Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Horror at Celtic fans terrorist display at UEFA Champions League match

Football fans reacted with horror after a banner praising provisional IRA terrorist Bobby Sands was displayed by Celtic supporters at last nights UEFA Champions League game between Celtic and Italian giant AC Milan.
Few words better sum up the life of Bobby Sands than those of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who commented that he was “… a convicted criminal who chose to take his own life…”
Sands joined the PIRA in 1972, after being involved in sectarian violence in Belfast for some time, which saw entire Protestant communities forced from areas of the city. As part of the sectarian campaign in Belfast the PIRA attempted to create safe areas from which to operate; entire streets and   areas were ethnically cleansed of Protestants.

The strategy was two-fold, primarily strategic as they attempted to create No-Go areas in which the terrorists could exert control over communities and also strike out at the security forces and the unionist community. It was also sectarian in nature, evidenced by the targets and the methodology of the terrorists. The nature of these attacks is best exemplified by Bloody Friday, 21 July 1972, when the indiscriminate terrorist bombing of civilian targets reached its bloody crescendo. By the end of that day, the PIRA's Belfast brigade had detonated at least 20 bombs across the city. Its original aim was also to catch those fleeing from the city centre at bus and train depots, with secondary devices. In just 75 minutes of violence and confusion, nine people were dead and some 130 more were mutilated, injured and mentally scarred by what they had witnessed.

The scale of the attack was huge, with two car bombs that between them claimed  nine lives - one at the Oxford Street bus station in the city centre, the other outside shops in Cavehill Road where the victims were two women and a 14-year-old schoolboy. At Oxford St, the busiest bus station in Northern Ireland, four Ulsterbus workers and two soldiers were killed. When the emergency services reached the scene, they found that some of the victims had been literally blown to pieces, leading to initial estimates of a death toll of 11. Of the 130 injured, 77 were women or children out shopping in the city centre.

Bobby Sands was involved in many of these bomb attacks which claimed countless lives in Belfast. His reign of terror thankfully was halted in October 1972, when he was arrested and charged with possession, after an arms dump containing four handguns were found in a safe house in which he was staying. Sentenced to three years imprisonment where he further developed his terrorist skills, upon release in 1976 he returned to his local unit and recommenced his criminal activity.

Within six months he was arrested again. This time he and a nine man team had been assembled. Their target - The Balmoral Furniture Company on the Upper Dunmurry Lane. Quite what this store had done on Republicans or how its destruction could further their dream of a United Ireland is beyond comprehension. However it must have been deemed a dangerous enough military objective that it would take no less than nine volunteers to ensure its destruction!

This attack was part of a campaign by Republicans based in the Twinbrook area to attack and force Protestant businesses and residents from that area. The IRA had targeted the store, in the full knowledge of the risk to staff and shoppers. The only reason that Republicans can cite for the attack was “...the extravagantly-priced furniture it sold…”. The plan was to petrol bomb the premises and then to lay explosive charges to spread the flames.

The attackers left nothing to chance taking weapons and explosives. However the swift and courageous action by an RUC patrol led to the wounding of two terrorists and arrest of all six. Officers although outnumbered and at considerable risk to themselves returned fire and injured two terrorists Seamus Martin and Gabriel Corbett. The other four arsonists failed in a farcical attempt to escape by car, and surrendered to police. They included Bobby Sands and Joe O’Donnell who would both later die on hunger strike. Also in the car were Seamus Finucane, brother of Patrick Finucane, and Sean Laverty. The arresting police found a handgun in the car; however the four terrorists appeared too frightened to put up any resistance.

Sands was held on remand for eleven months until his trial in September 1977 where he refused to recognise the court. Despite this contempt for the court he and the other four were sentenced to fourteen years each for possession of the revolver. He entered prison relatively unknown, another young volunteer with no family ties to the movement who had been sucked in like hundreds of others. There was little of note about Sands other than his close relationship with the then leading East Belfast Republican Denis Donaldson.

Shown here in a photograph taken and smuggled out of the Maze Prison, which has become an icon in Republican areas, Donaldson is shown on the left. He has of course been air-brushed out of Republican accounts recently. However it is a matter of fact that he too was a Hunger Striker in 1980 and a key prison strategist who helped plan the 1981 Strike. Perhaps Republicans ought to ask questions about whose idea the Strikes really were ?

Given the failure of the First Hunger Strike in 1980 which left many of the original Republican leadership in the jail close to death a new generation of leadership developed. Sands, something of a compromise candidate became the O.C. of the PIRA in the Maze Prison. He had previously been the Public Relations Officer during the Dirty Protest and succeeded Brendan Hughes as O.C., becoming the public face of the terrorist starvation strategy, and was put forward as a candidate in a local by-election in 1981

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...