Futile Contempt

Despite repeated assurances by the Provisional IRA that it would never surrender, would never quit, would never give up one bullet or one ounce of explosive, would never be defeated, and that the armed struggle would continue so long as the goal of a united independent Ireland remain unrealised, it finally capitulated – Timothy Shanahan

A week ago today in a gratuitous act of political violence a member of the British Police Service of Northern Ireland was targeted by Irish republicans. A booby trap device was attached to his car and he was critically injured when it exploded near Randalstown in County Antrim. Today it was revealed that he had a leg amputated and has yet to regain consciousness. That violence might have a political motivation makes it no less brutal.

The bomb attack employed the type of modus operandi that the latest IRA has inherited from the former IRA which specialised in such operations. Indeed it was the type of attack that paid the best dividends on the Semtex explosive shipped into the country by the former IRA at the height of its campaign. Rather than explosives shipments adding a qualitative new dimension to the campaign they merely allowed an old tactic to be upgraded which delivered in terms of operational results without in anyway offsetting the eventual defeat that the former IRA would sustain.

Unfortunately there are some who cannot come to terms with that defeat and will continue trying to reverse the irreversible by resorting to the methods of the defeated IRA, a consequence of failing to realise that those methods could never lead to success. The former IRA targeted and on occasion killed Catholic police officers and achieved nothing for it.

The type of operation that critically injured Peadar Heffron, an Irish speaking GAA player, is what the IRA does and will continue to do. It is unlikely to change as a result of people who at one time directed operations against Catholic police officers in pursuit of a united Ireland, screaming traitors at those who have opted to continue with the same operations in pursuit of a united Ireland. It at the same time demonstrates both the durability and futility of republican political violence.

It is an exercise which will do nothing to lessen the resolve of the British state to remain in Ireland. It has brutally maimed another human being who did not see his role as one of beating the nationalist community into submission. In fact he seriously promoted Irish nationalist culture. There may be no shortage of good reasons for criticising Peadar Heffron for joining the British police but not one for trying to kill him. This is what designating people as enemies rather than opponents tends to lead to.

The leader of the Alliance Party, David Ford, professed outrage ‘that a very small number of people still believe that using violence will achieve anything.’ Yet it is not necessary for the people who carry out these attacks to think that they can achieve anything. The tradition they belong to places emphasis on the right to resist British rule militarily. That action alone is achievement enough for many of its adherents. Theirs is a tradition violently fuelled for years by those who now call them traitors and who continued to wage a campaign ostensibly for a united Ireland long after they realised there were no prospects of that goal being achieved.

When the former IRA formally announced the capitulation mentioned by Timothy Shanahan in his probing book The Provisional Irish Republican Army And The Morality Of Terrorism, it stated that ‘we reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely legitimate.’ Yet its armed struggle was supported only by a minority of northern nationalists, themselves a minority within the north and an even smaller minority within Ireland. Much like today’s IRAs; the real difference between them and the former IRA boils down to one being supported by a bigger minority than the other. Not really the type of thing ‘entire legitimacy’ is grounded in.

Wars are things to be avoided just short of all costs. The right of the Irish people not to wage war is a right they value and are currently exercising. Their right not to wage war is stronger than the supposed right of any group to wage war in their name. The right of the Irish people to choose to avoid war is a right others do not want them to have and in monarchical fashion – monarchies are so antithetical to republicanism – are trying to usurp that right by imposing war upon them. The very contempt for the rights of Irish people that physical force republicans accuse the British state of displaying is itself a property of that brand of republicanism. The claim that they are fighting to prevent the British usurping the rights of the Irish people is made a nonsense of by armed campaigning. Whatever the raison d’etre of their political violence defending the rights of the Irish people hardly figures within it.


  1. Perhaps the most enduring vulnerability of physical force activity, as bourne out in the past few decades, is the potential for counterproductive misdirection by Britain's conflict managers.
    There have been managed atrocities such as Omagh and managed careers such as Donaldson, Scappaticci and many others exposed and as yet unexposed.
    The result is that today it is impossible to determine what is being conducted as genuine Republican seperatist activity and what is being orchestrated to suit an agenda. A myriad groupings without centralised or recognised command and control provides a terrifying scope for countergang activity, at which Britain excels and is vastly experienced.
    This latest bombing is highly questionable in my opinion given the location, the timing and the target.
    The location provides a Massarene tie-in for the propagandists whilst the target actually bolsters the PSF position at the present time in negotiating further advancement of the normalisation and Ulserisation policies. They now have their very own crown forces victim to compare with Arlene Foster's RUC father whilst negotiating the advancement of British policy.
    It could be argued that Massarene shattered the illusion of normalisation and as such was a strategic success but any climate of escalation only increases the scope for counter-intelligence and counter-gang activity; the black arts at which Britain excels and at which she cannot be matched. The days of going 'down into the mire after them' as Tom Barry would have said are long since past. Those who try will get lost in the mire and wasted.

  2. anthony is timothys book new? or is it out awhile??? thanks.

  3. Ewok, it is new (2009 I think it said) I am snatch reading it at the minute - the only way I get to read unless on holiday!

  4. Isn't it nice how everyone - especially Church and media - is so concerned about this 'Catholic Gaelic-speaking' cop who was blown up? I remember as a naked Blanket man getting the shit kicked out of me numerous times by screws, one of whom was 'Catholic Gaelic-speaking'. no one in the Church or media batted an eyelid about this daily torture; all the bishops and priests alongside the GAA never opened their bucket mouths once, either. When you're getting hit over the head with a baton, it makes little difference that the baton has shamrocks etched into it, rather than the British crown...

  5. The worst type of sectarian shite imaginable was the coverage of this attack, on rte anyway. If I hear "Irish-speaking GAA player" again I'll f88kin'puke. Like it would have been more acceptable if he was the regular hate-filled hun that joins the peelers!

  6. They're at it again in this morning's Belfast Telegraph. See link below. Some twit from the GAA called Joe Brolly speaking a lot of (his own words) twaddle. Totally sickening hypocrisy from the GAA, as usual.


  7. Recon SF left the political landscape
    unsuitable for any militaristic politics. As for the GAA I hear they got a big contract in Iraq...to gather up the rubble.

  8. good man anthony thanks.........