True Believers

Rightly are the simple so called – Christopher Hitchens

At this stage there is really not that much left to be shocked at. Nobody seriously expected Sinn Fein to hold the line against the DUP and pull out of micro government at Stormont if Peter Robinson failed to provide the party with something of a fig leaf. In terms of what holds the interest any more, if forced to choose between the two, the deception practiced by the Sinn Fein leadership has less gravitational pull than the delusion that thrives amongst its base.

The exchanges between secular humanists and religious faithists on the evolution of the eye could be informative here. How it develops so as not to see what is in front of it is a subject in its own right.

For those who claim to be republicans but who remain wedded to the Provisional project and refuse to consider dissolving the bond delusion is a powerful carrier. It transports them from abandoned position to broken promise, comatosely undisturbed by the turbulence that such journeys must occasion. They share many characteristics with end of the world cults. Evidence and reason count for little, faith is everything. The bewilderment that forensics would normally expect to find as a result of the brute force trauma to republican sensibilities leaves no trace of its presence.

There seems no end to the amount of piss that can cascade from leadership heights, spraying the backs of the true believers who in time honoured fashion convince themselves that it is only raining. The true believer stands without equal on the podium, having lapped every other contender on the credulity circuit, when it comes to taking the garland for buying into Martin McGuinness pronouncements. If he is not urging people to become informers for the British police it is because he has been busy lavishing praise on long standing anti-Catholic bigot, Ian Paisley.

The former leader of British Northern Ireland, the public is told by McGuinness, was doing more to bring about an end to division in Ireland than Republican Sinn Fein. Nothing at all about his anti-Catholic bellowing having caused so much division to begin with. Given that the only division mattering to Republican Sinn Fein is the partitionist line that divides the country McGuinness’s jibe only makes sense in that context. As a criticism of the party Ruairi O’Bradaigh leads, allusion to any other division lacks thrust. Certainly that is how the comments appear to be read in the wider media including the Irish News whose political correspondent William Graham interviewed the deputy first minister. It reported that ‘former IRA commander Martin McGuinness says he believes Ian Paisley is doing more for Irish unity than dissident republicans.’

It is probably true that Martin McGuinness believes Ian Paisley is doing as much as him for Irish unity. It is equally true that one is doing as much as the other to bring a united Ireland about. Both support the partition principle called consent, back the British Police Service of Northern Ireland, feel that informing on republicans opposed to it is honourable, endorse the British judicial system, and believe that the Northern Ireland Prison Service is legitimate and that the republicans in its keep are criminals who should be kept there.

The logic of it all is incredibly simple. Paisley, rather than McGuinness always held to this perspective and therefore unbeknown to the rest of us, including his own party, must even then have been striving towards a united Ireland. For his part McGuinness, during all the he years spent opposing Paisley, must have working against Irish unity. But now that both men are at one in endorsing all that Paisley ever believed throughout his political career a united Ireland is almost certainly on the cards. As a belief system it is not without admirers. Nor is the Scientology Movement.

A much more sobering view can be pulled from beneath the scattered intellectual debris of the Provisional project. Most historians of the IRA have McGuinness serving on the Provisional army council for a time alongside Ruairi O’Bradaigh who was also president of Sinn Fein. During that period O’Bradaigh struggled for a united Ireland and to this day has never set his face against it. Ian Paisley, long a nemesis of both McGuinness and O’Bradaigh, has never ceased to struggle against a united Ireland and only went into government with McGuinness because he was firmly convinced that the Derry Catholic had given up the struggle for a united Ireland rather than he having eased up on his own determination to maintain the union with Britain. It is a strange united Ireland being worked for by a man who is as fervently unionist today as he was fifty years ago. The entire game of power splitting government has been played on Paisley’s ground and by Paisley’s rules. The red card has been waved at republicanism not unionism.

Those activists who in the radical republican tradition do not buy into Sinn Fein’s gradualist programme or the treatyite mentality that produced it will hardly mind being pilloried by someone they view as part of the same lineage as Don Concannon and Richard Needham. They understand only too well that the point made by Martin McGuinness about the retired leader of the North’s micro government is not an explanation at all of where Paisley is at all but a justification for where McGuinness himself now is. The circus that the Provisional project has mutated into is left with little other than the fig leaf of rhetoric to hide behind and an approving audience who clap every time one of the clowns craps on them.

8 June 2008

1 comment:

  1. Great comparisons not only between Paisley & McGuinness, but Ó Brádaigh & Paisley in their united if unwitting opposition to the type of Ireland that McG and his cabal are trying, unsteadily, to lord over.