Letters: Malcolm Cox, January 29, 2016

Margaret Thatcher when prime minister ANL-150616-120303001
Margaret Thatcher when prime minister ANL-150616-120303001
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Ronald Mortimor’s response (January 15) to my letter was sadly another confused rant, indeed an almost comical caricature of me that I reckon I deserve a reply. When politicians write their memoirs they unsurprisingly add their own gloss.

In her “Downing St Years” Margaret Thatcher applies it liberally. John Major is more forthcoming. In his memoirs he acknowledges contact with the IRA via “the back channels.” These are the “intermediaries.” Moreover he goes further. First blaming “a typographical error” and then blaming a civil servant for “an unauthorised discussion with Martin McGuiness.” Released National Archives now inform us that “Margaret Thatcher took part in negotiations with the IRA during the 1981 Hunger Strikes.” The contacts took place through an MI6 officer and a secret back-channel to the IRA code-named Soon. Soon was Londonderry businessman Brendan Duddy. Mr Taylor (journalist) said Mrs Thatcher altered by hand one statement sent to the IRA. “When I read these documents I was astonished, I think that they are revelatory and of genuine historical importance because they give lie to all sorts of assumptions that were made incorrectly about the Hunger Strikes and the relationship between the government and the IRA.” I can confidently repeat therefore that while Mr Mortimor risked life and limb on the streets of Ulster, the Conservative Government he so admires had secret talks with the IRA while Mr Corbyn openly met with Sinn Fein in search of peace. Now to more of Mr Mortimor’s nonsense. Mr Corbyn is not “my idol.” Mr Mortimor has obviously not understood my previous letters. The narrative remains, do not believe all the distortions of the conservative (small c) press, show a little more balance. As I approach my eighth decade I have learned not to seek “political idols.” There are many historical figures I admire, alas not of this century.

And now adopting your style, I address you directly Mr Mortimor. On the subject of Anglo-Irish history, and there is no other way to say this, you remain very ignorant, this is evident from your other comments. Your view of me (“fireside fusilier”) apparently consuming endless cups of tea and coffee and wearing out endless “pairs of slippers”, enjoying the privilege of a “comfy bed at night,” is merely bluster which exposes the paucity of your argument. The gist of course is that I as a civilian could not possibly compare with your frontline experience. Of course, I cannot match that and, yet another defensive ploy, I did not ask you to apologise for “serving your country.” Your performed your duty honourably. I actually prefer the term “serving my community”, many of us civilians do that in all sorts of ways. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” And of course those politicians who put you in harm’s way, Mr Mortimor, were likewise enjoying the comfortable bed and presumably the “cups of tea and slippers.”

Malcolm Cox, Terrington St Clement