Not ‘Fit to Print’ – Fr McManus’ Response to NY Times

Posted By: February 09, 2009

Not “Fit To Print”

The famed motto of the New York Times is, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” That has not always been true of it’s coverage of Northern Ireland, with the exception of a few journalists.

Here is a letter of Fr. Mc Manus that The Times saw not fit to print.New York Times (SEE NYT ARTICLE BELOW FR Mc MANUS’ LETTER)

Letters to the EditorJanuary 29, 2009

Dear Editor,

It is quite ridiculous, especially at this stage, for Times to explain the Northern Ireland Troubles thus: “The struggle cast Protestant paramilitaries loyal to Britain against armed groups with roots in the Roman Catholic minority, including the Irish Republican Army, that campaigned for a united Ireland”. (Payment Plan for Northern Ireland Reconciliation Provokes Outrage. January 28 – SEE BELOW).

What about the British Army and the virtually all-Protestant police, the sectarian Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)?

Most informed people know that the British Army made a calculated decision to militarize the situation on Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, by killing 13 unarmed, innocent Catholics at a non-violent Civil Rights march in Derry City — because the British could not deal with thousands of non-violent Catholics marching for basic rights, denied since the undemocratic state of Northern Ireland was established in 1920.

And everyone surely knows that the basic conflict was between the IRA and the British Army. British security and intelligence forces funded, trained and in some cases totally controlled Protestant murder gangs who targeted, not the IRA, but innocent Catholics — the well-known counter insurgency tactic that the British have used the world over.

What is it that The Times doesn’t get?

Fr. Sean Mc Manus


Irish National Caucus

Capitol Hill PO BOX 15128

Washington, DC 20003-0849

Tel. 202-544-0568

Fax 202-488-7537

January 29, 2009

Payment Plan for Northern Ireland Reconciliation Provokes Outrage


LONDON — A long-awaited reconciliation plan for Northern Ireland provoked a wave of anger across the province on Wednesday — and in the House of Commons in London — with a provision for payments of about $16,800 to families of all of the 3,700 people killed during 30 years of sectarian violence, including paramilitaries killed by their own bombs.

A news conference accompanying the release of the plan in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, became the stage for an eruption of the anger and grief still burning among those who lost relatives in the sectarian violence. The struggle cast Protestant paramilitaries loyal to Britain against armed groups with roots in the Roman Catholic minority, including the Irish Republican Army, that campaigned for a united Ireland.

As the authors of the plan prepared to speak at a crowded Belfast hotel, Protestant hard-liners jumped up to shout insults and trade recriminations with others in the audience with links to the I.R.A. Those involved in the protests included men and women who lost relatives in the violence, or were wounded in the I.R.A. attacks that accounted for more than 60 percent of the deaths in the strife.

“My brother was an innocent man defending this whole community,” said Hazlett Lynch, whose brother, a police officer, was killed in a 1977 I.R.A. ambush, according to a report by Britain’s Press Association. “When I.R.A. men died while launching cowardly attacks on this community, they actually received justice. The families of those murderers should not be consoled with a single penny today.”

At one point, the gathering threatened to descend into violence amid the welter of jabbing fingers and virulent insults. One of those singled out in the tirades was Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the I.R.A. One protester shouted, “This is the man who was in charge of the I.R.A. on Bloody Friday,” the name given to a series of I.R.A. bombings on July 21, 1972, that killed nine people, including two British soldiers, and injured 130 civilians.

Others defended Mr. Adams, who was a central figure in the negotiations that brought most of the violence to an end with a power-sharing agreement that emerged from the 1998 Good Friday agreement. “You should be arrested,” one of Mr. Adams’s supporters shouted back amid the din. “Leave him alone. Why don’t you get out?”

The outbursts appeared to shock the two authors of the reconciliation plan, the former Anglican archbishop of Northern Ireland, Robin Eames, and Denis Bradley, a former Catholic priest and journalist who is vice chairman of Northern Ireland’s police board. At one point, the Very Rev. Eames appeared to offer a qualified apology. “Maybe this gesture, for those outside our group, is too sudden,” he said.

Appointed by the British government to head a panel called the Consultative Group on the Past, the two men spent 18 months preparing their 190-page report on steps to help Northern Ireland move toward a lasting peace. The report contained more than 30 proposals, including the establishment of a body to be known as the Legacy Commission, similar in some ways to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation panel after the collapse of apartheid, which would seek to bind the wounds of the past by investigating unresolved killings.

The new commission would take over existing efforts to investigate the hundreds of ambushes, assassinations and bombings whose perpetrators were never caught, encouraging I.R.A. militants and Protestant paramilitaries to come clean about their pasts. It would also look into some of the killings by the British Army and the province’s Protestant-dominated police force, and encourage meetings behind closed doors at which perpetrators and victims could seek reconciliation.

By far the most controversial of their proposals was the recommendation for what they called “recognition payments” to the families of all of those killed in the years of violence, even perpetrators of the violence.

Even before the report’s release, the proposal was bitterly denounced by spokesmen for the main Protestant groups, including Peter Robinson, who serves as Northern Ireland’s first minister under the power-sharing arrangement. Mr. Robinson said the Democratic Unionist Party he leads has “consistently opposed any equation between the perpetrator of the crimes during the Troubles and the innocent victim.”

“Terrorists died carrying out their evil and wicked deeds while innocent men, women and children were wiped out by merciless gangsters,” he said, but suggested that the recommendations needed further study.

Martin McGuinness, a former I.R.A. paramilitary leader who serves as deputy first minister in the Belfast government, called for careful reflection by all those involved. “I think that obviously dealing with the past is something which is of tremendous importance and significance for all,” he said, “but I think that once the report is published for all to see, it should be studied and I think we can make more definitive comments after that.”

The idea of payments to the families of those who died while carrying out attacks led to bitter outbursts in the British House of Commons during the prime minister’s weekly question time. Nigel Dodds, who represents the party led by Mr. Robinson, asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown to “acknowledge the deep hurt and offense that has been caused by the obnoxious proposal,” which he said “effectively does away with the distinction between murderers and those who they went out to murder and kill.”

Mr. Brown hinted that the government might not endorse the plan, at least as far as perpetrators of violence are concerned. “I know that you speak for the whole community in Northern Ireland when you say we must respect the fact that innocent people lost their lives and that should be something that is never forgotten,” he said.