It’s funny who or what can make you think, bumping into a Liberal Unionist at a funeral isn’t one of my normal jumping off points. When someone from such a different mindset, on meeting for the first time, asks such an inappropriate question, in such an inappropriate setting, as;
“Just how do we talk to these [dissenting republicans] people?”
First you think ‘wtf’, then:
‘I’ have no more insight than ‘you’, the state and certainly not SF – they aren’t listening and they won’t hear anything coming from you.
So, the Liberal Unionist, with what seemed like a sigh, asked can dissenting republicanism only be dealt with via a ‘policing’ solution.
I thought of recent protests in/at Maghaberry and suggested; the more people banged up, the more young men and women would be supporting prisoners and drawn into their arguments.
So where do you go?
Our conversation finished. I’ve dwelt on it ever since.
I have no desire to defeat dissident republicanism, I agree with it.
However, like that Liberal Unionist, the Stormont establishment, Leinster House, Britain, their minions and many others I think any armed actions are demonstrably fruitless and self-defeating.
But, all these groups also work towards silencing political voices of dissenting republicanism..
If political conversations aren’t happening generally, they can’t later happen with those working and supporting the 6 county, 26 county or British state.
If the establishment want all dissenters to move from armed to only unarmed political struggle they need to stop shutting down the political space for dissenting republicans.
They (both the Provos and Brits) should stop infiltrating political groups. They should stop planting agents in unity initiatives. They should stop treating political groups as armed organisations. Political opposition that seeks to challenge Sinn Fein’s hegemony should not be strangled at birth to protect Sinn Fein. For peace to truly take root, political expression needs to be unfettered, even if it doesn’t suit the favoured child.
The agents that caused the collapse of the IRFU demonstrated both the Provos and Brits would prefer to see political dissent broken over allowing any viable outlet for dissenters.
Liberal Unionist asked me how do ‘we’ talk to ‘them’. You can’t. Let ‘them’ have conversations without infiltration!