First was an interview that was conducted by ‘Irish American News Online’ with Carrie Twomey. For those of you who don’t know who Carrie is – she is the wife of Anthony McIntyre, ex-blanket man and republican researcher on the ‘Boston Tapes’ project. Carrie has been in the USA trying to garner support for her husband and Ed Moloney’s battle with the Department of Justice with regard to the PSNI’s request to hand over all tapes which have any reference to the Jean McConville murder. Sabina Clark conducted the interview with Carrie and mindful to give the background to the ongoing saga which is being played out in the courts, Carrie explained quite well what her understanding was of this problem. One of the things she said was, ‘ there is that element of the Unionists who are not happy with the Peace Process and are not happy with the republicans being in power’.
My first thought was obviously that the Republicans are not in power, they are sharing power, which is completely different when put into context with regard to how Irish-Americans view the conflict and the outcomes. Secondly, I was somewhat disappointed that she took a ‘wee dig’ at some Unionists with her comment about ‘not being happy with the peace process’. Anyway, I moved on to other stories on ‘Newshound’ and came across an article that appeared in the News Letter the same day as Carrie’s interview.
The article was an interview with Sammy Brush, a DUP councillor for Dungannon and South Tyrone. Brush was commenting on the legal processes that Gerry McGeough had went through in his attempt to get an early release from the 22 year sentence he received after a lengthy legal process. The background is this. In 1981 Gerry McGeough, a then serving member of the PIRA, ambushed Sammy Brush, who was a serving member of the UDR. McGeough shot Brush who returned fire, wounding McGeough.
McGeough escaped across the border to receive treatment for his injuries and because of an increasing police interest, went on the run. Some years and 2 prison sentences later McGeough returned to Northern Ireland, living openly and believing that any past crimes he may have committed were covered by the Good Friday Agreement and the Weston Park accord. Gerry parted company with the mainstream Republican family and announced himself on the political stage on an anti PSNI ticket. He was subsequently arrested outside a polling station and charged over the shooting of Brush. A long protracted legal battle started, which was delayed even further by ill-health issues. This culminated in McGeough being sentenced to 22 years – which will only be 2 years because of Good Friday legislation.
McGeough legal team have petitioned, unsuccessfully so far, for his release and it was in response to these legal challenges that Brush, in a News Letter interview, castigated McGeough and his attempts to get released. The interesting thing for me was a quote from the interview in which he states, with regard to McGeough being released after 2 years, ‘it was one of the big mistakes of the Good Friday Agreement’. Is this a striking example of some Unionists ‘ who are not happy with the peace process’? Makes you think doesn’t it?
Must mention another story related to this. There was a meeting held recently in Dublin attended by members of Sinn Fein, Dissident Republicans and a number of ‘Human Rights Organisations’ who were calling for the immediate release of Gerry McGeough.
Part of the event was a statement read out by Gerry McGeough’s 11 year old daughter, Una. Part of her very well read statement said, ‘ our lives are very sad. Why is there no peace process for us? Why is only our family being punished? We want our Daddy home’. I can imagine how powerful this would have been especially being read by a young articulate girl who probably doesn’t understand all the complexities of the present situation in Northern Ireland. My concern is that Una’s family is not the only family being punished. Loyalists in Northern Ireland have been arrested, charged and, in one case, given a life sentence. Loyalist families want their Daddies home as well, but not too many ‘Human Rights Groups’ are saying anything about this. Makes you think about that too, doesn’t it?