There is much talk about yet another “On The Run”  letter .Another story of jiggery -pokery behind the scenes. We’ll have to get used to this , because like many incidents that happened during the Troubles, we will never be given a conclusion to many of  the various stories .Even very high profile killings by the army and the security forces will be held in abeyance until most of us are long dead and our surviving fellow men will have all but forgotten what all the fuss was about anyway. We’re all on our own anyway .When you close that door to your home , nobody is really interested in you except a handful of friends and family. The world will roll on very nicely outside.Of course , the radio is full of people venting their undoubted ire about the whole process but that will not change anything anyway.It’s stonewalling as an art-form.We saw another form of it a few weeks ago when Mr. Brimstone was questioned.People will stamp their feet in exasperation but that’s about it.

If there is anything at all that will cause a ripple in the political sea, it will be shuffled to the back of the drawer each time it gains prominence. This has happened with all those high profile cases , like “Bloody Sunday” or “Kingsmills”.Everyone will know exactly what those stories are all about , but nothing will ever be done about them. In the meantime , the vacuum  will fill up with unbridled gossip and legend about who did what, to whom, and why .What I find extraordinary is that there is never any real investigative reporting.  Crucially , most of the gossip,   that would only be heard in the pubs ,is never written down. The real meat and potatoes  of the lives lost , is never written. It’s muttered in the shadows , mostly.

The latest OTR “scandal” concerns the death of a man who apparently was a  abducted on his way to a Dundalk Gardai station in the Republic of Ireland. He was going there as part of his bail  programme,in connection with being charged with Real IRA membership.So it is roughly established, for us onlookers,  that the man was very active in some real republican activity , of a particularly virulent and anti-agreement variety…or is it.? Is his death a simple political act or was there some gangsterism or “social policing” involved? Does anyone know?

I’m always interested , if out of nothing other than curiosity, about the actual reasons why these particular fellows  might be the special, chosen  target for extermination. His body was later found ,two years later , inside a car , sunken in a canal…forgotten by everyone but his family . That’s all that seems to be known about him .Why was he a “special” case for murder? Who exactly was he , in the community? Was he a moral man ? Was he a rational , thinking man? Was he a villainous, violent person? Was he some sort of outlaw? Was he some kind of “loose cannon”? Why was he specifically the target of some other man or men , with murder in mind? In everything I’ve read about this man , there seems to be very little detail as to why he was chosen. Much is debated about the rights and wrongs of the OTR system but nothing is heard about the personality of the victim.He is essentially forgotten, but surely there is some curiosity at least?

Apparently the IRA  , as a group , were unofficially  ,all but gone by this time.The main republican movement had thrown its hat into the political arena for better or worse.If that was the case, whoever killed him could not really represent that group or its associated political party ,so was the killer an old acquaintance that had been crossed in some way? Was he targeted for behaviour other than something purely political or was this a  nasty little piece of local  social justice or simple criminality? .After all , many were killed and maimed during the Troubles for nothing more than anti-social behaviour.Plenty of “joyriders” were maimed or banished for stealing cars.What have you to do to get yourself murdered? It is an unfortunate,  simple fact that a life can be taken for very little reason at all; when a convicted murderer can walk from prison in a matter of a few years.. Sometimes murders are nothing to do with politics at all , of course, but many deaths and a lot of  the  psychotic , thuggery , criminality and  bad behaviours were hidden under the blanket of the Troubles. Sex-crime has been much in the news , for example . It is not hard to imagine some of these characters using their  gang notoriety to frighten and abuse both men and women…sexually or otherwise. That kind of behaviour might have repercussions for them  too.

Then there’s money…..

The end of the republican armed struggle may have been replaced by a  wholly political struggle but it does not  appear to have stymied the smuggling activities and fuel laundering in South Armagh in any way, just as drug -dealing and cigarette smuggling , apparently has a foothold throughout both communities . That appears be be still a very vibrant and industrious earner for many criminal families .Some will argue that these people are still republicans doing what republicans have always done, or loyalists doing the same,  but the truth is that these are only nominal republicans or loyalists. Looked at in another way , they are simply criminals who have operated under false pretences for a very long time. There has been talk recently that the activity of “South Armagh republicans” is now actively affecting the environment .The disposal of waste materials from fuel laundering now poses a threat to the drinking water and the contamination  of the water table .It is a simple fact that a lot of  people have become used to easy money and easy thuggery under the guise of a political struggle.

A lot of it is simply  all about the money, I’m afraid.


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