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Noraid Representative's Defence of the IRA, and William Frazer's reply

Mr Frazer

Thank you for taking the time to share your views with me. All deaths during the 'Troubles' were a tragedy. I lost many friends and a few family members myself. I had an aunt killed in an IRA bombing so I can understand and sympathize with your grief and resentment.

That said, I refute your hypotheses of the situation in the sectarian little entity that you refer to as Northern Ireland. I'll spare you the history lesson, but as you are well aware, the Irish Republican Army emerged only after Catholics agitating for basic civil rights from a bigoted and discriminatory unionist government were battoned off the streets by the armed militias of the pro - unionist RUC and B Specials. Subsequently, for over 30 years the IRA courageously faced the combined British forces comprised of the British Army, SAS, RUC, UDR, RIR, UDA, UVF, RHC, and LVF.

It is no secret that membership of these groups overlapped with deadly consequences for nationalists living in the six county statelet. No doubt you will recall that one of the biggest mass shifts of population ever to occur in Europe took place when Catholics in the north of Ireland were forced from their homes in the thousands in the late 1960's and early 1970's

Atrocities were committed by ALL sides Mr Frazer, but you only speak of the victims as being from one side, those killed by the IRA. Like you, I can list atrocities carried out against nationalists by British forces, and probably for many more years than you can, but what's the use. It's a sterile argument over whose violence was worse or more horrendous.

I am originally from West Belfast, and while I do not come from a traditional 'republican' family, it wasn't long before I formed my own opinions on the participants in the years of conflict. Lets just say that my opinions were formed courtesy of having experienced first hand the brutality of all the British groupings. I was often beaten and called a fenian b****** by RUC and UDR men because I was raised catholic or just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Too often, my friends and I were made to stand in the pouring rain while these guardians of the British state sat in their jeeps laughing and hurling insults at our expense.

Our homes were raided and wrecked in the middle of the night, furniture broken and family mementos destroyed. I used to hate leaving school in the afternoon because jeep loads of British soldiers were always sure to drive by just as we got out the school gate in order to provoke a riot. I ducked and weaved as they fired rubber and then plastic bullets indiscriminately into crowds of school kids when a few youths retaliated with stones. I saw my neighbours imprisoned without trial and later railroaded into jail on the words of paid perjurers. I saw the hatred on Orangemen's faces as they marched triumphantly past Catholic areas yelling sectarian obscentites.

Like you, I walked behind too many coffins, only those I walked behind were mostly victims of British savagery and loyalist paramilitarism. The cries of the victim's families were often silenced by the shrill voices of people telling them they got what they deserved. I saw the brutality of the British forces up close Mr Frazer, and I well understand why some young nationalists thought it made sense to involve themselves with the IRA. They thought it was "better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees."

In fact I knew a few of those who did fight, and a few who died fighting, and I can tell you that not one held Protestants responsible for the cause of Ireland's troubles or considered their war to be against the Protestant people.

For example, I remember walking into Belfast city center one day with an IRA volunteer. There was a fracas in Castle Street and I watched my IRA companion courageously wade into the crowd, dragging people out of the way as he forced through the melee. It turned out that some Catholic bigots had cornered two Protestants who were inside 'Victors' buying ice cream. My IRA companion wrestled those people free, scolded the attackers and made sure the two people left the area free of harm. His words still ring in my ears today, "just because they do it to us doesn't mean we do it to them."

You see, my IRA friend and most of his contemporaries believed that the ultimate responsibility for creating the divisions amongst the people of Ireland rested with successive British Governments. My friend looked at the history of British rule in Ireland and saw that it manifested as division, discrimination, injustice and inequality. He and his comrades never saw their struggle as a squalid sectarian war, no matter how much the British tried to portray it so. Even you must admit Mr Frazer, that if British rule is so wonderful, why is it that all it has done for Ireland is to forment strife, wars, hatred, divison, separation and emigration?

Were all IRA men so noble? Maybe not, but I strongly contend that the greater majority were forced into making decisions and taking actions that they would have not even considered if they had lived in a normal environment.

I am optimistic and determined that the future in Ireland will be different from the past and that the arms of all the combatants will finally be laid aside. I will continue to do what I can to support the peaceful intent of todays Irish republicans while remembering the sacrifices of those who fought and died in the past, in much the same way that you will probably remember those who fought on the British side.

I will remember, in my own way, ALL the victims of our conflict, and will be hoping that those still living in Ireland, supported by concerned people in the USA and the international community, can find a way of reconciling all our differences and make the future a more prosperous one for the entire Irish nation. I look forward to hearing about you playing a positive role in reconciling our differences as much as I intend to continue playing mine.

Best wishes Roy McCann San Diego Irish Northern Aid

Dear Roy,

Firstly, I am sorry to hear that you have lost innocent people yourself, and secondly I have to commend you on trying to justify a campaign of butchery by an organisation which was supposed to be defending the Catholic community, when in fact they killed nearly five hundred Catholics, not forgetting those they injured and maimed. First point I would like to amke is that we have never said there has been injustice to Roman Catholics, because quite obviously there were those innocents who suffered in that community. There is no way that we would try to defend loyalist paramilitaries and their actions, and would condemn the killing of any innocent Catholic.

I would be a liar if I said I was upset by an IRA man being dealt with - they are the ones who said that they were fighting a war. Unfortunately our government and security forces were not allowed to treat is as such. Some of the best agents that the British Army ever had were senior members of the IRA, and actually 3 of the famous Nutting Squad who murdered quite a few Catholics, and also dealt with quite a few IRA men who were supposed to be informers.

One would wonder where all the dead IRA men are and who put all the Loyalists behind bars for terrorist activity, whenever you read statements like yours. You mention about the Catholics being forced from their homes, which did happen, but you forgot to mention the Protestants who were forced out in greater numbers. Maybe thius would explain the persecution in the shift of population where in NI it has grown within the Catholic communtiy. Do they enjoy being persecuted, is that why they stay here and are increasing? Unlike the Protestants in Southern Ireland who have been forced out of their homes after Partition - a decrease from 14% to 2%. Should it not be the other way round if Catholics are so badly treated in Northern ireland.

You also speak about the assumption that we only deal with atrocities committed by the IRA, I amke no apology for this because from the start of the Troubles, families like my own and other innocent victims have never spoken out. For thirty years we sat silent, while we were being intimidated, butchered, our homes blew up, mass murder carried out - nobody raised the issue of what was going on in my community. Not one politician from the Nationalist community ever came to the door of the people like Kingsmills or Darkley gospel hall and offer to tell their side of the story.

Also, in South Armagh there were very few murders ever carried out by loyalist terrorists- 26 compared to over 400 by the IRA, with thousands injured. This sad excuse about you being called a fenian b******, which is regrettable because at times we were called Orange bs by the army and the police. They did search protestant homes the same way they searched catholic homes. even people who they knew were not involved in anything, when they were searching one house they searched others. You talk about leaving school and the British army waiting on you to create problems with the children.

I'm surprised they set such a routine, leaving themselves open to attack - but if they did do this then it was wrong. I can tell you that when I attended the Catholic school, everyday going home, or nearly everyday, I would have been beat by a gang of youths simply because I was a Protestant, and because I was on my own. I never forgot some of these heroes, and in later life when i came up against them, i found that they were not as keen especially when they were on their own. The other thing you say about sectarian marches past Catholic areas, the statistics that have been researched at universities have found that there was never an incident unless republicans created tension by shouting sectarian abuse. Of all the thousands of parades there were only a few which caused problems.

In Newtownhamilton in the heart of South Armagh, some twenty thousand people attended the twelfth celebrations, not as much as a bad word was said, and there were a number of Catholics out watching the parade who actually enjoyed it. But they weren't throwing stones or petrol bombs at the Orangemen. You also mention about people being imprisoned without trial. That was wrong, and it should not have happened - but it also happened to protestants.

You also say about some of your friends think that it is better to die on ones feet than to live on one's knees - I cannot understand what you mean by catholics being on their knees,. Whenever they were supporting an organisation that was out butchering people from the majority community and people from their own community, and were being allowed to get away with it. You also mention the UDR, Army, loyalists RUC, SAS as one. You should be thankful that the RUC was actually the organisation that they were.

Because as we seen from 1989, right through into early 90s, whenever the loyalists did start taking the so-called war to republicans things changed. Less Protestants were being killed, there were areas where the intimidation stopped. And it is the feeling within the community that it was the like of Billy Wrights and Jonny Adairs who broght the ceasefire about in the first place - simply because they terrorised the terrorist.

If that situation had got a grip within the protestant community, even if 10% of the hundred thousand that went through the UDR had turned to paramilitaries you would have seen a lot more dead people in the country. Thankfully that was not the idea of the Protestant community. You also say about men joining the ira because they believed it was the right thing to do. That doesn't make it right. The other thing you talk about is British Rule. If the british gov. have screwed anyone over it was the people who were loyal to them.

But as i have said quite a number of times, Ulster belongs to the ulstermen and women who which to remain british (most of them), even though they would dump us if they ever had the opportunity. But it is not about being simply British. We have our own culture, our own identity, and while the Englishman might be prepared to give Ulster away, I can assure you that the Ulstermen and women are not. So when you say that your problem is with the British - this is utter and total rubbish. Because you know and the IRA know, and the British and irish gov. know that it is a large section of the Ulster Protestants and a number of Catholics do not wish to have a United Ireland.

So when you say that you were fighting a campaign against the British - you were fighting against the people who lived here and whose history goes back for hundreds of years. As an Ulster-Scotch - it's something I'm proud of. More of us left the shores of this country to go to America and it was our ancestors who helped shape what they now call the USA. Although you like to call them Irish, they were Ulster-Scotch. You talk about remembering the ones who fought as republicans and we remember those who fought on the British side - that is the problem. We weren't fighting.

To finish off, whenever we started this organisation, we made a commitment to the victims in this area that we would tell their story around the world to counter this romantic idea that the republicans have been portraying. You talk about how badly you have suffered, and probably some have suffered, but just for an example one woman in our group who had two sons murdered got 400 to bury them. Another woman who had three children and pregnant with the fourth reared a family with a pension of 13 after her husband was murdered out doing a day's work An uncle of mine who was murdered had no electric in his home, no outside toilet, no running water, but according to you these people were treated better.

Now we could go on with stories like this, but I just want to assure you that we will continue to tell the truth of what took place. And if you are so sure of yourself, set up a debate in the community that you are in, and we will gladly fly out and debate with you - not with myths but facts and figures. You talk about friends in america - well we also now have friends there in columbia, holland, israel, spain, russia. so the word is starting to get out, and people are starting to hear the truth and people even who were connected to Noraid who have spoken to us, turned away from the organistion when they saw the right side.

You have had thirty years of a head start with the propaganda, but keepi looking over your shoulder because we may have been slow starting but i can assure you that the message is getting through. I have to give you some respect that you have even tried to justify the republican cause to someone who knows what they are talking about. we have lived here and sen the side of the blood-thirsty killers. Just for a bit of statistics, you said you saw the brutal side of the british forces up close, well a lot more of your people unfortunately have seen the IRA's brutality up close.

This is because there is more of them dead than were killed by all thew british security forces put together - that includes the acvtive IRA men that they killed. Every dollar that you raise has been responsible in one way or another for the murder of innocent Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. So you remember that the next time you go out fundraising for these people.

William Frazer

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