BBC World Service
Dan Damon speaks to former IRA member now author and political commentator, Anthony McIntyre, about the death of Martin McGuinness. (begins time stamp ~33:54)
Note: Where’s the audio? At the time of posting it is not available for download from the BBC. Please use the hyperlinked title ‘World Update’ to listen along as you read. Thank you.
Dan: Not everyone sees Martin McGuinness as a force for positive change. I’ve been speaking to the former IRA operative, Anthony McIntyre. He spent eighteen years in prison for the killing of a British soldier. I asked him how does he think Martin McGuinness will be remembered?
Anthony: I think he managed the defeat of the IRA campaign. The IRA campaign was designed towards getting the British out of Ireland and coercing the British out of Ireland and the British had insisted on, if there was to be any constitutional change, it would be through consent. The IRA campaign failed to remove the rock of consent and smashed itself to smithereens on that rock and Martin McGuinness and others, like Gerry Adams, managed the defeat. So I think the IRA had been defeated anyway but Martin McGuinness helped manage it and, in that sense, he built the peace process and established political institutions in The North which many people will think is certainly much better than his previous activity which was war-making.
Dan: But as you say, there is still a British presence, okay – much less militarised than before – but the overall point of the campaign didn’t get what it set out to achieve.
Anthony: That’s very true. The IRA campaign failed. There’s been a revisionist history coming into play very much sort of to suggest that the IRA campaign was aimed at equality within The North. Many years ago there used to be slogans, IRA slogans, on the walls of Belfast and Doire that ‘God made the Catholics but the Armalite had made them equal’ so there was a view that it was through the IRA’s campaign that the IRA had been made equal. This myth that the IRA fought for some sort of equality within a British state within The North of Ireland is simply that – it’s mythologising.
Dan: Why did you, if you disapproved and you disagreed with the way that that was achieved, that power-sharing agreement, why didn’t you join the dissident IRA groups – Real IRA, Continuity IRA?
Anthony: Well I mean I don’t think that there’s any Republican military answer to the question of partition. In fact, I don’t think there’s any Republican answer to the question of partition. I cannot see how military activity will achieve anything whatsoever and I’d seen that the IRA campaign had failed to move the British state away from the consent principle in the slightest therefore why would anybody want to associate themselves, any thinking person, want to associate themselves with campaigns of much lesser potential, much lesser ability, to achieve something that a much bigger campaign had failed to achieve? These groups, the armed groups, often talk about ‘the right of the Irish people to be free from British rule’ but they never ask the obvious question that would follow is: Do the same Irish people not have a right to be free from the violent methods that some groups use to achieve the end of British rule?
Dan: How does his passing change the potential for Northern Ireland and its future – possible links with the Republic?
Anthony: I think his star was on the wane. I mean he has been replaced by a woman with no military past that anybody’s aware of. I’m uncertain but I don’t think that the Sinn Féin narrative will be totally kind to Martin McGuinness. In the immediate future we will see all sorts of eulogies, as we’d seen for Ian Paisley, describing him as a ‘statesman’ when he more was more accurately described, could be more accurately described, as a ‘hatesman’. But that’s not the type of language that makes its way into the official discourse.
Dan: That’s Anthony McIntyre who was a former IRA operative. (ends time stamp ~ 37:44)