An end to the Armalite?

Veteran analyst Tom McGurk in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post suggests that Republicans:

“…should more accurately read into Blair’s seemingly ham-fisted approach his clear recognition that the internal political dynamic for change has come from the republican movement all along. Blair’s Belfast subtext was that once again it is needed to clear the stasis.”

He continues:

“The historic Irish space between constitutionalism and republicanism was closed when the former colonial power accepted a redefinition of `national self-determination’, which postulated British neutrality on Irish affairs and ended political majoritarianism.”

Turning to unionism he states:

“Locked into a prehistoric political quarrel with the DUP, unionists are doomed to go soon to an electorate which, devoid of any political leadership, will subsequently tie them to a political menu impossible to deliver. The consequences of that will be even more unionist political disintegration. Astonishingly, even up to now — almost five years after Good Friday — they still don’t seem to understand that if they are ever again to enjoy political power in Ireland, it can only be in concert with, and by acceptance of, the nationalists.”

McGurk insists that this adds up to an entirely new set of circumstances:

“…the deliberate sectarian gerrymander that the Northern state was in the first instance has now disappeared, eroded by demographics. And, since the perceived impossibility of creating any normal politics in that context was always an ideological imperative in republican calculations, they must now accept what is patently the opposite of that traditional scenario and act accordingly.”

Added to this:

“…spiralling nationalist economic, educational and cultural power, and the prospect of, or need for, paralimitarism ever again becomes ludicrous. Quite simply, the new demographics have presented republicans with a personal Rubicon, and they should recognise the evidence of their own eyes. The six-county state of the days of Tom Williams, for example, and today are two entirely different places.”

And finally:

“…if, as I suspect, Blair in Belfast began a new round of political choreography, demanding a republican retreat from paramilitary instincts, so too must begin a chorus for a unionist retreat from its sectarian instincts.”

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