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.

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