By Jamie Bryson
A tweet from Sinn Fein MLA and Old Bailey bomber Gerry Kelly on Sunday (10 February 2019) illuminated the necessity for unionism, loyalism and former members of the security forces to fight back on the battlefield of ‘legacy’.
Kelly brazenly tweeted that Pat Finucane had been “assassinated” by “British State forces”. No he was not, that is quite simply hyperbolic propaganda. No member of “British state forces” killed Pat Finucane; yet nationalist legacy activists have become so accustomed to a free run when it comes to shaping legacy that they thought nothing of just sharing such a blatant lie to the public at large. That it was not accepted and instead challenged appeared to leave nationalists on social media astounded. It is almost as if the truth is what they say it is.
Mr Kelly was ‘live tweeting’ from the annual Pat Finucane lecture, delivered this year by Gerry Adams- a man that refused to condemn the murder of unionist legal professional Edgar Graham and the countless other Judges targeted and murdered by the IRA. Yet Adams, without any shame, preaches to his gathered masses about the importance of ‘human rights’ and legal professionals upholding everyone’s rights. What about the rights of Edgar Graham or any of the other legal professionals murdered by the IRA? Is Pat Finucane better than them? Is this another example of republicanism’s real vision of ‘equality’, whereby everyone is equal- but nationalists are more equal than others?
We then had Sean Maguire, another former IRA member and current Sinn Fein press officer, tweeting his complaint that Pat Finucane was described as a “catholic solicitor” on the news. Yet over the past 18 months we have had Sinn Fein arms-length activists writing public letters to the Irish Government in which nationalists are identified by their profession. It appears that it is appropriate for a nationalist legal professional to describe themselves as such and demand to be recognised as such, yet if you dare describe Pat Finucane in such terms then Sinn Fein will object.
All of this is symptom of a wider problem whereby nationalist legacy activists and their equally politically driven legal representatives believe that civic society and the entire media and legal apparatus exist to act as a vehicle for the promotion of their legacy narrative- dare to critically challenge their politically driven narrative and you are “against the peace process”. That, of course, is their trump card, label anyone that dares to refuse to facilitate the re-writing of the past as anti-peace and therefore promote the implied assertions that such people must be shunned and ignored.
Unionist Voice ran a campaign throughout late 2017 and 2018 called #RebalancingLegacy- we argued relentlessly that there had to be greater critical analysis by the media of nationalists bald legacy assertions, that journalists must be held to account when their journalism crosses the line to activism and most of all we urged unionists, loyalists and former members of the security forces to challenge the lies, to turn the tide by demanding fairness and balance. The only other outlet to do similar was again the Newsletter, which carried an excellent legacy series produced by their Deputy Editor Ben Lowry.
Since 2017 a number of loyalists- many of whom come from a generation whereby engaging with the media was viewed with scorn- have tentatively began to step forward and challenge the re-writing of the past. So too have many loyalists begun to demand fairness, balance and the right of reply with the media, rather than letting allegations go unchallenged. It has been hugely effective. Loyalism is political; it was born out of political events and exists within the confines of our political dispensation. And politics without effective media engagement is like a bath without water.
This week former RUC officers have engaged in a special series by the Newsletter which aims to challenge the myths around Loughinisland. Huge credit must go to Alistair Bushe the Newsletter’s editor and Mark Rainey, the lead journalist putting together the series. The Newsletter are the only media outlet that has allowed the accused the opportunity to challenge their accusers in relation to Loughinisland. The truth had no time to breathe, it was buried under a tsunami of propaganda and mainstream media endorsement- which often crossed the line into activism- of the now discredited ‘No Stone Unturned’ documentary. This documentary was produced by nationalist activists, the participants were nationalist activists and the lawyer was a Sinn Fein activist. There was no balance, no fairness and no genuine opportunity for the accused to challenge the assertions of their accusers.
We must of course never forget the appalling targeting of Mr Justice McCloskey- who due to his role as a High Court judge was unable to enter the public debate and defend himself. The most despicable and false campaign was whipped up against him by nationalist activists, driven by Sinn Fein activist and Loughinisland family lawyer Niall Murphy. Again, it was only Unionist Voice that spoke up in defence of Justice McCloskey and screamed from the rooftops that it was all a lie; no one wanted to listen. The mainstream media had swallowed the nationalist narrative and thus played a unknowing- and I would argue on occasions knowing- role in perpetuating the wicked campaign against Mr Justice McCloskey. The real reason for the campaign against Justice McCloskey was that he had the audacity to rule against nationalist legacy activists; the ferocious campaign they waged demonstrated the underlying issue- they think the legal system exists solely for the furtherance of their own objectives. Not so.
This week RUC officers will play their role in #RebalancingLegacy- I hope that all the outlets that promoted and endorsed the allegations made by ‘No Stone Unturned’ and nationalist activists give equal prominence to the narrative present by the former RUC officers. Let us see some fairness and balance.
The desire to fight-back in the battle of the past is spreading like wild-fire. Enough is enough. Unionist Voice is proud to have campaigned for such a fight-back, long before it was fashionable. Nationalist legacy activists hate it; they think the pen that writes the legacy of the past belongs solely to them- not anymore.
*If any unionists, loyalists or former members of the security forces would like to tell their story either in their own name, or anonymously, contact firstname.lastname@example.org – we are passionate about giving a voice to those who have been left voiceless.