The killing of Ciaran Doherty by the Real IRA just outside of Derry City on Wednesday evening was laden with evocations of the ‘bad old days’ when bullet lacerated bodies, were left bound and gagged at the side of a road on full public display. Over the decades many Derry men met a similar a fate; Jock Lynch in 1974, Franko Hegarty in 1986, two of the names that spring to mind. Killings which look no different from the slaying of Ciaran Doherty: brutal, chilling and sordid. The likeness drew the following precise observation from Brian Rowan: ‘all of what the dissidents are doing comes from an IRA book.’
There has been much condemnation of the killing. The North’s British First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness spoke on behalf of the Northern Executive when they repudiated the ‘dirty deed’. McGuinness made the point that the republicans responsible for the killing need to realise that the war is well truly over. It might have helped fortify his repudiation of the killers had he said the war is well and truly over because it was well and truly lost; that the lesson of the Provisional IRA campaign has been salutary – do not fight wars that are not winnable, achieve little and exact a price in gross excess of the purchase.
Martin McGuinness’s Assembly colleague Martina Anderson also criticised the killing in strong and forthright terms. She put a lot of visible energy into challenging the people who took Ciaran Doherty’s life: her judgement, how dare they bring this type of activity to the streets of Derry. She may well be genuinely sincere in her revulsion. But the background of her party always places a low hanging ceiling on the moral authority Sinn Fein representatives can reach when making such condemnations. Representatives of other parties which have no history of association with republican political violence sound all the more plausible in their rejection of events like that which took place on Wednesday evening. The condemnation issued by Mark Durkan of the SDLP sounded natural rather than forced.
The Real IRA in claiming responsibility for the killing of Ciaran Doherty, who was the one time commander of the group’s volunteers in Portlaoise, accused him of knowing the consequences of certain associations he had maintained. In its statement the republican military group alleged that Ciaran Doherty was a senior member who had relationships with a criminal gang linked to the drugs trade.
That is no reason for having killed him. There is no war or legitimate targets. The Real IRA might well think it is carrying on in the tradition of the Provisional IRA when it dispenses this type of brutal justice; that because an army council signs off on the action that it somehow becomes morally superior to any other killing that takes place on the streets. While Real IRA inflicted fatalities may differ from a criminal killing it can hardly be claimed in their defence that they are any more meritorious.
The growth of the Real IRA, despite it being effectively red carded after the Omagh bomb, is in part a consequence of a growing realisation that the Sinn Fein leadership negotiated a very poor return on the Provisional IRA campaign. Sinn Fein being able to sit in the middle of a British administration and label other republican traitors is not what any republican ever envisaged as a worthy objective.
This realisation that little in the way of republican objectives were secured should be extended to the point where it allows for an acknowledgement that the Provisional Movement did not sell out a campaign that could have been prosecuted successfully. The Provisional movement sell out lies not in the defeat it sustained but in the management of that defeat which saw it defect to the British side and has it body and soul now backing an armed British police force.
The logic is stunningly simple: unwinnable wars are invariably lost. The Real IRA in trying to reinvent the Provisional IRA wheel will do what wheels do – go round in circles. No matter how many bodies like that of Ciaran Doherty lie strewn on darkened roads, that circle of futility will not be broken – just hearts.
Re: Killing Ciaran Doherty
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
I do not interpret the events I have witnessed in my lifetime as defeat of republicans in Ireland. I find the above article strangely defeatist. Indeed I would assert, that all of the events that have transpired since 1969, including the surrender of the Provos, like the Stickies before them, as just another discarded layer of the onion being shed.
The Blanketmen in particular and the 12 hunger strikers guaranteed a successful legacy, that gives the movement of the people of no property in all of Ireland, a deep rooted resistance tradition, that will without doubt bear fruit and guarantee victory
Recent revisionist and morphed republican reformist leadership in the movement, appears to have weakened us but it is the inevitable process in the learning curve of principles before personalities, that in fact makes us stronger. The enemy, its media, its propaganda constantly seeks to distract us from the principles. It is the responsibility of good leadership to ensure all volunteers and activists are thoroughly informed of them and refresh them in constructive debate regularly facilitated. This is something that was sorely absent and missing in the provisional tenure. Neither were activists made aware of party procedure and rules, which ultimately led to manipulated takeovers, based on ignorance of procedure and media generated personalities.
There are no shortcuts, the lessons must be learned or repeated over and over, until they are learned the hard way, as part of the development of a genuine revolutionary leadership, that can be trusted to act in the interests of the people, rather than ego and greed when unbridled power corrupts. This can and is only being built on the bitter lessons of the struggle's experience of what works and what doesn't, a leadership of principle, forged to lead in the evolved tradition of Connolly, in the event of the inevitable collapse of the various forms of empire visited our land. The politicized people of no property are the guarantors of a successful outcome, when the various discarded layers of the reformists and revisionists are recognized for the layers of self-deception they really were.
The death of Ciaran Doherty is without doubt a tragic consequence of British Imperialism in Ireland. I am certain that volunteers recognize when they volunteer their lives, the sacrifice they make to the movement of the people and its risks of the tragedy that happens in battle.
To speculate on the rights and wrong of this specific execution as outsiders, is not realistic but in the fullness of time , no doubt, more will be revealed. I just know the young man from his photograph and of course I am sad at the loss of any young life particularly a volunteer but I cannot afford the luxury of speculation based on what is in the public domain. It serves no purpose other than to demoralize. Perhaps someone can come up with a solution with how to deal with the spirit and cause of freedom being compromised, rather than just idle speculation which from my own experience can cause untold damage to the families concerned whom I genuinely commiserate with.
The only people qualified to weigh the evidence are his peers, while the war is happening and unlike the Pensive Quill, I have no doubt that the British Empire in its various aspects is at war with Mr Doherty's community, it has been a relentless, ceaseless war of centuries that always demands expansion and further exploitation of the community, surely the Pensive Quill from considerable experience would be quite clear about this.
The lesson for any young person, is to consider well, the decision of volunteering, a liberation war can often demand the ultimate price and should not be taken lightly. Freedom fighters want the British Empire out of Ireland as soon as possible, lock, stock and barrel, with all of the misery they have brought for centuries to our land. Those fighters bearing in mind their sacrifices, deserve in return the protection of the community without idle talk which also can cause untold grief to innocent family members and children.
Personally, I abhor violence of any sort but I know of no alternative of getting these brutal invaders and their native consequence, out of our Island other than armed resistance. If I thought there was a genuine alternative, I'm sure like many others I would go there immediately. The sacrifices made of previous generations, is the driving force that will not allow brave volunteers and principled leadership compromise a peace without justice.
May Ciaran's spirit rest in peace and hopefully other volunteers have not been compromised or sacrificed as result of this particular affair. Incidentally I do not support the politics of Friedrich Nietzsche. Ultimately the truth will set us free and with it will come a clearer understanding of the circumstances of Volunteer Doherty's execution. In the meantime I hope I personally do not forget the basic lesson of united we stand, divided we fall. There are many out there, particularly in the media, who make a profession out of dividing our resistance.
Padraig Pearse along with Connolly and the Hunger Strikers are living icons of the Irish form of republicanism. The revisionists of history in the media, are working ceaselessly to smash these icons. It is becoming clearer with the lessons of experience, subsequent to his declaration in "Defenders of this Realm" that this often repeated statement, holds strong and true and is an invincible principle, that can be relied on in times of doubt in the wake of weak leadership.
"They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! - they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."
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