Republican Evolution

Guest writer G Ó Cáthasaigh with his thoughts on the strategic state of physical forcre republicanism today.

Much has been written recently about the need for a complete cessation of armed actions by militant Republicans. Former guerrilla fighters have spoken out on this site and other media and have done so sincerely rather than for political or personal gain. I agree with them.

The analysis of the authors is rooted in their experience of the PIRA and INLA campaigns and a great unease and remorse can be readily ascertained from their writings. Much suffering was inflicted and sustained for an overall loss from a Republican strategic perspective. I'm not interested in debating the moral legitimacy of Republican armed struggle: it's an emotional issue. The people of the six counties are products of environmental, emotional conditioning: many of us were subject to extreme emotional experience from an early age and some were affected more deeply than others.

Strategic legitimacy is another matter altogether. Strategic thinking has to be rational and unemotional and the rational, unemotional analysis of current armed militancy is that it has no strategic legitimacy.

I remember a terminally ill and tired looking Brian Keenan speaking at Cappagh in 2007 about how IRA Volunteers “did their best” and indeed they did. But not so those who led them. Those who presided over a culture of informers, misdirection and criminality willingly surrendered all the strategic collateral gained from the daring and sacrifices of the Volunteers who, along with their families, took all the risks.

Can we have any confidence that today is any different? The evidence would suggest otherwise. In fact it’s much worse, although all on a smaller scale. Patsy Gillespie strapped into a chair to drive a proxy bomb then – pipe bomb placed behind Derry bus driver’s seat now. Both scenarios have the stink of FRU-type false flaggery but the most recent incident indicates how much easier the social engineer’s task has become. The Brits no longer need to orchestrate atrocities to influence public opinion but they won't hesitate to if they feel the need to.

Continued armed militancy provides a fertile plain for Britain’s most malicious to do their worst. The successors of those who ran the MRF and FRU, armed and directed orange terror and orchestrated the Omagh bomb are enabled by the uncertainty surrounding what’s real and what’s orchestrated. It’s only a few years since we were told a Brit agent was responsible for firebombing toy shops in the run up to Xmas. What confidence can anyone have that any incident isn't the actions of agents provocateurs? Looking back there is no longer much certainty around the PIRA campaign because of the level of infiltration. It's no better now and will not get any better in the future.

In the climate of uncertainty any Republican who attains any public profile will be vilified and demonised by the media wing of the British corporate war machine. One only has to look at the weekly, lurid character assassinations and felon setting carried in the Scummy World. The propagandists pen badly written pieces equating any Republican of choice with the worst examples of spook manipulation and criminal infiltration. Public consciousness softened by spook media saturation becomes hardened to legitimate claims of injustice.

As such, continued armed activity is strategically counterproductive. Furthermore, social media and communications are used not only to monitor activists but also to monitor reactions to events and profile people. The Brit intelligence gathering machine has never had it so good. They barely even need touts as the tools of surveillance are carried around by a passive population.

At a time when Republicans could be using this same technology offensively and exploiting the myriad triggering and monitoring opportunities afforded by wifi, laser and infrared; the pipe bomb seems to be the pinnacle of their engineering. This might be due to the fact that pipe bombs are unlikely to be misused for mass atrocities as happened at Omagh. Or it could be that it's more about posturing and a pretense of armed resistance. Either way the pipe bomb is a symbol of pointlessness. Few would give much credence to a modern day Brian Keenan claiming that current armed militants have done "their best". This leads to questions about what exactly they are doing and what motivates them.

Obviously there are agents provocateurs furthering Brit propaganda and job security and there are those involved in criminality. The two most likely go hand in hand. It has long been British policy to promote criminality in Republican groups, and there can be no doubt that what happened in the past is continuing. The only way for genuine Republicanism to disassociate from the cancer of criminalisation is to cut off its host by calling a complete cessation.

Survival and evolution in nature are Darwinian processes. Organisms need a healthy relationship with reality and the ability to adapt and learn if they are to evolve and survive. Republicanism as a dynamic product of the human organism is no different. If we want Republicanism to ever become vibrant and relevant then a line needs to be drawn. The alternative is extinction in a few generations.


  1. G O Cathasaigh-

    " Patsy Gilespie strapped into a chair "

    To complain about that attack is a anti war statement as 5 Brit soldiers were killed in that event whilst they were snuggled up in there new supposed to be bomb proof bunker-another Brit was killed up the road that night in another attack-

    " Pipe bomb placed behind Derry bus drivers seat "

    This was a anti war event as no Brit or cop was in any danger from those dissidents using loyalist pipe bombs-

    There is no point trying to blame the Republican leadership-they have been at Peace for years and have told people that the political process was the only show in town-
    War mongers not war fighters wanted and did go on and it was proved that it was those ones who made a mess of things for themselves and have now proven to everyone where the weakness came from-


  2. "In the climate of uncertainty any Republican who attains any public profile will be vilified and demonised by the media wing of the British corporate war machine".

    After the media assistance Adams and McGuinness received for decades I'd be very wary of anyone 'bummed-up' by the media.

  3. "they barely even need touts, tools of surveillance are carried around by a passive population" that comment sums up the problem not just for armed groups but anybody interested in human rights.
    MH "to complain about that is an anti-war statement" whats wrong with anti war statements? answer me this see the volunteers who killed the brits think they would have been so eager to kill if they knew the end result?

  4. David Higgins-

    " See the volunteers who killed the Brits think they would have been so eager to kill if they knew the end result? "-

    So you know what the end result is going to be kid-you know more than me-Seeing that their were no Brits killed in the last few years I would say that those Volunteers are happy enough at the moment -


    On a side note the Irish news are back to their old tricks in today's paper ( page 10. )-Allison Morris had a story about a x INLA sex abuser but when the story on the same page went to IRA accused of shielding abusers because of what was wrote in the Gerry Bradley book the most cowardly editor reverted back to Staff Reporter-not one person in charge of the Irish news wanted their name connected to such lies -

  5. David
    'answer me this see the volunteers who killed the brits think they would have been so eager to kill if they knew the end result'?

    SALUTE!! nail on head. MH would have no clue, he's bent over his latest expenses list, 'decent chancer' that he is.

  6. Michaelhenry,

    I never got to read the Alison Morris piece so can't say anything about it.

    Same for the allegations about the IRA people - but I happen to believe Gerry Bradley about the abuse. I think you only have to ask a few of your colleagues in Belfast who had to deal with the fallout.

  7. It's really frustrating observing members of groups which insist on clinging to the provo ballot box and Armilite policy going through the same motions of the Provos, calling for this and welcoming that.

    I'll not be setting foot over any polling station door to vote for any of these groups until they realise they might as well be canvassing for SF at the same time.

  8. MH,
    by end result i meant the agreement of '98. It would take a very optimistic Irishman to see a UI even if the Scots vote for independence and the union is on its knees, the support for the union won't waiver in this part of the world. Sinn Fein like to make out there's a master plan but if look at what we've got objectively we've got nothing, our future's in the hands of unionists. so i ask you again do you think volunteers would be so eager to make such sacrifices if the outcome was amendments to articles 2 and 3 and republicans enforcing British rule.
    I know you see things differently and i am not trying to be antagonistic with you just because we have different political views i am generally interested in your viewpoint. Do you think all the suffering was worth what we've got. When are Sinn Fein going to unravel your unification master plan or your leaders to busy entertaining British heads of state, calling people traitors etc

  9. MichaelHenry

    Staff Reporter-not one person in charge of the Irish news wanted their name connected to such lies -

    Like yourself. You told lies to a reporter the other week about comments you printed here on sucide (aswell as other pieces you have posted on the net)....Then claimed it wasn't you but someone else....

    Stop being holier than thou...

  10. The Provo councillor and Asda off-licence regular Michael McIvor yet again gives us his usual mixture of whiskey and nonsense.

    to 'complain' about Patsy Gillespie being strapped into his van in what is now seen as the work of an agent or agents, is 'a anti war statement' while the "Pipe bomb placed behind Derry bus drivers seat " 'was a anti war event...'

    It's like trying to unravel fishing line ffs...

    To be honest every time I come on this blog and see this crap I know the shinners are so desperate to rid themselves of the likes of Leo Green and eventually others with a past connection to the war that they'd hold on to any idiot...

  11. I have read a number of comments about proxy bombs but I know when at school when some of the PIRA attacks happened those at school who I knew supported the PIRA were very happy. I can't think of a dissenting Republican voice. However, my unionist friends thought and think now that it was sheer barbarism. I had unionist friends as a teenager but although we rarely talked politics their views wouldn't have been far removed from the average SDLP voter regarding proxy bombs. So proxy bombs weren't like some attacks which SDLP supporters would have silently applauded.

    It seemed macabre to me and perhaps the kids at school were too naive but they seemed intelligent and mature enough, at voting age. I was thinking about this and today the condemnation is clearer but perhaps this is because the old-style victims of proxy bombs were people who were considered targets for killing anyway. They tended to be staff at barracks or RUC stations for example.

    Today the proxy bomb carriers are non-involved random people and the use of such risk with innocent lives, politics apart, understandably raises more anger than the earlier type.

    By the way there are too many anecdotal accounts and vocal victims to suggest some IRA members didn't take advantage of their position to abuse people sexually or carry out other crime. It is a despicable side of human character which involves abuse of power, nepotism, favoritism and corruption. At least there are many more who speak out like Gerry Bradley and others who can't go public for obvious reasons and Anthony carried a few blogs on the subject also.

    Burying heads in the sand is not an answer and to suggest it never happened at all, ever, is obviously fantasy. No organisation or group can be immune from the scourge of sex abuse. It's what is done to prevent it and what is done to rectify it what matters.

  12. Good point frankie in regards to

    MichaelHenry aka McIvor's comment...

    "Staff Reporter-not one person in charge of the Irish news wanted their name connected to such lies -"

    Frankie's right councilor McIvor, you denied being you for fuck's sake because you didn't want to be connected to your own outrageous views.

    I'd call you spineless in that regard.


  13. At a time when Republicans could be using this same technology offensively and exploiting the myriad triggering and monitoring opportunities afforded by wifi

    They (PFR) don't need to use triggering devices or other. The don't need bombs. All they need is a good 'coder' and simply crash systems. In a few weeks time Micro-soft are stopping all security patches, updates etc for XP. That means no matter how up to date your AV is any virus's etc released after the cut of date will get through the system. And Bad Biily Boy Gates wont help you....

    The NHS are on XP, at lot of ATM's need to updated...and a lot of buisnesses...

  14. G
    A thought provoking piece which is a compliment in my eyes.... not sure about the extinction of Irish republicanism as some could argue it already has although that is just arguing about the purity of will exist in many varying forms as long as the British we need bombers? Past experience would tell us no but our hearts would say yes....deep down our hatred rears its ugly head to mislead us from time to time....controlling that is the real crux.

  15. Frankie -

    No problem with what you are saying about myself but have you got anything to say About the Irish news who had a go at AM over using a different name yet they use
    A different name for some of there reports-like when they use Staff reporter-I write comments under my own name tag because they are just my own views-I could not care less who you are or what you do-so why treat me any different-

  16. Dixie,
    I've been reading this blog for yrs and 'it'sjust' was the first person I read who joined the dot's between MichaelHenry & Michael McIvor SF. And at first I couldn't understand some of the things he wrote, they simply made no sense (not to me). And when I asked him to clear up a few things, I would understand even less. Then one day Fionnula said something like "Frankie, you are wasting your time...". So I stopped asking. But I kept reading his ( MichaelHenry) post's and shaking my head in dis-belief at his points of view on lots of things.

    Then ex prisioners like yourself would say "Micky, I just didn't wear the T-shirt like you. I helped make it. I did X, Y & Z + A, B & C. I was there when it happend, so I think I ought to know.What did you do again?" And Michael being Michael went off on a tangent about something or simply went AWOL and re-appeared on other blogs without answering the question.

    Shortly after Christmas I read the piece you wrote about a Sinn Fein Councillor Refers to Victims of Suicide as death wanters. And the piece by Michael McGlade . I asked here several times " Michael, are you one and the same?" No answer. And then Anthony said "Frankie, read this and make your own mind up". So I emailed the Argo piece to Michael McGlade. And he emailed me back saying "Thanks"..

  17. Michael,
    Why did you lie to Michael McGlade and to people who vote for you or potential voters? Posters on TPQ...?

    While you are thinking about a reply read this.

  18. Republican evolution is an interesting header. In some respects militant dissidents mimic a specialty species limiting them to a narrow environment.
    In political terms it is a dead end.
    Where if we look at SF they managed to adapt by breaking away from that which limited their aims and now are a very successful generalists.

    Although their method or I should state the leadership method was/is highly questionable and to this day we can only guess at its true nature but there are things we can be certain of.
    The leadership was content to be in the role of propagandists happily feeding the people with the Armalite and ballot box diet. The ordinary volunteer would have been none the wiser until after the fact.

    By then it would make no difference SFs leadership with the ingenuity of outside influence grooming them for their new role as peacemakers was a done deal.

    As much as I dislike SF it was that coerced adaption that made them a successful party in order for the rouse to work successfully all they had to do was sell the idea that the Provisional’s remained undefeated and the path to a UI was now possible but only through the ballot box.

    Militant dissidents would do well to study the form and look at the advantages adaption can bring. If they continue to believe in the pipe dream that they can and will outfox the fox they will find themselves like most specialty species in an ever decreasing environment one that the Brits will continue to exploit until there is nothing left to exploit.

    Adapting to the political arena is neither surrender nor an issue of denying national sovereignty it is the only concrete way for dissenters to survive and be heard.

  19. There has being a lot of creditable talk within the republican community recently about anti agreement republicans entering the political arena something I wouldn't be opposed to.The sticking point would obviously be the pows on both sides of the border there input would be essential but I doubt either governments would entertain talks of release.

  20. Sean Smith,

    I don’t think there would be great reluctance on the part of the British or Irish governments regarding the release of all prisoners.
    The greater question would be when or if there is a willingness for militants to decide if they are ready to discuss a permanent ceasefire.

    The release of all prisoners would have to be high on the agenda. It would be in the interests of both governments.
    It would not be a popular agreement as talks with militants would probably be opposed by unionists as it suits their position having a militant dissident threat one they exploit for their own political gain.

    A permanent ceasefire would at least throw a spanner into the political workings and would provide the opportunity for political dissenter growth.

  21. Tain bo ,
    I disagree I don' think the release of the is realistic even if there is a ceasefire. Couple of reasons why I think this first, I think British intelligence actively encourages armed republicans in the current form, they can portray them as the bogeyman, the Emmanuel Goldstein, they can manipulate for all sorts of political agendas. Secondly I just don't think armed republicanism has put the British government under anywhere near enough pressure for them to give any concessions.

  22. I don't see what would cause the Brits to release the prisoners whether armed activity stops or not. The British State is under no serious pressure to alter course from armed activity so the threat of continuing it in order to have prisoners released is not going to make a real difference. At the same time stopping armed activity is not going to get the prisoners out either.

    The Brits will think that by releasing prisoners they are sending encouraging signals to anyone who might want to take up arms.

    I think the prisoners' situation is dire. Armed activity is enough to put them in but not enough to get them out. Where will the leverage come from?

  23. Some intresting taughts on the pow issue.i just beleive if talks did began this would be a big talking point and probably an issue that could end talks before they got off the ground

  24. As I have pointed out in another thread,it made sense for the British strategy in the North to release the prior POW’s , because the bigger prize of PIRA’s final deliverance was within their reach (and with that, they hoped, Republicanism). Contrasting then with now,it is more suitable for the British that the prisoners be kept there to serve as a warning against any strategic reassessment of armed Republicanism, and to keep Sinn Fein as the sole vessel of (acceptable) Republicanism.
    The GFA will probably come to be seen as the keystone piece of the Ulsterisation, Criminalisation,Normalisation policy started decades before, as such it’s no longer in anyone’s interest (Brits/SF) to release these prisoners regardless of what their parent organisations do. I hope I’m wrong on this one.

  25. David Higgins,

    you have a very valid disagreement as does Anthony and DiaithiD perhaps I am overly optimistic on what only can be described as staged management.
    It is apparent that the north without doubt needs the controlled militant’s that however does not apply to the south.
    What essentially is the north’s problem becomes the south’s burden. I doubt the Irish government wants the expense of tracking and investigating militants.

    If the Irish government were to enter into talks with the militants they would have some leverage more so if they publically announce a willingness to negotiate.
    The British government would have no choice but to negotiate otherwise how could they explain away the chance to bring the militants into a permanent peace?

    I agree the British need the militants in order to justify their inroads to a quasi police state and to keep MI5 in business.
    It is hypothetical but approaching the Irish government has a fairer potential as they don’t have the same need the British do to hold on to the “militant threat.”

    I am not sure we can ask the militants on one hand to consider peace and then on the other tell them neither government wants to entertain the thought of negotiations.

    It is perplexing but then again so is being held in a permanent stage of controlled “armed action” on that level I don’t see support for militancy dwindling if anything it will increase and the Brits may have a leash on it now but that could backfire as militant loyal-ism seems to be stirring.

    Entering into talks with the Irish government is not out of the question. Without doubt the British can afford to play chase the militants but if the ordinary Irish tax payer is paying for what is essentially a British problem I don’t think they would be too happy with their government.

    As I said it is hypothetical but realistic otherwise the same argument will be played out years after most of us are gone.

  26. Tain bo,
    Thanks for replying. Don't get me wrong anything that can secure the release of p.o.w.s warrants investigation. It's just we are in a situation were anti-g.f.a republicans, both pro-arms and anti are of no consequence to the British machine, hopefully in time this will change, but just now that's the reality.
    I often despair about republicanism to be honest, the only plus point is the articulation and intelligent output of yourself, AM, and others and there is the hope that even if this doesn't inspire this generations opposition to the status quo, then at least with the arguments raised you'll have given information and debate that could lead to some form of republican future.

  27. I think all Republicans need to look at how more and more the Shinners are coming to accept not only the state but the fact that SF must tow the line in regards to welfare cuts etc.

    We don't see it here nor on Facebook because we only come across one mindless idiot who lives in even a complete different world from his co-Adamsites.

    The fact is, that attitude is out there among them and they believe that this passive compliance must continue until the time comes when people see the need for a border poll.

    Leaving aside the absurdity of this thinking it's clear that these opinions are seeping down through the layers from above. As it usually does.

    Do those now embarking on the route of the ballot box and armilite not realise that somewhere down the road this fate awaits them unless they alter course?

    One question. Why on the run up to the local elections aren't these candidates, their parties and supporters talking about getting a unified march off the ground on the lines of last years anti-internment march... Only this time against Welfare Cuts and those who hide in wait with the knifes?

    I'd say this would send alarm bells ringing in Downing Street and Stormont...Wouldn't you?

  28. From Dee Fennell

    Dixie, its a fair point. Im going to answer both as someone who organised the march you speak of (with others) and as a candidate.

    Id be well up for organising a march against Welfare Cuts, and would be willing to work with ANYONE to help organise such a march. And i mean anyone, because to make a march such as that successful it would have to be supported by as broad a base as possible. From political activists, to housing activists, youth organisations, training organisations and trade unions.

    But there would be problems. First off, for whatever reasons the people that are to the forefront of anti austerity across Europe (trade unions) and indeed the globe have done very, very little by way of campaigning here in Ireland, north or south. There was a recent housing rights march in North Belfast and not one trade union bothered to attend, though Peter Bunting and the ICTU were able to organise a "peace rally" that very same week at City Hall with banners galore. I have no doubt, that should I, or any other Republican candidate, take the lead in organising such a march then they would be reticent to support it.

    Secondly, while in the Basque Country and other countries, youth and community organisations are amongst the most progressive and radical forces in society - here in the Six Counties the vast, vast majority are afraid to rock the boat or stand up to the establishment. Why? Because if they do the funding will be stopped. A good example is how Sinn Fein have effectively abandoned the Irish Language movement in the Six Counties, brcause Pobal, Forbairt Feirste etc were highlighting their inadequacies in government and their failure to deliver on their promise on an Irish Language Act. Add to that the enormous cuts to youth organisations in both the voluntary and community sector (i was made redundant myself due to these, despite tripling our qualitative and quantitive targets, thanks Edwin Poots) and most are effectively over a barrel.

    I can only speak for myself, but in my local area i have organised a number of information evenings on Welfare Cuts. This has involved agencies involved in the North Belfast Advice Partnership, that imcludes welfare rights services based in six centres across North Belfast. We produce and deliver a newssheet every month that goes to 3000 homes, information and advice on upcoming cuts has been featured in nearly every issue. I deal with people facing hearings, appeals, etc to their benefits several times a week. And i know others do the same.

    I could probably do more, if i had been allowed onto a course several months ago on Welfare Rights that was being run by a West Belfast ex prisoners group, but despite being told on handing in my application that there were loads of vacant spaces, i recieved a letter telling me there was "no place available" for me.

    And as someone who worked with a variety of groups, each of whom have sensitivities etc, with regards to the Anti Internment Parade, i can tell you that it is a very fine balancing act at times. I can only imagine how hard it would be to co ordinate such an event in the mouth of an election, regarding logistics on the day, banners, speakers, etc. But i would certainly be up for the challenge, and people know how and where to get me if thwy want to get the ball rolling.

  29. Dee If you are running the information evenings and people are getting the right advice I doubt not getting on that course will be an obstacle to you. There is a great silence around these welfare cuts and they're affecting everybody. It's my opinion, that the reason there is no organised push against them isn't down to rocking the boat but down to local representatives/councils etc making them unworkable from within. I'm not sure if you saw benefits Britain during the week, it was on channel 4 just before benefits street? In it you can see how Glasgow city council are reclassifying spare rooms to get around the Bedroom Tax, and are buying up smaller one and two person units rather than build more larger family homes. Things like that are going on, but here imo what is happening is that a package will be unveiled just before the elections to try to quell peoples fears over this bill, and then it will be introduced.
    On Nolans tv show on Wed night there was a head to head with Sammy Wilson and Alex Maskey. Don't know if you saw it but there is to be a package of 600 million pound for those whose PIP has been turned down. This money is for a private doctor for you to get a different opinion and help fight your case with Capita in order to get your benefit back. That is a huge concession from the regime here if it comes about.
    Its the same with the bed room tax, it will be delayed here for 4 years, and will only be applied now for new people coming on to the system. That is also a good break for those that need it.
    I believe by March/April Sinn Fein will sign up for the 'bill' and say that they held back and got the sting taken out of it, and reassure their support base that this is a good deal. This won't go against them opposing the cuts in the south either, they will be able to say they did good in getting this deal, and tbh it would be a good deal, better than anywhere else in Britain, and that will be their rallying cry for both their activists to get on board with this bill and their voters. It's a clever move.
    The smaller independents would be well advised to concentrate on the 'sanctions' part of this bill, and the hidden nastiness in the universal credit.
    There are some good internet sites on welfare reform, and those against it. The black triangle and the WOW (war on welfare campaign) but especially the site benefits and work. Theres another site called mum vs austerity which will outline for you how the self employed will be affected by these changes, you'd be surprised, but it looks to me they will get the worst deal of all. Check out those sites, and the programmes I mentioned and I'm sure they will help you get to grips with it. The benefits and work site runs courses too.


  30. David Higgins,

    I don’t think anti-treaty-republicans should be sitting around composing our swan song just yet.
    The main thing is being disorganised and the apparent lack of unity though we are still in existence.
    The military approach is a failure and as time marches on it appears to be for the Brits amusement only.

    The alternative is simply to head back to grass roots and build at a local community level.
    I have spoken with several younger people and they surpass me in their political awareness but feel like republicanisms are circling their own wagons attacking itself.

    If I recall the 70s like most my first introduction to political thought was here is a halfer or stone and throw it at those bastards in green.
    Today’s youth are more sophisticated and definitely more politically astute.
    Which could be one reason the Brits encourage the militant camps as they prefer to lock up political minds.

    The best approach for the youth is to study what worked and what failed. If we removed the militant threat that would certainly disrupt the British machine and eliminate much of its control.
    That is not to say MI5 and the dirty tricks department would be out of business.
    The spooks and snoops will continue on.

    You don’t have to be a militant to get their attention any anti treaty dissenter will always be on their books and the internet is one of their favourite places to gather information effortlessly.

    In some respects it is the same old argument as during the conflict there were many republicans against it and I am not talking about Gerry’s, sneaking in under the radar brigade.

    I doubt we should curl up and fade into obscurity there is always room for political debate and advancement from local issues to the prisoner’s issue.
    For now a challenge to SF is needed as they alone should not be able to dictate republicanism or more appropriately “British republicanism.”

  31. thought this article was on the money big time, fair play to you g o cathasaigh, shame so many comments have to revolve around a net provocateur who is really fuc*king annoying me now