Sinn Féin's millstone

Gonzo mentioned Brian Feeney’s Irish News column yesterday, but I think it’s worth highlighting a different section of the piece now that Newshound has made it available on-line

I don’t buy into the idea that, although symbolic, simply joining the Policing Board is by itself sufficient “evidence that the IRA has stood down” –

Sinn Féin’s endorsement of the PSNI and their appearance on the Policing Board with government approval will provide the crucial evidence that the IRA has stood down.

Why? It would be preposterous for the IRA to continue its activities if senior republicans were on a Policing Board charged with stopping IRA activities.

Clearly that could not happen.

That argument relies on the same logic which predicted that an end to IRA activity would follow inexorably from the signing of the 1998 Agreement. It was flawed logic then.. and it is flawed logic now.

But the part of Brian Feeney’s article that stood out, for me, was this –

Whether or not that was the explanation behind the IRA’s actions, the opportunity of months absent of political developments cuts both ways. The Irish government has clearly decided to take full advantage of the vacant period to force an end to the phase of the peace process which should have been completed five years ago, namely decommissioning and the removal of the IRA from the equation. As Bertie Ahern told the Dail, three major efforts in 2002, 2003 and December 2004 had failed.

Now he’s telling the republican movement to act unilaterally. The message from Dublin is that they have no bargaining counters left. Far from the IRA being an advantage, it’s a millstone round the neck of republicans.

No-one, and certainly not the DUP, will join them at a negotiating table while the IRA remains in business, or should that be in finance?

It’s hard, maybe impossible, for republicans to see this but what Bertie Ahern and his ministers are doing queuing up to take a poke at Sinn Féin leaders, is trying to make it easier for Adams and McGuinness to convince their movement that the IRA must retire from the field and become an old comrades association.[emphasis mine]

As he points out, the Taioseach has been cautiously encouraging through the current crisis –

Throughout all this drama the taoiseach has tried to keep republicans’ eyes on his target. While openly repeating his allegations that the Sinn Féin leaders he was negotiating with knew of IRA plans, he has taken every chance to repeat that he wants a comprehensive agreement that includes Sinn Féin. In other words, last December’s deal is still available but only republicans can make it happen.

In the meantime, to concentrate their minds, the gardai and Criminal Assets Bureau will set about dismantling the IRA’s financial structures built up since the late 1970s and laying bare the linkages within republicanism.

One embarrassing revelation will follow another in the coming months.

However, the implication seems to be that if the ‘millstone’ is shed, then that ‘strategy’ may be adapted. But, surely, the process of tackling organised crime of this nature should continue whether that ‘millstone’ is shed by Sinn Féin or not?

  • Davros

    I agree Pete … I did a double take at the naivety of

    It would be preposterous for the IRA to continue its activities if senior republicans were on a Policing Board charged with stopping IRA activities.

    Clearly that could not happen.

    As a historian Feeney should be aware of events March 1933. Himmler became Head of Munich police then Bavarian police which strengthened rather than weakened the Brownshirt position.

  • George

    Davros,
    it doesn’t help to make comparisons with the Third Reich. I’d leave Fred West out of the equation too.

  • spirit-level
  • Davros

    George – you write “it doesn’t help to make comparisons with the Third Reich” when what you should in truth be writing is that ‘it doesn’t suit to make comparisons with the Third Reich’

    Feeney is a historian, his function writing as a historian is to look at the past….

    By his line of reasoning Himmler’s appointment would have guaranteed that the illegal acts of the Nazi’s would have had to have stopped and the SA disbanded. They didn’t.

  • willowfield

    Davros

    Himmler had total control of the police. The Provos would not be in that position – they would be exercising power jointly with others.

    Bad analogy.

  • George

    Davros,
    it seems that you are once again looking to compare the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein with the Brownshirts and the NSDAP rather than discuss the issue. The next name to be brought up is usually Fred West.

    As I said, it doesn’t help discussion and is a ridiculous analogy, not to mention belittling the evils of the Nazi regime.

  • willowfield

    Funny how you don’t apply the same logic to analogies between NI and South Africa, George!!

    Hmmm, are you biased?

  • Davros

    George – i’m doing what historians are supposed to do …you didn’t get too bothered when my community were being compared , so why the upset over this perfectly reasonable comparison ?

    Two nationalist movements.

    Two movements that shifted from primary focus violence/insurrection to primary focus politics while maintaining their private army.

    Two movements associating with big money and being feted by leaders around the world.

    Two unstable systems that hoped/hope to house-train the nationalists by getting them involved from the inside ….

    Those cannot be disputed and as such the comparison is both valid and important.

  • Davros

    Himmler had total control of the police. The Provos would not be in that position – they would be exercising power jointly with others.

    I’m not arguing that the situations are exactly the same WF, I’m looking at the logic behind Feeney’s writing. Don’t forget it was exactly that line of thinking – that Hitler working inside the system would have him under control – that allowed the fox into the henhouse.

  • peteb

    I would just point out, Davros, that’s your analogy.. not mine.

  • Davros

    I don’t think I suggested otherwise pete ?

  • peteb

    I’m just making it clear for everyone’s sake, Davros, in case the thread continues in a discussion about the validity, or otherwise, of the analogy.

  • Davros

    Cheers pete – having agreed with the first part of your blog I’ll now STFU about SF on policing board 😉

    p.s.I agree with the rest of your blog.

  • George

    willowfield,
    to compare Sharpeville and Bloody Sunday, as I have done, is reasonable (69 deaths versus 14).

    To compare SF or the IRA with a regime whose actions led directly and indirectly led to the deaths of over 50 million people, including the systematic extermination of 6 million human beings is not. It is to belittle those victims of fascism.

    Davros,
    you can try justify the comparison all you like, I personally find it reprehensible.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, the police board is an oversight body. It doesn’t control the police. Quite a lot of it’s activity goes on in public AFAIK. For those reasons I’m not sure your analogy applies.

    It would be a different matter if we were talking about a devolved justice ministry. But even in that case the Chief Constable’s autonomy would be unlikely to be compromised by a minister of justice trying to bend police investigations.

    Obviously for this whole thing to work SF have to call upon their supporters to back the police.

  • Belfastwhite

    Whilst agreeing with your analogy of the current tactics I would suggest that a Sinn Fein acceptance of the current PSNI would be politically far more damaging than revalations about the IRA’s financial structures which they will argue are politically not criminally motivated.

  • George

    I see Paul Murphy has announced that MI5 is to take charge of national security intelligence work in Northern Ireland.

    It will assume lead responsibility from the PSNI in dealing with terrorism in 2007.

  • Davros

    George – you were singing to a different tune when Mary McAleese made her comments …

  • slackjaw

    Dav,

    ‘i’m doing what historians are supposed to do’

    I think you are confusing what historians actually do with what you would like them to do.

    It is wrong to criticise Brian Feeney, as a historian, for failing to spot the potential for what is a tendentious analogy between 1930s Germany and Ireland in 2005.

    There are exceptions, of course, but a historian, unlike, say, a nationalist (in the broadest sense) politician, does not generally draw tendentious historical analogies.

    Even if they did, Feeney is writing as a columnist, and his columns are not read for their interpretation of history.

    A suitable analogy for your criticism of his logic would be if someone criticised Michael Winner’s restaurant review for its poor description of the decor and presentation of the food, because the director of Death Wish should have a more heightened appreciation of visual aesthetics.

  • Davros

    Feeney is writing as a columnist,

    Read and consider what I wrote SJ rather than the diversions …

    “As a historian Feeney should be aware of events”

    “Feeney is a historian, his function writing as a historian is to look at the past….”

    Get that ? writing as a historian.

    Now … I was pointing out that his knowledge of history should tell him that his statement

    “It would be preposterous for the IRA to continue its activities if senior republicans were on a Policing Board charged with stopping IRA activities.

    Clearly that could not happen.”

    does not necessarily hold water. It’s entirely possible that we COULD have senior republicans on a policing board while the IRA continues it’s crimes … after all those senior republicans have said that the IRA aren’t criminals and that certain acts such as the killing of Jean McConville were NOT crimes….

    I hope that makes it clearer.

  • Young Fogey

    you can try justify the comparison all you like, I personally find it reprehensible.

    First we take Clontibret. Then we take Berlin.

    There are exceptions, of course, but a historian, unlike, say, a nationalist (in the broadest sense) politician, does not generally draw tendentious historical analogies.

    Tim Pat Coogan is a historian who makes extremely tendentious analogies. But then again he is a nationalist politician as well.

  • Gourmet

    Dear god, not the Nazis again.

    So it goes like this:

    Northern Ireland’s treatment of Northern nationalists was nothing like apartheid South Africa, that is an invalid historical comparison.

    Its a-ok to draw comparisons between the enemies of unionism and histories (up til now) most distasteful and murderous right wing political movement. I mean that is just legitimate hard hiting political analysis from level headed lovers of liberty.

    It is however completely unfair to use the following quote to suggest that there might not have been too much distance in approach to histories problem social and ethnic groups between the Nazi’s and certain Unionist figures.

    From the CAIN project at:

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/uorgan.htm#uv


    Vanguard held a large rally on 18 March 1972 in Belfast’s Ormeau Park at which Craig said that “We must build up the dossiers on the men and women who are a menace to this country, because one day, ladies and gentlement, if the politicians fail, it will be our duty to liquidate the enemy”.

    Nor would it be fair or relevant to point out that a young David Trimble was a member of the same movement or that David Burnside was a big fan. Nor did vanguard have a paramilitarty wing. They just had a corps of people to defend their leaders. Totally different. No fucking comparison at all.

    Anyway back to those racist genoicidal military adventurists, Sinn Fein, right?

  • Davros

    Vanguard … long gone.

    The IRA ? “They haven’t gone away, you know”.

  • willowfield

    Davros

    I’m not arguing that the situations are exactly the same WF, I’m looking at the logic behind Feeney’s writing.

    Yes, but the difference between the two situations is significant enough to render the analogy of little use, in my view.

    Don’t forget it was exactly that line of thinking – that Hitler working inside the system would have him under control – that allowed the fox into the henhouse.

    This is true.

    George

    to compare Sharpeville and Bloody Sunday, as I have done, is reasonable (69 deaths versus 14).

    You can compare any two things, George.

    I was pointing out the inconsistency in you objecting to analogies between the Nazis and the Provos, while you have no problem with analogies between apartheid South Africa and NI! Indeed, you even backed Mary McAleese using the Nazis as an analogy which goes beyond inconsistency toward hypocrisy!

    To compare SF or the IRA with a regime whose actions led directly and indirectly led to the deaths of over 50 million people, including the systematic extermination of 6 million human beings is not.

    Depends what your conclusions are. If, after your comparison, you conclude that the Nazi regime was far worse than PSF, it would be entirely reasonable, in my view.

  • canwebanulstermanplease

    davros

    your last comment was WEAK and you know it

  • Davros

    It was accurate and YOU know it ciarank 😉

  • PaddyCanuck

    Davros,

    Your argument is ridiculous and tedious.

    You have no sense of historical perspective, this is proven by your continuous harking back to the Garda McCabe, and Jean McConville murders, as if they were the only murders in the History of this state, or on this island.

    There were countless murders many heinous, and many sponsored by the British state. Your failure to take a holistic view and your efforts to label one party to the conflict as Nazi is pathetic. Wise up!

  • Gourmet

    Vanguard is history, forget it.

    However lets not forget that in the 1940’s the then IRA conspired with the Nazis. Just like those evil evil Finns.

    It goes on and on and on. Every time I read Henry MacDonald in the Observer I see the same thing – the whole of the worlds history and politics viewed through the distorting lense of Unionist exceptionalism.

    You get the same feeling talking to Boers in SA. Perfectly nice folks but utterly unable to view themselves as anything but God’s (or history’s) pioneers in the struggle for righteousness. It is tiresome stuff volks.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Well said Gourmet, want to meet down at the Bierhaus for pilsner after work?

  • willowfield

    Gourmet

    What point are you trying to make?

  • Young Fogey

    Every time I read Henry MacDonald in the Observer I see the same thing – the whole of the worlds history and politics viewed through the distorting lense of Unionist exceptionalism.

    —–

    How to Perform a Character Assassination, Sinn Féin Style

    Lesson 1

    Yeah, that’s right Henry McDonald is a Unionist! All Stickies are Unionists! They don’t agree with Shinners so ipso facto they must be Unionists!!! Anyone who disagrees with the Shinners is a Unionist, especially if they’re remotely articulate.

    And, of course, if they’re Unionists, that means they can be ignored in that great non-sectarian Ireland of equals we’re building.

    Note: this lesson may appear to contain contradictions. However, it is entirely consistent using the logical principles of doublethink, which all party members are expected to be familiar with. For a refresher course, see Orwell, G, Nineeteen Eighty-Four, (1948).

  • vespasian

    The feteing and promotion of people who are basically not good to the exclusion of those who are basically good has been a fundamental shortcoming of the process in Northern Ireland.

    We learn last night on TV that William McCaughey, a convicted murderer and a political representative of terrorists, who is unable to get any more than a handful of votes in a council election is entertained by the President of Ireland in her official residence and has ‘meaningful discusions’ with her.

    Who was he representing at this function and what was it hoped his presence would achieve?

    If I was an elected representative in his area I would be agrieved that he is seen to be more important as an unelected terrorist representative than an elected one with a real mandate.

  • Gourmet

    Sure Willowfield, I would be happy to help you. Just quote the particulat point you are not clear about, tell me why you think it is confusing and we can try and tease the meaning out.

    Gourmet’s guide to the aspiring right wing chat show hosts/bulletin board contributors.

    • Your aim is to beat the opponent, not their argument.
    • Claim not to understand your opponents argument – the intimation that your antagonist is confused or incoherent is a powerful one.
    • Dispute any facts that the opponent brings to bear without having access to first hand sources, even facts that are commonly accepted.
    • A small misspeaking or factual error, even if not central to your opponents argument, should be relentlessly exploited.
    • If things get tough change the subject, when your opponent tries to get back to their thesis accuse them of avoiding the issue.

  • Gourmet

    Henry McDonald is a reactionary not a leftist.

    Why not compare the column inches he devotes to the cancer of republicanism in his columnes with the space he gives to social justice amd then tell me with a straight face that he belongs on the left of the political spectrum?

  • vespasian

    Gourmet

    ‘Vanguard is history, forget it.’

    They were totally wrong but consigned to the bin of history

    ‘However lets not forget that in the 1940’s the then IRA conspired with the Nazis. Just like those evil evil Finns.’

    ‘ A correct and factual statement in the case of the IRA, not so sure a bout the Finns.’

    ‘It goes on and on and on. Every time I read Henry MacDonald in the Observer I see the same thing – the whole of the worlds history and politics viewed through the distorting lense of Unionist exceptionalism.’

    What you see and what is the truth are entirely different in many peoples view. I don’t quite see Henry MacDonald as an Orangeman -see UDA – Inside the Heart of Loyalist Terror

    ‘You get the same feeling talking to Boers in SA. Perfectly nice folks but utterly unable to view themselves as anything but God’s (or history’s) pioneers in the struggle for righteousness. It is tiresome stuff volks.’

    Others might get the same feeling talking to SF/IRA, maybe they are both right.

    Because you wrote it all down doesn’t mean it is true, or that it contributes to the discussion!

  • Jimmy Sands

    Gourmet,

    You seem to be confusing McDonald’s choice of subject matter with his approach to it. The former is dictated by his position on a British paper for whom very little not related to the conflict is of interest. Therefore he writes about the provos. The only question then is whether a progressive regards provisionalism as an ally or as a neo-fascist opponent. To label those of us who yake the latter view as reactionary is simply gratuitous abuse.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Young Fogey, exactly. If you’ve been following Slugger during the past couple of days you might have seen the complaints about the “unionist bias” of this forum following the decision to red-card a republican contributor, a contributor who along with his contemporaries (who also banged their bin lids for a while before walking off) was said to have been under a constant onslaught of criticism from, well, people who weren’t republicans (surprisingly). I tend to put this down to republicans not understanding democracy very well and playing the victim card to get themselves through hard times. It’s starting to wear off.

    Davros, I’m generally nervous about people drawing comparisons with the Nazis or using terms like halocaust, ethnic cleansing, genocide and so on to describe what happened in their neighbourhood. I often feel that people who draw such comparisons haven’t fully comprehended what the Nazis were doing during WW2, or haven’t stopped to afford some sensitivity to the people who suffered by them.

    Regarding Vanguard, it may have disbanded but the people who founded it, along with the mentality that drove it, are still around. Personally I wouldn’t put it past unionists for a second to team up with active loyalist paramilitaries and force their will in the country at any time when they thought it necessary, they’ve done so on a small scale at several points during the 1990s. In general, an organization whether it is the IRA or a political party or whatever else, is simply a group of people with some common objectives and thinking. It’s quite likely that the IRA will soon issue a statement saying “we disband” but if anyone thinks that is the end of the activities that we’ve seen associated with that organization in either the recent or the distant past I suspect they are going to be rather disappointed.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    However lets not forget that in the 1940’s the then IRA conspired with the Nazis.

    The greatest Briton of all time, Winston Churchill, collaborated with Stalin (who murdered many millions of his critics along with Jews, intellectuals and other undesirables) once to secure a certain well-known military objective. Generally the people who complain about collaboration tend to be selective about these things.

  • Gourmet

    Henry MacDonalds is at fault for Henry MacDonald’s tendentious reporting, though the Observer has the blame for employing him. A shame as when Donald Trelford was the Observer’s editor the coverage of the troubles was very good. Now the Observer feels the need to pander to the right with columnists like Abramovich and MacDonald. The changed times we live in.

    Also, that word “progressive”, double plus good. I am a progressive, you disagree with me therefore you are against progress. I hear it applied all the time to Blair.

  • Davros

    Roger – that argument has been used by many keen to avoid difficult comparisons. However in the spirit of goodwill find me another group of untra-nationalists with a private army who were in bed with big business interests, who were appeased, and who moved from ‘Mauser’ to ‘Ballot box in one hand and a Mauser in the other’ in pursuit of ethnic unification/anschluss and I’ll get back to you 🙂

  • Young Fogey

    Hi, Gourmet. No, I’m not right-wing. Many things, and often at odds with the conventional left-wing view of life, at least in the Anglophone world, but definitely not right-wing!

    A shame as when Donald Trelford was the Observer’s editor the coverage of the troubles was very good.

    Which means you agreed with it! I thought he was a Ra apologist, myself.

    Now the Observer feels the need to pander to the right with columnists like Abramovich and MacDonald.

    I think you mean Aaronovitch. Abramovitch is the bloke who owns Chelsea. I agree that Aaronovitch is a vomit inducting, right-wing, Blair sycophant. But he’s also a progressive! Me, I’m not a progressive. I have no particular interest in the views of the class of academics, media professionals, lobbyists (whether of the private or ‘voluntary’ variety), ecowarriors with a few sunflower seeds missing from their dietary mix and grasping lawyers who make up the ‘progressive’ coalition. Amazing how all these Socialists never seem to have anybody working class among them.

    Also, that word “progressive”, double plus good. I am a progressive, you disagree with me therefore you are against progress.

    A lazy argument used by many, but I hope never used by me. Often used against me though!!!

    I’ll see you at the next Junior Anti-Sex League meeting!

  • Young Fogey

    [find me another group of untra-nationalists…]

    The Falangists in Spain.
    The Fascists in Italy
    The Christian Coalition in the United States of America.
    The Peronists in Argentina.
    ZANU (after they’d killed all the ZAPUtistas and made peace with the white élite.)
    The Chinese Communist Party.

    Not the most flattering list I suppose.

    Suppose it’s not that flattering a list, is it…

  • Gourmet

    In case anyone is wondering did Davros just try the Nazi thing again after I made fun of it. He did.

    Again.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Gourmet,

    I’m not doing anything of the sort. It is you who are labelling criticism of provisionalism as right-wing, for no other reason apparently than because you say so. This may be the only country in the world where opponents of violent revanchist nationalism are placed on that end of the spectrum.

  • Gourmet

    Mr Fogey, you are of course right about Aaronovitch and my membership of the Anti-Sex League.

  • Davros

    Hey-ho Gourmet, that’s the great thing about freedom 🙂 Republican Movement have always hated not being able to control what is being discussed – the response ranges from threats to historians looking at Casement’s murky past to unpleasantness on the internet .

  • PaddyCanuck

    “However in the spirit of goodwill find me another group of untra-nationalists with a private army who were in bed with big business interests, who were appeased, and who moved from ‘Mauser’ to ‘Ballot box in one hand and a Mauser in the other’ in pursuit of ethnic unification/anschluss”

    Davros, Are you saying Sinn Fein fits the bill above?

    I was not aware that they were untra naionalists (your spelling!)

    In bed with big Business? Ethnic Anschluss?

    However Unionim and Orangeism as had several private armies from the UVF, to Ulster Resistance, from the B-Specials to the UDR.

    Those who have attended an eleveth night bonfire would have expeienced untra nationalism (again your spelling!)

    They have been often appeased (unionist veto)

    And Britain did the Anschluss for them (partition)

    So there you have it Unionists are Nazis!

    Which is of course is bullshit, as is your argument.

  • Gourmet

    In now way did I intend to stifle your freedom to repeat yourself endlessly davros.

    Murky is an interesting word to describe Casement’s gay lifestyle. You are not Ian Paisley Jr are you by any chance?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I’m curious about what big business you think SF are in bed with. I guess the Andytown News is a business, but they’re not exactly IG Farben are they ? They attract a lot of donations from wealthy types in the USA, but that’s got a lot to do with the way they’ve marketed themselves there.

    SF are certainly an organization with a questionable understanding of democracy and a long history of support for paramilitarism and violent acts, but I’m still not clear where the Nazi comparison sits with them. You can’t just accuse me of “avoiding” the argument here, you need to explain the comparison better. There are many organizations throughout the world which support constitutional change along some kind of ethnic line, and they aren’t all comparable to nazism.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, I’m curious about what big business you think SF are in bed with. I guess the Andytown News is a business, but they’re not exactly IG Farben are they ? They attract a lot of donations from wealthy types in the USA, but that’s got a lot to do with the way they’ve marketed themselves there.

    SF are certainly an organization with a questionable understanding of democracy and a long history of support for paramilitarism and violent acts, but I’m still not clear where the Nazi comparison sits with them. You can’t just accuse me of “avoiding” the argument here, you need to explain the comparison better. There are many organizations throughout the world which support constitutional change along some kind of ethnic line, and they aren’t all comparable to nazism.

    BTW Gourmet, I didn’t see any reference by Davros to Casement’s gayness, that was brought up entirely by you. It’s obvious that Davros is hinting that there are questionable aspects of Casement’s ideology which aren’t discussed very much.

  • Young Fogey

    I was not aware that they were untra naionalists (your spelling!)

    No, but they are ultra-Nationalists! At least, that’s what I would consider people who, like, kill 2,000 people to move a border.

    In bed with big Business?

    Who raises their money for them in the States? Factory workers collecting for them in biscuit tins? I don’t think so. Big business is happy to pay USD1,000 a head in New York to play with Gerry’s beard. Which leaves us with the irony that the party most obsessed by Irish national sovereignty are the party most in the control of foreigners. You have to laugh.

    Ethnic Anschluss?

    When the Shinners try and divide the country into a patchwork of homogenous nationalist areas and unionist areas, that’s exactly what they’re about. Read any AP/RN press report of, say, an Orange March and look at how supportive the Shinners are of ethnic purity and Balkanisation. Helps them get away with robbing banks and murdering people, then intimidating the witnesses.

    However Unionim and Orangeism as had several private armies from the UVF, to Ulster Resistance, from the B-Specials to the UDR.

    Yes, and? Do two wrongs make a right in your book?

    Those who have attended an eleveth night bonfire would have expeienced untra nationalism (again your spelling!)

    No, because with a name like mine I wouldn’t want to be lynched! However, this excuses Republican ultra-Nationalism how? In your view, I suppose Al Qa’eda and the BNP sort of excuse one another?

    They have been often appeased (unionist veto)

    Yes. And?

    And Britain did the Anschluss for them (partition)

    Yes. And?

    So there you have it Unionists are Nazis!

    Nope, but like the Shinners they are unpleasant ultra-Nationalists.

    The more Balkanised and divided this country is, the more the Shinners get to turn Republican areas into de facto one party states. I don’t even think most Republicans, including ones I respect, even understand why that’s a problem.

  • Davros

    Roger – there’s an interesting web being examined at the moment by the Garda Siochana. Are or have SF been linked to big business in the USA ? I would call yer Man Feeney big-business … that he withdrew his support because of, ahem, accusations of moral turpitude and financial irregularities is neither here nor there. Would you call the RM’s contacts with FARC and certain extremely wealthy middle-east states relevent ? I would.

    P-C – that you call a regiment of the British Army “private” merely reinforces comments I have made in the past about long-distance politics.

  • tadgh

    Big business is happy to pay USD1,000 a head in New York to play with Gerry’s beard. Which leaves us with the irony that the party most obsessed by Irish national sovereignty are the party most in the control of foreigners.

    Youngfogey, there is a distinction. Big business in the US doesn’t sponsor SF. Those contributions come from wealthy donors individually i.e. you won’t see Motorola or Coca-Cola sponsoring a table @ $1000 per plate to see Gerry speak. You will however see individual Irish Americans giving their hard earned money to support SF.

    You are correct about the irony. Many Americans (foreigners) who support Sinn Fein are supporters Irish reunification. Sinn Fein is perceived as the best option to reach that goal. If history were different and the SDLP were leading the reunification effort, you’d see the Irish American support with them not SF.

    In the 2000 US census 30.5 million Americans claimed to be of Irish decent. Very few of us care about politics in America – much less about polotics on the island of Ireland. However, the few who do care and have family history with Ireland (real or anecdotal) are happy to support reunifiaction because our families forcibly lost land generations ago, or because our families fought the British for freedom, or because we simply believe partition is fundamentally wrong or because of a myriad of other reasons.

    As a somewhat less wealthy American supporter of Sinn Fein, perhaps you can send me some $$ so I can see Gerry speak in New York or Boston 😉

  • dave

    Thank god, there was me thinking that I was the only one who could make the link between the SF/IRA aka (Rafia) and the Nazi party of the 1930s Phew! For a short time I thought I had lost it.

    I have also made another Er…link… have you noticed that when such a link (SF/IRA and the Nazis party) some people just seem to convince themselves that it is nothing more than a unionist plot to besmirch the “good name” of the republican movement.

    Its just me trying to blacken the republican movement via this post, or is it?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    YF, I made the very point you just made about Gerry’s $1000/plate dinner bashes in NYC on here a while ago. Some Americans appeared to explain that these are usually attended by middle class professional types and tradesmen who’ve done well for themselves, not corporate executives etc. Your mileage may vary, but whatever way it goes I’m not sure that SF’s events qualify as corporate sponsorship and I don’t think the relationship is comparable with the one between the Nazi party and corporations such as IBM or Siemens.

    tadgh, Irish Americans have always supported violent armed struggle in Ireland I’m sorry to say, and that was the case even when SF did not bother to run in elections at all and the SDLP lead nationalist thinking. It hasn’t mattered when that objective has been democratically supported (as it was at the time of the National Loan) and when it has not been as has been the case since 1922. Paddy Devlin (former SDLP) reports in his autobiography that when he toured the USA in the early 1970s looking for money to support people who’d been put out of their houses he was mostly told to get lost, people were only interested in providing money to buy arms. Instead of rebuilding people’s homes, the Americans encountered by Devlin wanted to leave the burnt-out shells as monuments.

    A lot of people in this country are bemused at least, outraged at most, when they hear about Americans supporting armed struggles in foreign countries over the forced confiscation of land given the background to how present-day Americans came to occupy the land they now live in. Given the US government’s history of overthrowing democratic regimes and supporting right-wing paramilitary cliques like they did in Chile to name but one, and like they are trying to do right now in Venezuela, one wonders if Irish Americans looking to take up the good fight against oppression might find a better place for their efforts somewhere closer to home.

  • Davros

    Ultra-nationalism was prepared to agree to work within the state in order for the fox to get inside the henhouse … PFI ring any bells ?

  • PaddyCanuck

    Yeah, yeah Davros, you puke spurious arguments based on the most threadbare facts, and more than a little prejudice, and all you can reply with in your defence is that I no longer live in Ireland.

    The UDR was nothing more that a sectarian militia, full to the gills with UDA, UVF, UFF and more. It certainly did not seek to represent all the people of the six counties, and as such was as good as a private army.

    And I see u only took issue with one of the private armies I listed.

    If you believe your argument that Sinn Fein are akin to the Nazis, then the same must hold true for Unionists, based on the very waek criteria u listed in a previous post.

    Again Davros I say Wise up, and do not be so facetious.

    Mind you, it really does suit you sir.

  • Davros

    Ball not man please P-C 🙂

  • PaddyCanuck

    I attempted in several posts to play the ball, as with the last one, I disputed your argument, and it was you who avoided the argument and resorted to telling my opinions were suspect because I lived on another continent.

  • tadgh

    Roger, I agree with your points about Americans supporting armed struggles against democratically elected regimes in foreign countries. You correctly note Chile in the 1970’s and Venezuela currently. You could also add the deomcratically elected Sandinista government Nicaragua in the 1980’s – we’d hate to skip a decade.

    The distinction you miss is that these examples are of the US GOVERNMENT supporting armed struggles for a political or economic reason – Chile and Nicaragua because we feared fledgling far leaning leftist / communist regimes establishing themselves in our hemisphere (democratically elected or not) and Venezuela because the US GOVERNMENT wants to protect the interests of our large oil companies. I believe all of these actions of the US GOVERNMENT were and are wrong, and I’ve cast my vote accordingly.

    This is all together different than the case of individual US CITIZENS supporting SF in their political struggle for reunification. American supporters are individual citizens with their own hard earned money supporting a political objective that they believe in.

    Bemused or outraged; there is nothing you can do to stop that financial support from individual American donors – unless the US government revokes SF’s visas and put the PIRA back on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations: (not likely)

    http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2004/37191.htm

  • johnhidd

    Some interesting points amongst the personal abuse.

    In a polarised pseudo-ethnic conflict both sides will tend towards fascistic displays to arouse the faithful. I remember the 1970s Vanguard rallies where we were told to raise our arms three times to swear allegiance. And those motorcycle outriders…

    Then again, the Strabane IRA rally addressed by non-member G. Adams was classic fascism with the paramilitary regalia, tributes to fallen martyrs etc. etc.

    The reason political uniforms aren’t used in GB is because they are banned under the 1936 Public Order Act, introduced specifically to halt the success of Mosley’s Blackshirts.

    As regards the original point of this thread, will we see the Dublin government start to dig up the IRA arms dumps, as they have always claimed to know some of their locations?

  • Vera

    Irish Americans have always supported violent armed struggle in Ireland I’m sorry to say

    Let’s have a little honesty here. Probably fewer than 0.1% of Irish-Americans support armed struggle.

    From Kevin Cullen’s America and the Conflict written for the PBS website for an episode of Frontline on the IRA and Sinn Fein several years ago:

    “However impressive it sounds to say that there are, according to the 1990 U.S. Census, some 40 million Irish-Americans, the reality is that most of them think IRA stands for an Individual Retirement Account.It is true that a small portion of Irish-Americans have always supported the Irish Republican Army, but the importance of the money they raised and the weapons they procurred for the republican movement tended to be exaggerated – mostly by the British, Irish and American governments in an attempt to persuade Americans not to contribute to IRA support groups.”

    “Fundraising for the IRA, or at least for IRA prisoners, peaked whenever the British were seen to do something outrageous…
    But the fundraising was dwarfed by the millions that were raised by the mainstream Irish charities, especially the American Ireland Fund. Contrary to popular belief, the IRA didn’t rely on American money or weapons. And they couldn’t rely on American political support, which was limited at the beginning of the Troubles and continued to shrink as the IRA campaign dragged on and most influential Irish-Americans, especially politicians, distanced themselves from the IRA.”

    (emphasis mine)

  • Davros

    It coukld be said that your linked material was written in 1998 by an Irish-American for home consumption when the USA didn’t want to face upto it’s role in the NI troubles Vera.

  • PaddyCanuck

    I think the veracity of assertions behind Vera’s link are very strong.

    I think unionists and the british would be better living up to their role in the NI troubles.

  • aquifer

    The American irish connection funding armed insurrection is kinda interesting. Most of the catholic irish nationalists arrived after the British were expelled. Its as if they want to re-live the American revolution vicariously by exporting it back to the motherland. Or are they just getting back at the Scots Irish for getting all the best farmsteads and jobs in America before they arrived?

    The attacks on Henry Stickie McDonald are predictable. The Provos were given guns by the Irish Government precisely because they were irish nationalist and not at all left and socialist. He knows their form.

    The systematic use of violence in politics when other options are open is fascistic, no matter if politically correct goals are mouthed.

    If Provos are prevented from acting as fascists by the forces of law and order and by the shared constitutional inclinations of others, how does this reflect credit on them?

    If the option of an all Ireland but fascist state were open to them, would they refuse it?

  • Young Fogey

    Youngfogey, there is a distinction. Big business in the US doesn’t sponsor SF. Those contributions come from wealthy donors individually

    Of course, sorry, sloppy use of language on my part.

    You are correct about the irony. Many Americans (foreigners) who support Sinn Fein are supporters Irish reunification. Sinn Fein is perceived as the best option to reach that goal.

    Sinn Féin are of course under other circumstances vitriolicly opposed to any foreign involvement in Irish affairs to the extent of, for example, opposition to Ireland’s membership of the EU. It’s more than just ironic, it’s amazingly hypocritical.

    For a bit of context – foreign donations to political parties were banned in the UK about 5 years ago by the Labour government, basically to stop a number of wealthy foreigners giving 7-8 figure sums to the Conservative Party every year. It was part of a wide package of reforms to election law, the rest of which were applied across the UK. After intense lobbying by the Shinners, the foreign funding clause didn’t apply to Northern Ireland.

    While only a relatively small proportion of Americans may give money to Sinn Féin, a small proportion of 280 million people funding a political party in a country of 1.7 million which has about 60% of US GDP per capita makes a big difference.

    For further context, I would dearly have loved to have given money to someone like ACT or the Media Fund – but as a foreign citizen non-resident in the US I couldn’t, despite the fact George Bush has much more impact on my life that Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern combined do to anyone in the United States. Maybe that might help explain why some of us get soooo pissed of about SF’s foreign backing.

    are happy to support reunifiaction because our families forcibly lost land generations ago, or because our families fought the British for freedom, or because we simply believe partition is fundamentally wrong or because of a myriad of other reasons.

    This does crack me up a bit. Sorry. I’m not being facetious. I suppose my family forcibly lost land generations (about 15 of them!) ago but like… you know… the world has moved on a bit. I mean, would you support the Mohawk and the Cherokee if they took up arms to get their land back. I’m sure you’re aware that the socio-economic situation of Native Americans is incomparably worse than that of Catholics in Northern Ireland.

    Anyway tadhg, you can’t be all bad if you voted against The Dark Overlord as President.

    As a somewhat less wealthy American supporter of Sinn Fein, perhaps you can send me some $$ so I can see Gerry speak in New York or Boston 😉

    Jump on a plane sometime in April, and I’m sure you can see him on the election hustings live in the ‘mother country’! Great translantic deals at the moment, although the weak dollar might make things a bit expensive for you over here.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    tadgh, thanks for that response and in particular for not taking offence. I think that most Irish Americans who supported armed struggle here were misguided. It bothers me however in particular when people view an armed solution as a viable option in foreign countries but not in their own. In particular these days Irish Americans increasingly seem to be people who vote Bush and supported his intervention in Iraq, which is consistent with a certain attitude to the IRA but not consistent with a certain attitude to the British presence in Ireland.

    I don’t see the distinction between the beliefs of individual citizens as opposed to their governments as being particularly relevant, and I’m aware that the American government’s line has generally been to go along with the British (although Sen. Peter King has been able to achieve a few things such as blocking the RUC from certain FBI training events – I’m afraid the details escape me at the moment).

    Vera, my personal experience is that out of Irish Americans who have a political interest it generally – not always but generally – tends to be sympathetic to the IRA. In most cases this is for benign reasons (they get the Sinn Fein version and nobody took the time to give them the other sides of the story), in a small number of cases it is because some of them like the idea of violence against the British. There are other groups who rather foolishly believe that they have common cause with the IRA such as the AIM for example. (Hmm, I wonder what Irish Americans would think of fundraising efforts for the Leonard Peltier committee ? )

    I’m afraid it’s frankly nonsense to say that support from American groups counted for little given the huge efforts that republicans have been involved in to keep the Americans on side. Republicans toured the USA extensively in the late 60s and early 70s to raise cash. Don’t you remember the early 1990s when numerous people here including Joe Cahill were granted visas to the USA , ostensibly for promoting the peace process ? They were over to tell the people with the purse strings what they were planning to do. To this very day Irish American cash is a central part of SF’s fundraising effort, they have an office in New York that exists for this very reason.

    So I think Irish Americans need to be mindful of this. I’m not going to say that they created or drove the conflict, because at the end of the day they didn’t pull the triggers or plant the bombs, and I’ve no doubt the IRA would have acquired what they needed from elsewhere. But the cash they contributed is nonetheless associated with a proportion of the death toll here.

    PaddyCanuck, whataboutery is a destructive force in debates in this country, and that is the essential substance of your last contribution. Both the unionists and the republicans had interests in sustaining the conflict, and the sooner all of that can be recognized the better. Sadly I don’t feel that’s going to happen any time soon. The republicans still justify the murder of a mother of ten children and some of them will even tell you that the Omagh bombing deaths were the fault of the police. The British refuse to prosecute their own soldiers for murder and co-operate into enquiries into bombing campaigns in the Republic which some people believe they had a hand in. The unionists will merrily tell you that loyalist random murders are a regrettable but understandable response to the situation in the country, and they will freely tell you about how they reserve the right to use thuggery and the threat of violence overthrow the state and shut the country down if they don’t like how things are going. The problems in this country are always about blaming someone else.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    “Probably fewer than 0.1% of Irish-Americans support armed struggle”

    Hmm indeed, that means that only 40,000 Irish Americans in the entire USA support armed struggle. I am afraid, as I said in my previous contribution, that is completely impossible to believe. I have been in restaurants, pubs and establishments in cities in many places on the west coast in the USA and found plenty of them still with INAC/NORAID and huge “England get out of Ireland” posters, hunger strike memorabilia and other things throughout which I found particularly unsettling given the fact that there’s supposed to be a peace process which the republicans are largely backing. The customers in those establishments never seemed particularly disturbed by these displays.

    I think maybe we’d be closer to the nail if we talked about 1% or 2% of Irish Americans being broadly sympathetic to the stated objective and methods of the IRA. 2% would be 800,000 which would of course be considerably greater than the total number of votes cast in the entire Northern Ireland state in the last assembly election (692028). As Young Fogey says, you need to have a perspective on these things.

    BTW for the sake of balance, I’ll also add that Irish Americans I encountered were most of the time shocked when I gave an alternative view of the IRA, what it did and what it stood for. Without meaning to sound pompous I’d like to think that in a few cases I was able to give the small number of people I spoke to something to think about, and to their credit their minds were by no means closed on the matter.

  • willowfield

    Gourmet

    Sure Willowfield, I would be happy to help you. Just quote the particulat point you are not clear about, tell me why you think it is confusing and we can try and tease the meaning out.

    “It goes on and on and on. Every time I read Henry MacDonald in the Observer I see the same thing – the whole of the worlds [sic] history and politics viewed through the distorting lense of Unionist exceptionalism.”

    I’d like to know the relevance of the citation of McDonald.

  • Gourmet

    Hi Davros.

    I would be glad to explain that paragraph as well as I can but I have to move house over the next 3 days so I hope you’ll forgive me if I wait until next week (I may need reminding).

    Have a good weekend all.

  • Davros

    Should that not be addressed to someone else Gourmet ?

  • Vera

    Gah! I had an extremely long response written last night, and when I went to post it, it disappeared into the ether! After that I was too tired and demoralized to respond again, so let’s see if I can recreate some of it now, in the early morning. Thank goodness most of you seem to sleep decadently late over there. 🙂 That’s what I get for not using Word for such posts, or at least breaking them up into shorter ones.

    Davros, it was written in 1998 by an Irish-American for home consumption, but I don’t think we’re in denial about our role, because the fact is the vast majority of us have had no role at all.

    The American irish connection funding armed insurrection is kinda interesting. Most of the catholic irish nationalists arrived after the British were expelled. Its as if they want to re-live the American revolution vicariously by exporting it back to the motherland. Or are they just getting back at the Scots Irish for getting all the best farmsteads and jobs in America before they arrived?

    Aquifer,
    That’s a pretty strange way of looking at it. I wonder what would happen if I told some poor Scotch-Irish person scratching out a living in Appalachia that his ancestors got a better farmstead in that god-forsaken part of the country than mine did in the rich dairy land of Wisconsin? I think the majority of us on both sides have done extremely well here, and there are a few exceptions on both sides, but no one’s very interested in getting back at fellow Americans about anything. Except the Bushes. I wouldn’t mind getting back at them, but that’s a whole separate issue. 😉

    Also, we DO view the American Revolution as part of our history, and not something separate from us that we need to recreate for ourselves, even though most of our ancestors weren’t here yet (something that’s also true of most other Americans BTW). When I speak of what “we” were doing in 1776, I sure don’t mean what was going on in Ireland! I tend to view Irish history as something interesting, because it is one of the strands that make us who we are as Americans, but it’s not really “mine” the way American history is. Besides, most of us aren’t 100% Irish anyway (I’m about ¾) so the chances of having at least one ancestor who was here are pretty good.

    We do tend to view everything through the lens of our own history, but any connection between how we view the Troubles and the American Revolution is extremely tenuous. We are far more likely to draw comparisons to other things, such as the civil rights movement.

    Youngfogey,
    While only a relatively small proportion of Americans may give money to Sinn Féin, a small proportion of 280 million people funding a political party in a country of 1.7 million which has about 60% of US GDP per capita makes a big difference.
    I’ve kind of made that point here before, that what is actually an extremely tiny proportion of us looks like more to y’all because you’re a much smaller country. But even in Irish terms I think the impact is somewhat overblown. Pretty much everyone on all sides has an incentive to exaggerate it.

    For further context, I would dearly have loved to have given money to someone like ACT or the Media Fund – but as a foreign citizen non-resident in the US I couldn’t, despite the fact George Bush has much more impact on my life that Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern combined do to anyone in the United States. Maybe that might help explain why some of us get soooo pissed of about SF’s foreign backing.
    Great, so lobby to get that law extended to Northern Ireland. I’d have no problem with that. In the meantime, don’t blame us for your own law’s short comings.

    I mean, would you support the Mohawk and the Cherokee if they took up arms to get their land back.
    No, but since I’ve got a little Cherokee in me I would want a piece of the action if they succeeded. 😉

  • Vera

    Gah! I had an extremely long response written last night, and when I went to post it, it disappeared into the ether! After that I was too tired and demoralized to respond again, so let’s see if I can recreate some of it now, in the early morning. Thank goodness most of you seem to sleep decadently late over there. 🙂 That’s what I get for not using Word for such posts, or at least breaking them up into shorter ones.

    Davros, it was written in 1998 by an Irish-American for home consumption, but I don’t think we’re in denial about our role, because the fact is the vast majority of us have had no role at all.

    The American irish connection funding armed insurrection is kinda interesting. Most of the catholic irish nationalists arrived after the British were expelled. Its as if they want to re-live the American revolution vicariously by exporting it back to the motherland. Or are they just getting back at the Scots Irish for getting all the best farmsteads and jobs in America before they arrived?

    Aquifer,
    That’s a pretty strange way of looking at it. I wonder what would happen if I told some poor Scotch-Irish person scratching out a living in Appalachia that his ancestors got a better farmstead in that god-forsaken part of the country than mine did in the rich dairy land of Wisconsin? I think the majority of us on both sides have done extremely well here, and there are a few exceptions on both sides, but no one’s very interested in getting back at fellow Americans about anything. Except the Bushes. I wouldn’t mind getting back at them, but that’s a whole separate issue. 😉

    Also, we DO view the American Revolution as part of our history, and not something separate from us that we need to recreate for ourselves, even though most of our ancestors weren’t here yet (something that’s also true of most other Americans BTW). When I speak of what “we” were doing in 1776, I sure don’t mean what was going on in Ireland! I tend to view Irish history as something interesting, because it is one of the strands that make us who we are as Americans, but it’s not really “mine” the way American history is. Besides, most of us aren’t 100% Irish anyway (I’m about ¾) so the chances of having at least one ancestor who was here are pretty good.

    We do tend to view everything through the lens of our own history, but any connection between how we view the Troubles and the American Revolution is extremely tenuous. We are far more likely to draw comparisons to other things, such as the civil rights movement.

    Youngfogey,
    While only a relatively small proportion of Americans may give money to Sinn Féin, a small proportion of 280 million people funding a political party in a country of 1.7 million which has about 60% of US GDP per capita makes a big difference.
    I’ve kind of made that point here before, that what is actually an extremely tiny proportion of us looks like more to y’all because you’re a much smaller country. But even in Irish terms I think the impact is somewhat overblown. Pretty much everyone on all sides has an incentive to exaggerate it.

    For further context, I would dearly have loved to have given money to someone like ACT or the Media Fund – but as a foreign citizen non-resident in the US I couldn’t, despite the fact George Bush has much more impact on my life that Gerry Adams, Ian Paisley, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern combined do to anyone in the United States. Maybe that might help explain why some of us get soooo pissed of about SF’s foreign backing.
    Great, so lobby to get that law extended to Northern Ireland. I’d have no problem with that. In the meantime, don’t blame us for your own law’s short comings.

    I mean, would you support the Mohawk and the Cherokee if they took up arms to get their land back.
    No, but since I’ve got a little Cherokee in me I would want a piece of the action if they succeeded. 😉

  • Vera

    Apparently my difficulties posting continue. 🙂

    Roger,
    In particular these days Irish Americans increasingly seem to be people who vote Bush and supported his intervention in Iraq, which is consistent with a certain attitude to the IRA but not consistent with a certain attitude to the British presence in Ireland.

    Some do and some don’t. I’d be 0/4 on that list.

    Sen. Peter King Not a senator. I know it’s nitpicky, but I don’t care. 🙂

    Vera, my personal experience is that out of Irish Americans who have a political interest it generally – not always but generally – tends to be sympathetic to the IRA.

    Well, yes and no. It depends on what you mean by sympathetic, and my experience is somewhat different from yours. Of those Irish-Americans who have any interest or knowledge at all about Northern Ireland (a tiny percentage to begin with), most have nationalist sympathies, obviously. For some those sympathies may extend as far as being understanding of why one might have been tempted to join the IRA back in the 70’s, even if they don’t personally agree with the choice. But that’s the furthest most would go. Understanding but not support. Of course there are a few who go further, but since I don’t know a single person who’s ever given a dime to Sinn Fein I can’t believe it’s that common, even among the politically aware few.

    In most cases this is for benign reasons (they get the Sinn Fein version and nobody took the time to give them the other sides of the story)

    There’s certainly some truth to that. Sinn Fein makes a much greater effort to get their version out there than anybody else, and it’s certainly easier to hear their side of it than any of the other parties (except for the British government, which is generally the line our mainstream media takes on those rare occasions that Northern-Ireland is mentioned.) It’s easier now with the internet, but you still have to really go looking in order to hear other voices.

    I wonder what Irish Americans would think of fundraising efforts for the Leonard Peltier committee ?
    See my comment above about the Cherokee. 😉 But seriously, there are plenty of people who have some sympathy for Leonard Peltier or think he was wrongly imprisoned, and I’m sure at least a few of them are Irish-Americans.

    I’m afraid it’s frankly nonsense to say that support from American groups counted for little given the huge efforts that republicans have been involved in to keep the Americans on side.

    I think that has mostly been about political cover, and it’s mostly failed.

    So I think Irish Americans need to be mindful of this. I’m not going to say that they created or drove the conflict, because at the end of the day they didn’t pull the triggers or plant the bombs, and I’ve no doubt the IRA would have acquired what they needed from elsewhere. But the cash they contributed is nonetheless associated with a proportion of the death toll here.
    Look, I’m not saying that the IRA didn’t get some money from Irish-Americans, or that there aren’t a few who support them. I’m mainly arguing against this tarring with a broad brush that goes on here. I don’t think “Irish-Americans” in general need to be mindful of something we haven’t done. And you tend to get a lot of “Oh, you’re an American and therefore and idiot and a provo, so I can write off anything you say as the ravings of a lunatic and portray you as an extremist no matter how moderate you might actually be on some things” on the internet and it gets old.

    Hmm indeed, that means that only 40,000 Irish Americans in the entire USA support armed struggle. I am afraid, as I said in my previous contribution, that is completely impossible to believe.

    I actually think 40,000 is a pretty high estimate. How much money did Sinn Fein raise in the US last year? How many individual contributors do you think that comes to? And of course not every contributor even supports armed struggle, since they are supposedly at peace.

    I have been in restaurants, pubs and establishments in cities in many places on the west coast in the USA and found plenty of them still with INAC/NORAID and huge “England get out of Ireland” posters, hunger strike memorabilia and other things throughout which I found particularly unsettling given the fact that there’s supposed to be a peace process which the republicans are largely backing. The customers in those establishments never seemed particularly disturbed by these displays.

    Sure, I don’t doubt that you can find such places, especially on the coasts, if you go looking for them. But I don’t think they’re as common as you seem to think. For example, I don’t think either of the two cities I’ve lived in recently (each of about a million people) has a bar like that. There’s also a possibility that a lot of that stuff on the wall is just for “atmosphere” and doesn’t necessarily mean much, especially the 20 year old stuff. If I happened to find myself in such a bar (never have, but hypothetically) I wouldn’t be disturbed by it as much as figure it was just part of that particular bar’s stchick, like a bull ring in a country bar, or the washboards on the wall at Cracker Barrel. Of course you could argue that we shouldn’t consider such things harmless stchick, and you may have a point, but it still doesn’t make all the customers provo supporters. Not to mention the vast majority of us who’ve never been in such a bar to begin with.

    I think maybe we’d be closer to the nail if we talked about 1% or 2% of Irish Americans being broadly sympathetic to the stated objective and methods of the IRA.

    I’d agree with 2% being sympathetic with the stated objective, but not necessarily with the methods. But since neither of us can commission a large, representative poll, we’ll probably just each have to continue to form our opinions based on our acquaintance and agree to disagree. But, even if you’re right about 1 to 2% (and I really don’t think you are) that’s still a very small percentage of us.

    BTW for the sake of balance, I’ll also add that Irish Americans I encountered were most of the time shocked when I gave an alternative view of the IRA, what it did and what it stood for. Without meaning to sound pompous I’d like to think that in a few cases I was able to give the small number of people I spoke to something to think about, and to their credit their minds were by no means closed on the matter.

    Good, a little perspective never hurt anybody, especially the self-selecting sample you’re likely to meet in such places.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Vera, fair enough about your points on the IRA, there’s not a lot I can argue with, except to point out that most Americans I’ve encountered seem to have a similarly ideological outlook on the 1776 revolution and it’s background (a huge land grab) as they do when it comes to the perspective on Irish politics that I’ve been describing 🙂

  • James

    The Road To Calumny*
    If things get really boring when Godwin has been ground to obliteration, it’s always great fun to have a Yank bash. It all started innocently enough at 8:20 PM. Up to that point it had been typical Slugger fare, oodles of whataboutry, flying Fisks with the Nazi’s and Joe Stalin sitting in on the game.

    Then Jesus’s distant cousin, Rodg, fielded a tossaway:

    “……….but they’re not exactly IG Farben are they ? They attract a lot of donations from wealthy types in the USA”

    which is followed up at 8:27 PM by the YF (what is this goddamn attraction of Cork to the English, anyway?):

    “Who raises their money for them in the States? Factory workers collecting for them in biscuit tins? I don’t think so. Big business is happy to pay USD1,000 a head in New York to play with Gerry’s beard. Which leaves us with the irony that the party most obsessed by Irish national sovereignty are the party most in the control of foreigners. You have to laugh.”

    Enter the Irish Americans, lambs to the slaughter, stage left. First the setup:

    “Youngfogey, there is a distinction.” Yada yada yada.

    Tadgh

    And then Vera tries factual approach (don’t confuse them with facts, lass, they are all math illiterate, trust me)

    “Let’s have a little honesty here. Probably fewer than 0.1% of Irish-Americans support armed struggle.”

    Vera

    The blood is now in the water and the great game is afoot.

    All of youse:

    If you do not want Gerry Adams to raise funds in the United States then:
    (1) Grow some balls and convict him of a crime or just imprison him. He can’t be in the states if he is in the slammer DUH!! or;
    (2) If you don’t have the bottle to do the above then wimp out and label him as a terrorist to the satisfaction of Rice and our Patriot Act will take care of the rest or;
    (3) Ban Sinn Fein fund raising in Great Britain, Northern Ireland or Ireland. We won’t do feckin’ diddly squat while you still allow fundraising in the heart of the home counties.

    Tadgh & Vera:

    When the whiners go on and on and on about the arms,

    (1) don’t let them forget that the need, motive and direction of Provo arms buyers came exclusively from the island of Ireland. They shipped their dirty laundry over here and they then have the brass neck to bitch about how we handled their garbage.

    (2) When found, we prosecuted and jailed those buyers. Using my taxes, not theirs and that was taking food out of my kids mouths. Knowing your lot, I don’t expect any thanks.

    (3) We don’t talk about sending people to jail, we bloody well send generations of them there. If you solicit for a terrorist organization in the states you get 10 years. If you even mislead any US citizen into contributing to a terrorist organization you get 10 years. And that is the pre-Patriot law.

    Next Tadgh and Vera, when they carp on abut how Irish-America has caused all their woes and “OH! How life would be better if only the feckin’ feckless Yanks would go away”, switch to Simpson’s reruns because the denial goes on forever here or, remember:

    (1) If we really wanted to bother with their wee problem to the point of taking it over, parts of east and west Belfast, south Armagh and the Murder Triangle would be ………moonscapes.
    (2) Coyly ask how the shinner fundraising is going in areas around London, say Kilburn.
    (3) No one is ever wrong here.
    (4) There are only several of hundred of these bozos on the Internet, I think 700 voted for the pajama thingie. When you visit the people who really live in Northern Ireland you will find that they are very kind, generous and very reasonable.

    *It’s a book about how we screwed the GI’s who were brain-washed in Korea.

  • Davros

    Look, I’m not saying that the IRA didn’t get some money from Irish-Americans, or that there aren’t a few who support them. I’m mainly arguing against this tarring with a broad brush that goes on here.

    Hopefully it gives Americans an idea how unionist community feel about people misrepresenting us as all having led priveleged lives, all having exploited our RC fellow-countrymen amd all having supported (overtly and covertly) loyalist paramilitary thugs.

  • Vera

    James, I think I might be in love.

    Alas, you are Californian, and I fear it is not to be, but I shall at least adopt your American spelling of whataboutry.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, but many unionists do covertly support loyalist paramilitarism. It’s not as straightforward as the way many nationalists covertly (or overtly) support the IRA, but it’s just the same.

    James, during much of the period when American citizens were providing funding to the IRA, Gerry Adams and many of SF or the IRA’s membership and/or leadership *was* in jail and if they weren’t in jail their movements were both observed and heavily restricted at the same time (Adams couldn’t travel throughout the UK for example). If I recall correctly, the FBI investigations and subsequent prosecutions of NORAID people didn’t happen until the 1980s. Whatever number of Americans were sympathetic to the IRA, Peter King obviously thought there were votes in it (and still does with his ongoing criticism of the PSNI and ridiculous apologism for past IRA atrocities). Who would I be to argue with him ?

    But in general I was not referring to legislative matters, just the fact that quite a lot of Americans at one time believed that the Irish question could be solved with arms, and they backed up that belief with hard cash. Yes, the calls for cash originated over here, and yes the triggers were pulled by people here as I think I have already said. By the way, I was also not referring to SF fundraising (which was legitimate and still is) but money which was collected for the express purpose of arming the IRA. I’m not sure why you’re taking this so personally – if people here were collecting for Al Quaida you guys would be working overtime to pull out your businesses, complain about collaboration and be itching for an opportunity to bomb the place. And if you were you’d probably have every right.

  • Davros

    many unionists do covertly support loyalist paramilitarism.

    On what do you base that assertion Roger ?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    I think we’ve been over this already Davros. Unionist politicians are equivocal about paramilitarism in public. Recent examples include the way UUP politicians handled loyalist protests concerning residents in a block of apartments at the end of Sandy Row. Less recent examples include the election of individuals connected with loyalist paramilitary organizations into high-profile positions on the Belfast City Council while simultaneously imposing boycotts when republicans are elected into similar positions. We can go back further; Drumcree and the mess that ensued; a certain UUP MP describing the burning-out of student nurses who foolishly moved into houses on the Donegal Road as “understandable”; Third Force, Ulster Resistance and all the rest.

  • James

    “Gerry Adams and many of SF or the IRA’s membership and/or leadership *was* in jail and if they weren’t in jail their movements were both observed and heavily restricted at the same time”

    You kept him just long enough to learn the worst Irish on the island, next to mine. If Adams had crossed the line on our turf he would still be showering with Noriega.

    This is the point: If you want to stop him or Sinn Fein from fundraising in the United States you will, at the very least, have to make it illegal for him or Sinn Fein to do it in the UK as well. That’s the best deal I’m offering.

    If you want really be sure, prosecute, convict and imprison him.

    “If I recall correctly, the FBI investigations and subsequent prosecutions of NORAID people didn’t happen until the 1980s.”

    This isn’t your fault, even the Beeb does it. I was in London just as the GFA was signed and was watching the swans swim through Shakespeare’s old digs during the Tames flood of that year when some presenter from the BBC came on with the GFA coverage. Did they celebrate the occasion with a healthy sigh of relief now that everyone was going to get along? Hell no, the closing piece was a tasteless interview with a NORAID spokesman in which the implication was that all this would have ended oh so much earlier if only it wasn’t for all those Yankee nickles rattling about in the can. You guys can’t help it, you are a culture of NORAID junkies trapped in a begrudger’s paradise.

    And, yes, it also took a good long time before we realize that Stalin was shipping the red menace to our doorstep as well. It’s the same old tune: We killed the Rosenbergs for being the conduit and you let Klaus Fuchs do nine years and walk for doing the actual deed. The point here is that as soon as we copped onto the operations you or the reds were running over here WE DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT, NO MATTER HOW GROSS and no mountain of begrudgery is going to hide it.

    The UK created and nurtured Provos. We didn’t.

    Now here’s a personal anecdote that will be an affirmation to all of you that think you’re just piggy in the middle and that these Yank bastards have made a hash of the whole mess.

    I met a whacko through the VVAW in Seattle who was in Southeast Asia about the same time I was. He was a SOGs grunt who did two tours there as well as one in the Korean DMZ. This guy was a real war-lover and I’m soooo thankful that I wasn’t anywhere near him overseas.

    While I knew him in Seattle he made two trips to Northern Ireland to offer his unique skillet to the Provos. Luckily, the Provos probably thought that he was as whacked out as I thought he was. With me so far? Damn yanks helpin’ the provies again, right?

    When he got back from the second trip, the FBI was waiting on his doorstep. The only thing (I think, at least) that saved him form McNeil Island was that his father was a municipal judge in Seattle. This was 1972.

  • James

    He probably offered them the skillet as well as the whole kitchen sink but that still should have read “skill set”.

    Damn all spelling checkers.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    The discussion is really about funding for the IRA and their arms rather than political funding for Sinn Fein. I was wondering how long it would take you to start talking about those damn ruskies 😉 Thank you for the 1972 anecdote which I’ve no reason to disbelieve, but it doesn’t refute the fact that NORAID existed and contributes large amounts of money into republican coffers. Hell, back in the day they used to run a bus trip around Belfast to rally the fund-raising troops, they were still doing this as the GFA came into existence.

    What I am saying is that Americans who funded INAC/NORAID bear a degree of responsibility for a proportion of the deaths which have occurred in NI. I didn’t say the British were blameless, and I I said quite clearly that Americans didn’t pull triggers and Americans didn’t create the conditions within which paramilitarism came to exist. I didn’t say Americans were solely responsible for the Troubles. I haven’t tried to absolve the British or anyone else from their roles, perceived or real, in nurturing the IRA’s existence. But your efforts to downplay those of some of your fellow countrymen aren’t going to go far I’m afraid. In any case it’s an academic matter now, as I’ve no doubt it would be a lot harder for the IRA to get funding from Americans post 9/11. Nobody’s going to touch that with a barge pole. We’re just talking history here.

    At least you seem to have a sense of humour about it all. Mine was surgically removed at birth, and I’ve had to make do with a cheapo one made in some sweatshop in Taiwan where they pay the workers with half a bucket of water per week. I’d buy a US-made one but stuff that says “made in the USA” on is so hard to find these days.

  • Davros

    Unionist politicians are equivocal about paramilitarism in public.

    Roger – that’s VERY different to your comment which was that “many unionists do covertly support loyalist paramilitarism.” I’m not terribly sure I would go so far as that about Unionist politicians, much as I dislike them, but I strongly dispute that many “unionists” covertly support loyalist paramilitarism. Most unionists I know detest them and deny their legitimacy. I would argue that they are far more a threat to the Union with GB than the IRA.

  • New Yorker

    Regarding financial support to SF/IRA from Irish Americans, I think 10,000 wrongheaded people would be the highest in any year. Now, after they have revealed themselves as a criminal operation and political fraud, maybe there would be 5,000 idiots who would give them a penny. That is if George Bush dosen’t come down hard on them, which I believe he would do, if he considers the issue himself. As for corporate support, if you check an investigation the Irish Times did a few years ago on a fundraising tour in the Southeast, I think you will find out that Coca-Cola corporate did write them a check, which they sorely regret. The idea that wealthy Irish Americans financially support SF/IRA is totally off base. There are a few guys off-the-boat who have made money in the construction trades and ambulance-chasing lawyers who financially support them; a number of them in bed with the Mafia. But that in no way should be construed as the affluent Irish Americans supporting them. I was at a reception in NY last week for John Hume, it was filled with affluent and highly educated Irish Americans. Mr Hume did not ask, but if he did, most of the guests could have written checks for $10-20-30+k. SF/IRA supporters in the US are the same as they are in NI, ROI, UK, etc. – not very bright people on the margins.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Davros, unionists at the ballot box have never demonstrated any kind of revulsion for people like Willie McCrea who shared platforms with loyalists. Republicans yes, but not loyalists. Whenever any unionists have discussed this matter on the board (I usually get silence) they have tried to justify it by saying that McCrea was not supporting Wright but helping him to defy threats from the pro-agreement factions of the UVF which is utterly ridiculous. Consider also the justifications I frequently hear about UWC, “not a single shot was fired”. It’s as though it’s OK to put on a balaclava and effect political change that way as long as you don’t actually fire a bullet. I can’t get any unionists on this group to condemn the methods used by the UWC so I can’t conclude anything other than that they find them quite acceptable. Loyalist paramilitarism is ingrained in the unionist community just like republican paramilitarism is. Unionist politicians and people know it is there, but they think if they avoid it and don’t talk about it and even look the other way that their democratic bona fides are intact. The reason why unionist politicians don’t take a firm line against them is because they are afraid they would lose votes. That is the bottom line.

    It’s not just about unionists though. By the by I would say right across the board 60-70% of people in Northern Ireland will tell you that they consider some type of violence by some group or other at some time or other to have been at the very least a consequence or a response, rather than a cause, of various problems in NI. To me people who hold this point of view are people who under a certain set of circumstances, even if they were very extreme circumstances, would refrain from going to the police with information about paramilitary activity as a minimum. That is why I say that a majority of unionists and also a majority of nationalists covertly support paramilitarism.

    New Yorker, as I said we are talking history so I don’t expect Bush to come down hard on SF. The British government had the opportunity to stop foreign funding for Sinn Fein and decided not to take it, so in that respect James is absolutely right when he says the ball is in our court when it comes to present-day fundraising activity. In the past the USA was a vital source of funding for the IRA and the republicans worked extremely hard to ensure the fountain kept flowing.

  • Davros

    Davros, unionists at the ballot box have never demonstrated any kind of revulsion for people like Willie McCrea who shared platforms with loyalists.

    That still doesn’t justify your claim Roger. I’ll also add the comment that if, as you seem to think, the collection of misfits and oddballs posting here , from both sides of TDF, are representative of the population at large then we really are totally and utterly fecked.

  • New Yorker

    Dear Roger,

    It’s hard to judge what Bush will do by referring to history. He said himself that he does not read books. I think the terrorism aspect might just, if it comes to his attention, cause him to come down hard.

    Regarding SF/IRA funding from the US, something I did not mention in my earlier post, some now believe the amount was vastly overblown to cover what they were reaping from ciminal operations in NI, ROI and the UK.

  • Davros
  • James

    “Thank you for the 1972 anecdote which I’ve no reason to disbelieve”

    Most of you were in day care at the time and wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of what went on. Also the UK has decades of denial to deal with and even all of them are not really at fault either since they don’t pay any more attention to you than we do.

    “But your efforts to downplay those of some of your fellow countrymen aren’t going to go far I’m afraid.”

    I am not downplaying American actions one bit. I am pointing out to you whiners, step by step, that we have been in this game since it got on our radar in the 70’s. You’ve been told.

    Consider that compared to the Cold War (those damn commies again) and the mob, the dreary steeples are the flea on the zit on the elephants rump to us. Why the hell should we have to divert and investigation into the Tristate Teamster’s Pension Fund which was fueling the mob’s Vegas scams into a chump-change, obscure, Northern Ireland charity scam? But we did. Do you realize yet how minuscule that scam is compared to the activities of the 5 families?

    And look at all the thanks we got for our effort.

    We did get back, albeit in a left-handed way. The UK shipped the Pira criminal conspiracy over to Boston to do business with the Winter Hill mob. The Southie bunch got a bunch of arms to sell to the Provos but perhaps that begrudging attitude was communicated, perhaps not. I do know that as soon as the Mirita Ann sailed, Whitey Bulger ratted them out. Good for you Whitey, wherever you are. It might be the only good thing you ever did.

    What I find petty, mean-spirited, narcissistic and begrudging is the prevailing attitude which portrays the poor old brits, planters and stoops as piggy in the middle while all those Yanks who think Darby O’Gill was a documentary are pouring money into the Provo coffers eager to blow proddy kids to smithereens. But life is short and who the hell can put the islands, at least the ones on them who can find NI on the map, on the couch?

    What I have a personal hot button about is the foot-dragging and denial. The UK and the ROI have only very recently implemented criminal assets impoundment, a thimbleful of the mob legislation we have had on the books since the early 70’s. You have not yet even talked about RICO ferchristsakes!! Does time dilate when you approach the Greenwich meridian?

    My 6:59:

    “(3) No one is ever wrong here.”

    and it’s corollary,

    “Everything has it’s limit. Iron ore cannot be educated into gold.”
    Sam Clemens

    Carry on.

  • Davros

    But was it Whitey ?

    Dear old Martin Ferris’ name pops up here :

    IRA-linked gangster is released in the us

  • James

    “Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon.”

    That’s the key to our success our in a nutshell.

    NI is obsessed with it’s navel while the Yankees argue over who’s going to be in the TV movie.

    It’s all showbiz.

    Whitey, I know you, the Truth and D.B. Cooper are out there somewhere.

    Ya got an agent?