Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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It appears necessary to set the record straight about the events of last night. Even this morning as the Redemptorist priest Alec Reid tried to excuse his bigoted behaviour he has lied. His version of the events are far from the truth and whether his story is twisted by a blatant lie or with the confusion of age it still needs to be put straight. Last night's meeting was an attempt, however misguided, by Rev Ken Newell to give members of the protestant community a chance to question the two 'so-called independent' witnesses. What I'm sure Mr Newell, Good and Reid expected was an easily persuaded, hand-picked audience who were already determined that they would trust the two clergymen. However the mood of many in the meeting was one of a desire to get the truth. There was a hunger to find out exactly what the two clergy had witnessed. Mr Reid's comments were not as he suggests provoked as he had made them at the start when he had the floor and was uninterrupted. Any criticism or challenge came after his initial comments. Secondly he made it clear at the start that he was going to say some 'very hard things' about unionists. His comments were premeditated and calculated to cause offence.

The audience who were there sought reassurance, but none was given; they sought insight but were kept in the dark; they sought the truth but were fed lies and contradictions. The genuine attempts to probe the two men for the truth only served to further expose the sham that they had participated in. We were told nothing and many felt that their intelligence had been insulted. We were basically told - we cant tell you anything but we can assure you that if we were able to tell you then you would be totally convinced! The idiocy of their position did not appear to register with either Rev Good or Mr Reid. Rather than answer direct questions the priest tried to steer the questions away, and in a style very like that used by senior Sinn Fein spokesmen when they are asked difficult questions he evaded the issues. Rather than answer the question he chose instead to lecture the protestant audience on the alleged injustices they had carried out against the nationalist people. He began by adopting a confrontational and erroneous position on history stating that there had been 800 years of oppression. He then carried on in the same vein in what I can only describe as a confrontational style. I believe his aim was to divert the audience from the real issue and his lack of answers to their questions on decommissioning. However his ruse failed as the audience which in the most part were comprised of liberal minded ecumenical Presbyterians, rejected his comments.

I listened to his nonsense and bigotry until I could stand no more. His sectarian comments stating that " The reality is that the nationalist community in Northern Ireland were treated almost like animals by the unionist community", were the final straw. By this stage large sections of the audience were horrified and disgusted and I rose to my feet to express their opinions. I challenged the lies, and inaccuracies that I had heard, and was then personally attacked by the priest who shouted that I wasn't prepared to hear the truth. Well if that is Mr Reid's interpretation of truth then it doesn't give me or any unionist much confidence in the truth of what he claims to have witnessed. It is now clear to the world and especially to the unionist community why the PIRA chose Reid and his side-kick Good to witness their stunt. They could not have picked two more pliable and easily manipulated men. The former our of a clear loyalty and affection for the PIRA and the latter out of sincere but very naive and blinding desire to promote peace at any price. We wonder now is the truth part of the price these men would pay to further their separate but linked agendas. The events of last night have shed some light on at least the character and motivations of one of the witnesses. Anyone who holds such sectarian and erroneous views as Mr Reid cannot be considered either an impartial or suitable witness. His credibility is in tatters and no amount of apology or deception will undo the damage done.

I could not in conscience listen to such slander and misrepresentation of my people, I had to defend the honour of my community and I spoke for the entire unionist community when I challenged the bigot priest. However all vestiges of religion or Christianity fell from him when I spoke as he launched a bitter and disgusting attack upon me and my community once again. Claiming that "They [nationalists] were not treated like human beings. It was like the Nazis treatment of the Jews. This outburst almost mirrored one by Irish President Mary McAlleese, an number of months ago. Both have exposed the real feelings of the nationalist and republican community. They hold in their hearts a bitterness and sectarian hatred that is based on a myth. Their church with its school system has perpetuated a distorted version of history. Their version of history instils a sense of victim hood into the Roman Catholic community that has no relation to fact. The sad fact is that neither Rev Newell or Rev Good were willing or able to stop or challenge the comments made by the priest. They appeared to accept them and move on. It is a sad day when a Protestant minister allows his church to be used by a Roman Catholic Priest to slander and speak bigoted lies about our community.

This myth of unionist domination must be exploded if community relations are ever to improve. Nationalist leaders must stop promoting their message of hate, of jealousy and of perpetual victimhood. They have been milking the messages and ethos of the Civil Rights movement for almost forty years. It has inspired, sponsored and given cover to a thirty year terrorist campaign of genocide against my community and has been used to subvert local democracy and instil a culture of positive discrimination against my community. I was brought up in an area where my community were the minority, I attended a Roman Catholic school as Protestants were not given a school of their own. At that school the majority of Roman Catholic families were better off than I was, the facts speak for themselves. Indeed one of my uncles when he was murdered in the late 1970s still did not have electricity or running water in his rural home. There was no privilege or preference enjoyed by unionists as I grew up.

Indeed still in many areas such as the Shankill protestant areas are worse off in socio-economic terms, with progression into third level education negligible compared to their nationalist counterparts. As for the allegation that we are Nazis, that is a grave and calculated insult to my community. Whilst Republicans were in league with Hitler and the republic was enjoying its shameful neutrality. Indeed if Mr Reid needs to point the finger of Nazism he should look no farther than the role of his own church and its leadership during the Second World War. As for me and my family we answered the call to fight fascism and my family along with thousands of unionists fought and died to defeat terrorism. Perhaps if Mr Reid, his church and community had become more involved in their years VE/VJ commemorations they would have realised the role played by the protestant community its churches and organisations such as the Orange Order in the war effort.

It is no surprise that Mr Reid has been referred to as the PROVO's Priest, as his Republican credentials and mindset are clear. His position in Clonard monastery an institution which played a pivotal role in the creation of the Provisional IRA is no coincidence. Indeed at that time as the PIRA engaged in its first acts of terrorism in the grounds of Clonard monastery its Superior P.J.Eagan spoke to the people of the area saying " …the defence of the area was left to a handful of teenagers. They did a great job. We were proud of them…." Another senior priest later admitted to the Scarman tribunal that he gave armed terrorists permission to stay and use the monastery as a base for their operations. The clergy of Clonard have blood on their hands as it was they who sanctioned and supported the use of violence and by both acts of commission and omission were instrumental in the creation of the PIRA. They have continually glorified the terrorist acts of those days and created a myth that the PIRA and its weapons are needed to 'defend' their areas and indeed monastery.

In conclusion the events of Wednesday night are a symbol of all that is wrong with the current process. Unionists are being forced to 'trust' a sectarian bigot whose views are inciteful to hatred. Mr Reids malign influence can been seen behind the entire political process from its inception as the Hume -Adams initiative or Pan Nationalist Front. He then is chosen by terrorists to witness their disposal of forensic evidence which links thousands of their members to a litany of murders and other crimes in our country. However the spin applied to this charade is one of monumental significance as the two clergymen are paraded for all to see as genuine trustworthy and impartial witnesses whose judgement cannot be questioned. They cannot actually tell us anything because of the deal they have entered into with the terrorists involved, however such is their position and integrity and honesty that we must believe their word… well since they haven't spoken we must then believe the fact that if they did give their word then we would be convinced! Well after last night we say to the two clergy that your word is GOOD FOR NOTHING.



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