Level Of The Absurd

Tonight The Pensive Quill features Mick Hall from Organised Rage

There has been a great deal of hand ringing and talk of moral values since death of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr after an armed Irish republican group placed a bomb under his car, which was parked outside his house in Omagh, County Tyrone . Understandably, Matt Baggott, the Chief Constable of the British police force in Ireland lauded his dead officer, and kept to a time-honoured script which is played out whenever a member of the British armed forces lose their lives.

No complaint there, it is what senior officers do when one of their number fall in the line of duty, however it was the politicians who outdid themselves and it was not only the British Prime Minister, his Viceroy in Ireland and the Unionists who got in on the act. Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness elbowed his way to the front in an attempt to paint himself as a loyal subject of the British crown. Mr McGuinness addressing a Sinn Fein meeting in South Belfast shortly after the death of PC Kerr, all but claimed the dead policeman as one of his own when he said:

I went down to see Nuala within hours of her son being killed and it was very obvious from being in that household that many of the family circle were Sinn Fein voters. And I would go so far as to say that Ronan Kerr voted for Sinn Fein, and joined the police because he wanted to be part of changeand wanted to support the peace process.

Such cringing subservience did not go unnoticed by the British establishment and shortly after McGuinness had spoken, the British Viceroy Owen Patterson was soon on his feet in the Westminster parliament congratulating McGuinness:

The leadership was evident again when the First (Peter Robinson of the DUP)and Deputy First Ministers (Martin McGuinness) and the Justice Minister stood as one with the Chief Constable to reiterate their determination that these terrorists will never succeed. They all called for the active support of the PSNI.

As Mr McGuinness’s behaviour was identical to the unionists, who swear allegiance to the English queen, it is difficult not to conclude he has evolved into a loyal servant of the British crown and more importantly, it seems Tory politicians like Owen Patterson regard him as such.

This raises questions about the nature of the six county statelet and whether it is legitimate for Irish republicans to use armed struggle to remove the border and complete the Irish national revolution. Under international law the right of ‘national’ liberation movements to use armed force in their struggle is controversial. On occasions, the UN General Council has endorsed the right to armed struggle, For example it supported a resolution giving the Palestinians the right to use 'all means' to throw off their Israeli oppressors and today, under the pretext of a UN resolution, the USA, UK, France and their NATO allies are giving military and economic aid to their north African ‘rebel friends’ with a clear aim of overthrowing the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

Undoubtedly a large number of UN affiliates maintain liberation movements have the legitimate right to use armed force to secure the right of people to self-determination. The first question we need to ask is does the British presence in six counties of Ireland fall into this category. The British government clearly believes it does not, but given their track record, few rational people would take their word. Indeed, when it comes to this matter, there our few governments who have such a long and appalling record of abusing peoples human rights. From the British Empire through to Iraq and Afghanistan, the British government has plundered its way around the world leaving death and destruction in its wake and continues to do so to this day.

Ireland, by force of arms, has been occupied by the English and then the British state for hundreds of years, its record there is one of brutality, neglect and deviousness. Thus when making a judgement about whether armed struggle is legitimate it would be foolish and negligent just to consider the situation in Ireland since the signing of the GFA. One must look at the whole picture and also take into account how the six county statelet came into being, did it become a geographic entity due to a democratic decision of the Irish people; or was it brought into being after British threats of a dreadful and terrifying war.

Sadly the latter is the case and just because these threats were made in 1922 does not nullify this fact. They can only be nullified when the Irish people are given an all Ireland referendum on whether the island of Ireland should become a single unified state. Until this occurs the border will continue to be without legitimacy. (The all Ireland ballots which took place in two political entities and centered around the GFA, were clearly a lost opportunity as sadly they did not fall into this category.

Having taken all this into account it is difficult to deny the legitimacy of Republican groups to engage in armed struggle. However, these armed groups do not operate in a vacuum, but amongst those they wish to liberate and unlike in 1916-22 and 1969-2004, there is not a sizable section of Irish people who support the use of armed struggle to remove the border, this is as true in the north as it is in the south.

For those who engage in armed struggle to dismiss this by claiming so what, it has always been so, will just not do. It may be true that at times previous generations of republican insurgents were unable to claim majority support, but there was a good reason for this, as the scale of the hardships and harsh oppression the insurgents and general population faced during previous Republican insurgencies were incomparable to what the British inflict on the nationalist people of the north today.

Indeed if we are being honest the overwhelming majority of those who live in the six counties face no greater oppressive state forces than those who live in the rest of the UK. The six counties today cannot be regarded as a society which is suffering under the iron heel of a tyrants boot, having said this, it does not make the situation correct simply because the tyrant has replaced his boot with a smart Gucci shoe, as for all the change of footwear the tyrants offspring still tramp across Irish land without a shred
of democratic legitimacy.

But for Republicans to engage in arm struggle simply because they can, would be a negation of their revolutionary traditions. For without a degree of mass support, all an armed Irish Republican campaign can achieve is to lay a blood stained marker in the sand which proclaims the continued presence of the British state in Ireland is wrong. As much as some Republicans may welcomed this, It is difficult to see how this alone can justify the negativity which flows from engaging in armed struggle. The lives of volunteers wasted either from premature death or years of imprisonment, and the inevitable collateral damage any military campaign inflicts on its host communities, along with the death and maiming of people like PC Kerr, whose only real crime was he represented a public manifestation of the British government in Ireland, and that he provided a comparatively easy target in comparison with those who actually govern the Statelet at a local level.

It seems to me it is a tad hypocritical for armed republicans to target this group, when senior members of the Stormont administration like Martin McGuinness live without sanction in nationalist communities. In no way am I suggesting senior members of SF should be targeted, I am simply pointing out one of the contradictions in the strategy of groups like the RIRA, CIRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann.

The only justifiable reason to continue the arm struggle as far as I can see is to keep the beacon of reunification alive, it is about as clear a statement as one could get that some Republicans refuse to turn their backs on eight hundred years of struggle. Whilst this may be a powerful argument for some, it takes a leap of faith to justify the use of armed struggle as it is difficult to see how targeting minor servants of the British State in Ireland like the police can produce constructive change when thirty years of the most determined armed struggle could not.

Even those of us who wanted no truck with the GFA cannot honestly claim the six counties is the oppressive society it once was. True, like the British police elsewhere in the UK, the PSNI is still obsessed with the enemy within; and can behave in a heavy handed manner, but in truth when it comes to dealing with public order situations, its manner of policing is little different from similar police forces in the EU’s metropolitan areas.

However the public manifestation of Mi5 in the north is far more worrying as it now has the remit for counter terrorism throughout the six counties which cannot but further embed the north east of Ireland within the UK State.

Nevertheless, despite this example of imperial arrogance, there are still viable political avenues open to Republicans through which they can advance their cause. The Stormont assembly is crying out for a left-republican opposition which is mandated to expose the mockney parliaments shortcomings from the inside whilst working in tandem with progressives on the streets.

For revolutionary republicans to pass up such an opportunity is left wing infantilism. True state agencies will place road blocks and obstacles in the way of republicans at every turn, but there is no surprise about this, it has always been so, it is what all revolutionaries face. The one certainty about the British state, when dealing with republican groups, it is guaranteed to make a bad situation worse as we have witnessed with the charade trial of Gerry McGeough, which ended with him being sentenced to 20 years jail time.

Nevertheless, Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Good advice, but it seems to me to base an entire military campaign on the possible mistakes of one’s enemy is taking this dictum to the level of the absurd.


  1. For some reason Mick Hall tells us that unionists swear allegiance to the english Queen- but seems afraid
    to tell us that new p.s.n.i members no longer take this oath- still- why let the truth get in the way of a good story-

  2. But for Republicans to engage in arm struggle simply because they can, would be a negation of their revolutionary traditions. For without a degree of mass support...

    Mick can you tell show me were Irish phyiscal force republicans have ever had the support of the majority of Ireland...As far as I understand Irish history they've always been in the minority but the majority gained...Thats unless I've misunderstood Irish history.

  3. Michael Henry
    Are you really suggesting the PSNI does not give its allegiance to the UK State? it is as linked into the UK policing system and its periphery support organisations as firmly as the other 50 or so UK constabularies. That some of its officers have been seconded to serve in places like Iraq and Afghanistan says much about whose interest it serves.

    Just because some of the fluffy window dressing is removed and Roman Catholics join the force, does not alter the PSNI allegiance to the UK state.

    By the way the pre 1922 Constabulary of Ireland was full of catholic officers, indeed it was allowed to place the title 'royal' in its name in recognition of the part it played in putting down the Fenian Rising of 1867. Lets hope there is not an omen there?

    As your selected quote highlights, I never claimed previous republican insurgencies had majority support, what I wrote was a degree of mass support.

    The war of independence definitely had that, as did the Provo insurgency, the border campaign less so and look how that ended. As far as I can judge, today the support for armed struggle hardly goes much beyond the ranks of the organisations I mentioned, and individual republicans.

    What I attempted to do in my hackneyed way in this piece, was to point out whilst todays Republicans like their predecessors have the right to use armed struggle, it must be based on some degree of mass support and the likelihood of victory, or at the very least the hope of moving the process forward towards the establishment of a united socialist republic of Ireland.

    Simply going down that road because they can seems to me to be very close to using violence as a fetish. Of course I could be wrong, but I find it revealing no Armed Republican group has set out why they believe a continuation of armed struggle will advance the 32 county socialist republic. There basic idea seems to boil down to one more heave, this time with an unsullied leadership, as if the lack of the right leaders was the only reason why the Provos failed to achieve their goals.

    Frustration with, and a profound dislike of the current situation is not what successful military campaigns are built on.

  4. michaelhenry, the main people involved in not letting the truth get in the way of a good story is SF, it's their stock in trade. When other goups (such as Eirigi) who don't share the same analysis as SF about the so-called "peace procezzzzzzz" stand in elections, they are described as so-called "dissidents" as witnessed in the despicable article by Bobby Storey in the Andytout News. On the one hand SF call on people they describe as "dissidents" to put their money where their mouth is, and when they do (such as Eirigi standing in the Lower and Upper Falls), it's a fault, they are trying to "steal" SF "seats", they are against the "peace procezzzzzz" etc. etc. etc. I wish they (SF) would make up their minds. Those seats are not SF's, they are open to anyone that wants to stand for them, in SF parlance, that's called "democracy"! So, mickyboy, you may have been conned by their blather, quite a lot of us haven't!

  5. Mick Hall-

    I am not suggesting anything old hand- i am stating a fact- the p.s.n.i no longer swears allegiance to the royal crown- no royal in their name now either-


    hope you are not in a huff because the Irish kicked eirigi up and down
    democracy street-

  6. michaelhenry,
    no, I am not in a huff, people have another four years to put up with this "government". Watch and see the cuts that they will implement at the behest of their Tory masters. As for the "Irish" you mentioned, I hope you're not talking about SF, SF are constitutional unionists, just like the sdlp and the dup!

  7. AM-

    I have went over the election results- i don't think i am wrong-but no-one's perfect-

    On the Republican side- there has not been 1 person elected who was opposed to the good friday agreement in 1998

    some republicans who now oppose Sinn Fein were elected- but they all supported the good friday agreement- and this has kept them right with the electorate-

  8. Mackers,
    having trouble getting through, michaelhenry is on the ball though or on something that encourages a person to talk balls.

  9. michaelhenry,
    Sinn Fein did not kick eirigi up and down democracy street.
    Yes, Sinn Fein did engage in dirty propaganda and intimidation throughout the election.
    Colm Lynach was threatened and intimidated, ordinary voters in Belfast were intimidated.
    Back to eirigi. All the republican people in Clonard including 90% of the ex-prisoners voted eirigi.
    Clonard, where the latest phase of the war began gave a resounding thumbs down or two fingers up to Sinn Fein. How do you explain that?
    Mick, this was a very refreshing, informative and well-balanced piece.
    Throughly enjoyed reading it.

  10. Interesting piece Mick but I still think the democratic argument is much stronger than you allow for. But you sought balance. Watch they don't jail you now for having written it!

  11. michaelhenry
    not opposing the GFA doesn't keep people right with the electorate, it prevents their arrest.

  12. Nuala,

    not sure what the problem is in trying to get through. It has a mind of its own, the blog.

  13. Mackers,
    I think the problem was at my end.
    Just panicked when I seen michaelhenry was getting through with such ease. I honestly thought the Brits were giving him a hand like they did in the elections.

  14. Mackers there must be an easier way to get our comments through? I just spent the last 20 mins typing a lengthy post and when I pressed publish your comment thingy I lost the lot.

    I know I should've saved it first but....

  15. Is this a call for a Republican TUV at Stormont - Republican / Stormont - now there's a contradiction!

    Fionnuala – Just curious – can you quantify ‘90% of Republican ex-prisoners’ in terms of the total number of votes available and the over all imapct on SF/MI5’s election campaign please? How many ex-prisoners live in Clonard and their ratio to the number of residents with voting rights? I was initially jumping up and down with joy at your comments.
    And I know this is going to sound condescending but it isn’t meant to do so but Clonard, Fionnuala, Clonard!!! Unless I am missing something here, Clonard is just a cluster of houses similar to other cluster of houses else where…..After careful thought I’ve now stopped jumping….

  16. I,m not getting through with my posts Anthony,The blogger has a mind of its own or someone else,s? as for Niall jumping up and down if he would stop and take on Nuala,s message and that is most of those who were active in the past struggle have now realised that their sacrifice was for nothing more than to boost ego,s and a few jobs for a select few,the messsage is getting through Niall to all but those who like yourself love jumpung through the psf hoops!

  17. Niall keep on jumping a cara ,ya.ll get a better view of your mates paymaster in Dublin later,

  18. michaelhenry
    YOUR head of state got a very warm welcome from mine today...you're welcome.

  19. Talking about the absurd, Mc Aleese invatition to uda big chief Mc Donald and some of his cronies to the wreath laying ceremony in Dublin on the anniversary of the biggest loss of life in the so called troubles is as about as asurb as you can get, its akin to the Americans inviting al-Qaeda to gronnd zero in Sept,and to top it of those who protest at such an insult face arrest,how absurd is that,

  20. More absurdity;Barak O Bama is coming to Ireland because his ancestors were Irish,I have to say O Bama is a fine Irish name next to the O Llamas,the O Bannanas and the O Rama dama ding dongs.

  21. Gerry Itwasntme and Bob doh Brains went on a cruise,......Gerry says "its quiet tonight"..." doh everybody will be watching the band" replied Bob .."there,s no f##kin band ya daft twat " says Gerry..."doh sure is" says Bob "the announcement said earlier a band on ship doh"..

  22. Colonel Gaddafi has gone into hiding and has surronded himself with 40 virgins.......thats Poleglass ruled out

  23. Niall,
    ratio and the voting population in Clonard has absolutely nothing to do with the point I was making.
    Almost all the ex-prisoners in Clonard i.e. the core republican vote went to eirigi.
    I think even condescending people could work that one out.
    If the significance of Clonard in relation to republicanism is lost on you, maybe you should go and read something about some of the people who occupied those cluster of houses.

  24. Larry-

    your mary friend is a fcuk- my Gerry leader will get rid of that other fcuk-


    Time to say sorry to Poleglass-
    they have found over 40 male virgins over 40- and counting-

  25. Marty,

    Welcome back - I see them hills have'nt dampened your ire or humour.

    "Talking about the absurd, Mc Aleese invatition to uda big chief Mc Donald and some of his cronies to the wreath laying ceremony in Dublin on the anniversary of the biggest loss of life in the so called troubles is as about as asurd as you can get"

    Is this not an indication as to how far the militants have been outflanked, rendered irrelevant and the rest of this island has moved on? Wars are fought, won and lost but invariably they end in outcomes that question the very basis on which they were fought in the first place.

  26. Marty,
    What exactly is Fionnuala’s message? That is the point – what the hell is the ‘message’? Am I simply expected to take on Nuala’s comments as certainty and wholly unquestionable and not query any comments? Am I expected to be one of the sheep and heedlessly follow the leader like those in SF/MI5? I thought that the Blanket and now the Pensive Quill were sites where freedom of discussion was modus operandi?

    Fonnuala made a comment that to me grossly exaggerated the demographics of Clonard in the recent elections and also over stated the potency of a few ex-POWs who reside there……

    The same comment could be applied to any area in the North where ex-POWs are turning their backs on SF/MI5 but their potential influence of disruption is negligible…

    Being behind the doors will resolve very little and will only result in dumbing down any message that you have – there is a lot of potential disruption lying dormant within SF, a lot of disquiet over the direction the Movement is heading, just waiting to be utilised, waiting to be awakened and lead - only by going in and attacking from within will anything be resolved – we learned that the hardway.

    Your response like Fionuala’s comment is aptly described by the title of the this article.

  27. Niall shouting at the messenger,/s does little to diminish the message,and that message which is being spoken loudly and clearly across the land is nothing more than the truth,i.e, that those who claim leadership of psf have sold out the cause to which so many people gave their lives,/freedom for,that message is getting through, I know this through daily contact with republicans across Belfast and beyond, as for questioning or quering comments mo cara, I and I,m sure Nuala would encourage you to question everything, had many other republicans been more willing to query or question then we may not have the divided republican movement we have to day .remember Niall when psf first dipped its toes in the political pond its results were abysmal,mustering a few hundred votes in this area and a good few of those were stolen,how do I know that well !!!yes psf are in the driving seat here and now but the opposition is growing,changing psf from within is almost if not impossible with Adams and his cronies at the helm, Robert mo cara good to be able to post again the gremlins were working overtime these last few days,and as usual your post is food for thought,I for one think its time for a new direction,without surrendering the principles of Tone,Connolly, Mc Diarmada, I caught a stray a parrot in my garden this morning...all it says is good morning ya daft f##ker............must belong to our Mickeyboy!!!

  28. Hi Mickeyboy mo cara any 40 year old male virgins in Polegass are definitely paedo

    Slack Iris has been spotted in Dublin,a city full of young men!

  30. It's being said Adams missed his Mandela moment. [As when Mandela embraced the white rugby team + united S. Africa in the rugger world cup] As a TD in a soveriegn state he could have welcomed his partys boss in Stormont with some aplomb. He missed the boat thank goodness.

    Thought her majesty looked fantastic and healthy for 85 yrs old. You have much to be proud of michaelhenry

    By not crossing the line today and bringing 'their' peace process to its logical conclusion, dumb+dumber's big strategy may have left SF with a number 2 party in Stormont UK and even less in the Dail, while the rest of the British isles forge ahead. WHAT A PLAN. loving it.

  31. Great to see Iris back and bhoy oh bhoy she was 'wearing the green'. Definitely the belle of the ball. Some of those other MILFS obviously have no mirrors in the house!! Shockers.

  32. Niall,
    Precisely what did I exaggerate?
    I stated that the republican people in Clonard gave Sinn Fein a resounding no! what is so difficult about that?
    The demographics of the area have absolutely no bearing on what I said.
    I was speaking about the 'core' republican vote.
    The ex-POWS in Clonard voted for eirigi, where is the exaggeration in that?
    I would imagine that Sinn Fein should be more than a little concerned, that in an area such as Clonard they have totally lost the republican vote.

  33. Marty and Fionnuala,
    Marty – approximately how many republicans would you be talking to outside of Belfast? And I am shouting at the messenger for the quality of their message, not the messenger themselves....
    Fionnula – your initial comment does indeed imply to the reader that Clonard is at the core of Irish Republicanism and that the quantity of POWs residing there and rejecting SF/MI5 in the recent elections is some how going to inflict a devastating blow on Adams and McGuinness – I completely disagree….

  34. Niall ;the answer to your query is, enough!

  35. Niall,
    michaelhenry, initially claimed that, 'Sinn Fein kicked eirigi's ass up and down democracy street'
    I said, that in Clonard, republicans and 90% of the ex-prisoners voted eirigi.
    Hardly an ass kicking exercise!
    How you interpret my comments is entirely up to you.
    What took place in Clonard should cause Sinn Fein a lot of concern. Why would it not? Clonard has always been classed as a staunchly republican area and the majority of republicans chose to vote for another party, you not the 'reader' seem to be the only one having problems digesting this.
    You talk about ratio, quantity, demographics, therefore I should imagine you understand the logistics of elections and electon patterns.
    Why then, can you not interpret the significance of republicans no longer voting for a so -called republican party.

  36. Robert,

    'Wars are fought, won and lost but invariably they end in outcomes
    that question the very basis on which they were fought in the first

    Succinct but apt.

  37. Michael

    How’s your good self mucker?
    Not to nitpick but the oath is not an issue you seem to ignore the name “Police Service of Northern Ireland.” I might be blind in one eye but Northern Ireland being a part of the United Kingdom would inescapably mean those who serve or support the establishment serve the interests of those you claim to have been removed from the still occupied Northern Ireland?

  38. Tain Bo-

    Im ok- whiskey and derry today- or as Marty would say Lady GAA GAA-
    hope all is well with your good-self

    Not to nitpick your offered comment
    [ and it is a good point ] but Sinn Fein is involved in 32 county policing- id like to think that Sinn Fein serve the people-

    Does Sinn Fein serve the brits- the free staters or the 32- my own belief is that its the 32- because where we are at today is what the people of the 32 voted for-

    Im glad Sinn Fein is not just in northern Irish policing-

  39. Michael,
    Mo chara, I am grand thanks. Nothing wrong with a few drops of whiskey. In here a few bottles might be more appropriate.

    I would like to think Sinn Fein serves the people and there are those who do work within the community in that capacity. In reality the SF leadership is self-serving.

    Your claim that they are all-encompassing in a 32 county policing policy that would mean they endorse the PSNI who in the end are here to ensure the Queens peace in Ulster. By default with or without an oath they are promoting the same old establishment with a new name.
    In a sense Michael I think the old SF policy of cry freedom is somehow drowned out today under the new mantra of cry hypocrisy. In other words the upstart SF politicians prefer to fool all of the people all of the time.
    It would make more sense if policing boards were made up of independent non partisan minds.

    Best a luck mate.

  40. Dixie,

    ‘ there must be an easier way to get our comments through?’

    I don’t know what the problems are. Carrie thinks it is a case of posters not following procedure. I don’t know.