Physical force has run its time…

Martin Mansergh with some thoughts on how, what he beleives has been an entirely honourable, the time for the tradition of physical force Republicanism has come to the end (subs needed). He begins with Sinn Féin’s beginnings:

Griffith had little enthusiasm for physical force. The passive resistance involved in setting up Dáil Éireann and the Dáil courts, the ostracisation of crown forces and non-payment of taxes made an important impact alongside actual guerrilla warfare.

Paradoxically, the civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland, out of which grew the SDLP and its longest-serving leader, John Hume, had more in common with the original Sinn Féin. The Provisional Sinn Féin of the 1970s in contrast was an ideological spare wheel on a ruthlessly militaristic Provisional IRA machine responsible for horrific civilian casualties.

A reviewer in An Phoblacht of the recent TV dramatisation of the activities of the Balcombe Street gang in the 1970s claimed it ignored the context of a war going on, and that loyalist and British agents had placed bombs in Dublin.

That, of course, begs the question: who had the right to declare and wage war between Britain and Ireland? The answer, since Independence, is only the State, which does not allow any private army to usurp its function, not least because of its responsibility to protect the people as far as possible from retaliation.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Isn’t the last argument a bit flawed in that the IRA think their ruling council is the legitimate state and that therefore the IRA is the legitimate army? None of this rubbish with partitionist puppets of the British state in the Dail.

  • Jacko

    Is this piece from last Saturday’s IT? If so, why the delay?

  • Sharon

    “Isn’t the last argument a bit flawed in that the IRA think their ruling council is the legitimate state and that therefore the IRA is the legitimate army? None of this rubbish with partitionist puppets of the British state in the Dail.”

    — On the ‘TV3’ programme ‘The Political Party’
    on Sunday 23rd January ’05 , Willie O’Dea (FF) quizzed Sean Crowe (Provisional Sinn Fein Leinster House member) on that issue : Crowe denied that the Provo Army Council ever considered itself as the ‘Government of Ireland’ and stated that PSF do not consider them (the PAC) to be the legitimate Government of Ireland.
    How quickly they turn their backs on their own history when it suits them . For shame .

    Sharon.

  • Jim Bob

    What you’re supposed to learn from historical scholarship is how political and historical dynamics work.

    Martin is doing little more than a comparative labelling. This is really really poor stuff.

    In many ways the intelligent British writers are much better at this. With them conflict is built-in. They understand it. They understand it much better than our cossetted Southern cousins.

    Bit of an opportunity there, eh

  • Brian

    Well if Manseragh says that “Physical force” republicanism has “run its time…”, he obviously accepts that it was necessary before it “ran its time..”. So well done Mr Manseragh for validating the most recent phase of armed struggle by the IRA. One assumes that he speaks for FF when he made this comment. Finally, his comment is consistent with Gerry Adams comment that the new theatre of operations ought to be within the political arena. Perhaps Manseragh should apply to join Sinn Féin.