Just before it gets archived into the Belfast Telegraph site, have a look at this piece from Eric Waugh. He poses some interesting questions about how the IRA might transform into an acceptable, law abiding (if not entirely lawful) peace time organisation.
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.
Sinn Fein must “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.
Finally he argues that if all parties now support the state, the guns become irrelevant. If all parties can find the political will to face down NI’s estimated 235 criminal gangs, it will eventually free Northern Ireland of its militarily conflicted past. Anything short of that will simply not work.
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