Jude Collins

Thursday, 9 May 2013

"Murder is murder is murder!" - The Nolan Show

“Murder is murder is murder!” the woman in the audience told Laurence McKeown and everyone in last night’s Nolan Show audience. “I don’t agree with you” McKeown said. Stephen Nolan was keen to have Laurence direct his comments to the woman who was sitting beside him. Her father, who’d been a member of the UDR, was shot dead by the IRA. McKeown told Nolan he wasn’t in the game of creating sound-bites.

It was an interesting moment because it brought into focus two ways of approaching our past. Nolan thrives on having adversaries make their acusations directly to those they deem responsible for their pain;  McKeown and most republicans prefer to look at the conflict in wider terms, including the state out of which the conflict grew. So while an argument between the woman who lost her father and McKeown would almost certainly have made for riveting television, it wouldn’t have told us much beyond the fact that the woman was filled with pain and resentment at her father’s death.  When it comes to making rounded judgements about the past, victims who are suffering rarely (and understandably) are the best choice. 

The word “murder” was used by the woman whose father was killed by the IRA; Jude Whyte ( or ‘White’ as the programme chose to call him) lost his mother in a UVF attack and he said he saw his mother as having been murdered also. Someone else - maybe Sinn Féin’s Raymond McCartney - said that the great majority of those incarcerated in Long Kesh would never have been there had our society been a normal one. In other words, it seemed that some of those involved in the show saw the deaths as murder, full stop; others saw them as a tragic part of a conflict in which everyone suffered. 

The last time I mentioned the word ‘murder’ in relation to the Troubles it evoked a fire-storm of vilification. I was saying it was right that Mary Travers had been killed, I was saying it was right that the Shankill bomb had killed so many people. The fact that I said nothing of the sort was brushed aside. I expect there’ll be a similar reaction to the McKeown-McCartney view on the Troubles. Particular killings will be highlighted and demands will be made to call them murder. I won’t say the people who make such demands are wilfully blind, but I will say that they are refusing to distinguish between deliberate killings for personal motives  and  deliberate or even accidental killings as part of a political conflict.  

The trouble with declaring all killings to be murder, regardless of cause or political end, is that logic demands you denounce any decoration for war activities  and embrace pacifism as a life-guiding philosophy. And not too many are prepared to go down that road.


  1. It's interesting that in his book 'My Fight for Irish Freedom', Dan Breen acknowledges he was a murderer. To deliberately kill was to murder. The difference being why he murdered.

  2. So what's your take on Adams saying all killings are murder?

  3. giordanobruno9 May 2013 at 12:04

    Not many would say that all killing is murder, so that is a bit of a straw man.
    It is possible to believe you are killing for a cause and still commit murder. Who gets to decide?
    Non combatants killed here will hardly have cared that they were been killed to unite Ireland (somehow), or to prevent a united Ireland, their ghosts will still cry murder.
    You cannot justify killings in an unjust war, nor can you justify murder in a just war.

  4. Anon 11:36 - I disagree with Gerry Adams. It seems to me patently obvious that one might kill someone - for example, careless driving - and not murder them.

    Giob: I'd refer you to Anon 11:36 - and the BBC regularly reported any killings by the IRA/INLA as murder, but never when the British Army/RUC/UDR killed someone. Although come to think of it, that supports your point - they'd differentiate. Doh. However, there'd still be a lot of people who'd see killings of all kinds by all sides as murder, in my opinion. I can't prove it but of course neither can you prove the opposite.
    Of course it makes no difference to the victim who is dead. But talk of their ghosts crying 'Murder!' is melodramatic nonsense. And I find the just war/unjust war distinction depends on who's side your own - and I think you know that. (Your last nine words make little sense to me: if you call something 'murder' you've already condemned it.)

  5. "I disagree with Gerry Adams"-----That must be a first!!

  6. giordanobruno9 May 2013 at 19:06

    I was really referring to your remark about 'deliberate or even accidental killings as part of a political conflict.'
    As I say, even in a just war there are war crimes. Presumably you are not saying that no murders took place during our conflict. In which case why should families not seek to have that acknowledged.
    So how should such unresolved killings be dealt with?
    Are you in favour of some kind of truth and reconciliation process where no-one will be prosecuted for any killings during our 'war'?

  7. It wasn't Raymond McCartney, but Jude White, whose mother was murdered by the UVF, who said the majority of those imprisoned wouldn't have been in a normal society.

    The fact that he said it, and explained it was informed by his subsequent friendship with David Ervine, greatly interests me.

    Look at the contrast between him & the woman in the audience who furiously said that her father, an off-duty UDR member, had been murdered.

    It is my observation that those from a protestant/unionist background tend to contextualize their Troubles bereavement less, be much more angry, and more unable to countenance forgiveness. It tends to be nationalist/catholic bereaved who talk more of historical/societal context, and are more even-tempered. Two exceptions that spring to mind are Alan McBride, and the moral giant, Gordon Wilson.

    Is this theory of mine sectarian nonsense?
    I hope I am, because it's a pretty unpleasant theory, and I detest sectarianism as the disgusting lie it is.
    But,regrettably, that is my observation.

  8. If Gerry Adams is saying that all killings are murder,he must by your reasoning be a lifelong pacifist !That's clearly open to some critical discussion.

  9. Of course all the "Violent & Deliberate" actions to cause a man or a womans death is Murder, no matter what side of the fence you sit it's still Murder i feel too many for too long play on the romance created by some,a romance that's a convenient weapon of brain washing & a poor excuse for terrible actions.

    Too many convince themselves that its ok to Kill/Murder as it's for "the freedom of our land or the defence of our land", whatever !, The conflict has taken huge strides over the past 20 years but its still with us, it's still sitting there like an explosive device awaiting detonation, we will never be free and there will never be true peace untill individuals understand that mixing political disires, emotions,revenge & hatred with violent acts is just out & out wrong,no matter who says otherwise in rhetoric speach or romantic verse .


    1. Macgiollamhaith16 May 2013 at 12:10

      "Of course all the "Violent & Deliberate" actions to cause a man or a womans death is Murder, no matter what side of the fence you sit it's still Murder i feel too many for too long play on the romance created by some,a romance that's a convenient weapon of brain washing & a poor excuse for terrible actions."
      Does that apply in all cases and in all places? Does it apply in Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever next the "War against Terrorism" pops up? Does it apply to those who kill in state sanctioned organisations or just those who operate outside formal state structures? Does it apply to those in the state who use extra-legal methods and groups to kill on behalf of the state? Does that abhorrence of the romance of killing apply to the state organised commemorations for those who killed and died in state service? I don't disagree with what you say but feel your argument would be stronger if it did cover all the circumstances and actors in our tragedy, not just selectively but completely.

  10. What type of society can excuse murder?

  11. Aon 02:44 and Macg - I like your consistency but I've never heard anyone describe war-time killing as murder. Maybe they should but I think you Macg have got to the heart of it - killings sanctioned by the state are frequently gloried in, killings by those not acting in the state's name are labelled 'murderers'. Inconsistent.

  12. Macgiollamhaith16 May 2013 at 13:11

    Jude, not only inconsistent but hypocritical. And before we get the "But they are elected governments" argument thrown in let's be clear, most governments are elected with significantly fewer than a majority of the electorate and that is a growing trend. But it doesn't stop them killing in the "National interest"
    btw I should have said I didn't necessarily disagree with all that anon 02.44 says but only if he was prepared to apply his analysis to all, state actors as well as others.

  13. http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-recent-developments-investigation-murder-human-rights-attorney-patrick