News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

October 16, 2005

Reid Faces Incitement to Hatred Probe

To Index of Monthly Archives
To October 2005 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 10/16/05 Fr Reid Faces 'Incitement To Hatred' Probe
BT 10/15/05 Reid’s Contribution Must Not Be Denigrated
II 10/16/05 Reid Has No Gift For Diplomacy
GU 10/16/05 Opin: This False Martyrdom
II 10/16/05 When The Naked Hate Is Publicly Exposed
II 10/16/05 Silence In South Feeds Fr Reid's Nazi Fantasy
II 10/16/05 Priest In 'Nazi' Row Briefed On IRA Criminality


Peace Broker Priest Faces 'Incitement To Hatred' Probe

16/10/2005 - 13:24:46

The Catholic priest who witnessed the completion of IRA
disarmament is being investigated by police for alleged
incitement to hatred after comparing the North's
Protestants to Nazis, it was confirmed today.

Father Alec Reid is being investigated after the Police
Service of Northern Ireland received a formal complaint
about his comments at a public meeting on IRA
decommissioning at a Belfast church last week.

The complaint has been made by Willie Frazer of the
Families Acting for Innocent Relatives which represents
victims of IRA violence.

Fr Reid's alleged comments were made during a heated
exchange involving Mr Frazer.

The priest, who is credited with helping to broker the IRA
ceasefire in 1994 by setting up talks between Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams and the then SDLP leader John Hume,
has apologised for the outburst which caused widespread

He likened the treatment of Catholics in the North by
Protestants to that of the Jews in Germany by the Nazis.

Issuing a fulsome apology after calming down, he said he
had been deeply provoked and in the heat of the moment lost
his temper.

The PSNI confirmed today that officers in south Belfast had
"received a complaint following an alleged incident that
occurred at a public meeting" last Wednesday and an
investigation had been mounted.

Mr Frazer's solicitor, Democratic Unionist Party MLA Arlene
Foster, said he felt he had to act, not only for himself
but others who had contacted him.

"A lot of people contacted his office to express their
distress," she said.

"He also has also been taunted by nationalists giving him
Nazi salutes and shouting 'Heil Hitler," she said.

Ms Foster said it would be up to the police if they decided
to proceed with a prosecution. She added: "We feel the
Public Order Order could be used to bring a complaint.

"It says a person who uses threatening or abusive or
insulting words or behaviour is guilty."

Fr Reid was embroiled in fresh controversy 24 hours after
his Nazi outburst when he told a BBC current affairs
programme that he refused to accept the IRA was involved in
criminality and behind the £26.5 million Northern Bank
robbery in Belfast last December, despite all the evidence
to the contrary.

He said the IRA leadership had denied involvement in the
robbery and added: "I believe absolutely that they had no
truck with it".

Fr Reid went on to explain away IRA so-called punishment
attacks as the result of "an absence of a police force that
has functionality in nationalist districts".


Contribution As A Go-Between Must Not Be Denigrated

By Barry White
15 October 2005

I KNOW he's taken it back but I've been thinking about what
Fr Alec Reid said about life in Northern Ireland under a
unionist government and it wasn't the black and white world
he presented.

It certainly wasn't a case of unionists treating
nationalists like the Nazis treated the Jews - a comparison
which should never be made and which he soon regretted.
Neither should he have suggested that the nationalist
community "was treated almost like animals" - whatever that
was intended to mean.

A man who has kept his opinions and his emotions to
himself, and hasn't mixed much with unionists, briefly let
us into his private thoughts. We've all done it - and
kicked ourselves afterwards - but few of us do it on a
public stage, with microphones on.

It's sad that someone who has devoted so much of his life
to peacemaking, between Catholic and Protestant, has let
himself down. He may never have the same influence again
but that doesn't mean that his contribution as a go-
between, over 30 years or so, should be denigrated.

If you read any history of the Troubles, he has played a
vital part. Ed Moloney has written that "to say that Fr
Alec Reid is the unrecognised inspiration of the Irish
peace process would be an understatement".

When Albert Reynolds decided to put peace first, before a
political settlement, the "slightly-built, almost wraith-
like" priest was a vital link to Sinn Fein and the IRA.

Fr Reid has done his bit, far more than most, but is there
any truth in the way he describes pre-1969 Northern
Ireland? Is there any comparison between fascism and

There are fewer of us left, who remember what life was like
before the Troubles, and we all see it differently. I knew,
from watching the way that unionist politicians treated the
other parties at Stormont - both Labour, whose four members
were the real opposition, and nationalists - that they were
playing a very dangerous game.

They thought that because Northern Ireland was British, and
they had an unbeatable majority, they could behave like a
Westminster Government, generally disregarding the

Labour challenged their complacency on social and economic
issues, while nationalist complaints were dismissed as
anti-partitionist and irrelevant.

In many places, gentlemen's agreements had been worked out.
Nationalists were allowed to discriminate where they were
in a majority and vice versa, but first Labour and then the
emerging nationalist middle class rejected this cosy status
quo. Civil rights was born and the ruling unionists, held
back by the Paisleyite fringe, were too slow to adapt and
lost everything.

I didn't regret the passing of the old order. It was unfair
and reactionary, but it bore no relation to fascism or
animal cruelty. The fault was that Britain sought to answer
the Irish Question by giving an ethnic majority, in 1921,
virtually absolute power over an unco-operative minority,
which never fully accepted the state's legitimacy.

Nationalism wasn't something to be taken seriously, until
the late 1960s, especially if you came from a British
background. The Republic was a poor, backward, Catholic
State, and the North's prosperity depended on the British

Only at election times did the anti-partitionist case get
an airing, but Dublin gave it no encouragement and it was
largely confined to a lunatic fringe. Otherwise, no one
felt particularly threatened or persecuted - except where
populations were evenly divided - and community tensions
were manageable.

The genie escaped, however, in 1968 - along with the first
generation of Catholic graduates - and isn't going back,
with the Republic obliged to show an interest and Britain
looking for any way out. Violence has forced our
communities apart, far more than right-wing unionism ever
did, and bringing them together, in government, remains a
gargantuan task.


Reid Has No Gift For Diplomacy

FATHER Alec Reid played an important role in the peace
process, by persuading the republican movement to accept
the futility of violence, and by getting the IRA to
decommission its weaponry, fully and finally. For that,
everyone on this island owes him a debt of gratitude. Peace
has come slowly to Northern Ireland. It remains an
imperfect peace. And yet, without his efforts over many
years, we would not be where we are today.

Nevertheless, quite clearly, Fr Reid's gift of persuasion,
as reflected in his secret diplomacy with the republican
movement, is not matched by any gift for public diplomacy,
as demonstrated in his dealings with the unionist
community. If IRA decommissioning was one step forward,
then to compare as he did, unionists to Nazis in their past
treatment of Catholics, represents a step backward for
community relations there.

The IRA's self-styled war is over, thanks in part to Fr
Reid's successful intercession. But to make the peace work
now means building on what has been achieved. And the
challenge there involves reconciling two communities, with
a divided history, to both sharing and shaping a common
future in Northern Ireland. It means the nationalist and
unionist communities must begin to understand, acknowledge
and respect each other's past fears, present differences,
and future concerns if they are ever to reach a
satisfactory mutual accommodation.

And this is a challenging task. It is one that Fr Reid, a
well-intentioned peacemaker, now seems singularly ill-
equipped to take on. His remarks, for which he has since
apologised, were wholly counterproductive. They were not
only deeply offensive and insulting to unionists. They were
wrong, and indeed misdirected.

Of course unionist discrimination against Catholics in
Northern Ireland was a fundamental breach of their civil
rights. Those injustices, however, never justified the
decades of IRA terrorism that followed. In the US, a long
history of racial discrimination against the black
community was remedied and reversed, not by terrorist
violence, but by the peaceful protest of civil rights
activists. But Gerry Adams was no Martin Luther King.

Discrimination against Northern Catholics had no parallels
in the world of Hitler's Third Reich. Systematic genocide
is far removed from ugly sectarianism. A far more relevant
historical reference point for Nazi involvement in Irish
affairs was the war-time alliance between the IRA and the
Nazis. The IRA had pledged support to Hitler, in the event
of a German invasion of Ireland. Indeed, the IRA's chief of
staff, Sean Russell, died aboard a German submarine. And
his death is regularly commemorated by the republican

Many unionists, and indeed nationalists, fought to liberate
Europe from the Nazi tyranny that the IRA was willing to
support, in its pursuit of Irish unity by any means, and at
any human cost. Unionists do not forget that, and neither
should nationalists.

Fr Reid's opinion that the IRA did not carry out the
Northern Bank raid, and that it does not engage in criminal
acts, is one that few will share. It shows a naive faith in
the integrity of an organisation that has lied
consistently, most notably about the killing of Det Garda
Jerry McCabe. Last week, Minister for Justice Michael
McDowell said: "We are now clear that the Provisional IRA
raided the Northern Bank in Belfast and we are equally
clear that serious members of the Provisional movement and
their adherents in the South tried to launder that money."

Earlier this year, President Mary McAleese, in remarks for
which she later apologised, suggested that the Nazis had
shared a common characteristic with Northern Protestants.
In one year for two representative figures to make such
offensive, although unintended, comments is not just
unfortunate. They are also deeply regrettable and seriously


Opin: This False Martyrdom

It's time we stopped bleating about being downtrodden

Henry McDonald
Sunday October 16, 2005
The Observer

The Irish conceit - the belief that 'we' are the most
special, gifted, talented, put-down and oppressed people to
walk upright on this planet - was on display last week. A
writer was able to resist it, a priest and a political
activist couldn't.

John Banville deserved a Nobel Prize, never mind the Man
Booker, for his deployment of a Bullshit Detector in the
face of the Irish conceit. The evening after his award for
his latest novel, The Sea, Banville faced the inevitable
and depressing questions: what does this say about the
state of Irish literature? Doesn't this award make him
proud to be Irish?

On Radio Ulster's Arts Extra programme, Banville was
extremely gracious faced with such questioning. He politely
but firmly deflated the idea that his work, particularly
his latest Booker Prize-winning story, was part of any
Irish 'canon'. 'There is,' he reminded the otherwise
erudite, well-read presenter, 'no such thing as Irish
literature. There is only good and bad literature.' The
writer also poured scorn on any nationalistic pride
following the fact that this year an Irishman had won the
Booker. It was, he asserted, a victory for art.

Banville's refusal to allow himself to be portrayed as the
literary version of a Eurovision winner was refreshing in
the aftermath of even more disturbing examples of the Irish
conceit. On Wednesday night, Father Alec Reid devalued the
last massive act of IRA decommissioning with a classic
display of 'Most Oppressed People Ever'. After some hostile
questioning from Willie Frazer of the South Armagh
Protestant victims group Fair, Fr Reid lost it. He started
comparing Frazer's community with the Nazis, drawing
parallels between what was inflicted on the Jewish people
to the discrimination and oppression of Catholics by the
Stormont regime between 1922 and 1969.

Fr Reid's parallel is not only absurd but morally
repellent. Bad as the systematic, often petty,
discriminatory practices by the unionist governments were,
they don't even to compare with the industrialised
slaughter of six million people.

The most incredible aspect of the controversy was the
failure of politicians or broadcasters to point out the
irony of the priest evoking the Nazis to defend their
Second World War allies, i.e. the IRA.

The other party to last week's very public and damaging row
in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church also needs to go back to the
ABC of World History. Interviewed after Fr Reid's remarks,
Willie Frazer said that his family had fought in the Second
and First World Wars against the Nazis. Frazer emphasised
that the Protestant and unionist people, branded Nazis by
the Redemptorist priest, had actually fought and died
against the Nazis.

What Frazer forgot to mention (one hopes it was an
oversight) was that thousands of Irish Catholics also
volunteered, north and south, to join the British war
effort at the darkest hour of the 20th century.
Scandalously, southern fighters against fascism returned
home as pariahs, isolated and denigrated by a government in
Dublin that had sent its condolences to the German
ambassador on hearing of the death of Hitler. Next time you
are in Dublin, Fr Reid, check out Sean Russell's statue in
Fairview Park and reflect.

Frazer, too, continually refers to 'genocide' when raising
the immoral, futile and counter-productive IRA campaign
from 1969, especially the violence directed against his
coreligionists on the border. Yet while such a campaign
reeked of Catholic defenderism, of the politics of ethnic
revenge, it could not and should not be compared with the
Shoah or, indeed, genocides from Rwanda to the Balkans.

The priest and the Protestant victims' campaigner can only
make such ludicrous claims because of the Irish conceit, in
that innate, self-indulgent conviction that 'our' suffering
is as great, if not greater, than all the other nations'.
Moreover, such conceit is becoming more prevalent thanks to
the postmodern culture of self-obsession and morbid
introspection. It links into a society in which people with
personal problems, often of their own making, seek to
compare their lot with the prisoners of death/slave camps.
It emerges in absurd parallels, such as the man who once
had the temerity on Radio 4's Today programme to compare
the plight of passengers on the half-refitted QE2 to those
in Sarajevo during the siege.

John Banville is a very good writer who happens to be an
Irishman. While the themes he muses on are universal and
existential, there are certainly 'Irish' aspects to his
work in terms of voice, setting, background. His self-
deprecation, his 'admission' prior to the Booker result
that The Sea was a 'bad book', is in itself an admirable
Irish quality - the ability to send ourselves up. It reeks
of uncertainty and ambiguity, in sharp contrast to the
cast-iron convictions of Fr Reid and Willie Frazer.
Banville did Ireland proud last week simply because he
didn't seen any national pride in his long-deserved


When The Naked Hate Is Publicly Exposed

'THE most generous thing I can say about Alec Reid," said
Ian Paisley Junior on the BBC's Hearts and Minds on
Thursday night, "is that I think he's lost it." Baby Doc
then proceeded to lose it himself - refusing even to tut-
tut when asked to comment on his colleague Sammy Wilson's
statement at election time that those who voted for Sinn
Fein's Alex Maskey were "sub-human animals".

The offending words - uttered in a Belfast Presbyterian
church where Father Reid was seeking to convince
Protestants that they could trust his word on
decommissioning - were: "The nationalist community in
Northern Ireland were treated almost like animals by the
unionist community. They were not treated like human
beings. They were treated like the Nazis treated the Jews."
His face was hard: his anger full of righteousness.

"He must be senile," said a charitable unionist friend on
Friday morning. Like most of the population of Northern
Ireland, she was staggered not just by this outburst, but
by Reid's (pre-recorded) performance on the same Hearts and
Minds where he explained that he knew the IRA had nothing
to do with the Northern Bank robbery, because they said
they hadn't and they never lied. Asked if they were "whiter
than white when it came to criminality", he assented.
Criticism was reserved for Michael McDowell, whose
contention that the IRA is morphing into a lightly-armed
revolutionary group was "quite immoral". My unionist friend
wanted to find an excuse for Father Reid, for, like me, she
has never forgotten the solace he gave us in 1988. Like
millions of others, we had watched with sick hearts the
footage of the long-drawn-out murder of two young Royal
Corps of Signals corporals. Having driven into a republican
cortege at a time of hysteria and paranoia that had
followed an earlier loyalist attack on an IRA funeral, they
were beaten, stripped and shot. Then - as a website for a
military memorial garden in Northern Ireland puts it - Reid
"arrived on the scene. One of the most enduring pictures of
the Troubles shows him kneeling beside the almost-naked
bodies of the soldiers, his face distraught as he
administered the last rites. That act of humanity has never
been forgotten."

At that time, Reid was already a considerable player in the
early secret days of the peace process - Tim Pat Coogan's
"unsung hero" and the cerebral Martin Mansergh's "alpha and
omega". From early in the Troubles, he had tried to save
lives, whether by mediating in republican feuds, trying to
resolve hunger strikes, or, in 1982, trying unsuccessfully
to stop the IRA killing a kidnapped factory worker who was
a part-timer in the Ulster Defence Regiment. So why is this
paragon among peacemakers making such a comprehensive and
destructive idiot of himself?

Well, when this Tipperaryman decided in 1950 to become a
priest, he chose to joined the Redemptorists. Notoriously
harsh 'fire and brimstone' preachers, they were seriously
nationalist. In the mid-Sixties he moved north to Clonard
Monastery, which lives on an interface separating militant
republicans and loyalists: it's hardly surprising that he
became closely identified with his flock and acquired a
jaundiced view of Protestants.

Latterly, praised and feted, Reid has come into the public
arena. A friend and trusted confidant of Gerry Adams for
more than 20 years, he has become his ambassador to Spain,
where he tries to persuade constitutional and militant
Basque nationalists to unite. And, increasingly, he is one
of his mouthpieces. Davy Adams (no relation), commented
that Reid's statement in June that Irish political parties
(by being critical of Sinn Fein) were a greater threat to
peace than the IRA was "one of the most ludicrous
pronouncements ever".

Yet Reid is physically and mentally vulnerable under
pressure. Coogan records that among the "multiple stress-
induced ailments that afflicted him" in the early Eighties,
was complete blindness. So it was not kind of Adams to
expose his friend (whom he calls the "Sagart") to long days
watching weapons disposal and to intense pressure in front
of cameras and interviewers.

Reid's exposure of both his prejudice and his gullibility
has desperately embarrassed the republican high command. Of
course many republicans of the MOPE (Most Oppressed People
Ever) persuasion equate unionists with Nazis. Were they not
educated to shout "SS/RUC?" But it's not PC to say such
things these days, and Reid has boobed. "His apology is
irrelevant", many unionists have pointed out. "It's what he

Yet we should not forget Reid's 1988 shining act of
humanity. And maybe his insult to Jews and to unionists
(whose community - unlike the IRA - was anti-Nazi) will act
as a catalyst in forcing into honest dialogue those two
tribes in Northern Ireland who detest each other.

Ruth Dudley Edwards


Protestants' Silence In South Feeds Fr Reid's Nazi Fantasy

LAST Thursday, I went on The Last Word to talk to Matt
Cooper about the remarks made by the Redemptorist priest Fr
Alec Reid at the Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast. Up
until that time, I was depending on press reports which had
played up Fr Reid's comparison of the unionist community to
the Nazis. But Today FM played the actual tape which
allowed me to put the affair in context - and to spread the
blame more widely.

The tape showed that Fr Reid did not deliver a carefully
prepared polemic. He started by saying that unionists had
persecuted Catholics for 60 years. After some reaction from
the audience, he said they had treated nationalists "almost
like animals". He then backtracked a bit under pressure
from human rights activist Willie Frazer (who has suffered
from Provo violence in South Armagh) and said that the
Protestant community had not treated nationalists like
human beings.

But as the argument with Willie Frazer escalated, Fr Reid's
responses became more extreme. He said that the unionists
had treated nationalists the same way as the Nazis had
treated the Jews, and that the Protestant community should
be ashamed of its record. The performance did nothing to
enhance his credibility as an impartial witness to

Fr Reid has apologised for his remarks. That still leaves
us with some lethal questions.

* * *

First, is there even a tiny grain of truth in what Fr Reid
had to say? None whatsoever, even leaving the Holocaust out
of the historical record. In September 1935, the Nazi state
brought in the Nuremberg Laws, one of which, the Law for
the Protection of German Blood and Honour, prevented
marriage between Jews and non-Jews. There was no such ban
in Northern Ireland: mixed marriages took place all the

Likewise, the Northern state did not pass a "Reich
Citizenship Law" removing Roman Catholics' right to vote -
otherwise people like Gerry Fitt could not have been
elected to Westminster.

In Germany in 1936, Jews were removed from the professions
like law, education, medicine. By contrast the Northern
nationalist community is top heavy with solicitors,
teachers and doctors. In 1938, Aryan doctors were banned
from treating Jews. No Northern Protestant doctor was
banned from treating Roman Catholics - the notion would
never have occurred to even the most obdurate unionist.

In August 1938, every German Jewish male had to call
himself Israel and every Jewish woman had to call herself
Sarah. Northern Ireland passed no law forcing Sean and
Brigid to call themselves William or Daphne. Northern
Catholics were not forbidden to sit in public parks and use
public lavatories - nor were 20,000 sent to a Dachau-style
concentration camp from which few emerged alive. Their
businesses were not forcibly sold to Northern Protestants.
Finally, Northern Roman Catholics were not subjected to a
Final Solution, and sent to extermination camps as part of
a systematic plan to eliminate them from the entire island
of Ireland.

Fr Reid was talking rubbish. Far from being treated like
either animals or German Jews, Northern nationalists
enjoyed enviable access to the British welfare state,
including free health and higher education. Indeed, it was
the entry of people like Bernadette McAliskey into QUB, and
the growing strength of the Roman Catholic middle class
(solicitors, doctors and poet laureates like Seamus Heaney)
which fuelled the civil rights movement - which by 1973 had
won almost all its demands.

The Provo campaign was not about removing restrictions on
Roman Catholics. It was a fascist campaign to force
Northern Protestants into a united Ireland. The nearest
thing Northern Ireland ever had to Nazis was the
Provisional IRA.

* * *

Against that general background, Matt Cooper's first
question to me went to the heart of the matter. Did Fr
Reid's remarks reveal the deep division between the two
communities in Northern Ireland? My answer was that it was
much more revealing of the attitude of Southern Irish

Fr Alec Reid is not from South Armagh. He is a Southerner.
Now of course it is possible he simply went native and
picked up his prejudices from Northern nationalists. But
fair is fair. Not only have I never heard Northern
nationalists sound off like Fr Reid in recent years, but I
must admit I have seldom heard a Sinn Fein spokesperson
speak in such tribal terms.

In sum, I believe Fr Reid, like those Southerners who
texted the programme supporting him, suffers from the
deepest delusion in modern Irish history - that the South
was a nice cosy house for Southern Protestants. And as I
told Matt Cooper, the main purveyors of this myth are
Southern Protestant spokespersons.

Any attempt to highlight what happened to Protestants in
the South between 1911 and 1980 - a period taking in the Ne
Temere ban on "mixed marriages", the ethnic cleansing of
50,000 farmers, shopkeepers and artisans in 1921, the
boycott of Fethard on Sea in the Fifties, and the sectarian
contraception and divorce laws only recently reformed -
will be instantly followed by Southern Protestants popping
up in print, radio or television to profess themselves
completely happy in the Irish Republic.

* * *

But professing happiness with the present Republic is to
miss the point. We are not speaking about current
discrimination - I don't know any Protestant in the Irish
Republic who is suffering from discrimination at the
present time, so there is no point in them telling me how
happy they are.

We are speaking about the historical memory of
marginalisation in modern Irish history - because I don't
know any Southern Protestant whose father or mother could
have felt they were fully integrated into an Irish state
run on Catholic lines.

So why are so few Southern Protestants willing to stand up
and say publicly what many of them still say privately:
that the Irish state until recently was a pretty cold house
for Protestants - just as Northern Ireland was a cold house
for Roman Catholics? Why don't Southern Protestants put
their family and historical memories on the public record
so that Southern Roman Catholics can see that both
communities, North and South, share some of the blame?

In reply, my Protestant friends say either that it is
easier to keep the head down, or, less honestly, tell me
they are doing it for the "peace process". The first reason
is honest, the second is hypocrisy. Far from promoting
peace, it is precisely this policy of self-imposed silence
on the part of Southern Protestants which allows Southern
Roman Catholics to suffer from delusions of do-goodery, and
to send righteous texts to The Last Word in support of Fr

Southern Protestants who subscribe to silence may find it
lubricates their social life. But they should stop
pretending it serves peace. Facing the fact that 50,000
Protestants farmers and artisans were forced out of the
South in 1921-22 is a vital part of the peace process.
Because it means that both societies have to shoulder

Silence feeds the kind of false history that lay behind Fr
Reid's outburst. Southern Protestants should speak out and
shame the devil.

As the Bible says: the truth sets you free.

Eoghan Harris


Priest In 'Nazi' Row Briefed On IRA Criminality

Jim Cusack

BELFAST priest Fr Alec Reid, who has described the views of
Justice Minister Michael McDowell on the IRA as "immoral",
recently received two top-level briefings on the IRA's
involvement in criminality, including one from the Minister

Fr Reid, who is a close confidante and spiritual adviser of
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, had "demanded" the
meetings, which took place earlier this year, when the
Minister attacked Sinn Fein/IRA after the Northern Bank
robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney.

Despite being briefed by the Minister and the Department of
Justice Secretary General Sean Aylward, Fr Reid came away
unconvinced and instead accused the British and Irish
Governments of "black propaganda" against the Sinn

The priest was chosen by the IRA as one of the two
witnesses to its recent decommissioning. But his views,
expressed publicly twice last week, has seriously
undermined Unionist confidence in the IRA's "historic" act.

Yesterday, DUP leader Ian Paisley shelved plans to have
another meeting with the priest. A senior DUP source said
"There was serious consideration given to meeting Fr Reid
again to discuss the decommissioning exercise but there is
little prospect of us pursuing that now.

"His remarks likening Unionists to Nazis were appalling and
hugely damaging to our perception of his overall outlook on
society and our community in particular." Interviewed by
the BBC in Dublin last Wednesday, Fr Reid said he believed
the IRA when it said it was not behind the Northern Bank
robbery, or any act of criminality.

Asked about Minister McDowell's view that the IRA's
criminality was perverting the democratic process, Fr Reid
replied: "I totally disagree with him. He's misreading the
whole situation."

Further questioned about Michael McDowell's view that the
IRA has turned from a heavily-armed private army into a
lightly-armed enforcement wing of a revolutionary political
movement, the Redemptorist priest replied: "They're not a
lightly (armed) wing. I mean that's, that kind of thing
really is, in my view, quite immoral, that kind of talk
because it simply isn't true."

When interviewer Noel Thompson asked Fr Reid if he did not
accept the IRA was behind the Northern Bank and other major
robberies, the priest replied: "No, well, I don't accept
that you see. I mean, this is according to the Ministry for
Justice down here. But, I don't agree with that."

Fr Reid's comments about the "ministry" for justice caused
disquiet in the Government here.

Government sources have revealed that the Department of
Justice responded to two requests from Fr Reid for
briefings earlier this year.

At both briefings, including one from Minster McDowell in
person, Fr Reid was assured that it was the Garda's view
that the IRA was heavily involved in criminality and,
specifically, was behind the Northern Bank robbery.

Fr Reid's rejection of the Government's view on IRA
criminality has not, however, come as a surprise.

According to senior sources, Fr Reid also rejected the same
charges during his briefings in the Department. "It was
like talking to a barn door. He just didn't get it," said
one source.

Yesterday, Mr McDowell did not wish to be drawn into an
argument with Fr Reid. However, sources close to the
Minister said: "In so far as he has cast doubts on the
recent statement by the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy that
Northern Bank money has turned up in Cork, he should be
very careful when heimpugns the integrity of people loyally
serving Irish democracy."

Fr Reid caused serious consternation in the North last
Thursday after an outburst in which he said unionists had
treated nationalists as "animals" and "like the Nazis
treated the Jews".

The outburst followed an exchange with Willy Frazer, a
campaigner on behalf of the families of Protestants killed
by the IRA in the Border area. Mr Frazer, who walked out of
the meeting after the exchange, said yesterday:
"Thankfully, the first two calls I got about this were from
Roman Catholics. They both apologised."

Unionist confidence in Fr Reid's standing as an independent
observer of decommissioning took two major blows last week
from his outburst at the public meeting on Wednesday night
and on the interview on the BBC Northern Ireland politics
programme, Hearts and Minds.

Fr Reid adamantly refused to believe the IRA could be
involved in criminality, saying some members could be
"feathering their own nests".

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To October 2005 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives

Links to News Sources Frequently Used Here:

(Irish Aires News is not responsible for
content of external internet sites.)

BBC Northern Ireland
Belfast Telegraph
Daily Ireland
Derry Journal
Financial Times
Galway Advertiser
Ireland Online
Irish Abroad
Irish Aires News Search
Irish American Magazine
Irish American Information Service
Irish Echo
Irish Emigrant
Irish Examiner
Irish Independent
Irish News
Irish People
Irish Times
Irish Voice
News Hound
News Letter
Northern Ireland Office
Sinn Fein News
Sunday Business Post
Times Online
Ulster Herald
Ulster-TV Headlines
Wild Geese Today
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?