Buying into the charade

In a further occasional article for Slate.com, Scott MacMillan looks again at the developing situation here and sees unionists[of various hues], in addition to witnessing a failure of political leadership, learning from “a public-relations campaign on the part of IRA leaders”.

He concludes by pointing out that the PR campaign, culminating in the IRA’s July statement, relied heavily on the reaction to that statement from the British and Irish Governments –

In fact, the IRA’s July statement was no breakthrough: It was, rather, the culmination of a brilliant public-relations campaign on the part of IRA leaders—most notably Adams, who, according to authoritative accounts, was a senior member of the IRA’s seven-member Army Council until just before the announcement, even while serving as president of Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political wing. Rather than playing along with this PR game, a wiser course would have been to welcome the IRA’s statement while holding to the line that, regardless of any extraordinary “internal discussion” that has gone on within the organization, republicans must put an end to criminality and violence in their midst if Sinn Fein is to be accepted as part of the political mainstream.

The world bought into the charade. Belfast’s Protestant working classes learned a different lesson, and their repugnant leaders have done little to dissuade them from it. Gunfire, wrote Fintan O’Toole* in Dublin’s Irish Times on Tuesday, is “the one form of eloquence that, in the strange world of the peace process, is sure to be heard.” The lesson is that violence, and the threat of more violence, is the surest way to remain politically relevant.

It’s a generally fair assessment of the state of things, although I would point out that, rather than supporting the view that there is “no reason to call into question the very basis of the peace process”,
the Fintan O’Toole article he references, had a slightly different take on the underlying process

The governments can try to restart the process as if nothing had happened, giving us two more years of posturing in which all excitement about the agreement’s radical ideals is stripped away. Or they can acknowledge the futility of trying to build shared governance on mutual hatred and begin a new political process that puts sectarianism where it should – not as a solution but as a problem.

  • willis

    Right from 1969 there has been a fiction at the heart of Unionism/Loyalism, which is that the politicians are not linked to those who use violence. SF/IRA have been far more honest in accepting the continuum from armalite to Ballot Box. That is why violonce “works” for them. The acceptance that the army is under political control means that there is a point in talking to the politicians.

    On the Loyalist side if the Government want to talk to those who can stop the violence they have to talk to the paramilitaries because of the hypocricy of the political leadership. Their lies have fatally weakened them.

  • Dave

    That is a good post Willis. you are right. Protestant politicians don’t have any say or sway with the loyalists paramilitaries.

    Unlike SF Members (who are terrorists) working within the British political establishment.

    (Who are unable to pronounce the words Northern Ireland)

    The fact that Protestant Politicians don’t have control of Loyalists paramilitaries is something to be proud of (prod of if you like).

  • willis

    The fiction has worked all these years because the RUC – UDR – RIR provided the “army”. Now that they are gone the politicians are brutally exposed.