A: Examine their consciences. Take a good look at what is going on. If they agree - ok. If not then speak out." - Fourthwrite interview with Brendan Hughes
Guest writer Tain Bo with his perspective on the discussion taking place among republicans about the continuing use of physical force.
Altruistic springs to mind when reading the positive contributions made by those who sacrificed and continue to do so in an unselfish manner. Removing all the dressing it is clear that the militants felt undermined when these articles appeared. The fact they were carried in a unionist paper is and was of no consequence. Would they have preferred the individuals acted as a group and prior to dispatching their message have met with the armed factions to inform them of their intentions?
Even if such a meeting took place would the advice be given any extensive consideration or just the lip service acknowledging their honest assessment? I don’t see what a meeting would accomplish apart from giving the militants the heads up and allowing them time to counter with something more substantial than we don’t like a newspaper.
If the articles had been penned by individuals from a lesser involved background would this conversation even be taking place? The only reason is the fact that these well respected republicans carry a lot of weight but more importantly hold the experience to address what they see as a doomed entity.
I doubt there was any expectation other than offering the individual reader an opportunity to determine what meaning the articles have either for, against or indifferent. I don’t see how batting the ball back with the ‘what alternative is there?’ coming from those who penned the articles against the armed factions’ actions.
Is there room for an alternative when the threat of militant republicanism will always sabotage any progressive move inwards towards building political unity?
Reading through Ardoyne Republican’s article which is stuck in the old failed armed struggle language doesn’t really add to the subject. His prejudice against a unionist paper, although denied, would suggest sectarian undertones. My problem is why is there a need to mention the paper that carried the articles at all. Will he hold the same distain for the internet as they have been circulated on the web? Personally I have greater dislike for the Irish News but that is another story.
On days when I have the time I like to flick through unionist and loyalists publications as it provides me with an insight on how they weigh up their position. To ignore and dismiss their position seems foolish.
The objection that the articles were carried in a unionist paper would be laughable if it was not as serious as it reads of a false authority and suppresses the freedom of discourse. By Ardoyne Republican’s logic republican dialogue is only legitimate when carried in republican publications.
If AR is genuine and does not advocate armed resistance then my question would be why he feels the need to defend the armed factions acting as an informal intermediary. How can the reader determine this is the position of the armed factions and would they indeed prefer to meet with those who disagree with their position?
Is AR stating that the militants hold no other view than force? Is there no subsidiary, non violent plan to be implemented if or when the armed force policy fails or worse is delivered a defeat?
As for his complaint that certain language was used that he finds unfair is that not just milking a dry cow. The language and choice of words is fair as those that penned the articles have no agenda and the only common thread being that they are simply opposed to the present armed actions.
Why raise the issue of national sovereignty when we cannot find common ground to liberate us at a community level? Why use the same excuses that the Provo camp did?
Have we progressed politically when the only consistent factor that is true is the divisions amongst republicans that need to be resolved? Can it make an effort towards unity when some believe that the gun and bomb is the finality even though that method failed? It is past the time that we used our minds and adapted.
Speaking of militants it would appear they have ignored the articles as to date they refuse to release a statement explaining their position regarding the issue. 3rd party go-betweens have a tendency to promote their own view rather than that of the silent armed groups.
Would that action of dismissing the articles to date not cancel the notion that a meeting would have been more productive? I see no in depth counter to the articles and the smokescreen of laying fault with the news paper just adds up to counter failed propaganda.
The only people who benefit from armed force are those on the hill who enjoy publically lambasting the actions of armed force. It strengthens SF’s stranglehold as they glide along, knowing they face no political threat to counter their position. On the one hand they condemn armed force republicans but on the other reap the reward of the divisions in anti-treaty republicanism which they are more than content to exploit.
Recently the cops released another taunt at the militants saying they know who the bomber is in the Kerr case, adding that the militants are teaming up with criminals and they have been following the movements of militants who all report back to Belfast.
That is just the gist of it but the method is highly effective as it puts militants under pressure. How much of this is true? Is any of it true or is its intention to cause disruption of confidence, adding the further insult that they are patient and will play the waiting game with the intention of getting it right?
Getting it right meaning getting solid convictions to further impede the armed factions.
Are they hinting at a militant round up or just bluffing making the militants edgy and playing mind games at a serious level hoping to force the militants to react? In other words they are dictating the pace of the conflict and it is on their terms.
The argument against physical force makes more sense and is more practical. The argument for it is riddled with contradiction and a very weak operating position that lacks confidence which highlights how weak the notion is that this round of physical force will win and deliver us into a united Ireland. No matter how much hype or propaganda applied we all know it cannot achieve the impossible.
If there was popular support for physical force there would be no need to convince people of its necessity as they would be behind it. Without popular support the factions can do little but hope for the tide to turn in their favour.
The British are not going to feed that need as they have taken their previous experience and apply it today. We won’t see the massacres of Ballymurphy or Bloody Sunday being repeated. They won’t employ shoot to kill. In fact I would wager they will try and not shoot any militants, knowing that their old policies failed and garnished sympathetic support.
Unlike militant republicanism, that depends on the old tactic, the British war machine has updated and adapted counter measures that are generally effective in not only depriving physical force republicans of much needed widespread support but have also removed much of their presence which limits possible targets.
They are well ahead on winning the intelligence war and are content directing the cops on how to counter the threat coming from militant quarters.
In a sense the British military position in the north is stronger now than it was when they had garrisons and outposts with a threatening physical presence.
Now they walk amongst us, blended in, effectively containing, controlling and deploying new methods, using sophisticated technology. Can physical force republicans adapt to the ever changing methods deployed against them?
The answer is no. That is why they use proxy bombers and display a lack of control or confidence when having a go. Simply, can militants compete using old failed tactics when the BA is years ahead of them not just in technology but by the methods they use against them right down to mocking them in the media?
The greatest argument against armed struggle is that anti-Treaty-republicanism cannot afford to lose strong political minds to English jails.
They become largely forgotten and the methods used now are by design to break the will of the prisoners. The other largely overlooked issue is the hardship it brings to the families.
Although I disagree with physical force I remain a supporter of the prisoners: a contradiction, but I find it impossible to ignore as there should be no Irish republicans in English jails. To continue with physical force will mean more prisoners and more hardships imposed on their families.
I have a great respect for those who sent a clear and positive message to republicanism. I believe it was done under deep consideration and delivered with the same consideration, injecting some positive hope while encouraging others to take a step back and reflect.
The counter to their well intended message was met with a weak position of demanding an alternative to their own non-option.
I don’t believe the onus should be placed squarely on their shoulders even though they have the potential to be a greater influence for change. It is something all republicans should welcome and consider playing a part of its construction.
I do not see why anyone would require an explanation as the only alternative to violence is to engage in non violent passive resistance by entering into the political arena using political minds to challenge the status quo.
I would assume militants would reject this. So would there be any reasonable point for those former POWs to sit and engage with militants unless the militants would be interested in exploring a way to cease their armed struggle and in time negotiate the release of all prisoners and begin to challenge SF and work from there on re-establishing the lost republican identity.
The long conflict failed and another long conflict is already predestined to meet the same failure.