This blog has been of a mind to write a frivolous piece for some time now about the citizens who comment on these musings of mine. In particular about the ones who get annoyed for no good reason. For example Anonymous, who is beside himself or herself because I refer to this blog as this blog.
Or the Saint Galls amadán who accuses me of bias against the All-Ireland champions when I have nothing but admiration for them, to the point where I am endeavouring to have our City Council and our Minister of Arts, Culture and Leisure Nelson McCausland host receptions for Naomh Gall.
This blog has already hosted a Stormont reception for this wonderful Gaelic sporting institution. That was a few years ago when a good time was had by all and the bar bill was more than this blog and your man could bear. This time the state and the city burghers should pay. Naomh Gall Gaels deserve it.
But to other matters. An old friend of mine, Brendan Hughes, has been in the news this week. The Irish News actually devoted eight pages on one day and three pages another day to a book containing interviews with Brendan.
This book by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre appears to be a rerun of an earlier tome by Ed Moloney.
Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre have written books and countless articles attacking me, and in its time the IRA leadership.
I knew Brendan Hughes well. Better than Ed Moloney or Anthony McIntyre. And I cared more for him and about him than they ever will. Some time I hope to get the space to reflect on my life with Brendan and the separate twists and turns of his life, and mine.
He wasn’t well and hadn’t been for a very long time, including during the time he did these interviews.
He also carried with him an enormous sense of guilt over events surrounding the first hunger strike. This made him very vulnerable even before his health deteriorated.
However, that is no excuse for his involvement in this book.
Brendan also opposed the peace process. That was his right. His assertion that the struggle was not worth it is wrong.
The fact is that the decisions taken collectively by republicans have improved the quality of life for people across this island; have ensured the growth of republican politics and created a new and dynamic context in which there is the potential to achieve reunification and independence.
Brendan could and should have been part of this. For a mixture of reasons he wasn’t. That was his choice. Like everything else he was involved in. Big boys didn’t make him do it.
I reject any suggestion by Ed Moloney, or anyone else for that matter, that I have ever sought to distance myself or to disassociate myself from the IRA.
Anyone who recalls the years of conflict and the countless interviews I gave, and still give, in which this issue is raised, will know that I am the person most frequently interviewed about the IRA and who defended the right of the IRA to engage in armed struggle, which thankfully now has ended.
I am proud of my association with the IRA. It was not a perfect organisation and it made many mistakes. Its business was war and in the madness that is war the IRA did many things which deeply hurt people.
I regret that very much and I have worked with others to ameliorate this. Some victims’ families do not accept this. That is their entitlement. I reject absolutely any accusation that I had any hand or part in the killing and disappearing of Jean McConville or in any of the other allegations that are being promoted by Ed Moloney.
The issue of the disappeared is a terrible legacy of the conflict. A grievous wrong has been done to these families. Republicans are trying to right this wrong and have been trying to do so for some years.
The effort to do this was initiated by me after I was approached by some of the families involved. There are many other initiatives, mostly private, to bring healing to victims of the conflict. Republicans are very centrally involved, in personal as well as more formal elements of this.
Some of the allegations made against me are very serious indeed and, bizarrely, by an accuser who is not here to stand over his claims. I feel sorry for him.
Every other republican I have spoken to has a totally different view. As I have said before on other occasions, there are many people who would be prepared to give an account of their actions during the war and who would have the courage to do this while they are still alive. A process to do this is needed.
They include republicans, loyalists, unionist politicians, British politicians and British state forces. And me.
I have made it clear to both governments and in public remarks that the legacy of the past requires an independent, international truth commission to be established by an acceptable and reputable international body. It is a matter of public record that I personally would be prepared to give evidence and to encourage others to give evidence to such a genuine truth recovery process.