There are many grave reasons for the victims' groups to march upon Dublin

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Mar 5, 2006, 12:16:27 PM3/5/06
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There are many grave reasons for the victims' groups to march upon
Dublin

Sunday March 5th 2006

By Jim Cusack

http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=36&si=1574987&issue_id=13767&printer=1

THE graveyard beside Mourne Presbyterian Meeting House in Kilkeel, Co
Down, like so many graveyards around Northern Ireland, bears witness to
the IRA's 30-year slaughter of Protestant - and Catholic - members of
the security forces and civilians caught up in the violence.

Seven IRA victims are in the Mourne Presbyterian; another two in the
nearby graveyard of Kilkeel Presbyterian Meeting House, known as the
"Wee Meeting House".

Both victims in the latter are cousins of DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson:
Alan and Alexander Donaldson, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
(RUC) and murdered by the IRA. There is a 10th IRA victim in the
Christchurch Church of Ireland cemetery in this coastal village.

One of the seven buried in the "Big Meeting House" cemetery is Norman
Hanna, a 46-year-old self-employed electrician who was killed in
November 1985. Norman, who had four children, was the first Protestant
to be killed by the IRA after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement
which both the British and Irish Governments hoped would offer a way
out of the violence.

Norman Hanna was killed because he had served as a part-time member of
theUlster Defence Regiment (UDR), though he had resigned two weeks
earlier. The South Down IRA planted a booby-trap bomb underneath his
Volvo estate. It was set off when his car turned into the incline of
Harbour Drive.

The close friend who was the last person to speak to Norman Hanna was
one of those who travelled to Dublin last weekend to try and bring the
message that the victims of the IRA have been forgotten about,
whitewashed from history by Sinn Fein's unrelenting campaign to seize
and control the issue of victimology in Northern Ireland.

Maynard Hanna from Kilkeel, then a full-time RUC member, was driving in
the opposite direction to Norman Hanna (no relation) along Harbour
Road. "We stopped and had a bit of a yarn. He drove about 40 yards and
the incline in the road set off the mercury tilt-switch. My car got
lifted with the force of the explosion. I got out and ran to where his
car was situated. He was still alive. He had no legs. The fingers on
his left hand had been blown off and there was an inch-long cut right
in the centre of his chin. They pronounced him dead on arrival at
hospital."

Maynard and another man lifted Norman Hanna from the rear of the car,
fearing it would go on fire. Maynard held his friend and tended to him
as best he could until the ambulance arrived.

Another friend of Maynard Hanna's who is buried in the Mourne
Presbyterian cemetery was murdered less than two years later. John
Chambers, 56, was helping his son-in-law, a part-time UDR member who
was temporarily unable to do his job as a lorry driver because of a
broken arm. John Chambers offered to drive so his son-in-law could keep
his job.

The local IRA set up an ambush, sending an order into the building yard
where the son-in-law worked. Mr Chambers, who had no connection with
the security forces, drove to the house near Annalong with his
son-in-law in the passenger seat. The IRA hit squad had obviously been
instructed to murder the driver but leave the helper alone. They tied
up the son-in-law and then shot John Chambers dead as he sat in the cab
of the lorry.

A year later it was the turn of another member of the Mourne
Presbyterian congregation, building-company director Kenneth Graham,
46, married with two daughters.

Mr Graham's company employed Catholics and Protestants and was
important to the local economy. However, his firm provided building
materials and carried out construction on the local army and police
barracks. He was killed by an under-car bomb.

"Kenny was groomed to take over the business by his father," Maynard
Hanna told the Sunday Independent. "He was the eldest son and he had
built up a huge hardware store and the building arm had several sites.
The second daughter went to university and did engineering. If he had
lived, she would have been driving around with him, running the firm."

One of the two other workers in Mr Graham's firm to be murdered by the
IRA is also buried in Mourne Presbyterian. Alan Johnston was 23.

He was singled out as he turned up for work at the yard in February
1988 and shot dead by two gunmen because he was a part-time member of
the UDR. Like so many others, he joined the part-time force out of
conviction that he needed to do something to stop the IRA.

Alan Johnston, a friend of MP Jeffrey Donaldson, was a founder member
of the local pipe band, the Mourne Young Defenders, which travelled to
Dublin last weekend to march in his memory.

The others buried in Mourne Presbyterian are Norman Campbell, 19, an
RUC man who was academically gifted and a talented soccer and hockey
player.

Alexander Beck, a 37-year-old RUC constable married with two children,
was killed when his Land Rover was hit by an IRA rocket in Belfast.

George Beck, 43, also married with two children but no relation, and
another man, Harry Edgar, 26, a single man, complete the list of
congregation members murdered by the IRA.

They were construction workers contracted to fix the BBC transmitter at
Brougher Mountain in Co Tyrone and were killed with three other workmen
in an IRA landmine explosion in February 1971. 'The political wing of
the IRA has achieved a monopoly on victimology and whose skewed version
of the Troubles is the one believed by rioters in Dublin'

None had any connection with the security forces and it is believed the
IRA mistook their Land Rover for an army vehicle.

The Protestant dead in the graveyards in Kilkeel, like so many IRA
victims in graveyards in Northern Ireland, have been largely consigned
to the dustbin of modern Catholic Irish history.

What drove groups like FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives) to
choose to march through Dublin was to expose this hierarchy of
victimology where tribunals are held into British Army and loyalist
terrorist killings but no attention is paid to the IRA's atrocities.

FAIR leader Willie Frazer, who lost his father and several family
members and friends to the IRA, often points journalists to the fact
that while more than €200m has been spent on the Bloody Sunday
inquiry into 12 Catholics being shot by the British Army no one has
ever called for an inquiry into the Whitecross massacre in south Armagh
where the IRA shot dead 10 Protestant workmen in 1976.

Yet, the Southern media has consistently treated Frazer as an extreme
loyalist figure, reporting that he was turned down for a personal
protection firearm by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and
that his group had links with the Ku Klux Klan. This last claim arose
because a man associated with the KKK in the US contacted FAIR a couple
of years ago and then logged it on a website. While Frazer was branded
an extremist by the Southern media, little or no mention was made of
the fact that most of his group, as ex-members of the RUC and UDR, have
lost family or friends to the IRA.

FAIR is one of a number of groups which has sprung up in Northern
Ireland since the ceasefires as the Protestant - and some Catholic -
relatives of IRA victims have been increasingly appalled at the sight
of republicans who murdered their relatives being feted in the media
and receiving large public grants for their "ex-prisoner" and
"community" groups.

FAIR, like most of the other groups representing the IRA victims, have
had great difficulty in gaining grant aid from either Government or
from the billion-euro-plus disbursed by the EU "Peace Fund" set up in
1995. Last year FAIR was told it was not entitled to "peace" funding
because it did not engage with republican organisations which, as they
see it, means engaging with those who killed their relatives and who
remain unapologetic.

The decision to hold the march in Dublin was to highlight the anomalies
created over victimology in the post-Troubles "peace-process" period.
It was also prompted because FAIR, like other Protestant victims
groups, was appalled by the comparisons of Northern Protestants and
Nazi Germany made by President McAleese and Fr Alex Reid.

The fact that the march was unable to go ahead underlined their view
that there is still substantial ignorance about the suffering of
Protestants in the North.

Approximately the same numbers of Protestants and Catholics died in the
Troubles - around 1,200 Catholics and 1,200 Protestants, which includes
around 500 members of the RUC or Ulster Defence Regiment, later named
the Royal Irish Regiment. Of the 3,600 dead in the Troubles, over 2,100
were murdered by the IRA. The total number killed by security forces is
under 400.

The IRA was the biggest killer of Protestants, Catholics, policemen and
part-time soldiers. Its victims fill graveyards like Mourne
Presbyterian. But in the aftermath of the Troubles the political wing
of the IRA has achieved a monopoly on victimology and their skewed
version of the Troubles is the one believed by rioters in Dublin last
week.

Most young rioters have never heard of graves in Kilkeel or others in
the North's towns and villages because the voice of those dead
policemen, part-time soldiers and civilians has never been allowed to
be heard: one of the "peace process's" bleakest failures.

Jim Cusack

© Irish Independent http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ &
http://www.unison.ie/

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