The News Letter reports some interesting quotes from former senior Provisional IRA member, now an organiser of the Independent Workers’ Union, Tommy McKearney’s new book – The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament. From the News Letter report
The ardent socialist, who now organises the Independent Workers’ Union, says that Sinn Fein has become increasingly right wing as it has gone further and further into government at Stormont, where, he argues, “contrary to talk of power-sharing, the [Stormont] administration is almost powerless” because it lacks control over the economy.
He says that the deal between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness ended ‘the Irish national question’ for most.
“Difficult though it was for some to accept, it was clear that no significant section of Irish society was prepared at that time to contest in any determined fashion the constitutional arrangements on the island.
“Irish people had voted in huge numbers for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and have stayed loyal to its promoters at each election since.
“There remains, of course, a widely-shared but not intensely sought-after aspiration that the Six Counties might one day come under Dublin’s jurisdiction.
“For the vast majority, though, it is a distant aspiration that fails to motivate anything other than occasional nostalgia.”
He argues that republicans now need to actively engaged with working class Protestants to build support for a socialist Ireland as “a one-plank republican platform confined to breaking the Union and ending partition is not capable of mobilising sufficient support to bring about the type of fundamental change required”.
He also says that Ian Paisley’s claims that the 1998 Belfast Agreement were a “sell-out” helped Sinn Fein delude more hardline IRA members into believing that they were on the path to a united Ireland.
“The republican leadership was greatly helped by the hysterical reaction of the DUP who, for its own tactical reasons, was insisting that the agreement was a betrayal of the Union.
“In contrast, it was the Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble who described the situation most accurately.
“He reminded everyone that accepting the constitutional status quo could only be changed by a majority vote in the six counties meant that the Good Friday Agreement in reality had secured the future of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.”