I suspect that if Sinn Fein and the IRA ever split, that it will be because the IRA has become an electoral millstone around SF’s neck. Some rather disillusioned republicans now appear to suspect that, if the IRA carried out the Northern heist, it may be a catalyst for separation. Eamonn McCann takes a look at internal difficulties in the Republican Movement, while Broom of Anger (which has lots of useful links) looks at the separation emerging between the governments and the RM. Brian Feeney (column now in full thanks to Nuzhound – read it) is not far behind.
I think Pete’s blog entry rightly brought the issue of criminality to the fore. It seems critical, especially given the furore over its non-inclusion in the ‘comprehensive agreement’.
And with McGuinness’s (possibly empty, but strongly-worded) denials of IRA involvement in the Northern heist, describing the act as “criminal” (and we know republicans feel strongly enough about that to refuse to include reference to criminality in the proposed IRA statement in the ‘comprehensive agreement’), if it turns out that the IRA was involved, then things might change.
If the IRA becomes an electoral millstone around a power-hungry Gerry Adams’ neck, do you think they might put space between themselves and the IRA? SF seem reluctant to be associated with or punished for the actions of what looks like IRA members carrying out criminal acts. Perhaps ordinary SF voters who had a sneaking regard for the Northern robbers will not be so happy when it becomes apparent whose pockets are being lined.
Meanwhile, Adams refuses to accept sanctions on Sinn Fein, calling on republicans to resist discrimination against their elected representatives.
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Eamonn McCann wrote in today’s Tele:
The raid itself would be no reason for splitting. Few members of Sinn Fein and/or the Provos would have a political or moral problem with snatching millions from a bank. They are by no means alone in entertaining this attitude.
No. The wedge would be driven into the movement by the subsequent words of some of its public leaders – most importantly, Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness.
Last week, Kelly described the raid as “wrong.” This week, McGuinness went further. Whoever carried the robbery out was “hostile” to the Sinn Fein agenda. “Anything that sees innocent people held hostage in their house is a criminal act,” he added.
Whether or not they knew of the job in advance, Kelly and McGuinness will have known by the time they made these comments whether the IRA was responsible. Any IRA unit involved has, then, been publicly denounced as “criminal” by Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator.
There is no precedent I know of for any such thing. The closest I can think of came in July 1988 in reaction to the killing at the Falls Baths of Elizabeth Hamill (60) and Eamon Gilroy (24), both local residents, caught by an IRA bomb intended for a British Army patrol.
Pressed by journalists at the time, Gerry Adams said that he was “shocked and “saddened”. But he accepted the IRA’s word that the deaths had been “accidental.”
Local councillor Sean Keenan, was marginally more forthright. The bomb shouldn’t have been planted in the first place, he told the Irish News.
Keenan was a scion of one of the most illustrious Republican families in the North and, by common consent, a coming man. He was close to Adams, had been seriously wounded in the UDA attack on Adams’s car four years earlier. His council seat was safe. But when he distanced himself from the death-bomb, his political career was done.
In his history of Sinn Fein, A Hundred Turbulent Years, Brian Feeney says that, “Keenan never made another public statement.” He wasn’t nominated for the council next time round.
And Keenan had come nowhere near calling the bomb blast “criminal.”
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Ma Bear at Broom of Anger uses the analogy of a wife who can’t bring herself to leave her abusive partner and is reaching the end of her tether to describe the possible Sinn Fein ‘divorce’ from the governments:
And so it went on, each time. She caught them in the kitchen, at the back door, the reports of sightings came in like a deluge from her questionable friends, each report getting more detailed and more racy, his actions more brazen. Each time, the denials, the anger, the threats, the questioning of loyalty.
This time, however. She caught him in their bed. Naked. On top of the other woman. In her own bed! She trembled with outrage.
She told her friends she was ready. Said things like, “All those times we were in marriage counseling and he was making me promises to improve the marriage, and it turns out he was plotting to continue cheating on me right under my nose! At the same time he was promising me the moon, he was making plans to see her!”
And when she accused him of that directly, he told her how disappointed in her he was. He called it a grave blow. Was shocked and angered that she would do that to him after working with him all those years on their marriage. Accused her of encouraging all the securocrats that wanted to wreck their marriage.
But it’s no different than what has gone on for the last seven years of their marriage. So what makes anyone think this will be different? Will the weak willed wife see the divorce lawyer? Will the slimeball husband charm her back? If it does get to the lawyers, how messy will it get? Will it be all out war, or can it be after a fashion, amicable? Is the humilation and the need to cover up dirty deeds done too much for both? Does Hell really have no fury like a woman scorned?
Stay tuned for the next episode of As the Peace Process Turns.