(First off I want to say - I’m not trying to make a poltical statement here - just express my mind - so take it please as simply my thoughts on paper)
The recent wars in Afganistan, Iraq and the sad dead of Pat Tillman have made me think quite a bit about the whole issue of terrorism.
I’d like to give you my perspective on things as it is alittle different from many others.
Let me first lay out my position and my background.
I am Irish, my born in Northern Ireland and for all my 34 years I have lived in a war-zone and known nothing but ‘the troubles’.
For those who aren’t aware …
About 900 years ago Ireland was invaded by Britain and for all those 900 years the Irish nation rose up on many occasions to try and obtain its freedom.
The country was ‘planted’ by the British - planted was where Protestant people were given land taken form the native Catholic Irish who were forced to live in poverty.
1 million Irish died during the Great Irish Famine in the 1840’s where the native Irsh were so poor and couldn’t feed themselves.
The Irish who were 100% Catholic were forbidden to practise their religon and many priests were murdered for attempting to celebrate the faith.
In 1916 a small group of Irish men attempted a rebellion to free Ireland so that Ireland could be a democratic republic rulled by the Irish.
The badly organised rising was crushed and it’s 7 leaders executed for treason after a trial
- one James Connolly was so badly injured he was shot while tied in a chair as he couldn’t stand up.
The brutality of the executions prompted the Irish into forming the Irish Republican Armay (IRA).
It became a small guerilla army and began a war which lasted originally until 1921 when the small Irish nation managed to force the might of the British Empire into giving 2/3’s of Ireland it’s independence.
The rest became known as Northen Ireland or the 6 counties where the majority of the originally planted Protestants were left.
For years they refused Catholics basic civil rights or state jobs and monopolised the state instituions, police and army.
Until 1969 when the Catholics of the North began to demonstrate - then the British army shot 13 innocents dead.
The guerrilla war continued by the IRA in the North so as they could enjoy their freedom as they saw it.
The IRA aimed their war at the British occupying forces and the loyalist/Protestant peoples of the North.
Sadly many innocent people died - killed by both sides - as always happens in war.
Many of those who were caught viewed themsleves as soldiers and demanded POW status.
This was refused by the British Government and they used the only/final option open to them - hunger strike -
Many young Northern Irish Catholic men such as Bobby Sands who gave his life - starving himself to death for 75 long days so his fellow men could be seen as POWs not criminals.
After 10 men had died and the hunger strike ended - the IRA men eventually got their POW status.
This is why Northern Ireland has been a war zone for all my life.
Every morning I woke to here on the news of another British Soldier shot dead, another innocnet Catholic shot dead or another town blown up.
I don’t for a minute justify murder - I cannot - and I have lost friends who fought for what they belived in - whether right or wrong.
My question is - are the people who fought and died for their freedom terrorists or are they freedom fighters?
Where would Patrick Tillman stand if he was in my shoes?
I didn’t join the IRA even though on many occasions it weighed heavily on my mind.
Often I asked myself - should I go and fight for what I belive in? can I justify war and murder?
Was I a coward?
Now - some won’t agree with me … but I tell you - I am a level-headed and reasonable person and … I LIVED through it.
I know young men my own age who saw their brothers shot dead by the British Army in cold blood.
Many of my friends were regularly beaten coming home late or if picked up by the Northern Ireland Protestant police force, questioned for hours and tortured.
Many of them joined the IRA following these experinces and repaid their hurt by blowing up barracks and shooting soldiers.
Many lost years in prison.
Many escaped to the Irish community in the U.S.
Many died in action.
These were buried as heroes, carried high with the Irish flag and the IRA beret and gloves on their coffins.
The final good-bye being a hail of Gunfire by masked IRA soldiers over their coffin as the Britsh Helicopters hummed overhead.
Who can tell them they were wrong? - Me?
The point I make is - one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist.
I guess I just view war a little different to many others …