Martin McGuinness to stand down at the next election

The former Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness has announced he will stand down as an MLA at the next election.

His statement is this;

“Last year, Gerry Adams and I confirmed that we had a plan in place for transition to a new leadership. For my part, it was my intention to step aside in May this year which would have marked 10 years since I entered government with Ian Paisley as joint leader of the northern Executive.

“Unfortunately, my health and the current crisis have overtaken this timeframe and I am stepping down from my role to make way for a new leader of Sinn Féin in the North.

“Over the last ten years I have worked tirelessly to make power-sharing work.

“The institutions are now in a deep crisis as a result of recent events and we are facing into an election when the people will have their say.

“After long and careful consideration, I have decided that it is time for a new generation of republicans to lead us into this election and the negotiations that will follow.

“Sinn Féin is a party in constant development, renewal and evolution.

“Our struggle for freedom and equality stretches back to the United Ireland movement of the 1790s. I am deeply proud of the democratic influences that Ulster Presbyterianism contributed to the Irish republican tradition.

“It remains my own personal and political ambition to break the link with Britain and to unite all who share this island under the common banner of Irish men and women.

“I am deeply proud of the generation of Irish republicans that came before us. A generation that kept the vision of freedom alive through the difficult post-partition era when they faced unrelenting repression and persecution from the Ulster Unionist Party in an apartheid Orange state.

“I have been privileged to be part of the generation that broke that apartheid state apart and to have been part of a Sinn Féin leadership that delivered peace and radical change. There are more republicans today than at any time in my generation.

“I look across the party north and south and see energy, determination, talent and potential new leaders emerging who, I am confident, will deliver equality, respect and Irish unity.

“My obvious heath issues are being addressed by a superb team of national health service doctors and nurses.

“But I want to be open and honest with my friends and colleagues in Sinn Féin, with the electorate of Foyle and with the wider community beyond my own constituency. I also want to be fair to my family and to the teams of carers who are doing their best to provide me with the treatment I now require to deal with this very serious medical condition which I am very determined to overcome.

“Unfortunately, I am not physically able to continue in my current role and have therefore decided to make way for a new leader.

“This election is the right time for me to move aside so I will not seek re-election to the Assembly.

‘I have full confidence in the strong team that we have built in the Assembly to carry forward the work of building institutions that deliver for all our people on the basis of equality, respect and integrity.

“A new leader will lead us into this Assembly election and into the negotiations that will inevitably follow on from that election.

“We need the strongest Sinn Féin team if we are to ensure the progressive change which is now an essential next step forward and our new leader will have my full and undivided support in the weeks and months ahead

“We are on a journey to unite our people and unite our island.

“As a Sinn Féin activist I will continue to play a full and enthusiastic part in that essential process of building bridges, of dialogue and of reconciliation between our still divided people.

“Despite the current difficulties and challenges, I am confident and optimistic about the future. We have faced more difficult times and found a way forward.

“As a society we have made enormous progress.

“We must continue to move forward. Dialogue is the only option.”

 

, ,

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Peace negotiator

  • file

    Sans doute! Je ne pétérai plus. Quand même, la nuait tous les chats sont gris.

  • file

    Now let’s unpick this a bit: is there a ‘struggle’ to legitimise terrorism; and if there is a struggle so to do, should you not be strengthening the struggle (ie making the struggle more of a struggle) rather than resisting it?

  • file

    I have my moments.

  • Jollyraj

    Peace Negotiator?

    Absolutely no need to join the IRA if you wanted to be a negotiator of peace.

    Unless you really, really wanted to wear a balaclava on tv.

  • file

    I only half-believe anything I write on here, mainlandman, and only half-believe everything I read.
    Empathy and acceptance are two-way streets, you know? i hope you were listening to Ian Óg.
    So where are you heading to then? Have you read the Good Friday Agreement? Once the British Secretary of State thinks a majority might vote for a United Ireland, he will call a referendum, and then call one every 7 years after that until the uK government gets the answer they want, ie the majority want out, and they will be only to glad to show us the door. There is no other direction.

  • Granni Trixie

    I ought to resist letting you tie me in knots but here goes anyway: it appears to be important to Republicans to convey any time they can that ‘the war’ in Ni was justified. It’s probably less a formal policy than individual and collective need to consntruct a moral narrative they can live with. I suppose because I lived in The heartlands when the troubles kicked off I am entitled to offer an alternative perspective in which yes there was discrimination etc but which could have been righted without violence.

    In the meantime I’m off to another La la land,

  • grumpy oul man

    Really.
    From the man who can ignore all violence before the provos started and ignore the unionist polticians dealings with terrorists.
    Now there is something else that needs exposed.

  • grumpy oul man

    Tell us your hostory of the troubles then. When did they start? What sort of place in your opinion was NI when unionists controlled it.

  • grumpy oul man

    Tell us do you have empathy for those murdered by unionists and discriminated against by unionists.
    What about the people burnt out of there houses in August 69 by unionist mobs could that hate filled violence possibly had anything to do with the birth of martins army.
    Unionists sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.
    Do you even reconise those facts.

  • Madra Uisce

    Do you think the nationalist electorate was right to vote for IRA people though? Seems a shocking moral failure from where I’m sitting.

    Again give over with this moral superiority crap, The Unionist electorate have voted in their hundreds of thousands for a party that has been linked with Loyalist terror for over forty years,a party whos paramilitary wing imported an arsenal of weapons that murdered over 200 innocent people for simply being the wrong religion. You really need to get rid of that beam.

  • grumpy oul man

    Try what you like MU doesnt believe that unionists kicked the whole thing off in 66 and the house burnings of 69 are not relevant to him.
    As far as he is concerned it all started with the birth of the provos.

  • grumpy oul man

    I think most people regard the begining of the troubles as 1966 and gustys murder gang. Followed by loyalist bombings and attacks on civil rights marchers, the burnings and murders of August 69 laid the seeds for the birth of the provos.
    Unionist polticians opposing any compromise and working with the unionist murder squads nsured that the IRA had plenty of recruits.
    But all this is what is called history and i am sure not part of your thought process.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you didn’t answer the question though …

  • Katyusha

    MU, can I point you to this excellent article about the vacuousness of British identity – in this context, its use as a substitute for an unformed or repressed English identity, rather than the Irish identity discarded by Irish unionists (which is a very recent phenomenon, not one that was shared by their predecessors)?
    http://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/the_problem_with_the_english_england_doesn_t_want_to_be_just_another_member_of_a_team_1_4851882

    The description of the English psyche may well ring true for you in terms of your own personal experience of it – it certainly rings true for me in terms of my own experience living in England. Maybe it would help you appreciate the similar way that much of the Unionist community appears lost and insecure to Irish nationalist eyes. For my part, I always found the solely British identity in NI to be oddly incompatible with, well, civic Britishness, and the newr “Northern Irish” identity to have somewhat shallow roots, although a lot more fulfilling. The older generations, even those as fiercely Protestant and Unionist as Paisley or Carson, appear to have had no such identity crisis.

    All I would say is, dig a little deeper, treat people as people and British identity in Ireland as the equal of Irish identity, and you may start to question your certainties about us.

    You say this as if the two are mutually exclusive, or are binary options, or within each “camp” as it looks like you crudely categorise it, there isn’t a myriad of different identities. Especially within unionism, description of identity is rich rich varied. What you characterise as British identity may be completely different to what one of your peers thinks about it. Heck, what I characterise as my British identity is no doubt very different from what you think of it. I don’t need you to tell me to respect British identity when I am British myself, even if it means a different thing to me than it does to you.

    Also, its a little rich of you to row against characterisation of “an entire ethnic group” when you have in the past claimed that cultural generalisation can be useful. There are character traits that describe the collective as much as the individual, and root causes to those traits found in their collective history. Or do you think that the bold Ulster Scot has no distinctive and unique collective character?

    Our dehumanisation once served a function when we were being trussed up to be “legitimate targets”; but the era where we share power and work together calls for empathy and acceptance of ethnic difference. Quite apart from being misconceived, negative tropes about Brits and Prods don’t even serve Republican ends any more, if they ever did.

    No doubt you believe this MU, but its it’s incredibly misconceived. Firstly, it was not the IRA than engaged in rhetoric to dehumanise the “other tribe”. The IRA perceived themselves as fighting a war and were very conscious that they were taking human life; it was perceived as an unavoidable consequence of warfare and something which was inevitable in the pursuit of armed revolution. They did not seek to dehumanise their victims; they murdered them in full awareness of their humanity, for reasons which apparently had military objectives rather than the simple slaughter of the “other” that is marked in conflicts where one ethnic group dehumanises the other. This is the exact reason why the term “legitimate targets” was used – to explain (or excuse) their actions in attacking the structures of the British state they were fighting against – whether it be the military, police, loyalist paramilitaries, politicians, the judiciary – the list of excuses was absurd – and explicitly did NOT apply to the entire Ulster Protestant community. In fact the background of their victims was irrelevant, and Catholic members of the army or police were even more at risk. Whereas the loyalist paramilitaries had no need to legitimise their targetting of someone – for them, all Taigs were targets, as the saying went. This is a direct outworking of the “we are the people” type rhetoric that sought to dehumanise those outside of their tribe. It explains very neatly why loyalist paramilitaries overwhelmingly targeted completely innocent, random civilians (over 90% of their victims, I believe), and why so many of the murders were of shocking brutality. They tended to be very fond of knives. They were also a tiny minority in the Unionist community, and anyone who genuinely wished to fight for their country could very legitimately serve in the Army or the RUC.

    You might be completely repulsed by the IRA and their actions, as all decent people were and are, but you’ll never be able to understand them if you lazily handwave their motivation as driven by ethnic hatred rather than ideology. The fracturing of Irish republicanism along sectarian lines is for them the greatest tragedy and barrier hindering their attempts at revolution; going back to when the British state fostered used sectarianism to divide and conquer the pluralist (but radical) United Irishmen movement. You are right that lazy tropes about the Prods never served Irish republican ends; hence they tried to portray themselves as non-sectarian, even if it seemed ridiculous to claim as such after the province had descended into sectarian mayhem.

    The second big misconception is that there are two separate ethnic groups in NI (not counting ethnic minorities here, obviously). There really isn’t; we are all of one ethnic group, and to the outsider we are all the same. It cheapens the words ethnicity and ethnic conflict when you misuse it in this fashion. It may have applied during the Tudor conquest and Cromwellian invasion; it really doesn’t apply now. Certainly within loyalism there seems to be a desire to believe that they are a separate ethnic group, but it doesn’t really stand up. And NISRA, my reference when it comes to this kind of thing, doesn’t split us up by ethnicity when they do their headcounts.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I have an extremely well-thumbed copy. I feel that with the GFA, the Union is on its most secure ever footing. The GFA is something we can all live with I think.

    Empathy and acceptance certainly are two-way streets. It makes big asks of unionists too, but I think most people are absolutely fine with the pluralist approach to things in there. No one is expected to accept the unacceptable – just to judge people for what they do and say, not for their religion, ethnicity or nationality. Catholics don’t have to accept the UVF’s take on things and Protestants do not have to accept the IRA’s – we criticise both rightly for what they did and what they think, not for who they are or what nationality they feel. We are obliged to accept people’s chosen identities.

    I think that is a hugely significant and amazing thing for us all to have agreed to do. That to me is at the heart of the GFA and what makes it more than just a deal – it is about thinking about each other differently, while liberating us not to accept the old crap we both had to take from the other lot.

  • file

    You see, all I needed to read of the GFA was that piece about the Secretary of State being obliged to call a referendum ever 7 years until the answer is in favour of a United Ireland. As Hain would say, all the rest of it is just details which may or may not be implemented, or even agreed to.

  • file

    Ask him when the Provos were born then, and how he accounts for the 2 years of troubled before then.

  • file

    so do you oppose the struggle to legitimise terrorism? (be careful how you answer … it’s a trick question)

  • file

    Don’t be afraid of your fast wife, Alan. You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.

  • john millar

    “But all this is what is called history and i am sure not part of your thought process.”

    The latest batch did indeed have its roots in Gusty and Co

    Just putting in the” historical context ” and timeline and events

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Campaign_(Irish_Republican_Army

    https://presspack.rte.ie/2006/12/12/hidden-history-founding-fathers-frank-aiken-gunman-and-statesman/

    Repeats

    Fair bit of guns etc about before any “unionists” appeared
    Seems they just fell into line

  • grumpy oul man

    Well nice try, but the last batch of troubles started with gisty and his boys, unionist violence carried on to this day ( carrickfergus fued) i think a series of secterian killings in Belfast in 1966 can hardly be blsmed on a failed border campaign 8 years earlier.

  • grumpy oul man

    I have tried repeatably but he just pretends it didnt happen.
    Hard to get past that level of wilful blindness.
    He also cant see how voting for the DUP with its history of working with loyalist terrorists means that unionists voted for parties with terrorist links just like nationlists do.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    You may have a point,still many of those people had only support from the Provos when B-Specials,
    R,U.C and the British army were beating and
    murdering people .There was a sectarian regime at Stormont and a sectarian police force on the streets.
    .

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Quite a lot in there, thanks for the time taken. I’ll try and keep it as brief as I can to avoid this expanding exponentially …

    – on “the vacuousness of British identity”, our identity is much written and thought about but the point is, the GFA stated it was people’s “birthright” in N Ireland not just to define their own identity, but in particular to “be accepted” as British, or Irish or both as the person so choose. So it is expressly required that British identity be accepted. I could get into all sorts of interesting discussions about the meaning and nature of the British strand of identity as experienced in differing ways in NI, but that’s for another time, the point being, the validity of those forms of identity are not supposed to be in question any more in Ireland. For what it’s worth, I think all the Susan McKay ‘identity crisis’ stuff, which even a lot of unionists have swallowed, is a load of guff – just bad analysis – but I’ll save that for another thread.
    – I’m not presenting British and Irish as binary options, and of course a lot of us are Northern Irish as well / instead, and Belfastian or in my case bizarrely attached to ideas about County Antrim. In my job I have written research reports on aspects of British identity and spoken at conferences on it, so please don’t think I have a simplistic or crude model of what identity is, or come at this as some kind of ingenu. I get that all national identities are experienced in as many ways as there are people who feel them. Nevertheless, the possibilities are not infinite and it is possible to synthesis and describe how it is experienced in general terms too, in a way that is meaningful.
    – cultural generalisation can be useful but boy do you have to be careful with it. There is such a thin line between a legitimate noting of a commonly seen behaviour or attitude among a group of people, and an ethnic stereotype that defines people by the traits of the group they find themselves in. I think it is possible to write about my ethnic group as a people with some common cultural traits, but you have to be very aware the group aspect is not the whole story or anything like it. Not only are there sub-groups and divisions within it – of class, locality, religious denomination, politics, personality and so on – but there’s the temporal aspect too (the ‘ethnic’ lens is more informative during some episodes than others). But I agree that “there are character traits that describe the collective as much as the individual, and root causes to those traits found in their collective history”, I think that is a perfectly legitimate lens to use. I just think if you’re talking about an entire people as if they are a character in a story, particularly where the epithets become pejorative, it’s worth asking whether the story you’re telling is a little too neat.
    – then there is the actual content – the story being told about P/U/L people. Frankly I never trust a negative ‘national story’ of any group of people, full stop. I especially don’t trust it if told by another group hostile to them. That’s anywhere in the world. If I hear a story about what Croats are like, I will take note if the speaker is a Serb or has a connection to Serbia. I don’t take an Englishman’s view of “the French” at face value. People have agendas and reasons, often below the level of conscious awareness, that colours their take on other cultures. Oddly perhaps, we don’t much talk about ourselves, not in terms of defining ourselves as a people. Notable exceptions are the couple of books by Geoffrey Beattie, especially “We Are The People”. But generally we haven’t done much of that. So we have been unusually open to negative ethnic depiction by people either hostile to us, unknowledgeable about us, or both. It seems you may have taken such writings rather too much to heart. But look, I think people are great generally, all people, in different ways – and I return to the point that coming to a negative judgment about an entire ethnic group almost certainly means you just haven’t thought hard enough about them.
    – on Republican dehumanisation of the ‘other’, you reject that this happened. Your arguments seem based on accepting the IRA’s self-analysis (which was also how they presented them to the watching world, of which they very conscious). “We are fighting a war” they claimed, “and we kill people for military reasons”. The IRA’s behaviour and the attitudes of its members completely contradicts their claims to be non-sectarian. The almost 100 per cent Catholic membership of it ought to be an early clue; their analysis of the problems in NI society directed its critique exclusively at the actions of the P/U/L community; in the early days of the Troubles they attacked Protestant areas, threw Protestants out of Catholic areas; when they bedded down for the “armed struggle” they directed their attacks at targets that were Ulster Protestant, British, both or related to the British state (such as state servants and members of the police and armed forces). Though they killed a huge number of Catholics – a similar number to that killed by Loyalists – they were unfortunates caught up in IRA bombs, people deemed a threat to Provo hegemony in their areas, informers and cases of mistaken identity. The story it sought to tell of “the Brits” and the “Orange bas****s” (which includes me, though I have nothing to do with the OO) was one in which we were the sole authors of every misfortune to happen to Catholics and where we were all guilty of oppression, by association – the only good Brit was a dead Brit. The problem was diagnosed as us. I see echoes of this thinking every day I go on Slugger. It is classic, textbook ethnic scapegoating – take something true for some members of a group and make them all guilty of it. As you said yourself, the list of “legitimate targets” was so wide that basically anyone could get it. My friend’s dad, a builder, was shot dead in his driveway because he’d worked on a police station job. This wasn’t soldiers doing what soldiers have to do in a war, because they didn’t have to do it and these were just ordinary people going about their lives. And I don’t by the way think killing policemen or soldiers is any better, but that’s a whole other topic. But certainly they were very keen to present themselves as basically the French Resistance in WW2. What utter boll***s though, really. “Occupied”, yeah right. Idiots.
    – then you say “you’ll never be able to understand them [the IRA] if you lazily handwave their motivation as driven by ethnic hatred rather than ideology.” I know they don’t think they were driven by ethnic hatred, but they clearly were (see above). Theirs was an almost entirely Irish Catholic organisation, attacking British institutions and people. You may wish to say ‘Oh but that’s not ethnic hatred, it’s OK to be against the Brits.’ Except, in N Ireland one of the tribes, the one that isn’t theirs, defines itself as British. The IRA was attacking us whether they shot a policeman, a soldier, or a civilian. And they shot us whether we were English, Scottish, Welsh, N Irish or even Irish. If they regarded N Irish people as their own, you might have thought they would just then target people from mainland Britain. But they didn’t, most of the people they killed were from N Ireland. That said, I don’t think their analysis of the situation was solely wrong because of their unacknowledged ethnic bias, I agree with you that their actual ideology played a huge role. It’s no coincidence they had long believed in treating British people in Ulster as foreign invaders, believed in “blood sacrifice” as a cleansing force and believed in their own role as “revolutionaries” with a duty to “free” “Ireland” from “foreign occupation”. I know they swallowed all that rubbish too, it wasn’t just ethnic hatred. They got it wrong every which way, I accept, and I don’t underestimate the poverty of their analysis
    – finally, ethnic groups in NI. “We are all of one ethnic group” you claim. There is an entire literature on the ethnic nature of the N Ireland divide. To me, failing to see it in those terms is a failure to realise we are not unique and that our situation has parallels all over the world. Here’s the definition Wikipedia gives of ethnicity:
    “An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities, such as common ancestral, language, social, cultural or national experiences. Unlike other social groups (wealth, age, hobbies), ethnicity is often an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. In some cases, it can be adopted if a person moves into another society. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art, and physical appearance.”
    You can’t approach the N Ireland situation without noticing there are two broad groups who have different national allegiances, different religious traditions, different origin stories, ancestry, cultural reference points and symbols, different high days, rituals, sporting allegiances, even some different relationships with language (Gaelic). It comes back to your first point about being able to make some common generalities within the group, which I agreed was possible. ‘Ethnicity’ is a better term than the old one we are more used to, religion. Ethnicity covers people like me who have no religious belief but are “culturally Protestant” and it captures the fact that religion is only one marker of difference. If I come across a bloke called Liam in a Celtic shirt, or Steve in a Rangers top, it’s not a mystery what community they probably come from. We all realised a while ago I think, the ‘conflict’ was never really about religion as such but about two groups of people who perceived themselves to be competing over the same area. Ethnicity is the best term for talking about those bigger group identities. There is a white man’s recoil by some, I find, who think of ethnicity as something that only applies to ‘exotic’ people who are studied by anthropologists in the rain forest. But we are all in ethnic groups, whether we think of ourselves that way or not. The idea that there is only one ethnicity on the island, “Irish” does not bear any scrutiny at all I’m afraid. It may be possible to build such a single group in the future, but that is not how people behave at the moment. We behave like two groups, and we actually think of ourselves as two groups (even nationalists do, every time they talk about N Irish people in ‘Catholic’ or ‘Protestant’, ‘Irish’ or ‘British’ terms). It’s fine to want these groups to merge and be one, but from a purely descriptive point of view, it is not the case at present. Of course there plenty of people not in either group as well, and if they think and behave like they’re not, then they’re not – but they are still a fairly small minority, most people retain some connection to their ‘tribe’ at some level. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just that it is the case.

    Sorry I failed to keep it brief 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well, the IRA did more than any of those organisations, so support for them can’t be explained purely in terms of equal and opposite reaction.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Not a bit odd, I am just accepting the way the electorate are voting.The S.D.L P, got the silver
    spoon from the start from London and especially
    from all the parties in the South.Yet when Hume
    left the S.D.L.P started to fall apart when the electorate decided to give their support to Adams and McGuinness

  • Alan N/Ards

    I’ve actually just realised how badly composed my first reply was to you. Lol. My wife has just looked at it and is now doubled over in laughter. It’s time for a glass of wine!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    does the vote absolve you of having to make a moral judgment on the IRA?

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Some of those people may say it was the B-Sspecials. R.U.C and Brookeborough like minded
    politicians who made the biggest impact for them
    joining the Provos.

  • file

    Glad to be of assistance. Enjoy the wine … and the wife.

  • file

    Maybe we should all address this misinformation issue by bombarding the department of Education with demands that facts about Irish geography, history, politics and society have to become a compulsory part of the education syllabus from 6-16.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    I am not interested in making moral judgements on
    anyone.I am just pointing out te results of the ballot box.Adams and McGuinness now have twice the strength of the S.D.L P

  • file

    Resistance is useless. I’ll give you the answer to this one to keep you in the class: the problem is with your use of the word ‘struggle’ and its being followed with the purpose clause ‘to legitimise terrorism’ as this gives the impression that some group is having trouble in their attempts to legitimise terrorism. As such, you should be increasing their trouble, but by ‘resisting’ the struggle to do X, you are in fact, pedantically, aiding the doing of X. Simple solution is to replace ‘struggle’ with ‘attempt’: then you can easily say, ‘I resist the attempt to legitimise terrorism; I am against the attempt to legitimise terrorism; I oppose the attempt to legitimise terrorism.’ Whereas ‘I oppose the struggle to legitimise terrorism’ sort of means – I think terrorism should be legitimised without a struggle.

    Imprecise language is both a symptom and a cause of imprecise thinking.

  • file

    into Irish politics in the 20th century … is that better?

    But the answer to the original question would have been the english when they invaded.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    That is the problem,but he has a mandate from the electorate and is every bit as good as the one Arlene has.

  • file

    Are you also opposed to state terrorism? By the USA for example, or by the UK? Or is state terrorism OK?

  • file

    Does one mean Caral Ní Hard to Spell But not a sHard to Pronounce as the artist formerly known (at school) as Marty Millar?

  • grumpy oul man

    Well i just finished a exchange with MU on another thread and i am afaird that he seems very opposed to any form of education on the subject.
    But i must have hit a nerve as he is now avoiding me.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes of course

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You’re not willing to make a moral judgment about murder? Really?

    Does this breezy ambivalence apply to all murders or just IRA ones?

  • file

    Just to be sure now – no trick questions – you object to the murders by terrorist western states of Sadam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Osama Bin Laden?

  • Hugh Davison

    Thank you for your concern. However, I think you’re making assumptions about what I can and cannot see. You are also consistent in your failure to recognise context.
    Terrorism in NI began in 1921, not in 1969. Your ‘rhetorical exercise’ was reality for many people long before you were born.

  • Hugh Davison

    Should be in the running for the Slugger longest post prise 🙂

  • Hugh Davison

    You forgot the B-specials, UDR, Special Branch, all part of the Unionist government apparatus. How dare I, indeed?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No I didn’t forget them at all. I have taken all their actions, good and bad, into account. And I am aware a minority of members of those organisations acted illegally and wrongly, were sectarian and owe apologies and compensation to the people, overwhelmingly Catholic people, they affected. I just think paramilitary groups on both sides should do the same. And the facts are that the paramilitary groups were responsible for way, way, way more wrongdoing and damage than errant members of the police and army (a proportion of something like 20:1 is a fair estimate). So let’s have some circumspection about this.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I know :-)I started off trying to keep the word count down but once I got into answering point by point, I felt compelled to complete it. It is way too long and poor writing really. Apologies. The views I’m fine with but it is really verbose for this medium. Sorry!

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m fully aware terrorism has been present in NI and Ireland generally from partition and many decades before it. ATQ Stewart used to write beautifully about the historical continuities of mutual sectarian assault going back to Peep O’ Day Boys, Defenders and so on. It’s nothing new. I’m just arguing that it really always was a bad thing and did no one any good.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Terrorist Western states” – I don’t see any Western state as a “terrorist state” as such, perhaps you could explain what you mean by that term?

    Saddam and Gadaffi were killed by their own people, weren’t they? And the killing of OBL, well, in theory he should have been arrested, I agree. But given he was head of Al Qaeda and protected by heavily armed terror gang members, I think any arresting team was in reality always likely to get into a fire fight and I think they were justified in using force to try and apprehend him; and indeed in seeing the mission as an “arrest if possible, otherwise take down” mission. It might sound bad but the alternative is realistically that terrorist leaders operate with impunity, as arrest of someone like OBL without the use of force is a very remote scenario.

    If you’re serious about tackling terrorism, unfortunately you can’t simply send in PC Plod and you do have to give the brave people confronting them the space to be able to actually get to the key people and disrupt them.

  • Jag

    Is Michelle O’Neill just going to be crowned NI leader of SF? Seems un-republican if you don’t mind me saying. Presumably the Ard Comhairle will sign off on the coronation, but shouldn’t the SF membership get a say?

  • grumpy oul man

    But interestingly SF seems to have choices in talent for the leadership positon. Unionisn not so much.
    If AF falls does the DUP have anybody to replace her and lets be honest she was the best they had and she has made a total mess of things
    I suspect that truly talented and intelligent member of what would be considered the unionist community have read the history books and dont want anything to do with such a backward bunch.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What’s the point of talking if we’re restricted in what we can say?
    “Sorry, No! You can’t say that because of what some one you don’t know did to someone in a time before you were born!”

  • MainlandUlsterman

    We could go back to the Peep O’Day boys and Defenders in the 18th century. Who started it is rarely the point. We all tend to think it was the side we least empathise with generally. There were very few flurries of mutual killing that clearly had a single start incident. There are always several and you can pick the one you deem “the real start” based on whom you want to blame. There are very strong arguments that nationalist militants started the events we now call the Troubles but I also know there are almost as strong arguments the Prods cast the first stone. TBH it’s not a topic that bothers me either way particularly. But what happened overall, who did it, who was responsible for each act of the Troubles, these questions are not subjective, can be answered and It is important to make people aware of the truth of that.

  • Dreary Steeple

    LOL

  • file

    But everyone knows ‘It was the Brits’ fault!’

  • file

    Have you read anything about how the USA, for example, nurtures and supports armed groups within countries in South and Central America if the US decides the legitimate government of those countries is not to their liking? Is that not terrorism, ie, trying to overthrow a legitimate government by armed means? Have you heard anything about the non-existent weapons of mass destruction that the UK used as an excuse for going to war in Iraq? Gaddafi’s escaping convoy was bombed by western forces so that locals could catch him. Try this for a read on the details from the Guardian:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/23/gaddafi-last-words-begged-mercy
    As for Sadaam Hussein: he was captured by the USA, who then, instead of trying him in US court or an international court, handed him over to be tried in local court for the one and only reason that a local court could impose a death penalty on him whereas they could not. That is murder, state murder. As was the murder of Osama Bin Laden – there is no evidence there was a fire-fight or that anyone fired weapons apart from the US troops.
    Do a bit of research on ‘covert’ US actions. n fact read this:
    http://inthesetimes.com/article/17311/noam_chomsky_the_worlds_greatest_terrorist_campaign
    Do a bit of research on British Concentration Camps in Kenya.

  • file

    You are not restricted in what you say to them, but you have to listen to them too. There is a bot of misunderstanding here: what I was talking about was the criticising of terrorists from a distance, the sitting far away in a safe place and saying ‘aren’t those people terrible’. That is pointless, in my view. If you want to actually change the terrorists behaviour, you have to meet them, talk to them and listen to them. Criticism from a distance is pointless; face-to-face censure is not.

  • Hugh Davison

    Important distinction:
    Those B-specials, RUC and British soldiers were doing these things in your name and mine

  • Hugh Davison

    Can you suggest a book. I’m honestly very intrigued.

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘disrupt them’. Lovely euphemism.

  • Dan

    Pillock

  • Hugh Davison

    Is there a moral equivalence? Given that these people were paid from the public purse, as representatives of the state, and were trained in their ways from the inception of the Northern Ireland state(let).
    Why do you think they were doing these things?

  • Hugh Davison

    Without forgiveness there is no redemption. You should know that despite your tridentine leanings.

  • Hugh Davison

    No, not him. Try again.

  • Hugh Davison

    I’m referring to state terrorism MU, but you knew that already. Just the usual weaselly response to any suggestion that terrorism against the minority was inbuilt in NI from the beginning.

  • Hugh Davison

    There’s a rather mortifying clip floating around of Arlene curtseying to some minor Royal over here on a visit. The minor Royal looked slightly taken aback (at the courtesy, or is it curtsey?).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There is a moral equivalence between people doing murder, whoever they do it for.

    But obviously dedicated terrorists can’t claim to have any moral equivalence with people in state forces doing their jobs, which was the vast, vast majority. Look at the sheer scale of the personnel and daily policing work over 30 years or so. The lapses, while awful for those affected, were obviously not typical of the overall picture. They account for probably no more than 5 per cent of Troubles deaths. Too many, but then again given what the police and army had to deal with from the terror gangs, and comparing to other state responses to terror around the world, our boys did a pretty amazing job. There were dark episodes sure, but they were massively outweighed by the tens of thousands of lives saved by considerable courage. The terrorists saved no one, did nothing good, murdered and destroyed thousands upon thousands of lives. There is no comparison.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Can you summarise your alternative approach to anti-terror policing?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Best book is probably “The Red Hand” by Prof Steve Bruce. Peter Shirlow’s also written with great authority on Loyalism, worth reading his stuff.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Weaselly”, really? You didn’t make it clear you were only interested in “state terrorism”, I’m not a mind reader.

    Out of interest, why is that the only form of terror you deem relevant?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m no big fan of a lot of Yank foreign policy either, you’re pushing at an open door there. But I’m maybe not as outraged as you that Gadaffi, Saddam and Bin Laden met violent ends that Western governments brought about. Tough world out there with some nasty, sick demagogues. Give me Western democracy any day, for all its flaws. Mind you, Trump …

  • AntrimGael

    Where you looking in a mirror when you wrote that?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    File, it’s not misunderstanding it’s simply meandered onto a different topic; Redstar said that he has no time for unionists criticising Shinners with a dubious past, I say anyone is well within their rights to do so.

    Granted, if they apply it as a one way street then that person is a hypocrite and it invalidates their criticism but not ALL unionists think along such lines and it’s a lazy assertion which shouldn’t be tolerated:

    “yeah he might possibly have bombed the odd place but stop banging on about it! “

  • file

    I prefer western democracy too, but I will not accept the hypocritical nonsense line about ‘we are bringing democracy to these rogue states’ when they are bringing it through illegal acts of murder and state-sponsored terrorism. I do not think that Gaddafi, Hussein and Bin Laden were in any way forces for good in the world, but that does not legitimise their murder.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Generally I agree we obviously can’t go around just having heads of state assassinated. And what the Americans have done in dirty tricks over the years to get their preferred man in, in Latin America in particular (and we did it with the Shah in Iran) is both appallingly unprincipled and ultimately counterproductive.

    The UN Charter, Article 2(1), does allow the use of force by states against other states, “if an armed attack occurs” that breaches the territorial integrity of said state. This needs updating and clarifying though, I think, in the era of global terrorism, proxy combatants like Russia has used in Ukraine and stateless organisations like Al Quaeda declaring war on countries, entering them and taking lives as in 9/11. Had a state done that, the US would have been absolutely allowed by international law to attack that state, and in such a war there is nothing to preclude taking out the leader of the aggressor state if it’s a necessary part of defeating that state, and as long as the Geneva Conventions are followed. Had Saddam been killed during the first Gulf War for example as part of a Kuwaiti-sanctioned US bombing raid on Iraqi military HQ, that would have been a legitimate part of the liberation of Kuwait. With international terrorism though, currently, as these organisations are not states, the rules on what states can and can’t do against them in terms of use of defence forces to protect the people, is really unclear. I’m all for a clarification of international law that would remove the protection these terrorists currently enjoy by virtue of being stateless, and specifically allows democratic states who have been attacked to hit them militarily, within defined limits that also respects other countries’ sovereignty. The Geneva Conventions I believe also need updating for the 21st Century and I know the ICRC recognises this.

    The 3 people you mention are all slightly different cases. Saddam was maybe the one a Western government had the least right to kill; but then he was executed by the Iraqis, not us. Gadaffi was also killed by his own people. Had he been killed in the 80s in a armed response to the Lockerbie attack and, bringing it home, to his backing of the Republican armed attacks on British citizens at home, that would have been unproblematic – seems completely fair enough to me. It was his idea to start killing us, we are entitled to take necessary measures to stop that.

    With Bin Laden, different again. His organisation repeatedly launched armed attacks on the US and other Western countries in which thousands died. He surely can’t have expected his apprehension to be like something from The Bill. I think the US certainly had the right to seek to apprehend him and the right to use necessary force in the process. To me it’s not surprising or particularly sad that he died in that process.

  • file

    The USA signing up to the Geneva Convention might be a start? Also allowing itself to be subject to International War Criminal courts? We agree then that ‘spreading democracy; by patently undemocratic means is counterproductive as well as hypocritical? But also, haven’t you enjoyed the break from nattering about this wee insignificant country/province/statelet/region?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, absolutely 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It’s that old conundrum: none of them deserves to be alive, but no one has a right to kill them (assuming we’re against the death penalty). Perhaps the best solution is to encourage them to take up rock climbing, heroin, or to move to a malarial swamp.

  • Hugh Davison

    Life in Iraq under Saddam: Not great. Life in Iraq after Saddam: Bloody awful.
    Life in Libya under Gadaffi: Not great, but getting better. Life in Libya after Gadaffi: Dreadful.
    All thanks to “Western Democracy”.

  • Hugh Davison

    Deluded. The minority population was held in a state of terror by these goons for 50 years (before the troubles deaths). Our boys indeed.

  • Hugh Davison

    Because it’s done in my name, and yours.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Terror”, really, who’s deluded here.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Mistaken wars probably but are you saying that means the whole of western democracy is now for the bin? I’d have thought that’s the last thing we need.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    And you’re saying are you that the average IRA member was no more a threat to life than the average Peeler? Come off it.

  • Hugh Davison

    If you can’t see the difference between state terrorism and other forms of terrorism, I can’t help you.

  • Hugh Davison

    Not saying that at all. But you seem to approve of extra-judicial killing, which kind of brings us back to our own troubles, doesn’t it?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No I don’t, but I do think we do in Western democracies need to be realistic and give the people we send in to apprehend terrorists some leeway, otherwise we’re sending them on pointless suicide missions, surely? It’s not Dixon of Dock Green when your dealing with organised crime or terrorism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Of course there is a huge difference. There is no excusing the abuse of state power and it’s important there is public accountability for our security forces, that they operate within the law, and that those laws are fair. Very hard to maintain that, realistically, all the time when trying to bring down terror gangs, but we have to try. Where our men and women failed or got corrupted, which did happen at times, we need to make apologies and give recompense where appropriate. I don’t think any apologies are appropriate to the terrorists themselves or accessories to terrorism – that would be ridiculous. But ordinary people caught up in anti-terrorist policing operations deserve every consideration by the public servants involved. I suspect we’re not disagreeing on that. Where we may disagree is in our appreciation of the necessity of this kind of policing and the need to appreciate the nature of the task we are asking our public servants to do. I worry you’re not being realistic about what is involved in trying to apprehend armed suspects resisting arrest.

    But being practical about what you’d like to see, what are the main things you’d do from here to make anti-terrorist policing and justice more effective?

  • Katyusha

    No problem, MU. I’ll prioritise brevity at the expense of nuance to curb the exponential growth 😉

    the GFA stated it was people’s “birthright” in N Ireland not just to define their own identity, but in particular to “be accepted” as British, or Irish or both as the person so choose. So it is expressly required that British identity be accepted.

    But you see, MU, I wan’t talking about the GFA, or anything like that. I’m trying to show you why the “British-only” identity is perceived as empty. I’m not interested in the law, I’m interested in the psychology of identity. And the psychology of people shedding the heritage of their forefathers and adopting a rather recent substitute is interesting to me.

    A good analogy could be drawn with atheism. The faithful find atheism difficult to understand. Sure, they can recognise it, accept it, accept their atheist friends and family. But to the religious, on a human level, atheism is a difficult concept. What does it feel like? What is it like to live like that? Believing in nothing? With no conception of human spirituality at all? It’s easy to empathise with someone who has a different conception of spirituality, but difficult to imagine what it is like to have no spirituality.

    British nationalism is much the same. Britain itself is a relatively young and trans-national concept, a political construct applying across national lines. But still, it would be normal to assume that the citizens of Britain would comprise a mosaic of ethnic and cultural backgrounds on top of the common civic and cultural identity afforded to them by the Union. British-and-Scottish, British-and-Irish, and –English, -Indian, -Jamaican, whatever. But what is it like to not have anything else? Like with the atheist, it’s difficult to perceive. It feels like it should leave some kind of psychological hole to be filled (which I believe is more the case in NI with the adoption of British as a quasi-ethnic nationality), or the atrophy of a plane of identity altogether (as in much of England).

    I find the fact that you reach straight for the GFA fascinating in itself. Is it something so temporal that it needs to be validated by the law? Were people not equally entitled to be accepted for their British identity before the GFA? Would it not be equally present if the GFA was rescinded? Is it not something personal, tangible and more-or-less eternal? If someone asked to describe my identity, I would never think of making reference to something so material and impermanent as a piece of paper. It’s just fascinating. Like the old Eurosceptic spiel about the EU threatening to turn people “European” and “take away their Britishness”. As if anybody could ever take it away?

    Your arguments seem based on accepting the IRA’s self-analysis (which was also how they presented them to the watching world, of which they very conscious). “We are fighting a war” they claimed, “and we kill people for military reasons”. The IRA’s behaviour and the attitudes of its members completely contradicts their claims to be non-sectarian. The almost 100 per cent Catholic membership of it ought to be an early clue; their analysis of the problems in NI society directed its critique exclusively at the actions of the P/U/L community; in the early days of the Troubles they attacked Protestant areas, threw Protestants out of Catholic areas; when they bedded down for the “armed struggle” they directed their attacks at targets that were Ulster Protestant, British, both or related to the British state (such as state servants and members of the police and armed forces).

    You’re intelligent guy, MU, so I find it incredible that you actually believe this, MU. For the record I don’t accept the IRA’s “self analysis” inasmuch as I don’t buy any of their claims of legitimacy. On the nature of their actions, many of them could be claimed as having military objectives, and many of them could not be justified in any circumstances. But I do believe people when they state the reasons why they are fighting, far more than I would trust somebody else’s subjective analysis of their motivation for fighting. There isn’t much point in waging a military or political campaign if your opponent does not know what you wish to acheive by fighting it.

    “The almost 100 per cent Catholic membership of it ought to be an early clue” “ – the almost 100% Catholic membership is completely and utterly irrelevant. So because their membership was Catholic, they can’t have been motivated by any other reason but hatred of the “other”? Is an organisation with a wholly Catholic membership incapable of having any other motivation, of having an ideology and aims and objectives of its own? Of acting in a way that is – whisper it – secular? “ “their analysis of the problems in NI society directed its critique exclusively at the actions of the P/U/L community” “– nope. Their analysis of the problems on NI was directed solely at the British state – British “imperialism” – and the Stormont government. Unionists may have perceived it as being an attack on their community, but their perception doesn’t impact reality. Just because you believe something, doesn’t make it true. You are starting at the conclusion and trying to reach a justification, and you are having to ignore the evidence that refutes you conclusion in order to realise this. Even when you type it yourself. For example

    Though they killed a huge number of Catholics – a similar number to that killed by Loyalists – they were unfortunates caught up in IRA bombs, people deemed a threat to Provo hegemony in their areas, informers and cases of mistaken identity.

    Which is an extensive list, and you can add to it Catholic members of the Army and Police forces, who were deliberately targeted by the IRA. (Catholics in the Armed forces and security services couldn’t catch a break, with the Provos portraying them as traitors and the PUL community claiming the Police and Army as part of “their” community. This perception soon became a self-fulfilling reality as Catholic soldiers and officers were either murdered or driven out). Once you come up with an extensive list of exceptions, you have to question whether the rule you constructed applies in the first place. It doesn’t; religion couldn’t protect you when it came to the IRA’s list of “legitimate” targets. They were motivated by something else; unlike the loyalist paramilitaries for whom religion and tribal lines were of prime importance. This mismatch in perception of the conflict from each “side” explains much as to why the conflict unfolded the way it did. Nationalists and republicans view the conflict as political in nature; loyalism views it as religious and ethnic. The analysis of the conflict, and the motivation behind it, is different for both sides; they were fighting different battles.

    On ethnicity, I have enough difficulty perceiving Ireland and Scotland as distinct from each other rather than two sides of the same coin, never mind trying to split hairs amongst the citizens of NI by which Glasgow-based-football-club they support. Which loops back nicely to the first point about suppression of identity, etc. There was a time when everyone in what is now NI would have spoken a Gaelic language similar to Ulster Irish or Scots Gaelic. In the rejection of the Irish language (and the artificial elevation of “Ulster-Scots” as a tribal language rather than a north-Antrim dialect), the unionist/loyalist community that subscribe to this have adopted as a cultural marker the rejection of not just the language of their forefathers, but also of their Scottish ancestors, which is today promoted in Scotland while those who claim Scottish heritage in NI reject it!

    It’s a man-made cultural marker – which is fine. People can identify with whatever they like. But what does it feel like? How does it work? How do you square your modern national and cultural identity with history? Why does your history not stretch back into the mists of time, but has some kind of distinct creation and distinct genesis?
    That is what we need – to understand each other, not to formalize our demarcation lines, whether those be the clothes we wear or the terms of the peace treaty that was drawn up.

    Looks like brevity was left by the wayside. So be it; it’s interesting to dig into from time-to-time.

    Dobryj vechir,
    Katyusha