An open letter to the IRA from the Green Party

As if to prove it’s not simply a one issue party, the Greens have just sent us this open address to the IRA at a time when it is reputed to be holding a historic internal consultation on Gerry Adams’ proposal that it consider a solely political route as the only viable way forward. They’ve even (helpfully) attached their own suggested wording for a future IRA statement.

From the Green Party:

An Open Letter to P. O’Neill

The world waits with bated breath for the IRA Statement, the response to Gerry Adams’ Question. We are told that a thoroughgoing, historic debate is going on in the Provisional movement, and an Answer to Mr. Adam’s Question is being formulated. Having requested such a debate in advance of Mr Adams’ proposal, the Green Party welcomes these recent developments.

The Green Party, a political party founded on the principles of nonviolence, democracy and social justice, with elected representatives, North and South in Ireland, sees itself as being uniquely qualified and positioned to intervene in the process of reconciliation in this island. We are the only party that enjoys the support of people from all traditions.

Rather than await the outcome of republican deliberations, we have decided to pre-empt the process and offer a possible draft for your consideration

The consequences of the campaign of violence have left deep hurts in the people of Ireland which will take decades to heal. A generation of young people has grown up with scant respect for laws of God or man. We believe that the British/Irish context in which the trauma of Ulster has unfolded must be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the British political establishment and its relationship with the people of this island, a relationship which is fundamental to the ‘Agreement’. That is where historical responsibility ultimately lies, but the fate and well being of over a million Protestant Unionist people must be protected and safeguarded, whatever the historical realities dictate.

We in the Green Party are of the view that the campaign of violence, notwithstanding the ominous nature of predatory loyalism was profoundly mistaken and contrary to the principles of true republicanism. There may be arguments to justify the actions of the United Irishmen in the late 18th century, but those arguments don’t hold in the late 20th century

So Mr. O’Neill, as you prepare to make your exit permanently from the political stage of these islands, we invite you to study our statement. Feel free to adopt it verbatim, but above all, end the uncertainty of the peoples of Ireland, vacate the stage, leave Ireland to heal itself and go heal thyself of your arrogance in the process.

I.R.A. Statement

The IRA has been engaged in a War of Liberation for thirty-five years. The purpose of the war has been to expel Britain from the occupied Six Counties of Ireland, a legacy of the wholly unjust settlement imposed on the people of Ireland in 1920. The gerrymandered nature of that imposed settlement resulted in the six most Protestant/Unionist counties forming Northern Ireland, with a permanently inbuilt Unionist majority. Thus was imposed on nationalist people an undemocratic arrangement destined never to yield a nationalist majority for perhaps hundreds of years.

The nationalist people lived in the shadow of the Unionist monolith for fifty years until the events of the 1960’s occurred. It was obvious to many republicans that justice for them was not on offer when the State mask slipped and the Civil Rights movement was ruthlessly suppressed, culminating in Bloody Sunday.

The campaign of violence of the last thirty-five years has regretfully led to thousands of deaths and many individual atrocities shameful to those who participated in them. The IRA came reluctantly to the view that its aims could not be realised by violence and opted for a ceasefIre in 1994, by which time the political wing of republicanism had gained the trust and backing of a large part of the nationalist population of Ireland. In the intervening years certain elements of militant republicanism have opted for engagement in criminal behaviour, much of it against the rulings of the IRA Army Council.

We believe the time has now come for the Provisional IRA to disband forthwith. The ideal of a united Ireland still remains the goal of the republican (in its widest definition) people of Ireland. However, we acknowledge that the Principle of Consent is central to the Good Friday Agreement and that, notwithstanding the intrinsically undemocratic nature of the state of Northern Ireland, we henceforth commit ourselves to the peaceful pursuit of our political aspiration – the Unification of Ireland.

We therefore commit ourselves to a complete and total decommissioning of all our arsenals. These events will be witnessed by agreed representatives of the major churches, and General De Chastelain’s staff, and photographic records will be taken as proof that decommissioning has taken place.

Our opponents, North and South, will ask how they can be sure that all arms dumps have been included in the decommissioning exercise. If at any time in the future, we are found to have reneged on our word oo total decommissioning, we appreciate that this will be a matter for historians and will redoubt to our dishonour.

We have been accused of drafting a document which will satisfy London and Dublin, but not the D.U.P. A fair reading of this statement will satisfy all people of goodwill that the IRA has chosen to vacate the stage, to let the destiny of Ireland be decided freely by the peoples of Ireland. When we speak of the peoples of Ireland, we mean all the people of Ireland. When Mr. Paisley speaks of the people of Ulster he does not mean, or speak for all the people of Ulster: thus is exposed the intellectually incoherent position of the Unionist leadership. The European wars of religion will be finally over with the peaceful unification of Ireland. The four hundred year old conflict of Ulster will be ended with the Protestant people of Ulster playing their part in the governance of Ireland. This may be some time away in the future, but it is the IRA’s view that it can only happen without the threat of coercion hanging over the Unionist people.

The IRA recommends that Sinn Fein takes its place on the Police Board forthwith. The way to restore good authority in this part of Ireland is to support a police service and end all forms of punishment beatings, vigilantism and community militias (nationalist and loyalist).

To summarize, lest there be any misunderstanding about our motives or objectives and to ensure the swift reestablishment of Assembly and other institutions established under the ‘Agreement’, we undertake to expedite the following measures:

1. A total and complete disarmament of all weapons, verified by agreed representatives.

2. A winding up of the IRA as a paramilitary organisation.

3. We reserve the right to honourably exist as an Old Comrades’ network.

4. All call on all those who would use the republican ‘flag of convenience’ to engage in criminal activity, such as money laundering, bank robbing, drug trafficking, fuel smuggling, cigarette smuggling, to desist forthwith.

5. The Army Council of Oglaigh na hEireann will no longer exist.

6. All recruitment and training of volunteers will be discontinued.

7. All the above will come into effect as of the end of this month.

God Save Ireland

  • peteb

    A pedant notes: “The world waits with baited breath”?

    That’s bated, people.. sheesh.. not a good start.. and when did the Green Party get elected as spokesmen for ‘The world’? They certainly don’t speak for me.

    [/pedant]

  • Chris Gaskin

    Empty vessels make most noise

    Some good points but a clear understanding of republicanism is somewhat lacking

  • bill

    I hope they will also send a letter to the representatives of the loyalist death squads who have slaughtered many hundreds of innocent catholics during the present troubles and Could they ask the british security agencies to desist from their continued intelligence support of these groups

  • peteb

    Aren’t the Greens currently in a technical grouping with Sinn Féin (and some others) in the Dail?

    Perhaps they should reconsider that ‘grouping’.

  • stevo

    Bill – The Greens come up with an open letter to the IRA and your measured response: another example of whataboutery 🙁

  • Dr Snuggles

    This is a joke, right? Since when did the IRA – an organisation with a tradition (at least in part) of marxist atheism – use phrases like “God save Ireland”?

    The bit about the IRA “recommending” that Sinn Féin join the policing board and asserting that “the way to restore good authority in this part of Ireland is to support a police service” is just hilarious. (Presumably the geographical location of “this” part of Ireland depends on the whereabouts of the piece of paper on which the statement is printed.)

    The open letter is a comical but unbelievably naïve misjudgement, peppered with pretentious balls such as “redoubt to our dishonour” and “lest there be…” It reminds me of the episode of ‘Friends’ when Joey discovered the thesaurus function on the computer.

    It’s worth a chuckle, but it certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence in the Green Party, and unfortunately reinforces the stereotype of the well-meaning galoot. It reads as the work of a lower-sixth debating society member.

    Additionally, Green voters or party members with a unionist leaning may be slightly irked that it appears to be party policy that the blame for the “trauma of Ulster” is to be laid “fairly and squarely” with the British (this appears before the statement, curiously described as “our statement” in the preceding paragraph.

    PS It’s probably worth my acknowledging that my criticism here is confined to the Green Party’s open letter and I fully acknowledge that much harsher words should be resrved for the IRA, which has have done a lot worse than write a foolish statement (something they are pretty good at themselves).

  • des

    Sure it gets them a bit of free publicity

  • Dr Snuggles

    Oh, and “The IRA has been engaged in a War of Liberation for thirty-five years”?

    Em, how long ago was the Easter Rising? The Provos trace their existence back to the IRB.

    Again, I am not speaking as a republican, only as a critical reader of this nonsense.

  • Alan

    This is as naive as the Green’s leader’s admission of being a hypocrite on the Politics programme on Sunday. It is risable.

    Is their writing of a statement for the IRA an analysis of the IRA’s position, an allegorical interpretation of the Green’s position on the IRA’s position, a substantive statement of support for the IRA’s position (particularly of the United Irishmen), or the Green’s analysis of disarmament generally? And how is anyone supposed to know?

    Precisely how does this kind of schoolboy wheeze help the situation? It is certainly, however, a unique intervention.

  • spirit-level

    Dr Snuggles
    Whilst I agree with much of what you say. Its clear the IRA leadership lives in a kind of bubble; maybe this wee piece will help to burst that bubble. If it wasn’t so serious an issue I’d recommend we all have a go at writing our own version of what the statement ought to say.
    And viewers can text in with their their vote for the winner 🙂

  • george2

    I thought the Green party were all environmental enthusiasts trying to save us all from drowning in our own crap. How come they never mentioned how the IRA arms dumps will effect the climate, soil, and living things then destroy living organisms in the ecological wildlife of the boglands of ireland , For the sake of our enviroment the IRA should decommision as quickly as possible.

  • bob callahan

    In America we found a grand progressive
    alliance brought us criminally short of the
    amount of votes needed to defeat the gangsters who are currently running our
    country. Please all good people of Northern
    Ireland do not split into factions as we did.
    Looking at it from this, at times distorting
    distance, it is nonetheless clear that the
    Provisional IRA has been honorable and
    peace seeking in the main for years now.
    Later on we can argue about how many socialists can fit on the point of a pin. Now,
    let us get the freedom and the peace.

    Bob Callahan (from Irish San Francisco)

  • bob callahan

    In America we found a grand progressive
    alliance brought us criminally short of the
    amount of votes needed to defeat the gangsters who are currently running our
    country. Please all good people of Northern
    Ireland do not split into factions as we did.
    Looking at it from this, at times distorting
    distance, it is nonetheless clear that the
    Provisional IRA has been honorable and
    peace seeking in the main for years now.
    Later on we can argue about how many socialists can fit on the point of a pin. Now,
    let us get the freedom and the peace.

    Bob Callahan (from Irish San Francisco)

  • Martin

    I know its the Greens and all, but I like the whole idea. For their last ever statement they could come up with a good one, rather than the usual bland rubbish. Look at De Valeras call to surrender at the end of the Civil War:

    “Soldiers of the Republic, Legion of the Rearguard….Your efforts and the sacrifices of your dead comrades in this forlorn hope will surely bear fruit … You have saved the nation’s honour, preserved the national tradition, and kept open the road to independence. You have demonstrated in a way there is no mistaking that we are not a nation of willing bondslaves.

    May God guard every one of you, and give to the country in all times of need sons who will love her as dearly and devotedly as you”

    Make it a part of history ,Gerry, and don’t be afraid of milking it for what its worth, it will win votes down south if you go for it. Everyone’s republican at heart remember.

  • Dr Snuggles

    I’m not.

  • barnshee

    Have I stumbled into a Hans Christian Anderson or Brothers Grimm convention. Its the only possible explanation for the correspomdence here

  • the real green party

    Is this a well designed hoax? I’ve checked both the Northern Ireland Green Party site and Comhaontas Glas and there is NO reference to this masterpiece.

  • IJP

    The Green Party… sees itself as being uniquely qualified and positioned to intervene in the process of reconciliation in this island.

    Offensive and arrogant claptrap.

    What next, ‘Decent people… vote Green’?!

    On the statement itself, I scarcely know where to start… so I won’t.

  • aquifer

    Can they write one for Paisley too, for when his party gets into government with SF?

    He may need more help with the appropriate words than SFPIRA

  • donald

    Who are these guys

    Do they exist politically in the North ??

  • Minesapint

    “The world waits with baited (sic.) breath”.

    Come offit! A small part of the english speaking world has hardly noticed that we’re remotely interested in the usual platitudes from P O’Neill, if a statement comes.

    Hard to take it seriously after the opening line.

  • crateagus

    IJP

    On the statement itself, I scarcely know where to start… so I won’t.

    PLEASE DO

  • Rod

    “it is nonetheless clear that the
    Provisional IRA has been honorable and
    peace seeking in the main for years now.”

    Bob Callahan (from Irish San Francisco

    You sure your not from the planet Zog?

  • crow

    The IRA are probably rolling around on the floor laughingh thier heads off at this.

  • barney

    That letter is no more from the Green Party than I am.

  • JL Pagano

    I appreciate their sentiment, but I fear the reply would go something like this –

    Dear Green Party,

    Feck off and stick to saving the whales ye tree-huggin bastards.

    P O’Neill

  • Dickster

    Dr Snuggles said:

    “It reads as the work of a lower-sixth debating society member”

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Mind you, lower-sixth would be more advanced than this offering!

  • Salt and Vinegar

    It has to be a wind up.. seriously, I think those boys at that well known school in Fermanagh, have kissed and made up, and decided to wind us all up..

  • Larne

    Has anyone the source of this. I don’t see it on any of their web sites?

  • Zorro

    This is far too long winded, using many words to say very little. The Greens like SF are guilty of trying to be all things to all men. Equally, like SF, they are a single issue party. For them it’s about securing a new Green world. For SF it’s about securing a united Ireland. Furthermore, the Greens seem to have taken a leaf out of the SF book of self-promotion, namely issuing statements on any and every issue regardless of the actual content.

    In this media driven world, it seems to me the Greens are trying to attract the spotlight, even if it is for just a few moments.

  • Graham

    Can’t find this anywhere. The question remains: who wrote it? Seems like many legs have been pulled!

  • Alan

    Mick,

    Can you verify this statement?

  • hagrid

    Of course it’s a leg-puller (are the greens the first to use humour as a political weapon – if so, surely this is better than the bland or threatening statements of other parties) and it is from a genuine Green Party source (I have this from a trusted source).

    The response to the ‘open-letter’ highlights the sense of hopelessness many of us experience each time an official IRA statement is released.

    Will P O’Neill ever begin to realise that we are fed up with the opaqueness, the half-truths and even open lies ‘he’ has offered us over the years. Clear and reasoned arguement appears never to have penetrated the army-council mind, so how about parody?

    Tongue-in-cheek, the Greens have offered P O’Neill a statement, written in the unmistakeable dialect of militant irish republicanism, which finally includes the words we have been waiting (for too long) to hear – that the IRA are packing their bags … for good.

  • barney

    Zorro,

    Your opinion of the greens is duly noted. This may be the right time to double your political vocabulary by adding “eco sychophant” to your “provo sychophant” catchphrase.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Hagrid, the whole point of much of the criticism here is that the statement is most transparently not written in the “unmistakable dialect of militant Irish republicanism”.

  • Marty

    Some absolutely priceless snide commentary here. The Greens may be young in this part of Ireland, but they are getting votes and are definitely capable of collecting quite a few in the 26 counties. In Germany, Australia and many other nations all over the world, thay are a well supported movement and deserve at least some respect from people.

    This statement is poor however, and I am disappointed in them as I voted for them when living in Oz (and supported them when living in Germany).

    The venom with which they are being derided is probably quite over the top, especially when it is quite obvious that some here aren’t actually even familiar with the movement.

  • IJP

    Fair points, Marty, although I wouldn’t be mentioning Germany too loudly right now… 🙂

    As one linked by party to the FDP and personally to the CSU I, on the other hand, live in interesting times… 🙂

  • crateagus

    Still do not see it on their web site must be a hoax or possibly a free lance job which seemed a good idea over last orders. I cannot see this being their considered opinion as it is very different from previous approaches. They are usually careful to encourage progress and seemed well aware of the problems. Perhaps it is a sign of a growing party and a few loose cannons? Some serious chewing on the celery sticks just now I bet.