When Stalin died, Kruschev could drive a stake in his heart and own up to the crimes of the past. When the current leaders of Sinn Fein go, their successors – the true inheritors of constitutional nationalism – will be free to say: we were wrong.
Until then they will perpetuate myths that can ennoble armed struggle and cheapen their own politics. It is an awful pity we cant have the clarity now that we need and will inevitably get later on, from some future SF leader who will find it costs nothing to speak the truth. And that it is worth speaking plainly and honestly if there is a chance that it will discourage those who , soaked in the nonsensical myths of republican glory, might be tempted to claim a little of that glory for themselves.
It is worth speaking plainly and honestly. Whether that will inevitably come when the current leaders of Sinn Féin go.. Perhaps, Malachi, perhaps..
Interestingly, as Brian has noted, what plain speaking we have seen has come from republicans who have already dissented from Sinn Féin’s mythologising.
From the Sunday Times
Richard ORawe was an IRA prisoner on the same wing as Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death in 1981. He has now renounced violence but understands the forces that drive the dissidents.
I would not have joined the IRA in the first place if I was told this [power-sharing with the unionists] would be the outcome, he said. Who in their right minds would do a minute in jail for this? There was no need for anyone to die. It could have all have been done 30 or 35 years ago in a peaceful way.
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness told us it was a united Ireland or nothing. You can see why the dissidents would be so disillusioned by the outcome. There is no strategy to take us to a united Ireland.
And Anthony McIntyre in today’s Independent on Sunday
Those of us who have “been there and done that” and who can bear testimony to the utter futility of militarism look on events with a mixture of angst and guilt. Angst because of the lives being destroyed; guilt because the logic we preached in the Provisional IRA is their logic. Treading in our footsteps they will secure the same defeat, but for Martin McGuinness to denounce them as traitors for following the example he set for decades is to commit an act of treachery against truth.
On the Politics Show today Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd declined an invitation to such plain speaking..
“Everyone has regrets over what happened over the last thirty years in this country. All those sides who involved themselves in armed conflict have their own responsibilities within that. What we have done, is we have brought ourselves away from that. Through the Good Friday Agreement and through the peace negotiations that followed, the long and arduous process that involved, we have brought ourselves to a new place where there is no reason whatsoever for armed conflict in this society. Republicans, and I’m an Irish Republican, and I believe that through a lot of hard work and a whole lot of commitment from ourselves we will achieve a united Ireland.”
Meanwhile, as Kevin Toolis pointed out
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 Adamss boys.
And, as noted in the same post, from Eamonn McCann
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 nights killings illustrate, it hasnt gone away.