While travelling home from Belfast last night along with my eight year old daughter news started to filter through of an armed attack on British soldiers in Antrim. Before we reached our destination confirmation of two British military fatalities came through from a journalist friend who had been monitoring information as it came to light. My first thought was personal and laden with no political overtones. I looked at my daughter and felt a weary sense of relief that she did not have to grow up in the North where political violence seems to sleep with one eye open waiting on any opportunity or circumstance that may come along. Years ago this type of news would rally the spirit. Now it just dampens the mood and feeds into despair, the strategic futility of it all every bit as debilitating as the political failure it constitutes.

Last night’s operation looked efficient from a strictly military point of view. Claimed today by the South Antrim brigade of the Real IRA that efficiency was probably its most salient feature. Like most others familiar to some degree with republican developments in the North I had felt that if wiser heads failed to make their influence felt within the decision making centres that shape the republican physical force tradition then it was only a matter of time before republicans killed a member of the British security apparatuses in the North in a futile act of militarism. As the Provisional IRA statement released immediately after the Brighton bomb in 1984 made clear the British have to be lucky all the time, republicans need only be lucky once. However, there seemed a greater probability that the easier option would have found its way to the top of the target selection list. An off duty, guard-dropped member of the PSNI always seemed the likely candidate for armed republican interest.

All of that has to be revised now. To hit the British military at one of its own installations puts more meaning into the terms ‘courageous and imaginative’ than we are familiar with from years of listening to other pronouncements containing that brace of words. This suggests a definite efficiency and a steely determination on the part of the attackers that most people thought they were incapable of. It is the type of activity that increases the power of what the Soviet Marxist Lenin once termed ‘excitative terror.’ There are young people with republican sentiment who are likely to feel such actions should be emulated rather than rejected. It is the type of activity the 1981 IRA hunger striker Frank Hughes was renowned for and for which the British secretary of state at the time labelled him a criminal.

This focuses attention on virtually every aspect of the assault on Massereene being indistinguishable from many similar attacks carried out by the Provisional IRA during its own armed struggle. Ruthless and clinical as it was, in human terms it was hardly as horrendous as the operation by the Derry City IRA on a British Army checkpoint at Coshquin in October 1990 in which it forced the civilian Patsy Gillespie to become a human bomb. In military terms it was more successful than the October 1996 IRA bomb attack on Thiepval Barracks which claimed the life of one British soldier. Those civilians who, like the pizza delivery men at Massereene, contracted their services out to British security personnel were frequently targeted; on one occasion at Teebane in 1992 eight of them were blown apart as they drove home in their work van. There is a thread of continuity weaving its way through attacks of this type. Those who shout ‘our killing of British soldiers is more legitimate than yours’ merely confirm that legitimacy, like Talleyrand’s treason, is a matter of dates.

Be that as it may, the attack will produce no more than the loss of two lives if last night’s injured parties do not lose their fight for life. It will not kick start any campaign on the scale of the failed Provisional IRA armed venture. And if that failed in circumstances that were arguably more propitious for success than those of today, then there is no chance of current armed republican actions succeeding. If those driving this type of activity are so politically short sighted that they fail to see the outcome then they will most assuredly prove susceptible to the type of overtures that have so compromised Sinn Fein. The Catholic party now stands despised in their eyes for having being lured into Britain’s administration in Ireland from where they stand shoulder to shoulder with the current British secretary of state, screaming ‘criminal’ at all who follow Sinn Fein’s now abandoned position of giving unambiguous support to armed struggle.

It has sometimes been stated that ‘if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got’. Dead on all sides, graves, funeral processions, widows, children growing up a parent short, jails, human rights abuses and no united Ireland at the end of it all. Why this addiction to failure? Surely republicanism has to be more imaginative than that.


  1. Purposely shooting pizza delivery guys as part of a "military" operation is just pathetic and makes the folks who did this look truly unprofessional, to put it nicely.

    The dynamic with SF now a partner with the British state against newly-emergent armed republicanism is an interesting development, and I do wonder how it will all play out...

  2. Anthony,
    Forgive me, just an outsider looking on...but it appears to be an addiction to short-sightedness, not failure.
    Otherwise - bravo! the first insightful, intelligent information I've heard all day. You never disappoint.

  3. What a deeply confused person you are. These soldiers were unarmed, at the gate of an installation which is a peacetime base for Royal Engineers. They didn't patrol the streets of Belfast. They didn't have any role whatsoever in the Northern Irish political, military or policing spheres. They were a part of this country's defences against foreign terrorists. And now you certainly can't argue that the scum who killed them aren't terrorists, but upstanding Irish Patriots - Ireland doesn't need patriots like that.

  4. thanks for the great insight and information

  5. " just a matter of dates." This statement implies that you consider all armed republican activity - past, present and future - to be either legitimate or illegitimate. Which is it, Anthony? You can't sit on the fence while people are being murdered. And surely you don't consider this attack to be a "legitimate" act?? You must confront your own moral ambiguity and repudiate armed republican activity completely.

  6. NCM, I think the same thing happened with the Provisional IRA. The more they targeted the civilian contractors the less professional they appeared to be. However, with or without the shooting of the pizza guys armed actions should not be a feature of republicanism. Sinn Fein as junior partners in a British administration will do as all previous bodies of republicans who became what they once opposed.

    Joy, I am not sure there is a lot of difference when we are talking about short-sightedness and failure. As for yourself and Anonymous thinking that the article did not disappoint or that it was insightful not everyone would agree. Some have taken umbrage at it. MSD who reasoned about it and Whiskey who ranted about it.

    Whiskey, just to take a rain check as to where we are at here. ‘The scum who killed them’ – is this a description that would apply to those who massacred an unarmed civilian population in Derry? Doubtless, the clarity of your answer will help enlighten me and relieve me of the confusion that so grips me.

    MSD,‘ just a matter of dates’. It is a statement that probes rather than stipulates. Those who think the killing of Stephen Restorick was a political act but the killing of two soldiers in the Massereene ambush a crime suggest that dates alone make the difference. It is the same with the Enniskillen bomb and the Omagh bomb? How is the latter a massacre and the former a tragedy? Tallyrand was waxing ironical when he made the statement that treason was a matter of dates.

    I think the statement of October 2000 I made along with Tommy Gorman that never again should republicans use force in pursuit of their goals was a clear repudiation of the use of armed republican activity.

    Would I justify the killings at Massereene? No. Would I offer mitigation? No.

  7. I was extremely impressed at the people of Antrim from all backgrounds coming out to pay their respects. It gives our children hope that Martin McGuiness was able to agree with Mark Durkan and the DUP that this is not the way forward.

  8. I apologise if my last comment seemed aggressive, Anthony, but you haven't really answered the question I asked about the legitimacy of armed republican activity in the past. I know that you consider present and future armed activity wrong and futile, but you are silent on the legitimacy of the Provo campaign and all that went before. If you repudiate present/future armed actions, you must logically repudiate all past armed activity, including your own. Anything else, as Eoghan Harris says, is just waffle. The past legitimises the present, so the past in toto must be repudiated.

  9. The pizza delivery men 'contracted out' their services to the British Army? Or perhaps they were just ordinary working-class men trying their best to make a living. Somehow I don't think the 'republicans' who tried to kill these men have read too much James Connolly.

    Regarding your Good Friday book: the joint referendums on the Good Friday Agreement marked the birth of all-Ireland democracy. The peoples of the island of Ireland voted together on the same issue for the first time since partition. Their democratically expressed wish was to confirm partition and recognise that Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom until a majority of its people want otherwise.

    Anybody who doesn't recognise that all-Ireland democratic decision is not any kind of republican (not a synonym for murdering sectarian coward BTW) that I care to recognise.

  10. what i have come to see in years down here in limerick. the pIRA cIRA.RIRA. seem to have a lot of criminals who join not for a united Ireland. just to be part of a group/or now a days seem to be gangs.dont know what its like up the north. i can tell you down here its crime drugs. there is no war going on.... there are setting up these groups to brainwash young kids that there fighting for a so called united ireland...killing is not going to bring it

  11. I can't, nor wouldn't condemn any action against british forces regardless of whether they served on our streets or not, physical force republicanism is only one tool. Does republicanism have to be more imaginative then simply physical force, most definitely. The sad myths in all this purported by $hame Fein are that the war started and ended with the provisional movement and that the deaths as a result of their actions are more justified than these.

    I'm sorry that two young men have lost their lives but you know what if there was no British presence here it wouldn't have happened, I'm sorry that civilians were caught up in the shooting, but these civilian suppliers are no different from the ones that supplied the brits when my father held without trial, they are no different from the civilian suppliers who probably supplied the brits on a night they kicked me up and down a back lane.

  12. That was quite an interesting read and no doubt reflects the views of many republicans who are no longer interested in continuing with the strategy, or lack of, espoused by Sinn Féin.
    When all is said and done, we are left with a political vacuum that needs to be filled by something. Unfortunately, some people will drift towards violence, but many more republicans who see such a path as futile also believe that the provies have it wrong as well.
    To prevent future acts of violence, a new method must be found for the growing number of disillusioned masses who refuse to give up their republican beliefs. The problem is that none of us seem to know what it is.

  13. Balor: "I'm sorry that civilians were caught up in the shooting, but these civilian suppliers are no different from the ones that supplied the brits when my father held without trial, they are no different from the civilian suppliers who probably supplied the brits on a night they kicked me up and down a back lane."


    They were delivering pizza. Pizza delivery men will deliver pizza to whoever calls and places an order... I bet they would have happily supplied all the pizza the 32CSM could stand to eat at a meeting, if they were asked to do so and were paid for it. At most they were neutrals, selling ordinary food to whoever ordered it.

    Deliberately targeting pizzamen as part of any armed struggle is beyond parody -- it is idiotic and pointless.

  14. Well,tonight's shooting of the PSNI officer in Craigavon, the attack in Antrim, the bomb found at Castlewellan are clearly attempts to re-start the Troubles.

    Is this really the future that republicanism wants for itself?

  15. Pizza men deliver pizzas yeah fair enough but they were delivering them to british soldiers you can't normalise what is not normal, the crown forces should not be given any semblance of normality- the six counties is not a normal state, it galls me to walk into a shop and see a peeler in uniform getting serves.

    The 'troubles' didnt end because $hame Fein decided. The provos didnt start a war with the brits, the provos were a splinter group with no 'mandate'. The war with the british predates the provos, weapons and strategies have varied.

    As for $hame Fein calling on people to contact the psni with information, let them lead by example lets see martin & gerry & their cohorts provide the psni historical inquiries team with details of every 'illegal' action they have been involved with- let them show leadership by example.

  16. Anthony,

    I have to ask myself "what was the purpose of the attack?" was it simply to kill someone? was it to spark debate, insight fear? if so, then it was not a "failure' in that it reached it's objective. The objective itself (change through violence), however, is short sighted.

    truthfully, I do not care if others agree with my positive review of your post. with the understanding that I can praise your opinion, without agreeing with every idea you expressed.

    I do agree with " just a matter of dates." The interpretation of an event is relative to the surrounding environment (times of war and peace are simply exaggerations of this). I am not as well versed in NI conflict to site relevant examples, but it has been prevelent in First Nations struggles against the European/US Gov for the past 500 years. Any attempt to bring recognition to the repeated abuse of Treaty Rights and lack of basic necessities in Native communites(running water, electricity, telephone service, health care) is called an "uprising" of "militants" and US military tanks and soldiers are brought in to "subdue the situation". To think this type of political spin is limited to certain governments (past or present) is a joke. All sides do it with the express purpose of creating the desired emotional response. One mans terrorist is another mans savior.

  17. Anonymous, I think there are more than McGuinness, Durkan and the DUP who do not think it is the way forward. Many republicans who disagree with Sinn Fein would also be of the view that it is most definitely not the way forward, that it offers nothing. In relation to the people of Antrim coming out I also recall even greater numbers of people coming out in 1976 after the death of the Maguire children. And they were condemned and dismissed by some of those shouting about peace today but who then developed the long war strategy with its logic that the presence of British troops was the mandate for armed struggle. And unfortunately that logic was made manifest on Saturday night.

  18. I am disappointed that you chose to ignore my second comment, Anthony. By the 20th century at least, British rule in Ireland was never so bad as to merit armed resistance. Thus I'll ask you again: will you now repudiate as illegal and immoral all past violent republican activity from 1916 onwards? It is the only answer to the violence of the past few days.

  19. MSD, you need to be patient. I did not ignore your point. I was in the course of writing a response when your comment came through. But I have other demands on my time that prevent me answering comments all the time.
    MSD, no need to apologise. Nothing whatsoever wrong with your last comment. As I said you reasoned rather than ranted it. However, you have not really asked your question about legitimacy in the past for it to be answered. Rather than I having evaded the answer you seem to have evaded the question. If I am right you made a concluding statement in an earlier post but guillotined the discussion by suggesting that it was the final word from you on the matter. You invited no response. Am I right? I believe I touched on the point you raised in response to someone else being critical of you. I suppose if I am to be really fair to you I should go back and read the exchange again but fatigue deters me. I have never been silent on the legitimacy of the Provisional IRA campaign.
    Your comment ‘If you repudiate present/future armed actions, you must logically repudiate all past armed activity’ strikes me as incredibly ahistorical. ‘The past legitimises the present’ makes me feel that you have reversed the order of things. How could anything move forward anywhere if everything was subject to the dead hand of history? What about the discontinuities that characterise any subject that undergoes a history? I think it more accurate to claim that the past (history) is written from the perspective of the present and that the present more often than not in a partisan fashion legitimises the past. And this goes to the crux of the matter. Your point is really not a critique of my supposedly sitting on the fence while people are being murdered. It is an attempt to extract a statement denying the legitimacy of the Provisional IRA campaign. The extent to which the Provisional IRA campaign is delegitimised roughly equates to the extent of legitimation which is conferred on the British campaign. So really you are making use of the present to delegitimise a particular past. Fine. As long as we agree that is where we are at with matters.
    And to cite a waffler on waffle, well …
    So do I think the Provisional IRA campaign was legitimate? I suppose it is a bit like something I read today from Hans Kung – ‘are you for or against France?’ There is no yes or no answer that readily explains everything. But had you read the comments I made in relation to the criticism of yourself you would have found a position at variance with the one you ascribed to me.
    Time and time again, in print, on television and radio, at conferences I have defended the right of the IRA to make an armed response to the actions of a murderous and malign British state. Were the Dublin government to send its combat troops onto the Shankill to slaughter 14 people protesting over poor educational opportunities an armed response would hardly be illegitimate.
    At the core of the doctoral thesis I wrote on these matters was the assertion that the British state brought the Provisional IRA into being. It did not merely create itself out of a vacuum. So while I have strenuously defended the right of the IRA to resist the British state with arms, am I happy with everything the IRA did? Far from it. Would I justify the campaign? I prefer to offer mitigation rather than justification. Who seriously wants to justify killing people? I think there are many mitigating factors that would lend legitimacy to the IRA campaign. Would I recommend it as a course of action? Definitely not.

  20. Armed resistance is a legitimate Revolutionary tool. However, that does not mean it is legitimate at all times. Seasoned Revolutionaries will tell you that it is only usable when there is at least a reasonable chance of success, and broad support from the people the "rebels" seek to liberate. Both these conditions existed at the time the Provisional Campaign began. I wish it had not begum. I was a Stick. We did our bit, but realised early on that the armed struggle would only lead exactly to where it has indeed led..a stalemate with Sectarianism only further entrenched and no progress on Working Class unity. When I say this, I do not mean to demean or criticise the brave Provo and INLA Volunteers. However, once the initial period of defence had ended had these groups followed the lead of the Official IRA and avoided escalating into an offensice campaign the intervening years might have played out very differently indeed.
    I will not "condemn" the RIRA for it's actions, as British Occupation of Ireland is the root cause of all violence. I will, however, say that they are attempting to follow a failed path that will lead to nothing good. Republicans of the present day need to be on the ground working across community lines as advocates of Workers' Rights. We have a common ground and a "shared experience", as the Media hacks like to say today. However that "shared experience" is not the one they trumpet. Not the "glories of the Somme" or any of that load of ballix. It is the shared experience of oppression by Britain. Oh, aye, you may have been a bit better off as a Prod on the Shankill than a Taigue on the Falls, but you were oppressed nonetheless. Only Working Class unity will bring about Freedom in the end. If that is attained and the Workers decide to fight, I will be right there with them. Until that time, however, acts such as the shootings at Massareene will only delay "that certain day".
    As for those "Pizza guys", they were working class fellahs, and did not deserve what they got.
    I only can pray for their recovery, and I certainly hope that at least their shootings were accidental in the melee, and not a deliberate act by those claiming to be fighting for freedom.

  21. Anthony, Bloody Sunday occurred after the Provo campaign began and so cannot be a casus belli. Harsh British rule occurred as a reaction to, and not a cause of, republican violence. Incidentally, I was more interested in whether or not you would justify republican violence in 1916-21; this occurred in the context of mild British rule with the prospect of self-government in the near future. Would you justify or offer mitigation for republican violence then(ie. the violence that occurred BEFORE harsh British reprisals)??

  22. MSD

    I watched Jefferey Donaldson on RTE last night- all the platitudes as you would expect
    Mr Donaldson not alone would not condemn the recent Israeli murder of hundreds of children in Gaza he was one of the most highly supportive of the legitimacy of the Israeli "Self defence actions" -check the Jeresualem Post for the quotes from Mr Donaldson condemning protests in Ireland against the Gaza murder as being led by "terrorists"

    If you want to understand how people can justify violence and murder take a close look at some of the most vocal pro-British voices in the north of Ireland

  23. I realise no one asked me specifically, but it seems this concern with the "legitimacy" of the military actions of 1916-21 is a moot point. 1916 occurred because Ireland was ruled by a foreign power, no matter how "mild" that rule was. Much nonesense has been written about 1916 being a "Blood Sacrifce". It was concieved as no such thing, though unfortunately it turned out to be one. The Rising was a carefully crafted, though naive plan. As with most such plans in Irish History, it fell apart. No German aid arrived, most of the Volunteer force did not turn out due to countermanding orders and indifference. Realistically speaking it had no chance of success, yet it was meant to succeed, not fail. The reaction to the "mild" way in which Britain delat with the Rising gave birth to a set of events where military action had a very real chance of success due to wide support. Indeed, one could say that this action DID succeed, although the extent of that success was curtailed at the bargaining table.
    Subsequent military actions by Republicans have always been predicated on the theory that the right of the Irish people to nationhood has never been extinguished in the intervening years, an opinion I agree with.
    However, the use of military action without sufficient popular support is doomed to failure. Look at the "Border Campaign". It was planned and carried out almost exclusively by "southern" Republicans. Indeed, the Northern Command of the IRA was largely excluded from the planning and execution. Determined and heroic as it was it was doomed to fail because it lacked the support of the people it meant to free. Also, the IRA attempted to use tactics which had proved successful in the 20's. They could not succeed in the 50's because communication, transport and weaponry had improved so greatly. I knew a senior Republican who took an active part in this campaign. He said he may as well have been in China for all he knew about the North. He was a working class Dublin lad, and could barely even understand the peoples' accents in the far reaches of North Antrim. He said he and his column did not fear combar, but were in a state of fear the entire time they were in the field because they were so isolated and had no base of support to fall back on.
    Following this campaign the Republican movement wisely began to form a new strategy based on the formation of a wide "National Liberation Front". Then came 69 abd the reaction which followed which once again led down the same old path.
    I reiterate that military action is warranted only if it has some reasonable hope of success and wide suport. The actions of RIRA and their fellow travellers is understandable in an historic context, but that is why it should not be encouraged. To use a statement that has become almost a cliche, but is no less valid for that, "Those who do not learn from history will be forced to repeat it"

  24. The most galling thing for many grassroots republicans that I know was the shinners 'leadership' calling for people to inform and then standing for a minutes silence for the 2 brits and the peeler(incidentally an RUC man back in the day)in stormont. They should start worrying come the next elections, think most could be out of a job. Why doesnt francie molloy tell the Brits what was going on down in east Tyrone in the 80's and 90's? or is that a card yet to be played across the board?

  25. Anthony- I'm sure many x prisoners are aghast at McGuinness+co. just now..I feel that grouping are more egotistic than Republican. Add to that such gems as shammy Mc Cartney getting his sentence quashed [ the mind boggles..he near starved to death in his own excrement..]Along with other revelations/assertions.Adams+co. should renounce all pretence at Republicanism. I agree with the blogger who suggested they follow their own advice and inform on their own deeds in days gone by-then get a nice wee care home +retire gracefully. Their antics just get more pathetic by the week. There are plenty of milk crates+bin sure Donaldson+ Steaknife are somewhat bemused, and not alone!

  26. Mark, your post should have been answered earlier but it is almost impossible for me to keep up with the traffic and I will have to cut back on responding. I think the pizza delivery men were both – working class men doing their best to make a living by contracting out their services to the British Army. Absolutely no reason to be harmed for it.
    What all Ireland democracy did the GFA herald? Was Ireland less democratic the week before the GFA? Did republicans waging armed struggle before the GFA not know that Ireland North and South had endorsed partition in that they acknowledged the consent principle which gives a democratic basis to partition? The GFA codified what was already there. Its real novelty lay in Sinn Fein signing up to it.

    But even if your point is totally valid, its democratic content can hardly be disputed. But because it is democratic people have the right to consent or not consent to it. Democracies practice dissent.

  27. Anonymous, your comments about Limerick correspond to some in the North. It is the type of thing needs commenting on much more frequently.

    Balor, matters are not that simple. And while your experience has been bad, who should lose their lives because of a tradition? It seems some expect republicans to be congenitally programmed to destroy. The physical force tradition needs to be put to bed forever and a day. After what it inflicted on Omagh how it ever factored into any rational person's considerations defies any logic I possess.

  28. Anonymous: ‘To prevent future acts of violence, a new method must be found for the growing number of disillusioned masses who refuse to give up their republican beliefs. The problem is that none of us seem to know what it is.’
    A bit like God, when it ceases to be of any use in terms of explanatory power you have to ask is it really there? Is republicanism a failure of tactics, strategy, politics or something much more fundamental such as a failure of republicanism itself?

    NCM I think you are absolutely right in your contention about the pizza men. But even had they not have been targeted and were caught up in the shooting as innocent bystanders the operation should not have taken place. On whose behalf or whose name was it carried out?

  29. Mark, that is exactly the type of future physical force republicanism wants. This is one of the major problems with it. I watched the coffin of the PSNI guy being carried into his home today and thought ‘what an absolute waste.’ He was hardly going into the estate in Craigavon determined to deny the Irish people the right to self determination. I spoke with Richard O’Rawe last night and asked him if he could think of anything more nihilistic from a republican point of view. Neither of us could. I think, I hope, there are numerically more republicans out there – than the physical force type - who are at odds with Sinn Fein but who do not subscribe in any way to the physical force tradition.

  30. AM: "NCM I think you are absolutely right in your contention about the pizza men. But even had they not have been targeted and were caught up in the shooting as innocent bystanders the operation should not have taken place. On whose behalf or whose name was it carried out?"


    I'd argue that if the pizzamen were caught in the shooting as innocent bystanders and not deliberately targeted by RIRA, then that would be a different matter. But RIRA stated they did it on purpose, and either they did it on purpose or they're too embarrassed to admit it that these guys were caught in the crossfire. If they didn't do it on purpose, they would have been better off saying so, since it looks really silly -- again, to put it nicely -- to say they shot pizzamen as "collaborators."

    Beyond the pizzamen, I still think it is less than sporting to shoot unarmed soldiers collecting pizzas. Of course war of all sorts is inherently unfair and unjust, but still... machinegunning unarmed soldiers trying to have dinner isn't exactly an achievement.

    Even so, none of that has anything to do with the larger issue of whether this sort of armed campaign is justified compared to the alternative -- peaceful political agitation, advocacy, and change -- with regard to costs v. benefits, taking into account the human lives lost and suffering war entails.

    And whether the armed campaign is justified from a cost/benefits standpoint, that still doesn't address the issue of whether RIRA or CIRA may unilaterally launch it without popular support, which they lack.

    I'm just an outsider looking in at you guys from the US, so this is just how I see it from afar. I think what RIRA, CIRA, et al are doing is a mistake and a tragic one at that, and I hope to see republicans regroup and follow a political path to the ultimate goal.

    Eirigi's statement on all this stuff is worthwhile:

  31. curious, how would you personally define republicanism? is it the opposition to British rule? is it simply the abilty to self-govern? or do you include the process towards and of self-governance?

  32. AM
    I may have put forward a simplistic view, bit I don't feel the need to over analyse, some issues are black and white right and wrong. Omagh was wrong, but where does it balance against other events in the conflict la mon, bloody friday, enniskillen, bloody sunday, bachelors walk.

    I count my 'bad experience' as minimal compared to what others suffered, but I see no difference in those who supported & supplied crown forces then or now, I see no difference in the crown forcesfrom my youth or today if they put on the uniform they are a legitimate target. The question is should the crown forces be allowed to have a 'normal' existence, I don't think so,should they be constantly looking over their shoulders most definitely.

    I don't believe lives should be lost to follow on a tradition, but I have no qualms about the use of force as a tool and if the aim of that tool is to destroy the farce at Stormont then I see no wrong. I would fully agree with the view that republicanism needs to look at other paths than merely physical force, but if those paths lead into the british machinery regardless of how its dressed up then we are doomed for defeat before we begin. For republicanism to progress the british apparatus at stormont must go.

  33. Republicanism is a political philosphopy which developed in the late 18th Century, largely defined by Tone and his comrades. It was heavily influenced by the American and French Revolutions, but went far beyond the doctrines of those essentially middle-class upheavals.
    Tone and his comrades, though mostly middle-class themselves, put their faith in the great mass of the population, and it was at them, regardless of creed, that their movement was aimed.
    In it's simplest form Republicanism is all about breaking the political connection with Great Britain, for without so doing a true Irish Republic can never exist. Beyond that, however, the Republic must be by and of the people of Ireland. By this, Tone was not being all-inclusive. Only those who were the producers of the wealth of Ireland, not those who benefited unduly from their toil, were worthy of determining the nation's future.
    Despite growing through the teachings and actions of Lalor, Davitt, Connolly, Mellowes, O'Donnell and many others, this element of Republicanism has been conveniently ignored when it suited the aims of middle-class Nationalists. I would argue, for example, that the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Fein were never Republican. Oh, aye, there were many Republicans as members of those organisations, but the organisations themselves never devoloped their politics beyond a narrow Nationalist boundary.
    This has been the great failing of Republicanism in Ireland. Try though it may it has never been able to entirely break free of the shackles of romantic nationalism, and Ireland as a whole has never been able to develop a proper Left / Right political dynamic. The nation has remained mired in the politics of the Civil War and Partition, both essentially nationalist and not Republican issues.
    This has never been shown more clearly than by the events of the past few days, and by the mere fact that any who claim to be "Republican" could possibly even entertain the notion of arguing about whether it was ethical to shoot down "Pizza guys" because they were making a delivery to a British Barracks!

  34. Anthony, apologies for my impatience before. I realise it must be testing to reply to all comments. You can take my previous comment as my last one on this post but I'd be grateful if you could reply to the points/questions I raised there at some stage. Thanks.

  35. MSD's argument is similar to that in Kevin Myers's piece in the Indo today. They've raised an intresting philosophical question: can someone support the 1916 rising while condemning the recent actions of RIRA and CIRA and be logicly and morally consistent?

  36. having been off the scene for years teaching in Asia discovering this site has ben like a gale of fresh air through the mind..if we're all no hopers better to be in an honest genuine company of the hopeless than psychophants to media nurtured egotists and decievers. I've spent the last two days reading as much as possible here..please enlighten me on any other mediums of reality and forums or get together of similarly political opinions. It would be long overdue and great therapy! I think a great present for the Sin Feign leadership next xmas would be the video ' Babe'

  37. Seoirse, thank you for taking the time to respond to my inquiry on "republicanism". It is my impression that Anthony believes republicanism has been a failure (or words to that effect, I am paraphrasing, please forgive me), and, as the title of his book states, is "dead". I do not believe that is the case. I believe it is in a period of transition. But I will post more on that later as I am currently collecting more information to place my idea within the proper context.

  38. Great article, and interesting read I've had in a long time. I think when you and your family moved away Anthony west Belfast lost one of it's best spokespersons.

    This blog is one of the best reads on the internet.

    Great stuff.

  39. Joy and others- I would not care to argue with AM. He is a person who has experienced so much that I would be totally unable to match swords with him, though I have been around the block a time or two myself. I agree with almost everythig he has said on this site, on the much lamented Blanket, and also in his book. However, one thing I believe wthout any doubt at all is that Republicanism is not "dead". That epitaph has been written before, and has always proved untrue. Republicanism will never die unless those of us who are true Republicans allow those who hijack the name to kill it.
    As to the question of whether one can "support" the 1916 Rising and not the attempts of the RIRA CIRA to restart an armed campaign at the present time, I feel there is no dichotomy whatever. Easter 1916 was a challenge thrown down to an Empire in full battle array. It was done literally in the light of day. The men and women came out in the open under arms. Almost all of them were well known to British and Dublin Castle Intelligence. Their names were proudly printed on the Proclamation. Those who they engaged in battle were not unarmed pizza guys or unsuspecting squaddies at their ease.
    I believe the Irish people have a right to nationhood that transcends the poll or the ballot box. It is seldom the majority in any country who start or carry out a rebellion or a revolution. I believe had Easter 1916 not occurred the Irish Nation would have been quickly absorbed totally into Great Britain. Because of Easter 1916, that will never happen. The rebels, though few in number, spoke to everything that was still Irish in Ireland. The "Gaelic" poetic ardour of Pearse, the unrepentant Fenianism of Clarke, the Anarcho-syndicalism of Connolly, the simple, courageous faith of the average Volunteer. These men and women have always been, and will always be, my personal heroes. I was fortunate enough to know a number of them when I was younger. I don't care a fig about how many of the Irish people are willing to accept British Rule. If there are two that do not, I will be there with them.
    However, that does not mean I am willing to support every mad scheme that comes down the road. As I said before, I will not "condemn" the RIRA, as I understand why they are doing what they are attempting to do. Does that mean I agree with them? No. The 6 Counties have been at "peace" for some time. An uneasy and artifcial peace to be sure, but if progress is to be made it is in this environment that it must take place. Republicans must use this medium to break down the false barriers that Imperialism has set up between the various segments of the Irish people. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.
    Kevin Myers, Ruth Dudley Edwards and all their "West Brit" fellow slaves can hang their heads, beat their breasts and be as ashamed as they like to be of the struggle of the Irish people, but I will not be joining them.
    In the words of an old song by Martin Lynch;
    "Unite the Working Class!
    Can't you see its coming on fast?
    The man with the money won't give it away,
    We gotta organise, educate,
    Come togehter before it's too late!"
    Beir bua!

  40. Oh Seoirse, I could kiss you! You remind me so much of the AIM (American Indian Movement) Warriors I used to hang with before my son was born! You honor me too much by suggesting I would pick an argument with Anthony! Never crossed my mind. A simple exchange of ideas, thoughts, that is all. I have too much respect for Anthony (both actions and words) to ever argue with him!

    I’ve been reading up a bit on Wolfe Tone. He said “To unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen in order break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, that was my aim.” And I believe he is correct, the only way for the Republican movement to continue is to actively embrace all who live in Ireland.

    Take advantage of the outrage against the recent killings, use it to unite the people. Reinforce that this is a common ground – there must be peace in Ireland. And the Irish do not need the English to enforce it – you can take care of your own. (Look ahead to see what other social issues can be used to these same ends.)

    Republican leadership needs to regain control of the “IRA” moniker, and put it to rest. No “dissent group” should ever be allowed to use that term again. Simply put, IRA is bad PR (if only because the word “Army” is part of the title). The time for militant action is past, regroup and rename the movement. The IRA played an important role in Irish history, and there will be a time when it will be needed again, now is not that time. Those who are engaged in the current violent activity are badly in need of a strong hand to guide their passions in a more positive way. New leadership is needed. It MUST come from the old guard – someone who makes no excuses for the past, but understands there is a better way to go forward.

    I realize it is easy for me to sit across the big water, behind my computer, and offer all this up. I fully expect Anthony, et al to poke a million holes in what I have written. And my suggestions could take generations to materialize. Old wounds fester, memories are long, and emotions become bitter or worse, cynical. Ireland must find a way to come to terms with what has past, and move on. That does not mean giving up hope. It means time, and transition.

  41. Anthony,

    Thank you for suffering the fools, such as myself. It is through forums like this that Ireland will eventually find the peace and independance it has longed for.

  42. I wonder what will happen on the security force killing of a dissident..[should it happen]. Might McGuinness tell the PSNI to look into the faces of the mourners and show them defeat??
    I just think the Brits must be chuckling over brandies and port in the Carlton club at how far they've trailed Sinn Fein for zero in return. [ their men in 'place' did very well]Surely if weapons had simply been dumped and violence ceased over a 15 year period nationalists and REPUBLICANS would have been eligible as of a democratic right to be elected to a Stormont assembly?? If refused,would the Unionists have fancied the Civil Rights Movement MK2?? On the other hand without the media and the political pantamime would SF have been elected?Could they have delivered what the brits wanted? Is it an accident that whilst Adams+ his "mini me's" are fettered a certain good republican from Armagh is being hounded from pillar to post??
    My wife is Philippina and has a degree in science [physiotherapy] in English,which is her SECOND she's an inteligent woman..These last few days I've been explaining [trying to]the importance of recent events. To try and put it into a Philippine context I asked if China invaded northern Luzon and left a large number of Chinese there would Manila give up any claim to the territory. When told Dublin had, she exhailed loudly in disbelief. When told the 'REPUBLICANS' unconditioally surrendered all weapons after 30 yrs of war she was flabberghasted a second time. She has a sister married in Derry and has some small knowledge of the nature of past Unionist rule and gerimandering etc. In simple terms, she cannot understand the trajectory that has led us here.
    Whilst armed struggle is a barrier to progress today,did Adams+co. really have to abandon all that went before so severely and for so little? The only indecent haste on view was the scramble for political acceptance by SF, like an effection starved child. Same as the good old boys getting their 15 minutes ie 'escape' documentary.. a wee pat on the head while they suck harder on the truncheon!
    For all the wrong reasons there may be exciting times ahead and I for one will await with interest to see if Adams and McGuinness end up laying in the bed they have made for themselves. Interesting times. SDLP resurgence on the cards?
    Aparting note-I read recently that 90% of young catholic recruits to the PSNI left within a year due to a negative atmosphere in the workplace. Is this true..anyone?

  43. Anthony et al

    A mesmerising debate that was bound to happen once a fatality resulted from the dissident's efforts. On the latter, I do not support them, but like most of my ilk, I am not going to lambast them, I'd rather they changed than be obliterated.

    As an 'Irish Republican' who still supports the leadership, I would like to express an opinon through your valuable forum, if I may.

    First of all, whilst I totally understand people's frustration and dissapointment with the current status of the Assembly, I do not think it is helpful or conducive to our future efforts at removing the Brits to self implode, and by this I mean retoric such as 'Shame Féin', or castigating individuals within the Leadership. I still believe in the Republican Movement as a broad body of people that needs to grow, not fragment, which it is in danger of doing at present, and it requires cool heads on all fronts, to engage in dialogue, rather than point score just to prove 'I told you so'.

    On this point, I personally believe that the decison to end the armed campaign in the nineties was the right decision and reflected the leadership that was required at that time. Whilst I do not believe we would ever have lost, we were losing. The armed struggle was increasingly leaving us as the victims, mainly through jail. We were up against a massively financed and resourced military force, our volunteers were threadbare and I visited too many friends in the Crum and the Blocks to be optimistic about the next decade or so. Lads were regularly being arrested on their first operation, mainly due to the infiltration of Special Branch and the like, and the 'Secret Army' was far from it. Hence, my opinion that it was the right decision.

    Anthony, to answer the question put to you by another contributor, I do believe wholeheartdely that the 'armed struggle' was a justifiable response and initiative in the seventies into the eighties, and I believe it was the making of us as a people, arising out of the essence that the Civil Rights Movement created into a Liberation Movement. I believe it brought us as far as we could go, and for the reasons outlined above, I believe it was the right time to deploy a new tactic, when it was brought to an end.

    On the point of Republicanism, I, and I believe many young men like me from the six counties and beyond, got involved with the 'movement' more for nationalism rather than republicanism. I think this is another great debate issue. Personally, I would have been happy for the democracy to take care of itself within Ireland once the British had left. I wasn't overly concerned about socialism, and certainly not communism in the Independent Ireland I still long for. Seoirse, this is the real problem I always had with the 'Sticks' as I grew up. They talked about Workers and Unions and Fairness and Equality, but they never mentioned 'British Occupation' in their manifestos.

    So, I guess what I am saying is that I am Nationalist, rather than being necessarily Republican in it's fullest and truest sense- interested in your take on this one Anthony.

    As for Sinn Féin's predicament, there are some very testing times ahead. I raised this issue at a meeting when the whole PSNI and Assembly positions were being communicated to folk on the ground, and I'm not 100% it had been fully thought through - and I do believe mistakes have been made. However, in finishing off and looking to the future, this does not mean that the body that is SF, and the individuals who are the top and front of this party, are bad people, and certainly not the enemy. I do not believe for a second that they do not espouse the same thing they did in years gone by, they are in a bit of a situation at present, but I don't see it as a 'Worker's Party' Mk 2, and I don't foresee any real danger from the SDLP, who want to be everything and in doing so, are nothing. SF do lots of great work within communities, there are lots of genuine folk doing their bit by getting up off their backsides on a day and daily basis for the good of their fellow Irish men, women and children and it is very easy to sit on bar stools every weekend lauding about the 'war' without having any intention of ever lifting your finger to change the current situation. In my humble opinion, SF are the only vehicle (at present) with a chance of achieving a 32 County Ireland, and whilst I will not follow blindly, I'm prepared to give them the opportunity to take us forward.


  44. Westie, an excellent post. Plenty to disagree with! But that is neither here nor there. Sorry I cannot respond at present as there are other posts which I have yet to get to. So you can regard this as a response telling you why there is no response! A bit like what Terry Eagleton says of the Irrelevant left who turn up handing out leaflets at other people's marches explaining why they are not at the march!

  45. MSD, yes I will respond. But as you can see what was for long a quiet relaxing space is now a buzz of traffic and activity and I just about get time to check that nobody is using the blog as a gable wall for graffiti. And then do what I have to do in the normal course of my day.

  46. Balor, does not the sight of a PSNI member being served in a shop not suggest that NI is as normal as most other places in the way that it conducts its daily affairs?

    Joy I think the purpose of the attack was to give legs to a campaign that was pretty flat.

    Seoirse, well they are all Sticks now as the late John Kelly was fond of saying. I think you come very close to allowing guns to have an elevated status in your reluctance to criticise RIRA or any other group using them. As for revolutionaries I see nothing special about them. My experience of them is that they invariably shaft their followers.

  47. Can't understand anyones confusion at the reaction to the call by McGuinnes+SF for informers. If such a sea change is 'nothing to write home about' then it's a measure of SF,their membership and their tactics. If the SDLP are trying to be all things and therefore nothing;I suggest SF, having tried so hard for so long to be the SDLP are exactly the same.I watched Adams on RTE during the last election and he was so devoid of ideas he was excrutiatingly embarrassing. Only a rant by that fascist McDowell saved him from total humiliation in the eyes of the electorte.A sympathetic by-ball for a man with nothing to say of worth.
    There has been a noticeable mood change among republicans in general. Mc Guinness' call seems to have been the defining moment when all those ex volunteers and activists finally gave up the ghost concearning the whithering hope that SF had a 'plan' or an 'ACE' in the hole somewhere. No one can look in the mirror and delude themselves anymore. It was as we suspected, "Machiavelli" 'in the house the entire time. I have two sons 24 and 22 yrs old and if they were missguided enough [ God forbid] to have a crack at the Brits I DARE Mc Guinness or anyone else to give evidence against them.Is SF now to informers what the Catholic church is to Paedophiles? Perhaps it has been like that for as long as we dare to imagine. 'Martin' is looking a little more shifty than usual in the States..does he realise he's misjudged how high he can crap on Republicans from for once? I wonder if 'Gerry' was fighting for his West Belfast' MP seat of old might some tactical voting give him a wake up call. Houses being picketted in Belfast AGAIN, reminds me of the NAZI'S. [SF+ democracy?? strange bedfellows.]
    Anthony I thankfully was only in the H-Blocks briefly, unlike yourself. My Republican exploits were mercifully of the 'outside'variety with some very 'good Republicans' as identified by Gerry. My experience in the H-Blocks is something I'd not give away for love or money. I met Irelands finest in a confined place. It is great to see you have moved on personally so well Anthony [ though I hope your soccer skills have improved]and to get some news of how other ex prisoners are feeling.My H- Block experience was and will remain an incredible part of my life. However such things as the lack of questioning of the leadership and direction of the education structures in the Blocks gave rise to question. Whilst a broader understanding of Irish history in European and World contexts may have been desirable; The History of the English working Class was a 'strange' choice of subject matter to base the programe upon. Also, some prisoners at the time suggested 'obedience' was being drilled into the 5'8 in the Blocks so much that if the volunteers were told to eat dog crap off the pavements to keep Ireland clean for Gerry and Martin they'd likely do so...Maybe we've arrived at that stage? Personally Martin has gone too far and finally exposed the Shame Feign "LEADERSHIP" as the Emperor with no clothes.
    Tempted to vote Unionist next time out-they at least say and mean what they stand for and the result is the me deluding myself on the way to cementing unionism.

  48. Hapy Paddy's day to all-we're off to the theatre to watch the 'History of the troubles acording to my Da.'Thankfully it wasn't cancelled due to recent unfortunate events. Best wishes to ALL contributers to the blogg. I will check in on it now and was a breath of fresh air.

  49. MSD, the finale! Given that you are not coming back at me I need to be careful and not take license.
    ‘Bloody Sunday occurred after the Provo campaign began and so cannot be a casus belli. Harsh British rule occurred as a reaction to, and not a cause of, republican violence.’
    This seems a weak attempt to excuse the British and absolve them of culpability. Bloody Sunday was probably the strongest cause of war. It was not the catalyst for the Provisionals armed campaign but was a causal factor in the escalation of the armed dimension. There was an exponential rate of recruitment into the IRA plus a corresponding exponential growth in IRA activity including killing British troops.
    Bloody Sunday was the fourth moment in transforming the Provisionals into a mass movement and throwing them into a full blown guerrilla war. The first was the events of August 1969 in which the security forces played a major part. The leading Belfast IRA figure of the time makes it clear that had the British introduced direct rule on the same day the troops arrived there would have been no Provisional IRA. The defence bodies that mushroomed at the time became the Provisional IRA in Belfast when it formed.
    The second moment was July the following year. The week previous the Provisionals were seen as defending nationalist communities in Belfast when the British stood idly by. The Falls curfew was interpreted as an attempt by the British to take the arms with which the defence had been mounted. British Army killings in the Falls, the parading of unionist ministers though it, the gassing and mass violence used against a community led to massive recruiting. As Bowyer Bell argued CS gas recruited more men and women into the ranks of the Provisional IRA than any amount of 1916 ballads and folklore.

    The third moment was internment which brought the bulk of the nationalist community out against the British. Again massive recruitment to the IRA.
    So there was this dialectic between British state repression and IRA development. Repression not republican ideology produced and continued to reproduce the Provisional IRA.

    The Easter Rising will always be a source of dispute which I think is ably summed up by Fintan O’Toole in his claim that the rising: ‘is, depending on one's point of view, the founding act of a democratic Irish State, a historic act of treachery, a mandate for any unelected group to take up arms in the name of the Irish Republic, a supreme expression of unselfish idealism. It is bitterly contested, both by those who wish to lay claim to its legacy and by those who abhor it. Those arguments are, however, not really arguments about the past. They are arguments about the present and the future. One's view of this Easter Rising is determined very largely by one's view on other subjects: on the Northern Ireland conflict, on nationalism and socialism, on the awkward relationship between the terrorist and the freedom fighter.’

    I come down on the side of the nationalist historiography and therefore feel that 1916 was on the right side of the legitimacy line. By how much is another matter. I think the broad brush of previous events from the 1798 rebellion, in particular British oppression over a prolonged period and unionist anti-democratic activity in the North around the Home Rule bill fed into the events that shaped 1916. The notion that a solution was just around the corner does not strike me as plausible given that Home Rule had been put on the back shelf yet again. However, there have indeed been many impressive critiques made of the rising. Even if we set aside its unionist detractors the constitutional nationalist critique has many strengths. The 1916 rising was carried out without a democratic mandate but no Irish electorate has rejected it including most crucially the electorate closest to its occurrence, which it affected and who had every reason and right to pass judgement on it.

    And by 1919 there was much more of a case for armed activity given the widespread electoral rejection of the British writ.

    There is of course the issue of whether the legitimacy of all this flows to the Provisionals’ campaign. My view, stated elsewhere, is that were the 26 counties of the South of Ireland to have sunk beneath the sea leaving nothing for the North to unite with, the conditions that existed in the North and fuelled by British state strategies post-1969 were sufficient to generate armed conflict. That specific historical juncture is where the Provisionals can claim legitimacy for their campaign to a much greater degree than they can trace it to 1916.

    I think there are more discontinuities between 1916 and 1969 than continuities. These help problematise any easy comparison between the two eras.

  50. Anthony, the 1916 uprising must have looked absurdly insane at the time, a tragic mistake that brought misery to many families and had no chance of success. Undoubtedly it would have been regarded by the British as criminal and treason and it must have seemed a strategic blunder to anyone watching. The same has been said about the latest campaign (and I regard the latest campaign as a tragic mistake). But maybe there's an argument that because in a complex situation the future is hard if not impossible to predict, and because RIRA/CIRA have nothing left to lose (which is just another word for "freedom," to quote the song), they might as well roll the dice and see what happens, since they might get lucky. I'm not saying I agree with this argument (especially because there IS something to lose, namely the chance for victory via political action), but it is an argument that's been nagging at me for the past week, and I wanted to raise it here, given your comments on 1916 above.

  51. Larry, I would not be critical of Raymond for getting his sentence quashed. I am sure he did the right thing. He was tortured and in any normal circumstances would never have been convicted. His other actions are much harder to comprehend including his current position. I always liked him in the jail and found him a solid and decent comrade. Anytime I have bumped into him out side he has never been hostile although he would not see anything the way I do.

  52. Anthony,I think my Armagh blood was up there, like the brethren around the twelfth!
    Haven't seen any of the lads in many years. When I was a teenager involved in street protests during both Hunger-strikes and at anti-H block meetings with maybe 4/5 people in someones living room,you guys were all heroes to me. When I ended up in the Crum' myself and later the Blocks, that remained the same. People like shammy and Story and Mcfarlane etc. That doesn't change in the mind or heart on reflection or over the years. But the direction and 'progress' is hard to fatham coupled with the cost. I see today for example a suspect can be held for 28 days instead of if Raymond was tortured I suspect Collie Duffy is being waterboarded as we speak?? Not exactly an improvement in policing and I don't think Republicans had anything to do with 9/11. Maybe as a previously tortured MLA Raymond might have something to say about 28 day detentions?
    A few points made about the state of the struggle and lads being apprehended first time out etc were probably pretty accurate. So all in all something had to be done. But I remember with humour asking in the Blocks was a conveyor-belt of young nationalists into the Blocks and the resulting employment for the unionist community in policing,RUC/UDR,prisons,judiciary and service industries the only way forward? I was told in "jest" by Bobby Storey and Martin Lynch to desist from my psuedo marxism...??But something had to be done,just not sure this was it. Although when you realise forces were working on you from both ends in a police state where good men could be made to appear bad and 'untouchables' turned out to be toxic mearchants of death then one really could be on the short fuse to oblivion. So yes,things were in a shambles but 28 day detention orders? A pantamime at Stormont? Decommissioning? Policing and cross border institutions reneged on? Don't get it.
    I still think Mr McGuinness got it wrong on the informer bit..there were brothers informing on each other over the years and every bar in every town was and likely still is full of 20 quid a week he really didn't need to go so David Nelligan said in Spy in the Castle after everything else " there was the kings cavalry" to contend with anyway. Maybe it justs makes the Sinners feel better about themselves and shows the Unionists how reformed they have become.
    On a lighter note,we were in Shammy's city today. I hadn't been to Derry since I went to the 10th aniversary of Bloody Sunday. The walls are incredible and I'll be back up there soon with a camera and make a day of it. It's similar to Intramuros in Manila and I had no idea they were so well preserved and intact. Really awed me today. Though I noticed that whilst the designs were similar those of the Spaniards in Manila, the walls in Derry were lower and not as thick in construction. Did the Brits feel a little more relaxed than their Spanish counterparts or was Thatcher about and privatising the work I wonder...
    On the future, I like many really just don't know how to shake off the apathy. Eirigi seem to be trying to back in time. There needs to be something that embraces a sense of Irish independence within a modern European and world reality. Einstein would be hard pressed to figure out a solution. There's also the sad fact that 'Paddy' is a very greedy little bollox and as long as there's the smell of a ' punt' republicans will have an up hill struggle getting working class issues and the common good any distance up the agenda.
    We live in hope,with the Celtic Tiger getting distemper and capitalism failing as badly as the communist experiments, it could at least be a good time to be a socially orientated person once again. However there's no need to have our backbones extracted in order to stand for elections. We just need to be relevant!

  53. Seoirse, you don’t have to be asked specifically to post on this site. All views can be accommodated. I take your point about 1916 and understand your view that ‘that the right of the Irish people to nationhood has never been extinguished in the intervening years’. But is nationhood in your view indistinguishable from obligatory nationalism? You make the reasonable point that ‘military action is warranted only if it has some reasonable hope of success and wide support.’ Who decides the cut off point?

    Bustermcc, the call for people to become touts has had an incendiary effect on lots of people. I think even unionists are stunned with how far SF has been forced to move. Not sure what your point is about Francie Molloy.

  54. Joy, how would I define republicanism?
    The article first appeared on the blog when it started its life - Republicanism ... Alive or Dying? It might be useful for you in that respect.

    Balor, ‘if the aim of that tool is to destroy the farce at Stormont then I see no wrong’ – how do you deal with people’s rights against republicans?

    Seoirse, do you not think you over-egg the pudding a bit in claming Tone for socialism? Reading it I thought he was a Marxist before Marx!

  55. Gerry & Kate, glad you like the blog. It simply does what we have always done – creates space for ideas and refuses to buckle to the censor. All are welcome to comment, Sinn Fein o anybody else. I never felt I was a spokesperson for West Belfast; if anything a critic of much of what went on in it.

    Seoirse, I am never quite sure that we need in all circumstance to to be deferential to experience particularly in the absence of anything else that would authenticate what experience claims to be promoting. I would not like to think that I would call experience in just to win the point. The argument has to stand on its own ground and anyone without experience can challenge it.
    ‘I believe the Irish people have a right to nationhood that transcends the poll or the ballot box.’ What I dislike about that is that it allows nationalism to trump democracy. But why stop there? Why not let religion, with a much longer history than nationalism, trump democracy also? The left must have learned to appreciate the dangers in all of that that by now.

    Same as well for your point Joy. I am not some guru who sits up on a perch pontificating and handing out infallible truths. All I have is opinions, some of which are strong and others not. I just believe I have a right to express them free from intimidation or pressure. The more someone says ‘verboten’ the more I will say it. But anyone can argue with me and win the point if its strong enough. And I don't suffer fools at all ... and rarely respond to them. So what does that tell you?

  56. Balor, some issues are black and white, right and wrong – but not too many of them. What is it that legitimates a target? Legitimated by what or who? Whether you like it or not there is little but tradition that is leading to the loss of life. The ‘farce’ at Stormont has more endorsement than any desire to destroy it. We who don’t like it can’t impose the dictatorship of the gun; a bigger farce.

    Larry, there is little doubt that McGuinness would argue for republican mourners to be beaten off the streets if there were to be a funeral for a physical force activist. He has been totally sucked in, willingly or otherwise. I have long since abandoned my football skills along with my temper tantrums! The Nelligan book was a good read.

    Westie, do you really feel that calling SF leaders ‘Shame Fein’ is worse than McGuinness calling others ‘traitors’? I’m not much a nationalist. The more obligatory it is the more I recoil from it. I am a nationalist only to the extent that I am not obligated to impose it on anybody else and I have the freedom to dissent from its tenets and doctrines.

    It baffles me how you think SF can take us toward a United Ireland. I have looked at it every way for the past fifteen years, longer even, and see nothing whatsoever in the strategy. And as every promise and position is abandoned I can only assume that the united Ireland one has long since been abandoned too. Anyway, it is your view, and it is your right to express it. You are more than welcome here. I don’t care who you support.

  57. Anthony

    In response to your first question, the answer is No - not a politician's answer I guess, although I am politically active and hope that I am somewhat politically aware. I think that my post pre-dated the 'traitor' comment, and I totally disagree with it's use, especially in the context and company with which it was said. I honestly believe it was an unplanned comment by Martin McGuinness that was not agreed with the party and said when he actually stumbled a bit during that particular press gathering. Anyhow, its out there now and the damage is done.

    My earlier reference to the term 'Shame Féin' is not so much about the comment but my concern about a fragmentation within nationalism/republicanism (back to that one again!), especially in traditional strongholds throughout the 6 counties.

    I will continue to support the party and I will engage with party members and ask the questions that I would like to get answers to, particularly around the United Ireland position and strategy. I have my own views and ideas, and we will see if they are shared or considered in due course.

    As stated before, a lot of people are being very critical of Sinn Féin and that is fair enough, some may be deserved and even if some isn't, that is what politics and democracy is all about. I just fail to see or hear anything from the dissenters that makes me sit up and think, that is a decent argument and a viable alternative to the SF strategy. On the armed combatants, for their representatives to simply state that whilst Britain remains in Ireland, Irish men and women have a right to take up arms......doesn't articulate any sort of political strategy whatsoever and I fear, will only lead to unnecessary jail and death for young Irish people, many of whom didn't even share our experiences of the previous campaign.

    Finally, on my 'nationalist' claims, my ignorance of the literal meaning has been exposed - I simply aspire to one day, livng in an Ireland without a border of any desciption so that we are a Nation as one - if I don't live to see the day, I pray every night that my kids do. Whether they are as preoccupied by this aspiration as their father, is debatable but I pray for them nonetheless!



  58. Westie, think you are right. Context and company made it what it was. You are right in that it was spontaneous. I think he actually meant to say ‘scumbags’ and thought better of it as it was about to leave his lips and then filled the gap with ‘traitors.’ Think it annoyed his own party members more than it did his republican critics outside the party. I think the context and company as you so concisely put it caused problems with some within the party. The critics loved it and just laughed at it. It was a windfall for them.

    But even if the choice of words was wrong and not representative of wider party opinion, the tone is pretty prevalent. Take a look at Declan Kearney’s piece in the AP/RN. Declan is much too clever to actually think that the argument he presents is based on solid founds. There is a stridency creeping into even the more level headed in the party.

    Fragmentation or diversity – how do we call it? The same thing is often described with both terms. Good luck in your endeavours to seek answers. I never got any answers that made sense and ended up thinking we were being lied to about everything. For predicting that SF would end up where it is today I was considered to have developed intellectual leprosy. With your views on democracy and tolerance I don’t see how you could have an easy time of it.

    I don’t understand how you continue to support the party if a united Ireland is what you want. But each to their own. In my view neither SF nor the dissidents/dissenters have a strategy for a united Ireland. That is why I have come to the conclusion that republicanism as we knew it has failed and that there will not be any united Ireland.
    I share your fear of where the physical force advocates are taking people – graveyards and jails. There is an awful arrogance about their argument. Tommy McKearney, if you read him, is very insightful in his critique of it. He is speaking in Belfast on Tuesday night on the relevance of 1916 today. It might be worth your while going along.

    Don’t pray. Try sacrificing a goat. It works just as well. Forgive me my jaundiced take on religion!


  59. Anthony,
    you're more than a tad hard on yourself about 'temper tantrums.' Many's a man who'd been through what you guys had might have been jumping out of an attick on the end of a rope before now. I just remember you running about with your rambo headband on demanding everyone 'read the game.' Myself and the Mrs had a giggle about that..cheers!
    In relation to a United Ireland..really don't see anyone caring enough. Since Thatcher made little capitalist snobs of the working class by letting them buy their council houses people are more interested in what their house is worth. Better start looking at a European angle for answers at home. That's where the leverage is. Big part of the 'no' vote in the free state was to embarrass arogant TD's in Europe on the bigger stage.I have a feeling Adams and McGuinness may have been seduced by the trappings of Westminster having been allocated a broom cupboard there. They probably wish they could have taken seats there instead of being stuck in Stormont with the DUP/TALIBAN. [I still remember the days not that long ago the swings were padlocked up on a Sunday so the kids couldn't play on the sabbath..different topic]
    I'm glad to see there are those refusing to allow Maguinness+SF the last word on physical force Republicanism. Although one of those interviewed looked more like a Taliban himself?? But at least between RSF + Eirigi the door has been kept open for future generations should the old and new [SF] Unionists ever attempt to subjugate the Irish in the 6 occupied counties as was done before. The PSNI [RUC]are the same as ever. If a kid threw a firecracker in Lurgan Duffy got 2yrs on remand for attempted murder. I think they're delighted to get back at their no great hope of a new dispensation there!
    Any idea where and when a good solid Easter comemoration will be held in the Derry/Donegal area this year? Preferably with a speaker with something to say worth listening to? NOT SF!!