There was an interesting clash between Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Kevin Toolis on Monday’s Talkback with Máirtín denying he was putting forward the Sinn Féin point of view on those other republican paramilitaries. As Máirtín repeated at CommentisFree, that point of view could be paraphrased as – don’t mention the ‘R’ word. And no wonder. There’s a harsh reality here for Sinn Féin to face, as Eamonn McCann points out in the Daily Mail
The working-class anger that gave rise to the emergence of the Provos as a major player in the 1970s did not represent a new flowering of Republican ideas, a long-repressed tradition suddenly gushing forth again through the cracks caused by the seismic impact of the 1960s civil rights movement. It would be truer to say that the tiny Republican movement of the time, embodied in Belfast in a few families, including the Adamses, provided an organisational framework, a channel for expression and a readiness to fight that matched the sudden mood of the Catholic masses and offered a ready-made ideology to lend their travails an historical resonance at a time when their communities were under siege by loyalist mobs, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army.
Adams and his associates have gradually, surreptitiously, denying at every stage that they were embarked on any such enterprise, sloughed off this Republican tradition and bargained the war conducted in its name for advancement for themselves and their community in the here-and-now. But the core idea which they espoused was elevated in the course of their struggle, and, as Saturday night’s killings illustrate, it hasnt gone away.
Kevin Toolis, writing today in the Times
But Ireland is no more united than it was in 1922. And Sinn Féin, sunk into insignificance in the last elections in the South, is unable to articulate how the current Stormont settlement leads to a united Ireland and something more than jobs for Mr Adams’s boys.
In West Belfast, the republican heartland, his political machine is slick, suffocating, thuggish and ready to isolate all those within the republican family who question the long betrayal. No one is immune from the leader’s wrath if they dissent and ask – what was all the sacrifice of the 1970s and 1980s for? Did Bobby Sands starve himself to death so that Martin McGuinness, a legendary IRA man, could become a minister of the British Crown in Ireland?
Even Brendan the dark Hughes, Mr Adams’s old Long Kesh cellmate, was cast out into the wilderness. I would have taken a bullet for Gerry Adams but perhaps I should have put a bullet in him, said Hughes despairingly.
By their latest killings, the republican dissidents are reminding us all that Gerry Adams does not have a monopoly on the theology of republicanism. They intend to go on with the killing until they are stopped. Like the poor, Ireland’s Troubles are always with us.
Above all, though, there is the challenge of ridding Irish culture of the last vestiges of the sneaking regard for their crude ideology and the murderous methods that flow from it. A part of the price that has been paid for the peace process, and for bringing paramilitary killers in from the cold, has been a reluctance to challenge too strongly the notion that violence was ultimately vindicated. We must acknowledge that paramilitarism achieved nothing for the Irish people over 30 years except blood and tears. It was, and is, a dead end. Those who would revive it must be treated by everyone, of every political persuasion, for what they are: the enemies of democracy, decency and Ireland.
That’s another legacy issue that’s been ignored so far..