“Is Gregory Campbell (whose young family the Derry IRA once tried to kill on their way to church) getting a bum rap on BBC Spotlight?” asked Mick Fealty of Sluggerotoole.com after the DUP MLA’s excruciating reaction to the report of the Saville Inquiry on Bloody Sunday.
Answer: No. Although I would have sympathy for him as a human being after the attack, the fact that the IRA tried to kill his young family doesn’t mean that it’s okay to hate everyone from the society that the Derry IRA grew out of. You’re perfectly entitled to hate Hamas, but not to hate all Arabs. You can hate the IRA and still treat your Catholic neighbours as equals.
It’s unedifying, if unsurprising to see Campbell dancing on the graves of the murdered, but that’s typical of a certain mindset that is dressed up as Christianity in this part of the world.
Of course, our heart goes out to others who didn’t have the murders of their loved ones investigated, but here is the main difference as I see it.
Murders of soldiers, policemen and civilians were largely investigated by the RUC with varying degrees of bravery, dedication and skill on the one hand and utter incompetence and indifference on the other. Don’t forget the Historic Enquiries Team is looking at at a staggering 3,269 unsolved murders.
(Does anyone have clear-up figures for Troubles-related murders, 1968-1998?)
But the victims of La Mon, Claudy, Enniskillen didn’t have their innocence impugned by the State.
No-one – apart from the criminally insane – would suggest that these victims probably deserved what they got, yet that was the line peddled by the State, and the non-nationalist media and was common in swathes of Protestant opinion.
Yes, it is a disgrace that almost £200 million pounds was spent on shooting this calumny to pieces, but without the “second atrocity” of Widgery, of course, this money would have been spent on schools and hospitals, and don’t forget, the fortune didn’t go into the hands of the victims nor their relatives – most of it went to lawyers.
So, while showing some empathy for his personal demons, let’s ignore Gregory Campbell and his one-sided whataboutery. He actually cuts a very sad picture compared to the Protestant churchmen who are to meet the Bloody Sunday families today. That is true reconciliation, true Christianity, in action.