Dissidents both right and wrong…

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.

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  • BH

    What about those “dissident” republicans who recognize that armed struggle is impossible at this point? I’m thinking of the Irps and New Republican Forum here.

    The fact that guerrilla war has been pointless since the mid 70s or so doesn’t mean the only alternative to bombing is Sinn Fein’s total sell-out. Not all resistance need be violent.

  • Little Eva

    BH
    A thought that imediately struck me until I read the entire thing, only to find that Adams addresses this very point towards the end of his column.

  • BH

    Ah. Not registered for The Times. What does he say?

  • Little Eva

    You can link straight to the column, which I think is a very good synopsis, by clicking on ‘argues’ in the intro. But here it is the bit I mentioned anyway:

    “Thankfully, not all dissenting republicans fall neatly into one or other of the above categories.

    There are highly intelligent, anti-sectarian republicans who oppose a return to violence and recognise that political compromises had to be made, but disagree fundamentally with Sinn Féin on a range of social and political issues.

    Not least, they baulk at the continued dictatorial and totalitarian tendencies of the mainstream republican movement.

    If, as some spokespeople have recently claimed, dissident groups are genuinely interested in providing a viable and realistic political alternative to Sinn Féin, it is from these people they must take their lead.”

  • ardri

    Many Irishmen and women can identify more with the John Hulme school of Irish Republicanism. Not all Irish Republicans are narrow minded, sectarian fascists.

  • Jo

    “There are highly intelligent, anti-sectarian republicans who oppose a return to violence and recognise that political compromises had to be made, but disagree fundamentally with Sinn Féin on a range of social and political issues.”

    Ok, but if we accet that these people exist, in any *alliance* with those who will NOT accept compromise and who WANT violence, which group do you think would prevail? I think its self-evident.

  • Peking

    Jo
    “If, as some spokespeople have recently claimed, dissident groups are genuinely interested in providing a viable and realistic political alternative to Sinn Féin, it is from these people they must take their lead.”

    It seems clear enough to me. He explains why a return to violence is ridiculous but if it is about more than that then the leaders are there if they want them.

  • Jo

    PK

    I think individuals may have a genuine interest in a viable political alternative. I think groups have a somewhat different interest.

  • Peking

    Jo
    I agree. But groups are after all comprised of individuals. All Adams is saying is, ignore the lunatics, an alternative is there for any individual or group that wants it.

  • anationonceagain

    Irelands true warriors will be taking no lectures from any of the brit loving Adamses.

  • Pat Taffe

    And who would Ireland’s true warriors be?

  • harpo

    ‘It infers, erroneously, that the IRA could eventually have achieved its aims by violent means.’

    That view does indeed infer this, but it isn’t just those who advocate a return to violence who claim this, it is all of the Provisionals. Even those who currently say they advocate peaceful methods believe it.

    You see it all the time – the tributes to the ‘undefeated army’, the announcements from that ‘undefeated army’. The picture put forth by the whole of the Provisional movement is that they CHOSE to stop fighting and give the peaceful way a chance. The fact that they say they CHOSE it means that it wasn’t forced on them in any way, and that they could just as well have CHOSE to fight on to their imagined ultimate victory.

    All of this ignores reality of course – the ‘war weariness’ that was the real reason for giving up – but the myth of the undefeated army is still there and universally accepted by Provos of all stripes. By both those who want it back and by those who want to keep trying the peace thing.

    The danger of course is, that if lots of people accept this, and if the peace thing doesn’t deliver what they want, there will be pressure to go back to the violence. On the basis that the 1994 choice hasn’t worked out, so let’s go back to what was working – in their view – before that.

    That will appeal especially to the young who didn’t suffer what was going on pre-1994. Through all the commemorations etc their heads will be filled with stories of the heroic PIRA, and they will be encouraged to be the next lot who have a go at a rising every generation.

    I can see a scenario like that in post-WW1 Germany. The German forces come home after WW1 and the myth soon arose that they weren’t actually defeated on the field of battle, but were rather betrayed by politicians. There was the belief that if they had fought on they could have won, but that was taken from them by the sell-out politicians. And folks like Hitler took advantage of that myth.

    That could well happen in NI. The young would be told that the glorious PIRA was ‘winning the war’ until the evil betrayers Adams and McGuinness took them onto the peace route, betraying the cause. Blame the politicians.

    I think it is bound to happen if the peace process doesn’t deliver a united Ireland quickly. And it won’t. The young who expect a quick UI aren’t going to be happy if it doesn’t come along quickly, and since they haven’t suffered the violence, they will be game to try the tactic that they are told was working for the pre-1994 PIRA.

    As an aside, when Provo SF approved the GFA in 1998 many speakers said that the peace process was just a tactic to be tried for a while to see what it would deliver. With the implication that the ‘war’ could be turned back on again. Many saw that as just bravado as the Provos took the final step towards peace. I always saw that as a threat that TUAS was still in place, even if there was to be a long break before the AS was tried again. I still think that it is in place within the Provo movement.

  • Little Eva

    harpo
    That’s one of the reasons why it should be pointed out as often as possible that the provos had no other option but go for a deal.

  • harpo

    ‘That’s one of the reasons why it should be pointed out as often as possible that the provos had no other option but go for a deal.’

    Eva:

    I agree. But the Provo myths have a way of becoming supposed self-evident truths to many who swallow them whole at first and never question them afterwards.

    Take the 1981 hunger-strikes. The Provos have their authorized version, and howl in disgust if anyone – even their own – dare question that authorized version. The Provos don’t want any questions or discussion. They want the myth to be so accepted that third parties just accept it too.

  • Little Eva

    Of course they do. That’s all the more reason to make sure they don’t have their way.