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.
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
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