-pool .You might say they had secret identities like comic superheroes. For whatever reason they were setting up a bomb to kill this  band  of musicians but it exploded while two them {Mr McCrea’s  erstwhile friends,  Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle} somehow exploded it prematurely, killing themselves.In the ensuing melee, the other “soldiers” strafed the band members, killing three of them and wounding two .

Two  British soldiers and one former British soldier were later  found guilty of the murders .They received life sentences but they were released in 1998.

There was obviously some form of communication or collusion involved in these murders between the British Army at some level and Mr. McCrea’s friends .To this day  rumours persist and are believed across the board.The infamous Captain Robert Nairac of the British Army,  is said to have been involved in collaboration with the UVF’s Mid-Ulster Brigade and its commander Robin ‘the Jackal’ Jackson.Jackson has been connected to around fifty killings of innocent Catholics in Mid-Ulster . He was succeeded as leader of the Mid-Ulster UVF  by Billy Wright.Mr Wright was also known by the appellation “King Rat”, so you can see  there was a great love of  the alter-ego running through Norneverland secret loyalist  groupings  . It probably made them seem like folk heroes such as Robin Hood or Billy the Kid.

The Historical Enquiries Team, which investigated the killings, released their report to the victims’ families four years ago , in December 2011. It confirmed that Jackson was linked to the attack by fingerprints  found at the scene and there  are claims that those involved in the Miami Showband killings belonged to the “Glenanne gang”; a secret alliance of loyalist militants, rogue police officers and British soldiers.

The whole Miami Showband horror is seen,  in retrospect as one of those incidents  that  are a template for the  thuggery and ambivalence  of  state “morality” .

This was the kind of company that William McCrea flirted with .

He attracted enemies  because of this , of course, and a parcel bomb was later  posted to his home  on “Internment Day” the 9th  August 1988  by the Irish Peoples Liberation Organisation {the IPLO} , a republican grouping .Later , at the height of the Orange Order’s Drumcree debacle  in Portadown  he shared a platform at a Portadown rally with the  known terrorist Billy Wright in September 1996.At the time is was widely assumed that Wright was a member of the Loyalist Volunteer Force and was responsible for many murders. Huge numbers of people supporting  this rally obviously thought it was true and were equally supporting murder. Recently  it has been revealed from the   Northern Ireland Office that a  memo released under the thirty-year rule in December 2014 revealed that  Mr McCrea had  also called for British military aircraft to carry out “strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda,  and Crossmaglen.This is  the kind of man we are talking about.Curious behaviour for any devout cheek-turning , Christian , to be sure.

What this all amounts to is a man with only a fleeting idea of what “morality” actually is .It is a morality that suits his own political agenda, of course.This is a man who has no problem associating with specific criminal elements as long as they can be reliant co-conspirators or political allies.

You might argue that we are all products of our evolutionary environment  and that the madness that consumes someone like an evangelical Billy Wright , Ian Paisley or a Robin Jackson, isn’t much different than the same madness that lived in Charles Manson and his  murdering “Family”  or Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper . You  might even argue that they were all “victims” of circumstance. Would they have been so jnfected by this madness had they been born and lived elsewhere?

Where do we draw a line. Willie McCrea is obviously a “victim” of his own background too.Who else would choose a life or such a  conflicted  persona  as his?  He is obviously a man who has only a passing idea of the difference between right and wrong.If it is fine to see the likes of his own dead  political/ militaristic  accomplices  as forgiven victims of circumstance , surely that should be true right across the board …with no exception.?

Then again, the new regulations that the DUP proposes ….that any paramilitaries whether loyalist or Republican are not in any way “victims” of their circumstances, even though their aims were supported across the communities, and in fact the now existing power-bases of both unionism and republicanism were built on their backs.

The republicans  in Sinn Fein  honestly know this but are attempting to grow beyond it , but the DUP would rather not think too hard about it at all.

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