Adams to fight McDowell's 'Army charge'

Gerry Adams has promised to come out fighting (a month later) on Justice Minister Michael McDowell’s assertion that for Sinn Fein and the IRA the latter’s Army Council is the legitimate government of Ireland. McDowell’s defining line at the time may have been the old Orwell line: …who controls the past, controls the future. Is Sinn Fein recognising the new lines of engagement too late? Keep watching this space.

  • Da McGlincheys Code

    ‘Gerry Adams has promised to come out fighting (a month later) on Justice Minister Michael McDowell’s assertion that for Sinn Fein and the IRA the latter’s Army Council is the legitimate government of Ireland.’

    Not a particularly honest assessment of what has been said over the last month or so. SF leaders (Mc Guinness on Q&A) have been saying it for a while, but in the current hysteria that has enveloped the media, including the alternative media re Slugger, it has been overlooked. Surprise, surprise.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I don’t see why it is dishonest. McLaughlin never retracted his assent to the proposition, and several others indeed agreed with him (although McGuinness was indeed more circumspect). This however leaves a void. What is provisionalism now? Adams refers to a hypothetical future government (32 county one assumes) to which he will bow the knee, but what do provisionals now believe the lawful civil authority of the two jurisdictions to be now if Adams is speaking the truth and they no longer believe it to be the Army Council?

  • Mark

    I suppose it’s been overlooked as people are actually waiting for them to say something worthwhile. For example, what actually constitutes a crime in SF eyes? Or, Who should witnesses to the McCartney murder speak to if they wish to give evidence?

  • Ciarán Irvine

    what do provisionals now believe the lawful civil authority of the two jurisdictions to be

    Not just provisionals though. I mean, the Republic is easy, the lawful institutions are those enshrined in the Constitution. But in the north? Personally, I’d still baulk at describing the current situation and institutions as “lawful” as that implies it’s justified and all hunky-dory and completely legitimate.

    The northern state still isn’t sufficiently reformed, and won’t ever be until there is either Unification or a functioning stable power-sharing Stormont to be able to cheerfully describe the set-up as “legitimate”.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Ciaran, I was hoping for some shinner input on this. What is their ideological position.

    As for the North I take it as a given that a nationalist believes it the lawful power shouldn’t be the UK, even if that is the position for now, but that is to answer a different question. Without such an authority there is no yardstick against which one can say whether something is a crime. The advantage of the Apostolic Succession was that it provided an ideological answer for shinners to this question, albeit a very silly one. If, as Adams says, they ave abandoned it, what have they replaced it with? They don’t seem too keen to tell us. I’m not sure they know themselves.

  • JC47

    The legitimate government of the Irish Republic is the Army Council of the IRA. Their mandate comes from the authority of the 2nd dail. This is how Sinn fein leaders can claim that the killers of Garda McCabe are not criminals. Robbing banks in pursuit of a legitmate political purpose is not a crime. Killing Robert McCartney under the orders of an IRA commander is not a crime. Shooting Jean McConville in the back of the head is not a crime. These are all legitimate acts under the lawful authority of a legitimate government. It is irrelevent what is the ‘ideological position of Sinn Fein’. Sinn Fein can publicly take any position they like because of political expediency. It may be in their interests to do so for electoral advantage but the fact remains that the de jure government of the Irish Republic is the Army Council of the IRA.

  • levitas

    jc47….just putting up a straw man so that the reader will knock it down…in de facto terms the powers of govt lie within the grasp of the respective state machines of the UK and the ROI- th crucial issue is whether there can be a way forward for the six counties to become acceptable to all its people.

  • levitas

    jc47….just putting up a straw man so that the reader will knock it down…in de facto terms the powers of govt lie within the grasp of the respective state machines of the UK and the ROI- th crucial issue is whether there can be a way forward for the six counties to become acceptable to all its people.

  • Alan McDonald

    Please excuse the ignorance of an American (or is that redundant), but are all of these “the army Council is the legitimate government of Ireland” comments on the level? If so, does any other nation in the world recognize this to be true?

  • Richard Delevan

    My Fellow Americans (well, Alan McD – I’ve just always wanted to say that), no one recognises the claim. Not even Woodrow Wilson did after Dev went on his power bender through Irish America in 1918. Certainly no one today, certainly no one in the only UN member state where Irish is an official language, save for a few drooling toothless psychos sat in dark corners with Guinness-matted beards with a jukebox playing nothing but the Wolfe Tones for the last 30 years.
    Think the Montana Freemen without the get-up-and-go or joie de vivre, or Bosnian Serbs without the balls.

  • Mick Fealty

    DMGC:

    “Not a particularly honest assessment of what has been said over the last month or so”.

    Sorry not to have got beack to you earlier.

    I agree that a lot has been said about McDowell apparent motive for leveling the accusation, but unless I’ve missed something crucial (and it’s more than possible I may have done in the melee of the last month or so), this is the first notice of intent to challenge the assertion itself.

    However, if I’ve missed something important, I’ll be more than happy to stand corrected!

  • aquifer

    The Irish acts of self determination of 1998 trump any prior claims. The Irish government have ordered new armoured cars, an order long delayed due to budget contraints, for peacekeeping duties overseas of course.

  • Occasional Commenter

    But not everyone agrees that self determination can trump all other claims. One could argue that the 6 counties exercised their self determination through their legally elected representatives running the government in Stormont.

    Then a republican will argue that self determination only works across a whole island.

    The logical conclusion of that is that Scotland and Wales should not have had referenda to establish devolved parliaments and assemblies.

    All this confusion gives the Army Council enough wriggle room to ignore the acts of self determination and base legitimacy on what Jimmy Sands described as Apostolic Succession.

    The idea that nations (how does one define a nation) should determine their future and should correspond to states is a relatively new idea in the history of the world.

  • Alan McDonald

    Some years ago, I was discussing the differences between the black civil rights movement in the USA and Republicanism in Ireland. My argument was that there was no nationalist issue involved in America, except for the almost forgotten movement for a REPUBLIC OF NEW AFRIKA (RNA), which traces its existence back to 1526. The RNA claims the five states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as its rightful land.

    This concept is, ironically, secessionist and, therefore, similar to other marginal “nationalist” movements in America. Three that come to mind are Hawaii, Texas and Vermont, three states that claimed nation status before statehood.

  • JC47

    “No one recognises the claim”….Richard Delevan

    Ask any member of the IRA or Sinn Fein if they recognise the claim of the Army Council to be the legitimate government of the Irish republic. Failure to recognise the claim means that the killing of Robert mcCartney was a crime, the killing of Jean McConville was a crime, the Northern Bank robbery was a crime etc. The whole moral basis of physical force republicanism depends upon the validity of the claim.
    Alan McD don’t think Montana Freeman – instead think Mafia. An organisation that can afford to buy banks in Bulgaria and fight the British Army to a stalemate deserves respect and a lot of fear!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    JC

    On the issue of which states republicans do or do not recognise, I should have thought Sinn Fein cleared that issue up at the blood-on-the-walls Ard Fheis of 1986.

    At that stage Sinn Fein abandoned its policy of abstention from Dail Eireann, thus recognising its legitimacy. That in itself was a tectonic shift, as evidenced by the split in the party that it precipitated. Because by taking their seats in Dail Eireann Sinn Fein was giving recognition to the legitimacy of the constitution, under which Dail Eireann is elected and legislates. By recognising Bunreacht na hEireann they recognised the Republic of Ireland, in all its partitionist glory.

    They may not have liked Dail Eireann or partition, but they recognised both as facts of life. In doing so they departed from what had been the single unchanging policy of the various Sinn Feins since 1905 – if it ain’t sovereign and it ain’t 32 county, it does not exist.

    So as far as Sinn Fein is concerned, it is axiomatic that this issue was sorted out nearly 20 years ago. Republican Sinn Fein can fetishize the 2nd Dail to their heart’s content but far from not recognising Dail Eireann as the legitimate legislature in Ireland, Sinn Fein’s policy is for northern representatives to be allowed sit there.

    As for the north, by singing the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and by ratifiying it at the special “Well done David” Ard Fheis, Sinn Fein accepted both the northern state and the principle of consent. Of course they didn’t embrace either, but again they accepted that both were facts of life.

    So I suppose what is interesting here is that if the IRA’s rule book – which I have never seen a copy of – does indeed vest governmental powers in the IRA army council because of long-past political realities, it seems fairly clear that the IRA and Sinn Fein have a very clear policy differences in relation to both the northern and southern states.

    So when Gerry Adams told the recent Ard Fheis that Sinn Fein DID recognise the legitimacy of Dail Eireann, that was true. The weird thing is that the strict policy of Gerry Adams, army council member (if indeed he is) is the opposite.

    I think perhaps what we’re seeing here is yet another example of a glaring inconsistency in the republican movement being highlighted. It’ll be the army council’s claim that will have to go.

    “Failure to recognise the claim means that the killing of Robert mcCartney was a crime.”

    No-one has disputed that the killing of Robert McCartney was a crime. The SF leadership have been working overtime (and with little success) to limit the damage on the McCartney murder, but in fairness to them, they have been unambiguous in naming it as a crime, in naming the cover-up as a crime and, in accordance with their own logic, in accusing the culprits of tainting the name of republicanism.

    “Failure to recognise the claim means that the killing of the killing of Jean McConville was a crime.”

    – Not so. Whatever you or I think, to republicans the McConville murder predates the 1986 Ard Fheis and therefore was carried out in accordance with what SF policy THEN regarded as lawful. I know it seems nuts to us, but we’re talking about how republicans rationalise issues of `crime’.

    “The whole moral basis of physical force republicanism depends upon the validity of the claim.”

    I agree. The fact that Sinn Fein recognised the Dail in 1986 suggests to me that historians may judge that Ard Fheis to have been the beginning of the Long Peace strategy. Effectively what Sinn Fein was doing way back then was signing away the moral validity that the IRA drew from history. The Hume-Adams talks began the following year. The process has been interminably slow, but perhaps it has had to be? We haven’t had a major split and now, almost two decades later, the IRA may have no choice but to go away – but only now at a time when Sinn Fein’s electoral strength is forcing the broader movement to sort out its internal contradictions.

    In other words, we are currently seeing the defeat of the IRA – and the defeat has been at the hands of the Adams and McGuinness peace strategy. It’s game, set and match for the hard men.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Billy

    If that is true, does that make all IRA killings after the ceasefire ‘illegal’ by SF’s standard?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m not an expert on this, but I would have thought it meant that according to the logic of Sinn Fein’s position, all killings south of the border since 1986 and all killings north of the border since 1998 were crimes. Those were the dates on which Sinn Fein took steps that effectively recognised first the southern state, then the northern one.

    The interesting thing is that the IRA’s position was not necessarily changed by the decisions taken at those Sinn Fein Ard Fheiseanna. (Even though very many of the same people are involved in both organisations – I know, it requires a significant suspension of disbelief, but this is the republican logic.)

    So I think what is really interesting is that, what we’re seeing currently is the always-inevitable moment that the ballot box and armalite strategy is finally being sundered.

    But what is most telling is that this reckoning has been forced not by a military reverse for the army but by the ever-growing electoral strength of the political wing. It’s Sinn Fein’s success that currently makes the IRA’s demise necessary. I suspect it has always been the strategy of Adams and McGuinness to achieve political strength sufficient to force the army to stand down. I suspect the 1986 Ard Fheis was the first major step in a very long road to get where we are now. I suspect the British government identified Adams and McGuinness as a potential republican leadership they could do business with as far back as the early 70s – which might explain the scarcely-believable fact that neither has ever been convicted of anything.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m not an expert on this, but I would have thought it meant that according to the logic of Sinn Fein’s position, all killings south of the border since 1986 and all killings north of the border since 1998 were crimes. Those were the dates on which Sinn Fein took steps that effectively recognised first the southern state, then the northern one.

    The interesting thing is that the IRA’s position was not necessarily changed by the decisions taken at those Sinn Fein Ard Fheiseanna. (Even though very many of the same people are involved in both organisations – I know, it requires a significant suspension of disbelief, but this is the republican logic.)

    So I think what is really interesting is that, what we’re seeing currently is the always-inevitable moment that the ballot box and armalite strategy is finally being sundered.

    But what is most telling is that this reckoning has been forced not by a military reverse for the army but by the ever-growing electoral strength of the political wing. It’s Sinn Fein’s success that currently makes the IRA’s demise necessary. I suspect it has always been the strategy of Adams and McGuinness to achieve political strength sufficient to force the army to stand down. I suspect the 1986 Ard Fheis was the first major step in a very long road to get where we are now. I suspect the British government identified Adams and McGuinness as a potential republican leadership they could do business with as far back as the early 70s – which might explain the scarcely-believable fact that neither has ever been convicted of anything.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m not an expert on this, but I would have thought it meant that according to the logic of Sinn Fein’s position, all killings south of the border since 1986 and all killings north of the border since 1998 were crimes. Those were the dates on which Sinn Fein took steps that effectively recognised first the southern state, then the northern one.

    The interesting thing is that the IRA’s position was not necessarily changed by the decisions taken at those Sinn Fein Ard Fheiseanna. (Even though very many of the same people are involved in both organisations – I know, it requires a significant suspension of disbelief, but this is the republican logic.)

    So I think what is really interesting is that, what we’re seeing currently is the always-inevitable moment that the ballot box and armalite strategy is finally being sundered.

    But what is most telling is that this reckoning has been forced not by a military reverse for the army but by the ever-growing electoral strength of the political wing. It’s Sinn Fein’s success that currently makes the IRA’s demise necessary. I suspect it has always been the strategy of Adams and McGuinness to achieve political strength sufficient to force the army to stand down. I suspect the 1986 Ard Fheis was the first major step in a very long road to get where we are now. I suspect the British government identified Adams and McGuinness as a potential republican leadership they could do business with as far back as the early 70s – which might explain the scarcely-believable fact that neither has ever been convicted of anything.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Thanks Billy. That’s pretty much what I was looking for. However the difficulty for the provos in that case is that the logic of that new position demands that the IRA ought to have been disnabded in 1998.