The key American supporter of IRA dissidents has said that the deadly attacks on British soldiers and a Northern Ireland policeman last week were inevitable. While the rest of the world reacted angrily and massive demonstrations for peace were held in Ireland, the small cadre of dissident supporters in America stuck to their guns.
John McDonagh, head of the Irish Freedom Committee said that the dissidents who carried out the attacks “probably couldn’t care less about this peace process, because it means nothing to ending the partition of Ireland.”
McDonagh, a Manhattan cab driver is a former U.S. Army soldier and describes himself as a cabdriver, comic and political activist.
McDonagh, who also hosts a weekly program on WBAI called Radio Free Eireann said he was a supporter of the political aims of the dissident IRA groups but “if they take it to another level that’s up to them. That has nothing to do with me.”
McDonagh was speaking to a Columbia University journalism school student Luis Andres Henao. He said: “ I sympathize more with the political end of it.”
McDonagh also had strong words for Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness who has spoken out strongly against the violence and called its perpetrators ‘traitors.”
McGuinness said the perpetrators of these murders had “betrayed the desires and political aspirations of all the people who live on this island and they don’t deserve to be supported by anyone”.
“The message from America has been loud and clear and we know that all Americans stand with us to ensure the success of the peace process,” McGuinness said.
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He also asked to the nationalist community to help the police services north and south to defeat the insurgents who he called "traitors."
“There is a duty on me to lead from the front,” he said.
McDonagh however, disagreed strongly with the McGuinness statements. “He is a British Minster of State, he is paid by the British Government, when he retires the British Government will pay his pension, as a minister that served the British crown for a job well done, so Martin McGuiness, how he can make that statement when he’s the actual one propping up the six county state,” he said.
McDonagh said it was necessary to take a long-term view about the roots of the conflict. “You have to look at it from a historical point of view, like people saying ‘the guys who did this were against the peace process’. No, I say the guys who did this were probably against the Treaty that was signed in 1920 that partitioned the country, because they’re fighting to end the partition."
McDonagh claimed that his organization will hold a fundraising event in Manhattan shortly and that proceeds will go to families of dissidents who have been jailed.
He said that his organization's task was to “highlight what’s going on in Ireland, highlight how Provisional Sinn Fein has sold out the Republican movement and raise money for the families for the people that go to jail. I mean there’s over 100 political prisoners both sides of the border and the money goes to help support those families, and now with these shootings I’ve no doubt that there’ll be more arrests and people stitched up.”
McDonagh claimed his organization would continue despite the huge public outcry against the killings. “This is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t begin and end because Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness signed a piece of paper on behalf of the British stating that they will not resist British in Ireland anymore, and they think because they signed the piece of that everyone else should not resist.”
However, McGuinness said the overwhelming number of Americans supported the process. “I think people over here recognize that there is overwhelming support across every community for what we are doing. These people are trying to destroy the peace process and they have no prospect of success. “
In a bizarre twist McDonagh’s radio program was highlighted as a sponsor on the Mets big screen at a recent summer baseball game.
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