“They kept faith with the republican past..”

1 views

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams speaking at his party’s commemoration of five men who died when a bomb they had been preparing exploded prematurely at a farm house at Edentubber in 1957 during the IRA’s Border campaign.

“They kept faith with the republican past and they ensured the future of our struggle.”

Ah, but did they have popular support and a “strategy to achieve a united Ireland”? And, btw, weren’t you always “of the view that no military solution was possible”? Just checking.. Or rather, checking..

, , , ,

  • kisdo

    Popular support? Yes Pete I think they did have popular support. 50 years ago. There was a military solution. Times and technology change: a United Ireland ruled democratically as a Republic Independent with all people’s religious beliefs and cultures protected. Once that is denied. then I dono what other avenue is open to retrieve it.

  • Nevin

    “all people’s religious beliefs and cultures protected.”

    The Provisional Republican Movement can hardly be accused of offering that, not least when you think of Enniskillen et al 20 years ago.

  • harry

    hold on,

    adams is yet again talking out his arse at edentubber. he shows up to the honor dead ira men killed an ira bomb. these guys have entered the patheon of republican heroes.

    but clearly they had no popular support— their campaign lasted a year or two.

    they had no significant electoral support

    they had no strategy for a united ireland— blowing up customs houses etc

    how did any of the actions of the IRA Operation Harvest bring a united ireland closer.

    if the edentubber martyrs had not killed themselves, then they would have done murder on the RUC.

    yet Chuckle McG leveled the exact same standards off the guys who shot that cop in derry the other day.

    the edebtubber martyr had nothing to offer the people of ireland, by gerry’s logic.

  • http://sammymorse.blogspot.com Sammy Morse

    Reality check folks. Republicans are not going to stop commemorating their dead. I might well feel that their deaths were pointless, self-inflicted, and came in the pursuit of a cause that was both futile in practical terms and immoral in its methods. Republicans are still going to commemorate their dead.

    Get over it.

    Frankly, I’m a lot more annoyed by Ogra SFers running around Belfast City Centre with replica firearms than any verbal gymnastics Gerry Adams gets up to at a Republican commemoration.

  • veritas

    Martyrs? they blew themselves up with their own bomb -instead of some other people.A taste of their own medicine.Those who live by the sword….

  • The Penguin

    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers (leaders?) lied.”

    Rudyard Kipling (the insert is mine)

  • kisdo

    Nevin
    the IRA did not go out to kill innocent people at Enniskillen they targeted British military occupation forces. Innocent people died. tragic blunder. Those lads in Edentubber were preparing a bomb to kill illegal immoral occupation forces and their allies. They were liberation fighters. Simple fact Ireland the Irish are right the foreigners (British) are wrong.
    Why are you scared of the truth?

  • Nevin

    Is Gerry talking about a ‘micro group’ in 1957 keeping faith with the republican past?

  • harry

    plus..

    all that sf can offer their grass roots supporters is a constant diet of commemorations for this that and other.

    it gives the people on the ground something to do. turn up at a commemoration, here some bulshit provie speech about never giving up, keeping the faith etc.

    i have been at plenty to see what exactly happens. the leaders, well they are too fucking important to walk the mile or so of the march.

    you never see gerry and conor murphy walking along wih the 5/8s. no the appear at graveside make a speech to keep the people happy and then fuck off to whatever drinks reception they have in hillsbororgh that evening.

    the people go home with a little more faith in how really psf are keeping the cause alive.

    then of course the 5/8 doesnt have to wory about

    the general crapness of Catroina over classroom assistants (socialism indeed)

    conor “watertap” murphy cleverly getting water charges in.

    or the laughable attendance of 4 sf councillors at ennniskillen poppy day/bomb anniversary memorial

  • veritas

    Kisdo and if I remember right sinn fein said it was the british army who set it off deliberately-aye right.

  • Pete Baker

    Sammy

    See the update to the original post for one reason why it might be important to pay attention to those verbal gymnastics.

  • harry

    the psf leaders have led the cause of a 32 socialist republic in a cul de sac.

    no wonder ian paisley is laughing everyday.

    he cannot believe this luck

    psf are now the SDLP.

  • Nevin

    Kisdo, I should imagine the same people/groups had been probably standing in much the same spot as they’d stood in previous years. Ditto for those in Pettigo where the attack failed.

    How are the ‘micro groups’ of today different from the ‘micro groups’ of 1957?

  • justthoughtidask

    kisdo

    Which, as you well know, doesn’t go any way towards explaining the other bomb in Fermanagh that day which failed to go off, where only local Boys Brigade and Girl Guides were due to be present.

    Or the fact that, after claiming for 6 months it was British dirty tricks. Then admitting responsibility when they had no other option but said the timing was wrong. The IRA couldn’t explain why they gave no warning when they realised only civilians were there at Eniskillen.

    You, me and everybody knows it was designed to kill Prods.

    If you are so proud of the brave volunteers then stand over their actions!

  • kisdo

    Nevin
    thats why the IRA didnt set the bomb off. MI5 did. just as they allowed Omagh to happen. veritas you are right the British did allow it to happen. We need to control our own destinies we need independence. And Ireland is under British control at the minute.

  • kisdo

    justthoughtidask
    tell the MI5 commander to stand over Her actions. “Prods” were never targets of the IRA. If the IRA wanted to kill prods or english people they would have killed thousands. Commercial targets were always pre warned.

  • http://sammymorse.blogspot.com Sammy Morse

    See the update to the original post for one reason why it might be important to pay attention to those verbal gymnastics.

    Sorry, but I don’t agree Pete.

    Are you trying to say that Sinn Féin have performed ideological somersaults over the past couple of years? That this becomes particularly apparent when they commemorate the past as they now condemn what was once core political principle? That all this makes the squandering of hundreds of, mostly very young, Irish lives seem particularly wasteful and pointless? This is all true, but it’s hardly news Pete.

    I wouldn’t subscribe to much of what Gerry Adams said today, but nor would I subscribe to the sub-imperialist nonsense I had to sit through at church this morning (no, British soldiers in Iraq are not fighting for my freedom and loyalty to one’s country is not a Christian virtue), and I for a moment silently wished for a machine gun when I encountered the bare-faced cheek of the Tiger’s Bay UDA Remembrance Day parade this morning (remember how much you charged Dean Clarke for that load of ketamine?).

    Commemorating the dead, especially when those deaths were futile, brings out a lot of silliness in people. I still think the best policy is to shut up and let people get on with it. Collective grieving is something that people are best left to handle for themselves even if one might think they are going about it in a particularly silly way.

  • Pete Baker

    It may be “hardly news” to you, Sammy. But it’s important to note nonetheless.

    Not least when it comes on the back of the deputy First Minister’s contrasting view of current events – nevermind Gerry Adams’ statement about his own view of the chances of a military success.

    The importance lies in, as the link I added states, “the first step [towards a benign union of minds and hearts] is to act with good authority by telling the truth to your own tribe”

  • Rory

    The honour given by Republicans to their dead requires neither explaination nor vindication nor would it be meet to attempt some twisted ahistorical analysis of the motivation or strategy of the fallen of former days at the time of such commemoration.

    Sammy Morse has expressed the grace and broader humanity of one who recognises that. It is a sad shame that there are some who apparently are deficient in such grace.

  • Tkmaxx

    Kisdo
    Is your head up your ass? The IRA had a popular mandate in the 1950s? You must be joking. Read the propaganda of modern SF, – their forefathers were ‘incompetent, ultra catholic and out of touch’. If you want proof don’t go further than the writings of the SF leader!

  • Pete Baker

    Yeah, Rory, nevermind about hypocrisy from public representatives.. no doubt Trotsky wouldn’t care either..

  • kensei

    “The importance lies in, as the link I added states, “the first step [towards a benign union of minds and hearts] is to act with good authority by telling the truth to your own tribe””

    What did Adams say that is untrue, in the strictest sense? Those men certainly acted consistently with the Republican past; the border campaign does feed into Republican mythology: evidenced by the fact it’s being commemorated now. You differ on whether it was a good thing or not; but what’s new?

    Moreover, if you actually read the quote you make with regards to “no military solution possible”, Adams prefaces it with “By the mid to late seventies….” and goes onto to say that he thought “armed struggle” was a defensible position. If you really wanted to make a point, there are comments on dissident Republicans on the very same page you link to.

    I am sure there a number of lessons Adams could elucidate on the efficacy of violence or otherwise. I don’t think a Republican commemoration is the time or the place for it; nor would the audience by particularly receptive to hearing it.

    Personally, the strength of the condemnation of the Paul Quinn murder was what caught my eye most of all on that. Then again, I’m sure you could pull out about 50 red links showing how the inconsistency of this. And it’d be equally futile.

  • Pete Baker

    “I am sure there a number of lessons Adams could elucidate on the efficacy of violence or otherwise. I don’t think a Republican commemoration is the time or the place for it; nor would the audience by particularly receptive to hearing it.”

    No shit, Sherlock.

    Kinda the point though.

  • kensei

    “No shit, Sherlock.

    Kinda the point though. ”

    No, it’s you missing it. We have got where we are because Adams and co didn’t pick a Republican rallies to go “You know what lads, this is all fucking horseshit”, because if they had, they wouldn’t have held their position very long, and even if they had held on, one would have listened. I know you have the whole righteous voice of truth schtick going on there, but really, I don’t think we’d be here, flawed as it is, if they have adopted it.

    I doubt we’ll ever hear Adams come out with the type of rhetoric you’d like. But I think the SF leadership is still continuing a slow drift away from the violent past, and continuing to try and take people with them: the apology to Colin Parry, however inadequate you feel it, is evidence of that.

  • The Dubliner

    “We have got where we are because Adams and co didn’t pick a Republican rallies to go “You know what lads, this is all fucking horseshit”, because if they had, they wouldn’t have held their position very long, and even if they had held on, one would have listened.”

    So, Adams was sort of like a trainer who tamed a pack of bloodthirty animals intent of killing all and sundry? How does that fit in with the mythology of Provisionals being learned scholars amd nobel martyrs?

    Adams can’t tell the truth to the nationalists of the Provos were really all about because that would put the nationalists who voted for them as well as his party cohorts into a very embarrassing position, wouldn’t it? Instead, Adams keep his mushrooms in the dark and feeds them bullshit – they all like it that way.

  • kensei

    “So, Adams was sort of like a trainer who tamed a pack of bloodthirty animals intent of killing all and sundry? How does that fit in with the mythology of Provisionals being learned scholars amd nobel martyrs?”

    Oh FFS. The vast majority of nationalists never supported the armed campaign. There were certainly ones that didn’t, though, and more who were ambivalent, given the history and the loyalist paramilitaries. Republicanism is hardly a movement immune from splits, and if the SF leadership had have adopted some kind of shock therapy strategy there would have been other voices crying war and denouncing them for abandoning the true faith. That have pulled people in, maybe not everyone, but enough. And that’s all it takes. And let’s not forget the big Republican constituency in jail at the time. As it is the whole movement has stayed remarkably intact.

    So, no, that is not a good comparison, any more than caricaturing any electorate or populace is a particuarly good idea.

  • kensei

    Should be “ones that did”, obv.

  • Outsider

    When I read many of the comments on Slugger its clear to me and others that the Republican movement and its allies would not think twice about a return to bloodshed if it meant imposing their warped views on others.

    Things within the political world seem to be calm at this moment but its always at these times Unionists should be on their guard, the ira certainly has not gone away.

  • TJ Luby

    Lets have some honesty in this, provisionals “commemorating” Republican dead amounts to nothing less than desecration,. One would hope that the provisionals would have some sense of decency but no, that would be asking too much. In contrast to todays mockery at Edentubber, the Republican Movement truly commemorated these men earlier this month, and unlike the provos they remain committed the Republican ideals for which these men and other men and women died. Leave Republican dead to their own please.

  • The Dubliner

    “The vast majority of nationalists never supported the armed campaign.” – kensei

    I didn’t say that they did: I implied they are now in a position, having voted for those who supported sectarian violence, whereby they have to share in the Shinner’s counter-revisionism because to do otherwise puts them in the awkward position of supporting people who are simply sociopathic self-serving fascists. It’s much easier if their voters can see them as ‘misguided but noble of purpose’ and think that they are voting for them ‘to keep them on the right path’ rather than, say, have a Truth Commission that may serve to reveal that unwanted entity called ‘truth’ and show them to have used violence for a far less ‘noble’ purpose and shouldn’t be rewarded in the manner than they been.

    After all, bombing Enniskillen and other sectarian acts were done for the specific purpose of ensuring that Catholics would be murdered in retaliation by loyalists, thereby causing the Catholics to believe that they needed PSF/PIRA to defend them. Essentially, Adams and co were setting their own community up to be murdered for no purpose other than serving their own selfish strategic interests. That’s not a truth that those voters would like to face, is it? They can forgive them for murdering the other tribe without an apparent bother, but might conclude that such methods didn’t deserve reward if they were aware of how cynically they were used against them.

  • kensei

    “I didn’t say that they did: I implied they are now in a position, having voted for those who supported sectarian violence, whereby they have to share in the Shinner’s counter-revisionism because to do otherwise puts them in the awkward position of supporting people who are simply sociopathic self-serving fascists”

    Er, no, Dubliner. Electorates tend not to get embarrassment like that. If they decide a party is bad, they’ll wipe them out. I don’t know why you think Northern Nationalists are somehow different form everyone else.

    They just don’t believe that Sinn Fein are “sociopathic self-serving facists”, and while there are some that feel “misguided but noble”, plenty of others just feel “misguided”. But electorates are ultimately more worried about the present than the past, and an SF that has dumped the armed campaign is more appealing than an SDLP who are dying on their feet. I note FF is still talking rather than actually organising here.

    The rest doesn’t even deserve comment.

  • http://yahoo.com Trowbridge H. Ford

    Since this is the only thread open, it seems, for discussing the brutal Paul Quinn murder – AND I STILL DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY RELEVANT ONES ABOUT ALMOST ANY REALLY CONTROVERSIAL EVENT ARE CLOSED SO QUICKLY – I want to denounce Lord Laird’s unprincipled way to allegedly helping convict his killers – i. e, using parliamentary privilege in outing them, what helped lead to the murder by parties still unknown of Denis Donaldson.

    If Laird is so convinced that he has gotten to the bottom of their crimes, he should just speak out to reporters, and take the risks if he turns out to be wrong by facing´possible libel actions by those abused.

    His way he has it both ways – leading the police to the killers, or being protected from prosecution if he is simply wrong. And if those he names unfairly are murdered in the process, he solves,it seems, the crimes for those who really did it.

    Parliamentary privilege was never intended for this kind of use, and he should simply keep his mouth shut, unless he chooses to act like normal people in the pursuit of criminal justice.

  • Seriously

    If people are calling into question Republicans remembering dead Republicans on the weekend of REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY i can only assume they are having a laugh.

    Because the millions who died in WW1 obviously succeeded in the war to end all wars, didn’t they? Because there obviously wasn’t any wars after that one.

    There may well be complications and inconsistencies involved in modern Republicans remembering Edentubber. These exist in all contemporary commemorations of past conflicts. How easy, I wonder, did the liberators of Belsen feel standing beside the overseers of the Gulags? Or the champions of freedom against tyranny standing alongside, or being, the masters of empires?

    Life ain’t simple, although it never ceases to amaze me how many people are.

  • mchinadog

    Peter Baker
    Do you agree with me that posts like those from KISDO should be removed by Slugger they are bordering on incitement to hatred I am really getting concerned and disappointed about the type of posts that are being allowed on Slugger

  • The Dubliner

    “Electorates tend not to get embarrassment like that.”

    You’re basing that on the premise that the political system in NI is ‘normal’ and that it is therefore safe to generalise about NI on the basis of what other electorates tend to do. NI is abnormal – folks vote along sectarian lines, have a Faustian pack with an organised murder gang, and tend to vote classic sociopaths.

    “…plenty of others just feel “misguided”.”

    Yeah… ‘misguided’ to think that people who organise a murder campaign without either a viable military strategy or an endgame against the wishes of the people, in violation of every law and convention, with no moral regard for human rights or the right to life, using violence as a first resort when there a political alternative and when they had no right to use violence at all, are fit and proper people to hold public office.

    “I note FF is still talking rather than actually organising here.”

    They said they won’t rush into it. It won’t be for a year, at least. I doubt that they really understand how things work up there. It’ll be a culture shock. But they don’t have an option now, because if they don’t organise up there then they’ll look like a bunch of oafs for floating the idea sans due diligence.

  • AP

    I’m enjoying the usual Republican fantasists cropping up on this thread with their pained, schoolgirl-like disbelief that Gezza could ever have fibbed about anything, ever. Tell us more then – just how exactly was (your seemingly essential ‘moral’ precondition of a possible) ‘military defeat’ of the British feasible in the 50s?

    As for Sammy Morse and his absurd posturing – admiringly self-loathing and self-serving in equal measure – if you can’t even now drop APNI moral equivalence crap, and see and speak to the difference between remembering regrettable, unsought but lawful violence discharged by good and honourable men, and, terrorism, carried out by terrorists, God help you. No one else will, as the vast majority of us seemingly can make the distinction between soliders and terrorists.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    “How are the ‘micro groups’ of today different from the ‘micro groups’ of 1957?”

    The micro-groups of 1957 are fifty years ago.

    Duh.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Dubliner

    “Adams can’t tell the truth to the nationalists of the Provos were really all about because that would put the nationalists who voted for them as well as his party cohorts into a very embarrassing position, wouldn’t it? Instead, Adams keep his mushrooms in the dark and feeds them bullshit – they all like it that way.”

    Wow. What an enlightened, progressive view of northern nationalists you have! Fair play to you!

    With anti-northern-nationalist bigotry like yours, a career in the Dublin media surely awaits…

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Kensei

    “I note FF is still talking rather than actually organising here.”

    In fairness, it’s only a few weeks since Bertie’s announcement. Didn’t he say they’d ask for internal and external submissions until Easter and then study the feedback they get?

    Why don’t you make a submission? You can do so on fiannafail.ie

    Because if you think SF is the future, then frankly you’re thinking like a northern nationalist, not like an Irish republican.

    Dunno about you, but I don’t want to be a “northern nationalist” all my life.

  • Red Diesel

    Trowbridge H. Ford, You are right. Lord Laird is a self-publicist and a clown whose antics will actually make it more difficult to convict those responsible for Paul Quinn’s murder. Those who are impressed by Adams’s ‘forthright condemnation’ of the murder in his Edentubber speech must have heard a different speech from me. What we got was the standard policing speech plus a rant against an imagined alliance of unionists, SDLP, criminal elements, former republican activists and politically motivated journalists. Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy. What we have is the considered opinion of the Quinn family that Provos killed him, plus a small mountain of reliable circumstancial evidence. But look at that ‘criminal elements’ bit- that is the one that is really hurting his parents. Sinn Fein is still trying to peddle the evil fairy story that Paul was a big-time diesel operator who fell out with with criminal associates. He was a £50 a day jobbing lorry driver for God’s sake, and when he got work he probably didn’t ask too many questions. When he got the message to go to Tullycoran, this supposed diesel bigshot had to siphon a couple of pints out of a tractor to put into his old Toyota Carina to get there. This criminal elements stuff is sick, really sick. It wasn’t ODCs who tried to exile him, or who mounted the 20-man boiler-suited, forensically aware operation to kill him.

  • kensei

    Billy

    “Because if you think SF is the future, then frankly you’re thinking like a northern nationalist, not like an Irish republican.

    Dunno about you, but I don’t want to be a “northern nationalist” all my life. ”

    I think SF could be part of the future rather than anything else. I’d like to see FF move North, but until they do there aren’t many other options. I’d prefer to see a strong SF and a strong FF to be honest, in absence of any of the other parties moving North.

    Red Diesel

    “What we have is the considered opinion of the Quinn family that Provos killed him, plus a small mountain of reliable circumstancial evidence”

    Who are “the Provos” these days?

  • The Penguin

    Red Diesel

    You are of course right.

    And let’s not miss another vital point in the movable feast that passes here for morality, even if this young fella had been up to his arse in fuel smuggling, diesel laundering and whatever else, no one had the right to kill him – period.

  • Wilde Rover

    “see and speak to the difference between remembering regrettable, unsought but lawful violence discharged by good and honourable men, and, terrorism, carried out by terrorists, God help you. No one else will, as the vast majority of us seemingly can make the distinction between soliders and terrorists.”

    Indeed. Everyone can be thankful that these good and honourable men are now discharging their lawful violence in Iraq and that over one million terrorists have been killed as a result of the conflict.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Kensei

    You sound uncharacteristically passive. I know you from your posts to be interested, engaged and active in political debate here, yet you speak about FF “moving north”, as though there’s nothing that ordinary people like you or I can do but wait and see what happens.

    You know that if you’re a student at Queen’s or the University of Ulster you can actually join an official Ógra FF cumann? Or in the real world, northern residents can join Fianna Fáil? As far as I know Dermot Ahern’s Northern Strategy Committee is crying out for submissions from “all interested parties”, and of course northern members are perhaps the most “interested” of all. It stands to reason that the more northerners who sign up and who contribute to their investigation, the more likely it’ll be that FF will “come north”.

    (Though of course that won’t be the way it’ll work – it’ll be a question of whether FF HAPPENS in the north.)

    Have you done your bit yet? Because it seems to me that FF organising in the north is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for northern nationalism to a) make serious progress towards our long-term goals, and b) to be something more than “northern nationalists”, to instead be Irish republicans with a role in the life of this island more meaningful than simply always being the principal victims of partition.

    It’d be crazy for us to retreat to a quasi-partitionist “northern nationalist” trench and be all protective of SF. FF’s ideas of organising here creates enormous opportunities that neither SF nor the SDLP could match in a thousand years.

    You made your submission yet? You signed up yet?

  • lib2016

    There are two large rightwing groups of voters in the North and I suspect that Fianna Fail’s move to supplant the SDLP is as much to do with forcing Fine Gael into wooing the post-unionist vote as it has to do with any remaining fear of Sinn Fein.

    After the long delays of the last decade we are starting to see real change at last.

    I still think that Sinn Fein has a chance of being the largest party at Stormont but that’s always going to be a consolation prize.

  • Rory

    I am really getting concerned and disappointed about the type of posts that are being allowed on Slugger

    Posted by mchinadog on Nov 12, 2007 @ 10:50 AM
    on Nov 12, 2007 @ 10:50 AM

    So am I, “mchinadog “. Any chance you might give it up?

  • DJK

    Billy P,

    as someone from a unionist background, I totally agree with your analysis of the opportunity that a FF move north opens up for nationalism. I for one welcome the move in the full realisation that it has a potential to move the centre of gravity toward a unified island.

    The key for me is that it will happen by slow persuasion and not at the point of a gun.

    There are many scenarios where I would accept unity. Certainly I would want my British identity protected and respected. I don’t see that as even close to a contensious issue for FF and most of nationalist Ireland.

  • Reader

    Billy Pilgrim: Wow. What an enlightened, progressive view of northern nationalists you have!
    Do you believe everything Gerry says, or is some of it Bullshit? And if some is Bullshit, who is it meant for?

  • http://sammymorse.blogspot.com Sammy Morse

    As for Sammy Morse and his absurd posturing – admiringly self-loathing and self-serving in equal measure

    Self loathing? Where did you get that from? In what way do I loathe myself? Leave the psychoanalysis to the shrinks.

    if you can’t even now drop APNI moral equivalence crap, and see and speak to the difference between remembering regrettable, unsought but lawful violence discharged by good and honourable men, and, terrorism, carried out by terrorists, God help you.

    Nothing that I said argued for or implied moral equivalence between soldiers and terrorists. This is a construct of your imagination; indeed, if I were foolish enough to try and counter-shrink you, I might argue that you had a deep psychological need to be offended. Oh, and by the way, you clearly know sweet FA about the Alliance Party and its members.

    There are various ways that Remembrance Sunday can be handled; at its worst it can descend into sub-imperialist jingoism. At its best it is obviously something much more profound and worthwhile. What I witnessed yesterday came pretty close to jingoism. Not that I said that there (other than having a good whinge with a fellow traveller afterwards) because it wasn’t the time and the place; the time and place where people are remembering their dead generally isn’t.

    And that’s why it’s futile to expect too much sense out of Gerry Adams at a Republican commemoration. That isn’t to imply any sort of moral equivalence (although there are all sorts of other inconsistencies with your argument that I won’t bother getting into here), it is simply yo state a fact.

    I think Malachi O’Doherty pretty much speaks for me as far as this whole issue goes. But maybe you think Malachi is a closet Provo fellow-traveller too?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Lib

    I think it’s misleading to say FF are “rightwing” – indeed I think it’s misleading generally to discuss Irish politics in terms of right and left. Seems like taking a British metric and applying it to Ireland. You’ll have noticed that most parties here have a mish-mash of policies that tack left and right like nobody’s business, and though it confuses political scientists, somehow the plain people of Ireland seem to understand. Fianna Fáil are nothing if not a party political manifestation of the plain people of Ireland.

    “…I suspect that Fianna Fail’s move to supplant the SDLP is as much to do with forcing Fine Gael into wooing the post-unionist vote as it has to do with any remaining fear of Sinn Fein.”

    Seems like a staggeringly long-term strategy. Besides, I doubt FF would write off all those presently-unionist votes and happily hand them over to FG – more likely they’ll compete for votes in east just as much as west Belfast. And they’ll have the advantage of a clean slate in these areas (unlike SF). It may be that there are people in apparently unlikely areas who actually don’t mind the message, they just hate the messenger. (ie SF) If we’re truly interested in getting the message across, then we should at least try a new messenger, I guess.

    “I still think that Sinn Fein has a chance of being the largest party at Stormont but that’s always going to be a consolation prize.”

    I’d much rather see Fianna Fáil as the largest party in the north, to be honest. I think we (ie northern nationalists) need to stop shrilly declaiming that we are “Irish republicans” while we act like (and vote for) provincial nationalists with a tendency towards political sectarianism (or indeed for their main rivals – “respectable” Castle Catholics) and need to start ACTING LIKE IRISH REPUBLICANS. That means we have to lose the chips on our northern shoulders, stop acting like people in the 26 owe us an apology, and start reconciling ourselves with the mainstream of Irish political life.

    I honestly can’t think of a more immediately productive way to do that than for we “northern nationalists” to seize the opportunity to make sure Ireland’s largest political party happens here. SF are a busted flush in most of the country outside the wee six, so those of us up here who call ourselves republicans have to respond to that reality. If Mohammed can’t come to the mountain, then the mountain must come to Mohammed.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    DJK

    Many thanks for your inspiring post – one that I think all republicans should read carefully and think long and hard about.

    I think FF organising in the north would create the possibility of a new conversation between the two tribes here. Indeed I think that backing FF, getting it organised and voting FF would be a great way for northern nationalists to speak simultaneously to the two other communities on this island. To the people of the 26 we’d be saying: “We are with you.” To unionists we’d be saying: “Let’s start again.” I happen to believe that many from the unionist tradition would be interested to hear what FF have to say.

    FF would also have the advantage of being able to talk about policy – unlike SF, who are easily manoeuvred into a corner over the IRA’s past and present – meanwhile the vital issues affecting the people they represent are kicked into touch.

    “Certainly I would want my British identity protected and respected. I don’t see that as even close to a contensious issue for FF and most of nationalist Ireland.”

    I think you’re certainly right that it’s not contentious. Indeed I think FF and nationalist Ireland generally has come around, to a great extent, to the idea that your British identity must be positively cherished. And that includes in the north. I know it mightn’t always seem that way, but then we’re poorly served by our political parties.

    I think that the PUL community has more friends across this island, including within republican circles, than it realises – understandably, given the madness of recent decades. But we’re coming into a quieter time now.

    I think we northern nationalists should think strategically about where we go from here. The fact that FF (a party vastly experienced and sophisticated in government, in economic management, in security issues, in international affairs, in party political organisation, in the creation of enterprise – and they’re republicans too!) has expressed an interest in organising here represents the biggest opportunity we nordies have known in generations. As well as all of the above, there’s the fact that unionists don’t hate Fianna Fáil, and that most unionists are happy to admit they’re impressed by what they see south of the border these days. (A situation which FF has been instrumental in creating.)

    We’d be mad not to see the opportunity this represents. We might also see it as a chance to transform our relations with our unionist neighbours – as I say, a chance to start over. We might think about creating for ourselves a new role as something like ambassadors for Irish unity to those who are presently against it (and who therefore hold the keys to that goal), rather than as antagonists to them. As part of Fianna Fáil, northern nationalism would be strong enough to show such generosity of spirit.

    In comparison, SF can offer only permanent underdog status and an eternal chip on the shoulder.

    Reader

    Eh?

  • picador

    Billy,

    I agree one hundred per-cent.

    FF will also challenge the Provo stranglehold on many areas of the north. It will be interesting to see how the PRM respond. I wonder if FF canvassers in west Belfast etc. will be told to eff off back to the Free State!

    Bring it on Bertie!

  • harry

    the Provo stranglehold.

    ??????

    are all these PEOPLE who VOTE for sf, are they made to so with a gun??

    they have the choice to vote
    sf
    sdlp
    etc

    the people opted to vote for SF, because the SDLP are a shower of shit, egotiscal self serving careerists.

    what makes you think that they would vote FF?

    but SF would need to watch, for they have gone soft like the stoops.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Picador

    “FF will also challenge the Provo stranglehold on many areas of the north.”

    I can’t acquiesce in your SF-bashing, I’m sorry. I’m not someone who thinks SF are somehow unclean or morally unworthy or incompetent. They are in fact our friends, family, neighbours. In many cases they are some of our most talented people, who joined SF as SF was the best choice available.

    I’d vote for FF because FF are better, not because I hate SF. I think SF have a future, longer term. But in terms of pursuing their fundamental goals, they are utterly crippled by their past, and since they are the largest pro-unity party here, that means northern nationalists generally are crippled by SF’s past. That’s an enormous strategic cost for northern nationalist aspirations, and SF just aren’t worth that price.

    So at this moment in our history, SF simply can’t offer people across the wee six what FF can.

    The SDLP have no future.

    “I wonder if FF canvassers in west Belfast etc. will be told to eff off back to the Free State!”

    I think the only candidate FF will stand in West Belfast will be from West Belfast. There’s no way on earth they’ll parachute people in. More likely they’ll seek a pool of potential candidates from well-known people in the community. Can’t think of too many in WB who aren’t SF, but in most other constituencies I can think of plenty of big names from the worlds of business, trade unions, sport, civic society, academia, education, the professions etc that they’d be likely to size up.

    Harry

    “What makes you think that they would vote FF?”

    Because FF would be better at representing their interests than any other party. Seems to me like a good reason.

  • Turgon

    Billy Pilgrim,
    I rarely agree with your political positions but frequntly your analysis is interesting.

    I suspect you over play the extent to which unionists might support FF but I would agree that there would be those who might be interested; you will forgive me that I am not that keen though we have discussed these sorts of things before.

    Your analysis of the effect of SF on unionists is of course very accurate. I often find it surprising that nationalists and republicans are themselves surprised by the sheer level of contempt which SF are held in by many (?most) unionists. They still regard them as linked to the IRA; they still regard Martin McGuiness as having been an IRA commander and murderer (funny that isn’t it). Funny how a thirty plus year campaign of sectarian murder makes people suspicious of the leaders of and cheerleaders for that campaign. I must admit one of the few reasons which make me slightly less anti a united Ireland is the thought that those killers would not be in power.

    Turning to Adams and the “martyrs”.

    Of course there is a very simple reason why the would be killers who died at Edentubber in 1957 are heroes to Adams. That is because they can safely be co-opted into the SF narrative of Republican history. They along with the hunger strikers et al. can safely be raised up; the “saints” to approve the great leader and the new “project” without fear of contradiction. They having the good taste to be dead so Adams need not fear their criticism. That Adams now claims he believed that an IRA military victory was impossible by the mid 1970s but thought it was right to continue it should come as no surprise. He has always shown disregard and contmept for human life so to have contempt for all the dead including the Hunger strikers and to have used them in his own power games is natural. At least the hunger strikers and other dead IRA members had a choice regarding joining a terrorist organisation and so bringing about their deaths. Choices denyed to the terrorists other victims.

    These commerations and the like are about creating the narrative that the Republican movement is a single seamless movement always heading in one direction. Previously violence was necessary to produce progress for them. Now for a time violence can be turned off; its fear still lingering. These commerations show the hard line that Gerry has not forgotten the “martyrs” and imply that they support the current direction.

    I do wonder, however, if even the dissident republicans may serve a certain purpose for Adams. He can pretend to be reasonable when he condemns them. This pleases the outside world and be used as a pretended vehicle for “unionist engagement”. That of course will anony unionists who remember a bit more about Adams than some of the international community. Then when unionists reject the great “peacemaker” they can be presented as evil bogots yet again, stuck in the past etc. What else could the IRA have done than kill them and it was all their own fault for being evil bigots or some such is the line to be peddled.

    Also of course the dissident terrorists can be used as an implied threat that if unionists stopped playing ball with SF then terrorism might start again; and that of course would be all the fault of the bad unionists and not of the saintly Gerry, Martin and co.

    So the republican movement ploughs on through lies and blood, overwhelming amounts of blood. To quote Macbeth:
    “I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” (III.iv.135–137).

    At least Macbeth sounds as if he partially regrets the blood. Adams seems to glory in it.

  • kensei

    Turgon

    1. I think the capacity for FF to make inroads into the soft Unionist vote depends largely on their capacity to avoid getting sucked into our squabbles. I fancy that to be difficult, and their base will be Nationalist. It’ll be interesting, anyway.

    2. Simplistic analysis on the Republican narrative. Adams did not co-opt the Border Campaign into the Republican there: that was accomplished before the PIRA was even in existence. Similarly with the Hunger Strikers – they were almost instantly woven in. What Adams has done is recast the narrative to support his policies. In the first instance, all shrewd leaders do this; Blair recast Labour history to support the New Labour movement; Cameroon is attempting to play up the elements of Conservative past that suit his agenda. [And if we extend the comparison, his attacks on those who are still using violence is equivalent to either of those leaders picking fights with their backwoodsmen]. Bluntly, would you prefer those events to be used to support a narrative that supports violence, or supports peace?

    Second, I reckon that by “mid to late seventies”, what Adams actually means is “late seventies” and is trying to spin a little. Adams didn’t have the power to stop the campaign unilaterally, and you miss the significance of the Hunger Strikes in prolonging the campaign by a good 5-10 years.

    Third, SF cannot be blamed for what the dissidents do – they have made an Agreement, disarmed, and supported the police. They have condemned the violence in strong terms, and more important they squeeze the political air for those groups in Nationalist areas. That the danger of dissident groups and political vacuum is not their fault and cannot be read as implied threat: any suggestion that is your projection and not the reality.

  • Turgon

    kensei,
    Your thesis that Adams is recasting the hunger strikers in the same way as Blair did New Labour etc is fallacious. Adams and McGuiness were major republican leaders before the hunger strikes began; that is quite different from someone like Blair, a new leader, casting the past in a revisionist light. Adams now claims he knew that a “military” victory was not possible by the 1970s. The hunger strikes were 1981. As such it is quite clear that Adams and other republican leaders cynically used the hunger strikers as a vehicle to launch the SF political participtation project. Since I am actually sad that those young men died whatever their crimes I am appalled (though unsurprised) at Adams’s cynical use of their lives just as I am even more appaled by the other deaths he was complicit in in one way or another.

    You suggest that the hunger strikes prolonged the violence by 5 to 10 years. I do not know but if you are right that is further condemnation of the behaviour of the republican leadership. Not content with murdering Protestants, Roman Catholics and so many others Adams was even happy to sacrifice his own “volunteers” for the greater good of his own political self advancement.

    I am pleased to see that you say SF made an agreement and disarmed. I of course suggest they were forced into it as they stared if not complete defeat, total irrelevance in the face had they tried to continue. I do personally question how completely they actually disarmed. Also of course the IRA do not seem to need guns to murder people as Mr. Quinn’s death demonstrates. Still I guess I should note with gratitude that you personally do not continue the fiction that SF had no guns and were indeed separate from the IRA.

    In terms of supporting the police: I have not heard from Gildernew recently, what is her position at the moment pray tell?

  • picador

    It is a matter of record that the Provos systematically demonised, intimidated and on occasions murdered their political opponents within the nationalist community. Incovenient to admit but true. I doubt they will be able to intimidate FF.

    Yes, a lot of people vote for them: a minority backed the Provos during the ‘war’ and a greater number backed them after the ceasefire because they so desperately wanted a negociated peace. But the legacy of the Provos is a bitter division that cannot be overcome if SF continue to be the main representatives of the nationalist community in the north.

  • kensei

    Turgon

    1. The fact that Adams was involved at the time does not negate the point. Gordon Brown was intimately involved in the New Labour project but is busy recasting history in the best light to suit his current agenda.

    2. I don’t believe Adams actually planned to go down the electoral path. I think Republicans started looking for an out, but I think they saw the out as some form of negotiation with the British government – I think the electoral success during the Hunger Strikes changed that.

    3. It took years to get from Hume-Adams talks to ceasefire. In the late seventies there was no history of electoral success. There was no dialog with Hume, and there were the Blanket men and the dirty protests rumbling in the background. And I don’t believe you understand the anger the Hunger Strikes caused; people didn’t join the IRA to help SF. And you assume that there were only doves in the IRA Army Council during the period. That is most certainly not the case.

    4. Public statement to dump arms – no good. International verification – no good. Ongoing IMC reports – no good. Turgon knows better. For what it is worth, it matters only as a symbollic gesture. People can get guns and make bombs if they want them, even if there is not a bullet left anywhere. The important point is that no one in the movement is going back, talking about going back or wanting to back, instead actively condemning. And if they did, they’d run into a load of Catholics in the PSNI because Nationalists and Republicans signed up to the structures. You can miss the spectacular significance of all that if you want, but I don’t think paranoia will help you.

    5. Is Gerry Adams responsible for people in an organisation that has disarmed, told their followers to disarm, doesn’t target and doesn’t plan anything? People which he has condemned outright? I don’t see how it can hold.

  • Turgon

    Somme good cheerleading there kensei, usually you do a bit better.

    “I don’t believe Adams actually planned to go down the electoral path. I think Republicans started looking for an out, but I think they saw the out as some form of negotiation with the British government”

    Quite clearly Adams did not initially plan electoral politics, he simply fancied power, like his friends in communist (or fascist) terrorist groups the world over. Then whilst looking for an “out” it was clearly fine to murder people in their droves. Indeed Adams has told us it was the responsibility of anyone who wanted the IRA to stop murdering people to find a way for the IRA to do so. Spectularly warped morality and logic.

    “In the late seventies there was no history of electoral success.”
    Exactly. Adams could not countenance stopping violence unless and until he had some other way to get himself the power, money and influence he craved.

    “The important point is that no one in the movement is going back, talking about going back or wanting to back”
    Well they are not saying it publicly oh yes except of course the MP for FST and agriculture minister who has said republicans might “have” to go back to violence.

    Sorry kensei, maybe you should try again

  • kensei

    “Somme good cheerleading there kensei, usually you do a bit better.”

    It isn’t about cheerleading. I don’t believe the people involved in either side were animals, and I don’t believe it’s a good view. I obviously have my own biases that maybe assign more good faith than was always there but you assign absolutely none, which cannot be right.

    “Quite clearly Adams did not initially plan electoral politics, he simply fancied power, like his friends in communist (or fascist) terrorist groups the world over.”

    Assigning the entire Provisional campaign to megalomania by the leadership ignores the context of the time, the previous history of republicanism and the fact that neither Adams or MMG joined as instant Republican leaders. It could never have sustained on that basis. Maybe it is more comforting to believe that the war was only perpetrated by animals but it is simply untrue.

    “Then whilst looking for an “out” it was clearly fine to murder people in their droves. Indeed Adams has told us it was the responsibility of anyone who wanted the IRA to stop murdering people to find a way for the IRA to do so. Spectularly warped morality and logic.”

    I believe by the late 1970′s the IRA was organised as cells capable of independent operation. Moreover, SF is only the visible part of the Republican leadership. There were plenty of others behind the scenes who wanted to keep fighting. Adams could have split the movement, but that would have been fuck all use to anyone.

    “Exactly. Adams could not countenance stopping violence unless and until he had some other way to get himself the power, money and influence he craved.”

    No Turgon. People in any organisation want to see progress toward their goals. Adams had no where to point to say that this offered a better way to an organisation where many thought the better way was to attack the Brits harder.

    “Well they are not saying it publicly oh yes except of course the MP for FST and agriculture minister who has said republicans might “have” to go back to violence.”

    I don’t believe I saw a quote anything like that, but I stand to be corrected. She made some cool comments on whether to report dissident republicans just after the policing move; but then I’m not particularly surprised some Republicans are deeply uncomfortable with that and it’ll take time to adjust. Regardless: it isn’t a position with popular support, it isn’t an option talked about in any real sense and it would be very unpopular even with people that previously supported the campaign. And you might notice SF have taken a few personnel hits now they’ve signed up to policing closed off that option.

    You want some cast iron guarantee that there will never be more violence. There isn’t one, any more than you can give me one that loyalists won’t go and shoot some more Catholics for sport. Events in the last week are a potent reminder of that. All we got is trying to make this work in some fashion, and the Provisional movement is so invested in this that they cannot go back.

    I respect your right to your “Prodiban” views, but basing them off the possibility of the PIRA dramatically returning to violence is a complete waste of your energy and incurs an opportunity cost in preventing you from achieving other goals you may have elsewhere.