Just as Unionists have to recognise the role which the IRA and INLA played in the Troubles and how important a shrine is to republicans, so too, republicans cannot ignore the role of the Black and Tans during the War of Independence.
The only solution is a ‘one shrine fits all’. If President Barack Obama’s ‘shared future’ is to become a reality and not some fancy G8 rhetoric, then the Maze shrine will have to be a memorial to EVERYONE who died in the Irish conflict over the generations.
The Shinners cannot mouth off about equality and there being no hierarchy of victims and then try to airbrush the Tans out of Irish history.
The last time I tried to suggest a recognition of the Tans’ contribution to the Irish conflict, I was branded a “war criminal” and threats made against me.
Of the estimated 8,000 Tans who served in Ireland, almost half were killed, yet there is no significant memorial to them.
The South is littered with memorials to dead Anti-Treaty IRA men who were killed or executed during the Tan and Civil wars.
The Maze shrine could also remember the more than 70 IRA men who were executed by Free State forces during the Civil war. It should also remember the Free State soldiers murdered by the IRA in that conflict.
Hopefully, too, the Maze shrine will commemorate the two policemen murdered by notorious IRA killer and TD Dan Breen, who started the War of Independence with the Soloheadbeg ambush in 1919.
Breen was head of the feared IRA’s Third Tipperary Brigade and he went to his grave boasting about the people he murdered.
Many people are having a go at republicans as if the Maze shrine will be a ‘nationalists only’ memorial. What about the hundreds of loyalists who were killed, jailed or played a significant role in the conflict.
Any shared Maze shrine must include references to dead loyalists like UFF commander John McMichael, UVF Shankill Butchers boss Lennie Murphy; LVF founder Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright’, and the mastermind behind the Dublin and Monaghan no-warning bombs, Robin ‘The Jackal’ Jackson.
Republicans certainly don’t hide behind any hedges when it comes to honouring their so-called ‘war dead’.
The Ballyseedy memorial in Co Kerry is certainly very impressive, listing the names of well-known Anti-Treaty IRA men who were executed in March 1923 by the Free State forces. Nine were tied to a landmine, which was then detonated, killing eight.
And let’s not forget the thousands of innocent civilians and members of the security forces from both sides of the Border who died during the recent conflict. Their names must also be included in the ‘one shrine for all’ at the Maze.
One murdering butcher whose name will definitely be on the IRA’s Maze shrine is that of East Tyrone terrorist Jim Lynagh, who was killed with seven other Provos in the Loughgall ambush. Lynagh once came within 10 minutes of murdering one of my close relatives.
If Lynagh’s name is on some Maze plaque, then so must my RUC Reserve cousin Arthur Henderson, who was killed in Stewartstown in an IRA booby trap car bomb.
What is needed is equality at the shrine. When people visit, they must see the whole picture of the conflict, and not simply the 10 IRA and INLA 1981 hunger strikers.