“To compare us with the Stickies is an obscenity.”

“The great and most recent example of the corrupting nature of ‘politics’ which is often quoted by some of our membership is the Sticks. Indeed, in the past few weeks some republicans who should know better have actually referred to some people on this platform as Stickies. Oh ye of little faith! Of course, it is easy to hurl abuse – sticks and stone may break our bones – it makes headlines in the media but it also makes this problem more difficult to resolve. To compare us with the Stickies is an obscenity. To talk of ‘only the personalities being changed’ and of ‘some people believing that the British can be talked out of Ireland’ is contemptible.

It is a sign of the maturity of this leadership that we have refrained from publicly answering these remarks and it is a sign of our comradeship that we forgive those who made such remarks.

For anyone who has eyes to see, it is clear that the Sticky leadership had abandoned armed struggle as a form of resistance to British rule as part of their historic new departure into British and Free State constitutionality.

For our part, this leadership has been actively involved in the longest phase ever of resistance to the British presence. Our record speaks for itself.”Gerry Adams, speaking in 1986. He then goes on to outline how the Provisional Republican Movement, under his leadership, will end up where they are today:

“We have learned that to be victorious a struggle for freedom must be a struggle of the people. We have said many times that even the most successful armed struggle in the 6 Counties – and the struggle there is not merely an armed one – cannot achieve the Republic.

We must develop a 32-County-wide political struggle. This is the most important task facing us at present. While consolidating our base in the 6 Counties, we must develop a popular struggle here in the 26 Counties to complement the struggle in the 6-County area. […] You may not do this tomorrow but one thing is certain: as Sinn Fein continues to develop its understanding of the needs of this struggle, you are going to do it, sooner rather than later and your leadership is going to be back here year after year until it has convinced you of this necessity.

We all must share the daunting and massive task of interpreting and applying republicanism to changing and changed political conditions. […]

We have to develop a coherent social and political philosophy which provides a rationale for consistent political as well as armed action. Such a process is one of continual reinterpretation and refinement in response to constantly changing social and political reality. […]

Many republicans wandered, many still do, in the political wilderness, isolated from the daily life and concerns of the people and unable to challenge or offer a viable alternative to the partitionist regimes in Ireland. This in turn has weakened the appeal and credibility of this struggle and limited our ability to think or act outside, and thus complementary to, the armed struggle, and it prevented us from mobilising the broad masses of our people, not least in regards to the armed struggle.

We have at all times been more committed to rebellion than to revolution. The cement which held us together was physical force and since 1918 until recent times, physical force was applied in isolation, unsupported by organised political sentiment in the country. I have spoken and written on this theme many times and I have preached the gospel of republican politics – the need for republican politics, that is the need for republican involvement with people – up and down this island.

The only feasible way to break out of our isolation, to make political gains, to win support for our policies, to develop our organisation and our struggle is by approaching people at the level they understand. This is the sad and unfortunate reality of the dilemma facing us. It cannot be dodged by highly moral rhetoric. It is an issue which we must face up to. This means Sinn Fein getting among people in the basic ways which the people accept. This means new approaches and difficult – and perhaps risky – political positions have to be faced up to by us.

It will mean the difference between another glorious defeat or the development of strategies which can succeed.

We have to cease being spectators of a struggle in the 6 Counties and become pioneers of republicanism in the 26 Counties, putting our policies before the people, confident of the logic of the alternative which Irish republicanism offers.

I say this means risky political positions. This should not be under estimated. […]

[At] this time, our entry in a serious way into electoral politics in this state should be seen in terms of broad political gains as opposed to immediate gains in terms of a seat or seats. […]

What will make an organisation like ours revolutionary is not whether it is committed to any particular means of achieving revolution – such as street agitation, electoralism or physical force – but whether all the means it uses – political work, publicity, mass education, electoralism and armed struggle (which should play no part in the struggle in this state) or projects of economic, social or cultural resistance are conductive to achieving the revolutionary reconquest of Ireland.”

20 years, 1986 until 2006, has Adams achieved his broad political gains? Is it all rhetoric for the time the speech was given, or a roadmap for the “turning of the Titanic in the bathtub”, the peace process Adams steered the Republican Movement onto? Can any republican, who paid attention to what Adams has been saying all these years, be really surprised at where the IRA has gone? Can any unionist?

  • Yokel

    And now a paty political broadcast by Sinn Fein. What tripe is this? I thought I’d stumbled upon http://www.sinnfein.ie

  • ??

    Terrible post.

  • Rusty Nail

    Considering the recent IMC report, which has been heralded in the press as the definitive end of the Provisional IRA, the quotes from this speech, given in 1986, show the broad arc of the last twenty years; it shows where Adams outlined the course taken to get where we are today. In some ways, this historical record is a testament to Gerry Adams’ commitment to the peace process, to his bona fides in his desire to ‘take the gun out of Irish politics’, and do his part to disarm the IRA.

    In 1986, it could have been dismissed as “doublespeak”, rhetoric, fancy words, not to be trusted. But in 2006, with the IRA decommissioned, out of business, can this still be so? Can it be that Gerry Adams, a man whose relationship with the truth is always under question, has been telling the truth all along about his intentions?

    Only people, for various reasons, have not wanted to hear it. Unionists, because of the hurt caused them, because of bigotry, prejudice, distrust; Republicans, because so often the message was given with a spoonful of sugar to help it go down, and the grassroots chose to believe the sugar over the substance everytime.

    It could be that as much as this speech illuminates and, indeed, encapsulates the essence of Adams and his leadership of the Republican Movement, it’s not something he may want attention drawn to, because while he denies, at the time, any similarities to the Sticks, it appears that is what his leadership did – turned into the Sticks.

    Or, of course, you are right, and this is just a party political broadcast for Sinn Fein, and has nothing to do with historical analysis. Vótáil Sinn Féin!

    (I don’t usually want to comment on blog posts, as I prefer to see where the discussion goes without imposing on it, but in this case I probably needed to add to it.)

  • CS Parnell

    It is an obscenity because at least the Sticks believed it and abandoned the gun out of principle.

    I hope Goulding is laughing his arse off in his grave.

    Not a bullet, not an ounce, not a clue.

  • Yokel

    There’s a joke in this somewhere but I can’t find it, a bit like the comedy of Conal Gallen….

  • zzzzzzzzz

    What’s this a history lesson?

  • Yokel

    Can we have threads doing historical analysis on the following too?

    Post-1945 border disputes between Argentina & Chile.

    The breakaway republic of Abkhazia, speeches of nationalist leaders 1994-1996.

    Self Indulgence throughout the centuries, a short history

    All good for historical analysis….

  • jfd

    claptrap, pseudo-revolutionary rubbish.

    Do people really buy into this nonsense, this throw back to the 1920’s.

    Let’s do the time warp again.

  • ??

    Rusty Nail – Don’t disagree with the sentiment or the points you make. Just fell asleep reading it.

  • frankie

    ‘It is an obscenity because at least the Sticks believed it and ‘abandoned the gun’ out of principle.’

    How come the workers party/official ira are still shooting people on the streets of West Belfast, if they have abandoned the gun.

  • Yokel

    I think if Rusty Nail prefaced it with…

    And now a statement from the Great Leader and the Fifth Politburo of the Supreme Revolutionary Council of Greater Ireland & Diaspora.

    That would have set the context beautifully.

  • William Joyce

    To be fair, the Sticks (and North Koreans) do make better super dollars and they are into different sorts of scams. But the Provos will split the same way the Sticks split into what is now WP/OIRA and the Labour Party.
    Also, Frank Ross suxxessfully sued when outed as a Stickhead. No doubt Gerry will do the same.
    So not a bad post.

  • Nevin

    Rusty, do you know who wrote this speech? Was it Adams or was it another member of ‘pan-nationalist front’, the ABC coalition – armalite, ballot-box and church? IIRC the August 1994 declaration of a cessation of ‘military’ activities was compiled by Martin Mansergh and Fr Alec Reid.

  • Yokel

    Statement 34 of the Chief Mo Poca Committee of Copyright Infringed & Other Forged Production

    Comrades, last month we produced 5 000 new high quality DVD’s from our co-operative community factories Numbers 1 and 2 in Belfast.

    Quality of Copied DVD covers continues to improve…

    Forward Brothers & Sisters, forward!

  • red star

    “Brothers & sisters, Continue to spread the wealth among the people(by using our network of money lenders, who charge 90% interest to those most vulnerable within our society) and encourage all to frequent our hostelries so they can be fed with illegal vodka and dope.

    Up the revolution, my arse !!

  • fair_deal

    Maybe Pol O’Muiri and FM should read this thread to see how bloggers get it as rough as journos.

  • circles

    Yokel – did you bother reading this at all and actually engage your brain before writing or are you just running on knee-jerk?
    Unlike any of your suggested further threads, this post is actually of relevance to where we are today in our wee nasty corner.
    What is sure that even if the unionists weren’t (aren’t ?) listening, the Brits recognised a good thing when they saw it. #
    Another thing of interest in this is that “they haven’t gone away you know” still holds – with them not being the IRA bogeymen of unionist fantasy, but rather republicans with an Ireland vision – and the vision they had of continuing their struggle 20 years ago is what we are seeing today.
    I’m just flabbergasted that they got this far without a million republican splinters lying dangerously around. Fair play.

  • circles

    And finally, if we were to look at what Ian Paisey was saying back then, would it support the hypotheses that republicans act and unionists react? i.e. would the DUP be concentrating on trying to manage the current situation with no idea of where they want to be next year (with the only thing being “in the union”)

  • Yokel


    I’ll be able to spot you in a crowd, you got the most obvious po face….

    It only takes one splinter to wound…

  • circles

    well I don’t now how you’ll manage to see with your eyes tight shut and fingers in your ears repeating the No mantra.
    I take it you would be in the REact camp then?

  • mickhall

    The British state gave Gerry Adams the timber and nails at cost, taught him how to make a plank and fix it to the side of a ship. All he needs to do in the next few weeks to complete his graduation is to voluntarily walk the plank and belly flop into the sea. When they pull him out he will have become Gerry Quisling BA, ready and willing to help the PSNI round up his former comrades. Has there ever been an Irishman who has sunk so low, even Sean O’Callaghan worked for the guards.

    As if a single Irishman can remove the guns from Irish politics which were first placed there by the British State, what an ego, what arrogance.

  • Yokel

    Circles, oh you live in cliches…No mantra, god can you think for yourself and say anything that hasn’t been said by someone else?

    What did I say? I was looking for the joke.

    We’ll I couldn’t find one so I made it up for myself.

    Whether its funny is irrelevant, I was bored and I felt entertained…and you bless you, it went so far over your yor head that you’d have needed a step ladder to spot it.

    Now excuse me while i go off and and shoot stones at a local school’s windows and kick my ball into old people’s gardens.

  • Yokel

    Proof positive that teh education system is atrocios..its failed me…my punctuation in that last post stank.

  • Yokel

    And my spelling too, terrible.

    Here circles if you help me get 8 million out of the government I’ll go away.

  • Thrasymachus

    “Has there ever been an Irishman who has sunk so low, even Sean O’Callaghan worked for the guards.”

    Sean Kelly, Bik McFarlane, the usual Republican heroes…

  • Yokel


    Maybe Gerry has realised that the democratic will of the majority of people in the region of conflict has to be acknowledged. i.e. more of them want to remain part of Britain than Ireland.

    More likely Gerry knows he’ll get a harder time from his fellow Irishmen than some English people working in London. Fat chance of the Irish government being so generous and he knows it.

  • mickhall


    Maybe but if so some might think he should cease calling himself a Republican and start calling himself, ahmmm let me think, ah I have got it, a Unionist.

    Is it any wonder old man Paisley looks like he is having such a good time of late, if Gerry keeps this up big Ian is likely to live until he is 100 he is enjoying himself so much.

    What happens if he actually takes Gerry up on his recent offer to nominate him as First Minister, Come to think about it that would just about cap MM career, as sure as hell Gerry would delegate the job to him.

    It all but makes one want to sing that song in the Life of Brian movie about looking on the bright side of life, or jump in the nearest canal


  • Yokel

    Oh hold on, i get it..Stickies..Post-It Notes…

    I was wondering what that was all about.

    Made it at last eh circles.

  • circles

    Not quite Yokel – but I do have great faith in your potential.

    Mickhall – I understand perfectly well the criticism of Gerry A and the Cage 11 clique. Their dictatorial suppression of internal debate and arrogance in believing only they know whats right for republicanism is of course outrageous. However, whilst agreeing with the criticism, I still don’t hear any realistic alternative strategies being put forward. One thing in particular is how is proposing Paisley for first minister anti-republican? From a strategic (and pragmatic) point of view there are not too many alternatives, and in any case, when a deal is brokered it is the most likely outcome anyway.
    The policing issue is much trickier – but I do not believe that republicanism should mean being anti-police for the sake of it (particularly if the conditions can be created to ensure a police force that is acceptable).

  • Thrasymachus

    “The policing issue is much trickier – but I do not believe that republicanism should mean being anti-police for the sake of it (particularly if the conditions can be created to ensure a police force that is acceptable).”

    But if your a Republican then you are anti-police for the sake of it, as you don’t believe a British police force has any right to be policing here.

  • mickhall


    It is not only that, sure there are times when we would all welcome a helping hand from the police, the lesser of these are if our car is stolen. But the fact is all police forces are the first line of any States defense mechanism against internal dissent.

    Thus to help administer the PSNI would be for Republicans to cut their own throats so to speak at some time in the future.[no jokes please] If any one doubts what I write, take a look back at how the UK police behaved to the striking miners in 1984.


    started to reply to your post, but it has turned into an article, will post you a copy before it is published

  • circles

    Nice one – post to this address

  • Gonzo

    Ironic that the Sticks (apparently) shot that young fella on the Falls whose leg had to be amputated a couple of weeks ago, when up until recently you would’ve expected it to be the latest inexperienced enforcer in the Provos.

  • aubrey

    and no mention of the 6 shootings by unionist terrorists over the past 2 weeks

    Perhaps they need new funding for another George Best or David Healy mural.

    Were not Brazil were the mutilators

  • aquifer

    Whats wrong with the stickies. They did not kill 3000 irish people nor leave a country divided along the lines of, now get this in 2006, – religious belief.