Ed Moloney with one or two pertinent questions that arise from last week’s eventsHe asks:
…was IRA decommissioning really such a difficult nut to crack? After all, it began when the peace process itself was well advanced and the floor was already littered with the cadavers of republican holy cows. The IRA ceasefires were seven years old and the Provisional leadership had long since conceded the sacred tenet of post-Treaty republicanism, the principle of consent, when General de Chastelain put his first IRA gun beyond use. The ground had been well prepared before it happened.
He then argues the politics of Sinn Fein’s core support was considerably more flexible that the party’s own apparently fundamentalist roots:
But what really enabled Adams and his colleagues to complete decommissioning was the shallowness of their supporters’ politics, nourished as they were not by the writings of Connolly and Pearse or Marx and Fanon but by fear and hatred of the Protestants who would burn them in their beds.
The truth is that the Provisionals were mostly in the defenderist not the republican tradition, and in their world the sectarian imperative ruled. All that mattered to them was that, politically-speaking, Celtic beat Rangers on New Year’s Day; the Champions League could take a running jump. Ceasefires could be called, unionist consent conceded and leadership promises broken just so long as the Prods didn’t like it.