Round up of republican critics…

THE man you love to hate, Kevin Myers, gives us either a cynical or uncharitable view (depending on your own political outlook) of the IRA statement. Meanwhile, Tommy McKearney believes the IRA statement throws down many challenges to republicanism. Republican critic Anthony McIntyre believes little has actually changed, except that the IRA may now be used to quell republican dissent. On the other side of the fence, Eric Waugh believes there are many implications for republicanism if it is to play by democratic rules.

Myers writes:

Supporters of the peace process will of course declare that the IRA has finally announced the campaign is over, so what reasonable objection could Unionists have to sharing power with Sinn Fein? First, the statement did not say the IRA was disbanding; the reverse is true. It talked of its volunteers and “oglaigh” (Irish for “soldiers”: a deliberate use of a formal military word). Nor did it say the war was over, merely that the campaign was over. Any soldier knows the difference: the end of the campaign in North Africa in 1943 did not end a war that finished in 1945.

So, contrary to many fantastic media exegeses, by its own admission, the IRA will remain in existence, and it will still be armed.

McKearney writes:

No matter what view the contending schools of republicanism take on the Good Friday Agreement, it is imperative that the core republican task of establishing an independent, democratic republic be reiterated and a strategy for achieving this made clear.

It must be repeated, moreover, that this duty should not be confused with building and/or strengthening a parliamentary party.

Fuzzyheaded thinking suggesting that it is possible to manipulate the Northern state by subterfuge should also be discarded since it is not possible to transform an existing state apparatus. Quite the contrary, an existing state always swallows up its administrators. Just look at Fianna Fáil if proof is needed.

In the absence of an insurrectionary element, republicans now need absolute clarity about their rejection of the flawed Six-County state and its links to Britain.

This is one of the big challenges being posed as republicans are confronted with questions such as what to do about policing, the judiciary and the civil service and on policy issues such as privatisation, employment and ownership of the means of production.

If ever there was a time for republicans to commit themselves to the concept of encouraging “a hundred schools of thought” to contend, it is now.

It will be incredibly damaging if people uncritically and defensively repeat the party (any party) line. Sinn Féin has not convincingly outlined, for example, how it intends moving beyond the Good Friday Agreement.

The party (and all other republicans) should be asked to answer this issue.

The IRA statement effectively recognises material reality. The current imperative is now for all republicans to address the future with an equal amount of reality and candour.

McIntyre writes:

This morning’s (Friday) headlines should read ‘excitable hacks go orgasmic over IRA statement.’ But such headlines are ‘not helpful to the peace process’ and therefore long suffering readerships will have to endure the guff about seismic shifts, historic developments and whatever else takes the fancy of the scribbling class.

Yesterday’s statement by the IRA on its future merely formalised what we have known for quite some time – that the organisation’s armed campaign against Britain ended in failure. The British are still here, the consent principle is safely enshrined and partition entrenched. Commentators can openly speculate on current IRA volunteers eventually becoming British bobbies. Hardly the heady stuff of revolutionary success.

The IRA’s war has ended and the organisation shall not disband. This is exactly the same position we were at this time last week, last month, last year. Given that the statement tells us what we already know and therefore contains only rhetoric about future IRA intent, journalists and government officials have set themselves the task of wild spinning and hyping the statement.

The strategic purpose of the statement is to flush out idiots in both the London and Dublin governments who will wave the IRA’s A4 paper, Chamberlain-like, and declare ‘peace in our time.’

There would be some justification for this if the IRA were to follow through on its statement with facts on the ground. But the organisation has consistently lied about its involvement in numerous activities and there is no reason for believing it will not do so in the future. A promise to quit lying might have greater potential than yesterday’s verbiage.

Like the Official IRA before it, and in whose shoes it now so comfortably strides, the current IRA, by the mere fact of its existence, will continue to function; not militarily against the British state, but as a militia to give muscle to Sinn Féin and as an organ of intimidation.

Waugh writes:

There must be a law-abiding state provided for a fledgling administration to govern. If the state is lawless, that administration will not survive. But a law-abiding State has as its sine qua non that all its citizens support it, its laws, its institutions and, above all, its constitution for the time being by democracy established.

There will be dissent: of course. Democracy provides for its expression. But – and this is the absolutely vital caveat – in a democracy the will of the majority rules: the majority devises and approves the social and political system. Yet that majority is still beholden to the minority to go along with it – at least until the next general election, else the system cannot work.

So now the nature of the necessary miracle begins to take shape. Reduced to fundamentals, it consists of a requirement that Irish republicans agree to dissent from the current constitution of Northern Ireland democratically; in effect, that they become comrades of mainstream SDLP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru – until such time as the said republicans become persuasive enough to command a convincing electoral majority within this part of the British state.

This means that, in the meantime, to become “lawful” they must observe its laws; not oppose the armed forces of the State (within whose ranks, after all, previous generations of republicans have served with distinction); they must join its police force; play a full part in Parliament, according to the will of the electorate; and its representatives accord a modicum of courtesy to the head of state and her family on ceremonial occasions.

37 thoughts on “Round up of republican critics…”

  1. An interesting article. Love him or loathe him (and I would be the latter) he does articulate his points well.

  2. An interesting article. Love him or loathe him (and I would be the latter) he does articulate his points well.

  3. Parts of the Myers article are actually less cynical and uncharitable than I would have expected.

    The bit about 1969 could almost have been written by a member of Sinn Fein.

  4. Gonzo

    Can we get a thread here on the latest loyalist activity, a murder in North Belfast. Is this apparently an enquivocal response to Peter Hain’s call for loyalists to desist from feuding?

    And on that very issue, why is Hain not as exercised about loyalist activity in North Antrim, where 4 catholic pubs and 3 chapels have been attacked in recent weeks?

    With loyalists likely to meet Paisley Junior’s call to action in Ballymena in coming days, surely the British secretary should be publicly warning loyalists about any escalation in sectarian attacks?

  5. Well, its day one of Peace in our Time… and to be quite truthful, I’m bored!

    This morning, I could not get out of the street with all the arms dumped on the pavement. I phoned the Council to complain and they said that I should put the magazines in the paper recycling bin….

    Also, the Watch Towers of South Armagh are being dismantled; – that’s tourism destroyed in that area then. The Unionists say – “Who will watch the Republican’s now?” – The Republicans now say “That’s unfair, we can’t keep our eyes on the Brits” – and the Brits say – “Sure, we weren’t watching you anyway” – Christ! I give up…

    Also, walking round Belfast today, the stench of sectarianism was evaporating I thought before my eyes, until I realised that the River Farset was in full flow under High Street. Funny though, I met a Protestant couple coming out of the City Hall after registering their child – Seamus, Ciaran they called him, now times have changed… Then I met a Catholic couple with a baby called Norman, Issac. I thought the world has gone mad in the new era, until the security man pointed out to them that both couples had lifted the wrong babies after they had returned from a smoke?????

    Ah well at least it’s something!



    In 1983, when the present Provisional leadership dismantled the Irish crafted Eire Nua federal program and long before they accepted the British initiated Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998, faithful Irish Republicans leaders predicted that the Provisionals would continue to hide under the mantle of Irish Republicanism just as Collins, De Valera and other so-called Irish revolutionary leaders did during and after the surrendering process and even when killing their former comrades on behalf of the British. . They were right! The Provisional have continued with this deceitful claim even while acquiescing to and administering British rule in Ireland through the GFA .

    Faithful Republicans view the GFA as a restatement of the British enacted Government of Ireland Act 1920, which established the sectarian Northern Ireland state The GFA does not end the sectarian partition of Ireland. It prolongs that division that continues to foster a climate of opportunity for self-serving politicians of all shades on both sides of the Irish border.

    The GFA ensures a continued British occupation of the six Irish counties, thus, allying British fears that the loss of the six counties would deprive their troops of valuable training grounds, and deny their intelligence services a made-to-order laboratory for testing and refining intelligence gathering techniques, and rob their security forces of a recalcitrant populace on which to practice repressive methods of quelling civil unrest. Hence the large presence of British troops in Ireland.

    By accepting the GFA sellout, the Provisionals have amassed massive personal fortunes as a payoff including US entry visas to collect easier money. In their new role as British enforcers in Ireland, the Provisionals have resorted to beatings, knee-cappings, and murder to silence any alternative proposals for a genuine peace in Ireland, such as Eire Nua federal program. Consequently, the Provisional declaration of surrender is not unwelcome amongst faithful Irish Republicans and Eire Nua proponents who have borne the brunt of re-directed Provo aggression in their transformation from make-believe Irish revolutionaries to servile British collaborators.

    Informed Irish Americans who have always supported a reunited Ireland, contend that the visionary Eire Nua program is the most viable proposal to bring a permanent peace to Ireland in the context of a Declaration of Intent by the British to withdraw from Ireland

    The National Irish Freedom Committee join with like-minded people around the world in calling for the Provisionals junta to cease pretending that Irish reunification is a goal of theirs and to cease masquerading as Irish Republicans. Irish republicanism was never about personal gain, from money laundering, kneecapping, criminality or murder.

  7. Could the moderators please consider banning people who post the same message on multiple threads, multiple times. It’s nothing other than spam.

    Irishman, I concur. Par for the course, Nelson McCausland gave the usual mouse-fart of a condemnation, describing it as “disappointing”.

  8. Yes, in the spirit of ‘whatabout themmuns’ lets stop talking about republicans for a whole day.

    It’ll drive them up the wall.

  9. Dear NIFC of one half-wit

    How retro, bit like the chopper bicycleof the 70’s. Trouble with that was if you braked too hard you flew through the handlebars and landed on your head. Did that ever happen too you? or was it the Christian Brothers did the damage?

    We now have self determination of the Irish people, including the religious dissenters, including a dynamic towards a united ireland re-established by the Provisional movement after a counterproductive and sectarian resort to arms.

    The suggestion that the Brits engineered this to provide themselves with an overlarge and superrealistic training ground is just batty. I expect you are old enough to have retained this idea from the debates in very small and strange IRA general army council of the 50’s and 60’s.

    We do have a fragment of Eire Nua, with equality and civil rights guaranteed for all but unfortunately it only exists within the boundaries of the bit administered as part of the UK, albeit with the consent of irish people north and south. It seems that when the brits make a deal, they stick to it.

    But please don’t follow your own frail logic and attack the republic. The soapy irish americans who pay you money thinking you are buying guns and not bungalows would just not understand.

  10. Fanny

    “Yes, in the spirit of ‘whatabout themmuns’ lets stop talking about republicans for a whole day.

    It’ll drive them up the wall.”

    LOL I know what you mean. I often think by even posting opposing messages, I am actually encouraging them. Nanny would probably advise just ignore it, its attention seeking.

  11. National Irish Freedom Committee

    Put your candiadtes (if you can find enough of them) to stand in elections and I think you’ll find that the Irish people, north and south, make their views on what you’re about plain enough. Or is it your position that the votes cast in 1918 still hold good today, electoral cryogenic storage, hmmmm ?

    Grow up and caste aside this childish dangerous cult fantasy in which you live and seem determined to involve the rest of us, you people are the mad uncle in the attic of Irish public life.

  12. I normally stop reading Myer’s half way through. I finished that one to the end.

    Has he a differently writing style in the Telegraph?

  13. Jenny Mc Cartney has a good article in the Sunday Telegraph today. Then again I don’t rememember her writing a bad one. She reinforces a lot of Myers points

  14. The sindo are fuming this morning too. I suppose nobody likes being proved wrong. The commentariat are going to miss the IRA.

  15. I think that the IRA statement while welcome contains anomalies. Just how is their United Ireland goal now obtainable?. With 24% of the vote they have reached their peak in the north. In the south they are an irrelevance.

    Their criminality and extortion rackets will continue. I cannot see any circumstance in the future where the DUP could sit with SF in government and carry their supporters with them.

    The statement only shows the futility of the IRA campaign over the last thirty years. Again hypocrisy comes to light when a mass murderer is released as a concession but because it doesnt suit Ahern the murdererers og McCabe are kept in jail.

    The hypocrisy of the agreement comes through again and again.

  16. ref NFC

    “your position that the votes cast in 1918 still hold good today”

    In that election, conducted during a campaign of polarisation and intense intimidation of opponents of the Irish separatists, a majority of the votes cast were for parties prepared to act within the british constitution.

    The then Sinn Fein did not get the number of votes that if cast in a referendum, would have warranted change.

    The acts of Irish self determination ratifying the Godd Friday Agreement not only supercede the vote achieved by the previous ‘Sinn Fein’, they eclipsed it.

  17. Aquifer,
    SF in 1918 won 73 out of 105 seats and ran unopposed in 25 seats, so no votes were cast there. It is churlish of you to somehow suggest that there wouldn’t have been a majority for independence if the British had the democratic decency to allow a referendum rather than trying to crush the democratic will of the Irish people by military force. The Unionist Party got just 36,000 votes outside Ulster, by the way.

    On today’s SF, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that they are going to remain a relative irrelevance for the forseeable future in the Republic and that this statement or the IRA sneaking into the background even further will not change this.

    Only when the IRA is no longer a proscribed organisation in the Irish Republic, which won’t happen any time soon, if ever, will SF ever get anywhere significant. In other words, when they are FF.

    By significant, I mean over 20% because under this, they will not get into a coalition because it will be the death of the party that tries it. FF won’t do it, they’ll beg Labour on their hands and knees first.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if FG offered to support a minority FF govt to prevent it.

  18. Aquifer,
    you might find this interesting, first appeared in Fortnight and put together by Dr. Philipp McGuiness.

    Study of the 1918 election, which attempts ot extrapolate what the voting figures would have been if there had been votes cast in all constituencies, which would have been the case in a referendum on unity.



    Someone ought to point out gently to any Irish American headbanger who buys this drivel that to take political lectures on alternative statecraft from a race of people who colonised and virtually exterminated their indigenous population is a bit much. A period of silence on their behalf (say 3,000 years) would be welcome.

    Still, they were right about the surrender, despite the syntactical contortions of the statement, PIRA are basically saying they wasted 1500 people to achieve a slightly less obvious line across Ireland in the weather bulletins.Oh, and let’s not forget created a murderous loyalist sectarian monster at the same time. They wouldn’t have had the brains to organise this themselves, believe me.

    Nice apology by the way, not – The linguistic equivalent of saying, ‘I wrote off your car but this is fine because it now enables me to get out and walk to where I wanted to go.’

  20. George still digging in his hole. There are of course many books written about how history would have been different if things had happened differently. Perhaps SF would have receievd an overwhelming mandate if everyone entitled to vote had done so. perhaps Tony would have been kicked out in June too, if everyone had exercised the franchise. They didn’t, and it’s now irrelevant.

    Acqifer has correctly interpreted the only relevant fact- the votes cast.

    And BTW before diminishing the total of Unionist votes, ask yourself why so many seats were uncontested. It doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot more Unionist or IIP voters disenfranchised than Shinners.

  21. George, I’m starting my campaign to have revisionism included in the 2012 Olympics Games, for (once you give up smoking the “organic” ciggies) we have an undoubted gold medalist in you!

    To equate the actual minority vote or the contrived 53.5% (with so many holes in its calculation I could fill a page) who voted for Sinn Féin as a majority wanting an independent Ireland is just such complete nonsense, it really is unworthy of further comment. However lest there be some historically challenged goldfish visiting this site, here are just some of the things which people need to remember.

    The 1918 election came within two years of the execution of the 1916 leaders. These executions turned a group of unpopular rebels into martyrs, something which SF played to in the election. Several SF candidates (like De Valera) were still in prison. Don’t forget the power of the “pity vote” as it came back again during the hunger strikes. It should not however be mistaken for support for the “cause” of the perceived “victims”.

    Even worse (and now rarely mentioned) was that in the last months of the Great War, the government had introduced conscription in Ireland. Conscription had not been previously used in Ireland, as our volunteering rates were the highest in the Empire. Both Carson and Redmond had done huge work in encouraging Irishmen to volunteer (both believing that it would aid their cause after the war). Again SF used this to their advantage in the election.

    Then you have the Irish Labour Party, which was actually enjoying its most successful period of its history (in parallel to the growth of its sister party on the mainland). They believed (or were “encouraged” to believe) that if they stood aside in favour of SF, that it would help address the “national question” for once and for all and would help them in the long run (in hindsight a huge mistake).

    After that you must remember that in several constituencies there was a straight fight between the unionists (closely aligned to the Tories at the time) and SF, with no alternative. People of a nationalistic thinking who didn’t want full independence (a massive number at the time) had a choice, where SF was the lesser of two “evils”.

    These issues alone (and there were others) helped boost SF’s vote to an unnaturally high level, and even still they couldn’t get a majority. Extrapolating a vote for SF as a vote for independence is clearly nonsense of the highest order.

    Once memories of 1916 and conscription faded and Labour was back in the field, you get a better feel for the real level of SF support. Check the 1919 local elections (the first held under PR) to prove my point. And even then SF were still using the “victim card”.

  22. One interesting feature of the 1918 election in the North, demonstrating either the equivocation or the bet-hedging of the Catholic hierarchy , was the dividing of the winnable seats equally between Nationalists and SF by the Cardinal.

    Tough luck on any Nationalist who had to either abstain or contribute to the SF tally in the election which their descendants regarded as the only one of any importance..

  23. All this examination of the past is interesting only in an academic sense. We need to deal in the realities of the present situation. Sinn Fein/IRA has taken the peace process line because it has paid dividends in terms of concessions. They have sold the same horse to the governments on at least seven occasions and stupidly Blair and his predecessors bought it again and again.
    Now the IRA is required to undergo a metamorphosis and the criminal elements in republicanism are to desist from their activity.
    Disarmament is to be in the formm of “dumping arms” and will be verified only by a body which Unionists cannot trust.This is not anything like enough to build Unionist confidence for devolution.
    It has taken several years for the IRA/Sinn Fein
    machine to move this small step along the road to peace and acceptance of the futility of their fascist campaign against fellow citizens.
    Similarly it will be some time before Unionists sit down in government with people who show no signs of accepting political and demographic realities and who continue to pursue an out of date “Fenian dream”-it will take a long list of concessions to the majority community to interest them now in devolved government.
    Mr. Blair and MR. Hain-both in their behaviour and history ardent republicans will attempt to blackmail and economically coerce Unionists into political movement but will not succeed.
    Events have shown that indeed the victory finally is not to those who can inflict the most pain -but to those who can endure the most pain.
    The common decency and resilience of the majority of the Unionist community which has sustained them thus far will not see them surrender their birth right and their civil liberty as easily as some commentators imagine.

  24. Brendan
    Their right to regard themselves as British by birth and to enjoy civil and religious liberty as a consequence-really not very threatening to others-is it?

  25. T Ruth

    But they wouldn’t be British if they were born in NI as it isn’t in Britain, they’d be United Kingdom subjects of course, true.

  26. T.Ruth

    Paisleys reaction to the statement was exactly the same sort of thing which would have been uttered by “Trimble the traitor”

  27. Fishfizz: But they wouldn’t be British if they were born in NI as it isn’t in Britain, they’d be United Kingdom subjects of course, true.

    My passport says “British Citizen”. But I suppose you could send a bunch of geography pedants round to the passport office to put them straight on the matter.

    And aren’t there hundreds of thousands of Irish Citizens born off the island, let alone outside the state?

  28. It has taken several years for the IRA/Sinn Fein
    machine to move this small step along the road to peace and acceptance of the futility of their fascist campaign against fellow citizens.

    So you spend years criticising SF and then you turn around and act the same way. I know four year olds who can spot the flaw in that one.

    But please don’t let that stop you, please drag this out as long as possible. Yer only playing into the hands of SF.

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