Is 2016 time to “write out our own clean birth certificate for the Irish Republic”?

And for the third week in a row, here’s a piece from the Sunday Independent and Eoghan Harris who warns ill-prepared southern politicians from testing their ‘leaky consensus’ on the differences between the south’s military struggle for independence and the IRA’s recent (some would say, ongoing) long war…

Adams would “win” any such debate for two reasons. Because of what I call a “leaky consensus” against the IRA’s actions. And because the border between the Old IRA and the Provo IRA is not as clear as southern politicians claim — a point proved by Ursula Halligan’s second programme on Sinn Fein for TV3.

Denis Bradley, a former priest, and a respected intermediary with the IRA, convincingly castigated what he saw as a southern double standard whereby the Republic defends Old IRA atrocities but denounces Provo IRA terror. And the holes in southern hypocrisy were not filled convincingly by the contributions of either Ruairi Quinn or David Andrews.

Both politicians followed the familiar southern mantra that the Old IRA had a “mandate” from the 1918 General Election. Before dealing with that doubtful claim, let me note that Andrews struggled to find an acceptable word for his father’s abortive attempt to shoot an alleged British agent on Bloody Sunday, finally rejecting Halligan’s offer of “murder” in favour of “killing”.

The problem Harris’s argument runs into is the deeply non trivial problem of disowning a nation’s history… HIs answer can be best described as vestigial. In more modern parlance it’s barely a wireframe.

Certainly we can salute the courage of my grandfather’s generation which went out in 1916 against great odds. But we should not let their deeds dictate how this generation handles our history of political violence.

Time we cut the bloody umbilical cord that binds us to the violence of 1916-1921. Time we ended a hundred years of hypocrisy. Time we wrote out our own clean birth certificate for the Irish Republic. 2016 provides the perfect date to do so.

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