Bill Carmichael: McGuinness and the missing porridge

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I hope the guests at this week’s Windsor Castle state banquet in honour of Irish president Michael D Higgins had exceptionally strong stomachs.

For in their midst, if they were unfortunate enough to witness it, was the nauseating sight of Martin McGuinness, the blood-soaked capo di tutti capi of IRA terrorists, dressed in a white tie and tails just like a civilised human being, shovelling down the tornadoes of Windsor estate beef with wild mushrooms and watercress puree.

What the hell was he doing there? In a sane and just world McGuinness would be eating cold porridge in a prison cell where he could reflect on the untold misery he and his evil organisation have inflicted on innocent people in the UK and the Irish Republic.

During his time as its commander, McGuinness fashioned the Provisional IRA into a gang of brutal and pitiless killers that deliberately targeted civilian populations.

Don’t for a second believe the romanticised blarney that this was somehow a noble cause of “armed struggle” against the British Army.

Yes, soldiers were killed, but the brunt of the IRA’s operations was directed against ordinary people, Roman Catholic as well as Protestant. Just ask the families of the “disappeared” – Roman Catholics murdered by the IRA for daring to object to the slaughter.

Northern Ireland is a democracy. If the people want a united Ireland they are entitled to vote for it. The truth is that they don’t, so the IRA, led by Martin McGuinness, decided they should be terrorised into submission.

Thanks to the bravery of the police and armed forces, and the resilience of the people of Northern Ireland, the IRA was defeated – but not before, in a disgraceful act of appeasement, the British government freed IRA killers and incredibly McGuinness became Deputy First Minister.

Now we are supposed to forgive and forget. Some argue that the fact McGuinness was happily toasting the Queen, rather than trying to blow her up, is a sign of progress.

Perhaps. But alongside peace there should be justice. McGuinness has never expressed an iota of remorse or regret for the atrocities committed by the IRA and he refuses to co-operate with the police in active investigations.

If, because of the political realities, we can’t make him pay for his crimes, then we certainly should not be showering him with honours and inviting him for dinner with the Queen.

My sympathies lie entirely with the likes of Victor Barker, whose 12-year-old son, James, was murdered in the 1998 Omagh bombing. As the guests arrived for the banquet this week, Mr Barker stood outside with a large sign that read: “A terrorist in a white tie and tails is still a terrorist – Martin McGuinness, time to tell the truth.”

Running joke

MY favourite story of the week concerned the Sheffield “ranarchists” – competitors in the city’s half marathon who refused meekly to accept the event had been cancelled and ran on regardless.

After the event had been called off because water supplies had not been delivered, the police attempted to stop the runners from proceeding by 
erecting a roadblock in their path – almost turning the race into a steeplechase. Honestly, where on earth do they find these people?

What was the possible offence? Jogging on a Sunday morning without possession of a water bottle?

Eventually, even South Yorkshire Police realised that arresting all 5,000 runners was impractical and the race was allowed to proceed.

Naturally the organisers have 
wheeled out the old “health and safety” excuse for trying to cancel the event. 
But what exactly was the risk? Presumably the competitors have been doing training runs for weeks, and looking after their own water needs, without mishap. They are grown-ups, for heaven’s sake.

In the event the people of Sheffield reacted in magnificent fashion, lining the route to offer runners cups and bottles of water.

Proof if any were needed that ordinary people are perfectly capable of organising themselves without any help from the nanny state, clipboard man or the hi-viz jacket crowd.