Brendan O’Neill’s had a couple of interesting pieces on Spiked recently. This one, written a few weeks back, notes that the real import of the McCartney case is not the amount of political damage it may or may not inflict on the Sinn Fein political project, but the degree to which that project has deserted the political interest of it’s own constituents.
But where he [Adams] and the IRA might succeed in resolving the McCartney affair and appeasing the grieving McCartney family, they can do little to stem the wider moral disintegration of republican communities in Northern Ireland. The McCartney murder acted as a catalyst for a deeper malaise within post-republican republican communities. Indeed, even as Adams and the IRA attempt to resolve this particular crime, they do so in the name of ‘keeping the peace process on track’. The peace process has become the only game in town, to which all parties must swear allegiance. It is now seen as an end in itself, as everybody devotes their energies to keeping it going – with little critical thought given to its impact on independent political life in Northern Ireland.
In this sense, perhaps the most perverse description of the events in Short Strand was David McKittrick’s, who argued that the McCartneys and their supporters were ‘making history’. When such communities did demonstrate their history-making potential, taking control of their lives and destinies during the 25-year Troubles, they were invariably denounced for ‘supporting terrorism’ or said to be living under the cosh of the IRA. Today, when deciding Northern Ireland’s political future has been well and truly handed over to others, such communities are congratulated for displays of ‘people power’ which in fact look more like expressions of disengagement – from the political process, and from those who once represented and fought for their interests.