“Unhelpful”. That’s the buzz word today in the wake of last night’s “ruthless and premeditated” murder of Kevin McGuigan in the East Belfast enclave of Short Strand.
The words “ruthless and premeditated” are not mine but those of PSNI investigating officer DCI John McVea. That’s rather like saying World War II was long and bloody. Pretty obvious to even the most dim-witted.
That’s really all that Mr McVea had to say about the killing except he added a warning to the media that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to speculate about IRA involvement in the McGuigan killing.
Why reckless and dangerous? The dogs in the streets of Belfast know full well who killed Kevin McGuigan. Aren’t their owners allowed to talk about it? After all they’ve been here before. There are no surprises in Belfast.
In the winter of 1995 and early 1996 four young men were gunned to death in republican areas of Belfast and Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Their killers advertised themselves as Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) but everyone knew they were really the Provisional IRA in macabre drag, flexing their muscles as patience with the British over their handling of the 1994 ceasefire dwindled. By no coincidence the ceasefire collapsed at Canary Wharf a month after the last DAAD killing.
Those four guys died not because they were flooding Turf Lodge or the Ormeau Road with white powder but to send a message to the British: “They haven’t gone away, you know!” And everyone knew it; now the same people who peddled the lie about those killings, or told us that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to speculate about the culprits, are at it again today.
First there was DCI McVea; then we had Sinn Fein pols Alex Maskey and someone called Niall O Donnaghaile (Maskey the old scarred, gnarled face of the Provos, Niall the new, younger, smoother version) outside Belfast City Hall crying crocodile tears for the McGuigan family but with the same message as DCI McVea.
Three times Maskey told a video interviewer from The Belfast Telegraph that people, i.e. the media, should not “speculate” about the culprits. It would be “unhelpful”, he said to speculate about IRA involvement; cautioning the media again “not to speculate” he waved this final, almost threatening red flag: “….it would be unhelpful and unwelcome to enter into speculation”. Speculate if you dare.
This is also is a repeat of the refrain heard at the time of the DAAD killings some twenty years ago, and that word “unhelpful” repeated again and again, hammered into the brains of Belfast’s hapless media folk.
So why is it unhelpful to wonder openly if the IRA had a hand or part in the McGuigan killing, to pursue speculation that is rife in the city and that was, indubitably, the very first thought to enter the heads of most television viewers when the news was flashed across their screens last night?
Is it because to tell the truth about last night’s violence, or even to speculate about it would expose an even more unpalatable untruth: that the peace process is based on a lie, that an armed IRA, ready when necessary to use violence still exists, and that all those involved in making the subsequent political arrangement work know this full well but can’t say so openly for fear of admitting their culpability, greed, ambition, stupidity?
I will let you, dear reader, answer that question. But I do know that all these warnings not to be “unhelpful” work with the media, or at least most of them. Those who follow the warnings prosper and are given access to those who feed them the lies, a front seat at the circus ring, up close with the clowns; those who don’t will be marginalised and demonised, a walking warning of what can happen when you become “unhelpful”.
If you don’t believe me, then scan today’s internet edition of The Irish Times, Ireland’s paper of record, for a single mention, never mind follow up of the McGuigan murder. (The Irish Times finally filed a story at 17:31 pm)
That’s why I am here, in Broome County, New York, USA and not Belfast. Life is too short for such shit.