Davy Adams in the Irish Times today argues that in fact the Dissident Republicans are right when they claim that the Republican movement has given up on its traditional aim of gaining a united Ireland through force of arms, but wrong when they argue there was any alternative but suing for a peaceful settlement.Indeed, he believes that the basic argument is misleadingly self referencing or solipsistic:
Those advocating a return to conflict, for example, claim that the republican movement betrayed the past sacrifices of IRA volunteers and their families by ending its armed campaign before a united Ireland had been achieved. (I do not mention the suffering of many thousands of others in the conflict because it appears not to be a factor in their deliberations.)
This is an emotionally loaded argument that does not address fundamental realities and is, in fact, dangerously circular. It infers, erroneously, that the IRA could eventually have achieved its aims by violent means. The truth is, it had been apparent for at least a decade before the 1994 ceasefire the IRA campaign was going nowhere.
After 35 years of sustained conflict and almost 4,000 deaths, republicans were no closer to a united Ireland than they had been in 1969.