Hatred of War

Recent armed attacks by physical force republicans have demonstrated the capacity of physical force republicans to mount armed attacks. That’s as far as it goes. Hardly justification for carrying out armed actions, unless the ability to mount them is justification in itself. The corollary of that is that anything done by anybody is justified. It is just a matter of doing.

An ‘up ‘n under’ was the term used by armed republicans to describe a booby trap bomb placed beneath a car. The bomber would crouch down beside the car, place the device up ‘n under the driver’s side of the vehicle and hope for the worst in terms of what could happen to the occupant once the car started to move. In the recent attention grabbing East Belfast attack where a device was placed somewhere in the car of a woman driver had the bomb done what it was supposed to what would it have achieved? One dead woman; no political cause advanced by the tiniest fraction; withdrawal by the British state from Ireland not brought forward by one minute.

A member of the PSNI was said to have been the intended target. Even had he been killed, rather than his unfortunate girlfriend being injured, same result; no advance on anything.

Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes made by physical force republicans was to have believed Gerry Adams when he pronounced the legitimacy of placing bombs in cars by declaring that while there is a British presence in Ireland, armed struggle is a necessary and morally correct form of resistance. The legacy of that statement is being played out today in East Belfast and in Forkhill where a 600 pound car bomb was discovered last month. The effects of the legacy can trace its lineage back through terrible events like Omagh and Enniskillen. Yet here are republicans willing to risk all that again.

Adams’ critics hardly believe him on anything else so why bother believing him on the issue of when it is necessary and morally correct to kill people? His party colleague Martin McGuinness described those who planted the bomb as living in cloud cuckoo land. Having lived in it for decades himself he is eminently qualified to know about these things. These people led us through a war that proved as futile as it was prolonged. That is an important lesson that physical force republicans could learn from their own history.

War is such a horrifying phenomenon that it is easier to imagine that a sense of patriotism would seek to avoid its horrendous consequences being inflicted on fellow citizens of the nation. The Pearsean notion that ‘bloodshed is a cleansing and sanctifying thing ... the old heart of the earth needed to be warmed by the red wine of the battlefield’ should be greeted with horror not enthusiasm.

The lesson of the war waged in Ireland is that it produced little other than a divisive hatred. If hatred is to continue to have a presence in the country it could do much worse than existing as a hatred of war.


  1. Fear is very much back in the air. Many of my potential contributors are saying they want to wait and see how things develop.
    My children who viewed the stories on Sharedtroubles as history are now tormented with the fear of a town centre bomb.As some of your contributors said in previous posts, we were all affected by the Troubles in some way. I feel more could be made of the positive move from violence (from all sides)
    Great article.

  2. Makes me think of an absolute classic quote from Cathal Goulding before he died, and which I just picked up out of the book The Lost Revolution.

    'We were right, but too soon. Gerry Adams is right, but too late. And Ruairí Ó Brádaigh will never be fucking right!'.

    I don't quote that as an insult on Ó Brádaigh, a republican of integrity. But more as a statement of the futility of it all.

    The problem for all these versions of republicanism is that the task was greater than the resources available to achieve it. They broke and split into pieces on the impervious rock of partition, each of them convinced that their own little piece was flying in the right direction.

    That book should be essential reading for every young man or woman thinking about dabbling in a life of physical force republicanism. Hard to believe that De Rossa, Goulding, Adams and Ó Brádaigh were all on the one team, once upon a time.

  3. The older I get, the more I see my kids grow, the more I reject what I fear I once romanticized. (Word verification: "bully")

  4. Nobility is to be expected,if seldom produced, from those who have walked the walk and found it fruitless,though a proud and considered effort. Thank you for your integrity.

  5. Am - You talk about Adams and Co leading us through a war. Back in 69 it was not them who started it nor were they leading it at the time, but they were products of that time. Yes no question they along with many others fought and led that war later on.

    But they are two of the many people who saw the futiity of it and they along with many others helped to bring us out of it.

  6. Starry Plough, you are right. They did not start the war although they did devise the long war which was totally unproductive and futile. But they never tell us this, instead denying that they had any part in it: Gerry Adams was never in the IRA and Martin McGuinness left it before the long war started. And while you appear to concede that the war was futile where have either of these two men acknowledged it? In a recent interview with Johann Hari Gerry Adams was claiming that the IRA had been the victors.

    So, rather than lecturing physical force republicans on the immorality or futility of what they are doing compared to what they themselves were doing, would it not be better for both leaders to say the long war which they devised and directed was the wrong war and therefore the armed struggle types today cannot draw upon it for legitimacy or justification?

  7. AM - You are 100% correct - the moral and ethical thing to do now would be for Adams and company to admit what you have so eloquently admitted in your book and blogging that the armed struggle especially the long war strategy was a failure and has no legitimacy given the partitionist outcome and the continued British presence. The pain of this admission is clear from your writings and perhaps a better version of Pearse's quote would be the cleansing nature of the truth.

    Bobby Sands talked about the laughter of children being the greatest revenge so isn't it time Adams and company secured that revenge by making sure children can laugh and enjoy a life free from conflict?

    You know obviously way more than I will ever about the realities of conflict and the sacrifices it visits upon you and you know the pain of confronting a truth and embracing it despite how it has changed the perspective and narrative of your life.

    You were brave when you took up arms for a noble cause and you are brave now to champion the truth after that cause was subverted by those who continue to subvert.

  8. who joins the RIRA/CIRA?? nowadays? up north...

  9. Good piece (and comments).

  10. A superb piece of writing. Every 11 yr old boy and girl in Ireland should read this. Coming from yourself gives it great authority and credibility. I will have my three boys read it tonight.

  11. It’s a great piece of advice that every young man with thoughts of starting on the path of causing mayhem to free this little corner of Europe should be made aware of, but unfortunately they never will.
    I have always been convinced that republicans start of on a dream but unfortunately they don’t look at the real past rather it’s the romance of being a revolutionary that brings them through. Instead of them criticising Adams Mc Guinness and co why don’t they learn from them.

  12. Coming from Ardoyne, theres a first hand view of how idiotic and monosyncronistic the troubles have been, co-intel infiltration, the jesuits played a part long ago, controling the human mind is achievable through seperation and segragation, it all leads to the same outcome, anger and confusion.

    The loyal Orange lodge(DUP SDLP, loyalism, nationalism)and the green ribbon lodge (FF, Sf, republicanism) are both equal and opposite entities in a game on mind monopoly. Quite plainly put, History is written by the winners.

    He who has the gold makes the rules.

    The human psyche is at breaking point, shootings and madness galore. Men in dark suits delude the population with a permanent sense of fear.

    "History will be kind to me for i intend to write it." W.Churchill

  13. More evidence of the effects of the Long War:

    One in five show Troubles trauma according to the Government's central statistics body.

    An expert has said more work needs to be done calculating the mental trauma caused by the Northern Ireland conflict.Professor Alan Ferguson, chief executive at the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health, added
    "I am just wondering if the connection has been made about how serious our mental health issues are, that they are systemic, endemic in fact in our society and we have to start dealing with them?"

  14. The story comes back around to the criminalization issue and the multiple secrecy issues, which would seem to put a block to veterans gathering and/or open group discussions,like the Vietnam Vets did.

  15. Sharedtroubles has been attempting to get previous volunteers to use the website to put their experiences in a place where young people from different backgrounds may have a better chance of reading those accounts. I have received positive comments from site visitors who were comfortable to read 'difficult' material because there was no agenda.

    Unless I can get more volunteers to speak up the story remains hidden. I do not seek to create a point of view, simply to allow others to express theirs, however I need help.

  16. Anthony

    Good article and comments - demonstrating also the mix of contributors have who were and were not in the mix right throughout the 32!

    I do scratch my head at times and wonder what those involved at this time are really trying to achieve -I mean what do they really want to achieve by their actions - is it an attack on the Brits or is it more of an attack on those they feel have betrayed the Irish cause.

    I think it would be very difficult for Gerry Adams to admit what you believe was the outcome of the armed struggle. I believe the Repubican Army gave so much to and for its people and for those of us who lived through the 60s, 70s and 80s in the Republican strongholds of the North, I cannot accept that the fight was anything but noble and justifed for its time and I respect the many men and women made the sacrafice by being part of it, nomatter what political belief or direction they have taken since. You must accept that they were the people of the people throughout those years, yourself included and their specific sacrafices such as jail, and its subsequent campaigns and struggle, not to mention the ultimate sacrafice should not be labelled as a futile part of our history. I do not believe it was and I cannot equate the volunteers of then with most of those of today - again just my own feeling on things.

    What I wouldn't want to see, is a situation where people who might otherwise have an active interest or part to play in the future politics of Irish Unification don't see a place for themselves because they are neither Sinn Féin or Physical Force. In my strong opinion, we all still have a part to play, no matter how small.

    And to any of the contributors or 'surfers' who live in the 26 counties, and who may think this is a fascinating historical discussion for which they feel a heart warming connection. I do mean everyone in Ireland.



  17. Wow. From here in the USA, I'm sad about continued strife my country involves itself in - at home and abroad.

    Thank you for this.

  18. A Mixture of Nock and me: "Considering most mens' indifference to freedom, their easy gullibility, and their facile response to conditioning; one might very plausibly argue that collectivism is the mode best suited to their capacities."

  19. This is not spam.


    Please follow this blog, AM.

    I urge you to google-video Robert Menard, research quickly and begin some discussion. Sovereignty is quite possible.
    A video by RAM on the man vs the person.

  20. Tony
    i was just catching up on articles after an absence-i'd say those in the CIRA/RIRA are basically the remaining touts who are reluctant to give up their extra income from their handlers. Those groupings are a mere conduit for syphening off any fools interested in making trouble for the GFA. Like vultures on the clothesline the members in these groups are awaiting one genuine individual to act so they can all run in different directions to a PHONE! any recruits are brain dead basically IMHO.