Debate within Republicanism, part 1

Last month, a group of republicans were to meet in Toome. For a variety of reasons, that meeting did not happen. The idea of it, however, has sparked some debate. Brian Feeney was among the first to chime in, noted here on Slugger, mocking the publicising of the meeting in the media, and dismissing the concept as more fodder for the DUP to baulk over. Also previously blogged on Slugger, David Adams warmed to the idea of the debate, but warned against returning to armed conflict. [Full text of Adams’ article can be accessed here]

Adams and Feeney, however keen their observations may be, are not Republicans, they are outsiders to that circle looking in. Danny Morrison, known for his role in the (Gerry) Adams think-tank, took up the mantle in the last week of Daily Ireland. He used his platform on the whole to have a go at dissidents, unfortunately, as has been noted in the comments on Slugger, slagging them for not being able to sustain a newspaper. However clumsy, the article was an appeal for dialogue.

In this week’s Blanket, Martin Galvin takes up Morrison, disproving a number of his assertions (“They cannot sustain a propaganda newspaper or magazine. They have not produced a programme. They have not offered a compelling analysis or even a woeful one. Their spokespersons have been spectacularly unimpressive and inarticulate.”) just by answering him:He chose The Blanket to publish his rebuttal in, which, at 5 years online – without any government funding or advertising – has far outlasted Daily Ireland, and his reply is well written, cogent, and articulate. That aside, it is worth Slugger readers noting Galvin’s article, both in terms of the ongoing debate within Republicanism, and also to compare to Fr. Sean McManus’ article on policing blogged a wee bit down the page.

In the first instance, Galvin robustly questions the direction Morrison’s brand of Republicanism has gone in, and what, exactly, it has brought for Republicans, and will continue to bring. As to the second, for as much of a giant step McManus’ visit to Garnerville was, Galvin makes salient points about how many more steps are still ahead.

Galvin writes:

For the British, more prized than even the suitably witnessed destruction of IRA arms, would be the import of a Sinn Fein endorsement of the crown constabulary. Regardless of whether a crown will be physically emblazoned on the cap or sleeve, the British constabulary will be imposing British laws, hauling Republican political suspects before British courts and jailing Republican opponents of British rule in Her Majesty’s prisons.
The constabulary may be called by a new name, but is officered, trained, vetted and commanded by long-serving veterans of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. It is simply a re-named and re-uniformed RUC.

The obvious way of looking at that last sentence is the knee-jerk way, that it is resurrecting and relying on the abuses of the RUC’s past to reject the PSNI (and Galvin shows how that spirit still haunts us in the present in the next paragraph). But the point is more subtle than that. The PSNI is the RUC, in much the same way a new secretary is still the secretary. They may not be the former employee, but they are still working for the same boss, in the same location, doing the same job, at the same desk. When Sinn Fein endorses the police, where will this leave Republicans, and Republicanism?