Well, there you go. You pay’s your money and you takes your choice. This is the first public evidence of Gerry Adams asking the IRA to accept politics rather than the gun. Some will argue that nearly eleven years into a peace process, it’s a tad on the late side.However, two thoughts occur from Axelrod’s Tit for Tat stratagem (quoted at length in A Long Peace?).
By calling attention to the viability of a democratic strategy and the (largely economic) changes that have taken place in the Republic over the last fifteen years, Adams is increasing the shadow of the future, and raising expectations amongst IRA volunteers and the hard core of the provisional Republican movement that a democratic future will be better than its armed past.
However, his opponents will also be mindful that these words do not signify actions. As one DUP member remarked to Slugger, Sinn Fein may be currently electorally strong, but its politically isolated, and in a weak position to spend any of its accumulated capital. Even in the wake of what most pundits expect will be an historic high point in the party’s 25 year long electoral performance.
Finally, if this keynote is to be judged politically significant for any longer than the election campaign, it will be deemed to be so only when the corresponding actions match Adams’ polemic in favour democracy.
But don’t hold your breath. As one of our Republican readers Henry has argued below, the significant time to have lost the guns by is the next Dail election in the Republic. And even that remains open to the vaguaries of certain, unforeseen circumstances!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty