There’s some pretty wild talk going on at the moment about the possible redeployment of British troops in the wake of dissident Republican paramilitaries last week in Meigh. It’s understood that the reason the PSNI backed off is because there simply aren’t the numbers in south Armagh to tackle such breaches of the law. We are effectively in a post decommission era. Loyalists are still manoeuvring to gain government largesse out of offering up theirs in return. Guns have still not, as was so often promised, left Irish politics. A new generation of Republicans may now be looking for what the last generation got, and, presumably, more… That they are highly unlikely to get it will hardly figure in their calculations any more than the likelihood of not getting a united Ireland ever figured with the Provisional IRA.
Yet these latter day rebels lack something vital which the Provos did have: a genuinely popular public grievance off the back of which they could launch their ‘armed struggle’. 1968/69, it is not.
But the ongoing fascination and glorification of guns and the ever backward gaze to where we have come from rather than to where we are supposedly heading from both leaderships of our two main political parties sending out conflicting signals to those they publicly lecture to leave the past behind.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty