American misconception: IRA

By Kelly McKee
April 21, 2005

Recently, there has been much coverage in the news about the position of Sinn Fein as a political party in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein basically rallies for a United Ireland, meaning the six counties of Northern Ireland, presently under British rule, being returned to Irish rule. Sinn Fein has always had associations with the terrorist organization, the Irish Republican Army (IRA); and it has been this association that has recently gotten them into trouble. Most recently, the sisters of a murdered Catholic man from Belfast came to Washington to protest at the IRA’s cowardice in not admitting blame for this incident, and Sinn Fein’s deception in their failure to encourage admittance from them. The McCartney sisters, along with many other Northern Ireland citizens, believe that the current IRA are no longer the freedom-fighting brotherhood of their origin but are now merely a terrorist organization, thigh-deep in drugs, gun-running and money laundering

With this media spotlight on my country’s situation, what has really been getting under my skin are the perceptions of uneducated supporters in this area, who support the IRA as a republican party. I’m not saying that it is wrong for people to support the republican cause because after all, freedom of choice is a constitutional right. However, I feel that outright support for the terrorist army, the IRA, is just as bad as supporting a killer on death row. Lately, I feel that everywhere I go I am slapped in the face with advertisements for this terror group. Even here at Cabrini, a catholic college of goodwill, I have seen t-shirts showing an armed, masked gunman next to the words “IRA- undefeated.” When I think of the many lives that have been lost due to this organization, it literally makes my blood boil to see supporters brazenly showcasing their work.

Also at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Philadelphia, I was taken back by the open support for the IRA. I had expected to see campaigners for Sinn Fein and similar political group as I understand the strength of the Southern Irish heritage in this city. I did not, however, expect to see men, women and even young children walk with stickers of IRA support decorating their bodies.

What angers me even more is that this paraphernalia and propaganda must be purchased somewhere, with the profits going towards arming this organization. From brief research online I was able to find a lot of IRA websites that sold merchandise. Some items, such as street signs proudly displaying a commando with the words “sniper at work,” made me queasy. And it got worse; this item had sold in its hundreds to citizens of the U.S. Here, where only a few years ago hundreds had feared for their lives due to the Washington sniper, and here, where terrorist organizations similar to the IRA are being hunted down in Iraq and Afghanistan by their own families, citizens still support an organization that has murdered countless innocent citizens for being the wrong religion.

I am not just being biased towards the republican cause and the IRA. Similarly, if I saw endorsement of the extreme loyalist cause and their terrorist organizations I would be just as angered. But as it is, it is the republican cause that continues to remain the romantic, heroic cause to support. Arms are tattooed with “Ireland forever” and “Ireland will rise,” posters of freedom fighters such as hunger- striker Bobby Sands adorn dormitory walls and “Brits out” is the call of the day at local Irish bars I have visited.

So to anyone reading this that does share in these beliefs, of course support the Irish republican beliefs if that’s what you feel is right, but please don’t support this terrorist organization. Even today, the IRA violently states their cause. Imagine if I wore a “Support Al Qaeda” t-shirt to a Cabrini event or had posters of Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein on my walls. I don’t think I would be too popular. Do you?

Posted to the by Shane Evans

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Kelly McKee

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