Semantic moral gymnastics about ‘one man’s freedom fighter’ not withstanding, someone who has been convicted of bombing civilian targets and is directly implicated in the eight murders which resulted, is unambiguously a terrorist. Brian Keenan, the violent republican extremist who died of cancer last week, carried responsibility for many more murders and there is not a shadow of doubt that any right thinking person will have abhorred this man’s legacy and adjudged the manner in which he chose to use his talents wholly despicable.
That republicans celebrate Keenan’s life and regard him as a hero is of course unsurprising. Their viewpoint is indefensible and it is a reminder of precisely the character of people we are dealing with as regards Provisional Sinn Féin and its supporters. It is still less of a surprise to find that the Andersonstown News contains a glowing and sinister tribute to Keenan within its pages. Those who are responsible for this paper and its stable mates are disgraceful, unacceptable people.
Under a headline which reads ‘Brian: a Soldier of Ireland’ we read that the paper considers Keenan “exemplified everything that was fine and decent about republicanism and the republican struggle”. A turn of phrase which ironically highlights precisely that republicanism and the republican struggle epitomise the very opposite of everything which is fine and decent.
Unfortunately one of the ambivalences of enjoying the pluralism and freedom which living in the UK ensures is that detestable people have the right to publicly air their detestable views. Whilst Keenan and his fascist colleagues attempted to bomb a dissenting majority into a united Ireland, they simultaneously enjoyed the protections which living in the state they so reviled afforded. When they made their pragmatic decision to cease killing it allowed their agenda an ever greater airing.
It is not incumbent on the government however, to publicly fund the dissemination of these disgraceful views. The supreme irony is that Martin Miller and his cronies have lacerated the government for insufficiently subsidising the hate spewed from their newspapers, whilst simultaneously drawing substantial quantities of funding.
I would submit that all the funding should be stopped.