Derek Mooney: A Tale of Two Tributes


From top: Gerry Adams (right) helps carry the coffin of Kevin McKenna, the former leader of the IRA from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s at his funeral in County Monaghan on June 27; The funeral of civil rights activist, former MP and one of the founding members of the SDLP, Ivan Cooper at St. Peter’s Church in Derry on June 28; Derek Mooney

Last week two lesser known but nonetheless extremely significant figures from the last half century of Northern Ireland’s history died.

While the pain, grief and sorrow and felt by the friends and family of both men was equal, the tributes given, at their respective funerals, to the lives they led and the key roles they played in forming today’s Northern Ireland could not have contrasted more.

While those tributes reflected the diverged paths they took, one in bringing communities together, the other in dividing them, champions of both would claim that each man was motivated equally by the pursuit of equality and civil rights.

The tributes, coming within days of each other, did more than point to the differing lives led, they also highlight the still glaring differences in interpretation of the origins of the troubles in Northern Ireland, but also to the conflicting views on where Northern Ireland goes next, and how.

Speaking at the graveside of the former Provo chief of staff Kevin McKenna in Monaghan last week, the former Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams TD, stood alongside his successor Mary Lou McDonald and sought justify the Provo’s 30 year campaign of senseless violence and terrorism.

Adams told the mourners that they were “right to fight” as the provisional movement’s cause was to end British rule in Ireland, violently.

Maybe Adams was suiting his words to the crowd, or to his party’s drubbing in elections both North and South, either way his words fly in the face of his assertion, only a year ago, that the Provo’s cause was the achievement of civil rights for all in Northern Ireland and that the war was foisted on it.

Whichever is the truth, it simply can’t be both.

Not that anyone in that cemetery was going to mention this incongruity to Adams, no more than they would ask: well, if the provos were so right why didn’t you join them?

Adams’ repeated assertion that the provos had not come to the war, but that the war had come to them is part of a long-standing campaign by this generation of Shinners to re-invent and re-write the history of the North from the mid-60s onwards.

Labelling their terrorist campaign a war is just one small part of the self-justification, the whole effort is based on a lie, a falsehood – namely that there was no alternative.

There was an alternative, only it was more than a mere alternative, it was the democratic route to progress. One of primary figures behind it was laid to rest last Friday in Derry.

In contrast to Adams’ rewriting of modern Irish history, the tribute given at Ivan Cooper’s funeral spoke of compassion and hope for the future.

That tribute, given by Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Derry, Robert Miller emphasized the journey that Ivan Cooper had taken and the important role that Ivan had played in uniting communities by fighting, non-violently, for the civil rights of all.

Rev Miller told the mourners gathered for Ivan’s funeral (which included me) that to truly celebrate Ivan Cooper’s life we must echo his voice, and be…

“…utterly, unequivocally committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland… So, let’s make Ivan’s vision a reality. Let’s make politics work.”

They were sentiments echoed by President Michael D Higgins, who attended Ivan’s funeral service. Speaking afterwards, President Higgins said that:

“…to his very last breath Ivan believed in hope and believed in possibility and believed, in fact, in taking the pieces of hope and turning them into something positive for everybody in a very inclusive way.”

So, which vision and which writing of recent Irish history are we to use as we face into the coming years where the future of Northern Ireland will loom large on the political agenda?

Brexit has done more than make the Irish border an issue, it has made Northern Ireland an issue, just as it has made the break-up of the whole United Kingdom a serious possibility, indeed a probability if Boris Johnson ends up in Number 10.

In an excellent analysis piece last Saturday, the Irish Times’ Fiach Kelly warns that the main threat from a no-deal Brexit crash-out is political and constitutional, not economic and that the Irish politics needs to wake up to this.

But even a soft, managed Brexit with some form of withdrawal agreement and political declaration would put Northern Ireland firmly on the political agenda here and its place on that agenda is only likely to rise as Scotland moves closer to a second independence referendum.

It is arguable that Irish voters are already ahead of the main parties on this one. Whatever its flaws and failings on party support levels, the RTÉ/TG4/RedC exit poll found significant support among Irish voters for a united Ireland.

In the exit poll 65% told pollsters that they would vote in favour of a united Ireland if a referendum was held tomorrow. This was at the same time that they told Sinn Féin Cllrs in the ballot box that it was time for half of them to go.

It looks like the Ivan Cooper view of how we got here and, most importantly, where we go next, shall indeed overcome.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010.  Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

Pics: YouTube/Rollingnews

18 thoughts on “Derek Mooney: A Tale of Two Tributes

  1. A Person

    Surely the expression an “united Ireland” is an oxymoron. They are a different country and have been for 100 years. Can we expect to just merge and all be happy? I will not be voting for that.

    1. postmanpat

      “united Ireland” means the terrorists win. So I’m against it. I hate Gerry Adams and his pig avatar.

        1. LeopoldGloom

          So do we go back to having several kingdoms? How far sighted to we need to be. The world has changed rapidly in the last 100 years. The Ireand that was divided then has not existed in some time, and not likely to. It’s a very different country now than what it was, and a reunification would be akin to joining 2 very different countries into one IMO

          1. scottser

            if you just go back to the act of union in 1800 you’ll find a plethora of nationalist organisations that renounced violence, from the united irishmen to the cultural nationalists to the home rulers and more.
            i am firmly in the nationalist camp and i want to see a 32 county republic. why wouldn’t i?
            i certainly wouldn’t be in favour of shooting my fellow countryman to achieve it though.

  2. eoin

    Yeah, yeah Derek, Gerry Adams gets to shoulder the coffin of giants in world history like Nelson Mandela, Micheal Martin gets to breathlessly vault over the headstones in some rural cemetery to say “sorry for your loss” to the widow of some lifelong gombeen. It’s poles apart, isn’t it.

    1. Rob_G

      Michael Martin, for all of his failings, has never ordered a mother of ten children to be shot in the head and dumped on a beach.*


      1. italia'90

        Gerry Adams is an unconvicted war criminal based on the oral testimony contained in the Boston College Tapes – you’re more than likely aware of that I’m sure.

        Michael Martin and every last grifter and dingleberry hanging on to that disgusting, Taliban styled party should be lined up and shot with balls of their own faeces for their contribution to the thousands of suicide victims brought about by the wilful mismanagement of this countrys fiscal affairs, gross incompetence and wreckless abandonment of the social contract.

        Berties’ repeated assertion that the soldiers of destiny had not come to the Irish banking financial crisis, but that the Irish banking financial crisis had come to them is part of a long-standing campaign by this generation of Fianna Failures to re-invent and re-write the history of the finacial crash from 2010 onwards.

        1. Rob_G

          It’s awful when anyone takes their own life; but the suicide rate in Ireland peaked in 2001, at the height of Celtic Tiger, not during the crash.

          You’re literally comparing apples to murderous child-rapists.

          1. italia'90

            2001 – 519
            2008 – 506
            2009 – 552
            2010 – 495
            2011 – 554
            2012 – 541
            2013 – 487
            2014 – 486

            When it comes to suicides, CSO figures are limited to deaths that are definitively determined to have been intentional, and campaigners and professionals in related fields have often warned these figures may be understating the true numbers. These figures do not include any “Undetermined” or “Death by misadventure” statistics from coroners reports.
            Then there’s the questionable practices of recording suicides by the garda… and throw in the fact that some life insurance policies are voided by suicide and you might see a different picture.

          2. Rob_G

            I believe the figures you posted are the absolute numbers – the population of Ireland grew between 2001 and 2011, so the even though a greater number of people took their own lives in the latter, the rate was higher in the former.

            I’m not sure what your point is anyway – yes, people killed themselves under FF’s tenure, and yes, this is a tragedy. Did the policies of the government of the day contribute somewhat, in at least some of these deaths, along with myriad other factors – quite probably. I’m not sure how this really compares with ordering someone dragged out out of their home in front of their children and shot in the head – your post smacks of whataboutery.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    Ivan Cooper was so committed , RIP. Out of all the horrendous recent history, there were a handful of brave politicians on all three sides that were selfless and determined.

  4. RuilleBuille

    All the political parties on this island – with the exception of the Green Party (and some would argue with that) – were born of violent protagonists. Including Mr Rooney’s party.

    He is spouting hypocritical nonsense.

    1. Rob_G

      Most of these men of violence from the other parties are dead decades and decades; SF still use unrepentant child murderers on the canvas today.

  5. michael

    Mooney shows his slanted POV has caused him to ignore the facts. Perhaps he is telling lies? Who knows but this is typical of those who accepted #Section31 & its version of events.
    The war certainly did come to my community and that was before PIRA existed. It came in the shape of a Unionist bombing campaign through 1969 which culminated in Europe’s biggest Pogrom since the Nazis when @uuponline allowed RUC/BSpecials to commit WarCrimes (see Geneva Convention & 50mm cannon use) against those seeking Universal Suffrage – me and mine. The term War was introduced to the dirty little conflict we endured by an English politician in July 1970. If Derek wishes I will tell him who, why, where.
    The cruelties committed by all cannot be excused but people like Derek living the 26Cos before the Troubles broke out had blood on their hands too for ignoring the situation in the north for decades. Maybe Derek hopes his lies/ignorance or whatever will help the cause of Peace? Many people are daft. Ivan Cooper was not daft and oft repeated the fact that he knew on the evening of 31st January 1972 that UK had gone too far since assuming security control in the north in 1969 prior to that evening but on that fateful day – going by his own words and those of others – he knew UK had killed off NICRA by their violent actions against unarmed people.
    I gotta say I am very angry at Derek and his False Facts and the idiots who have supported this article without having a clue about the full facts. I, my friends, my family have been refugees and victims and bereaved but unlike Postman above I know no-one who hates anyone else.
    Its often that way that those affected by something take a more measured view of it and its the idiots like Postman who hate something they are not really sure of. Hitler built an Outrage on such ignorant fervour.
    Dear me!

  6. roddy

    Micheal Martin’s predecessors including a Cork FF TD disappeared men women and children and subsequently boasted about having their own private graveyards for the job.

  7. michael

    How unfair of Roddy to mention such a truth as this.
    Only when ALL the hypocrisy and lies and lazy journalism such as Mooney’s piece here are despatched to the dunghill will we be able to find a true peace and situ on our island to suit all POVs & hopes & aspirations.
    For us in the north – especially us who had grandparents who fought in War of Independence – the High Hypocrisy of the Lloyd George’s southern state is a HUGE obstruction to a fair peace.
    Early in 90s I was part of a group from Unionist/Republican/Nationalist backgrounds who met to discuss our situ. We were all good people trying to learn about each others fears and wishes. Many such contacts were made in secret. At the time I’m quite sure Mooney wud have been one of those condemning John Hume for making such moves with Gerry Adams and Church Leaders. Say what you like about Adams but he was moving more dangerous waters than any other Leader trying to find a way out. Mooney shud reflect on that because up here we know the years Adams put into this as he lived with threats from all. He is no saint but he was a Peacemaker. Such praise will never come Mooney’s craven way.

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