No Firing Squads Or Suffering For The Sinn Fein Of 2016

William Johnstone with his own personal take on the Easter Rising centenary. William Johnstone is a Ballymoney unionist with an interest in history and politics.

As we quickly approach the centenary of the 1916 Rising, it's worth wondering if the leaders of the rebellion imagined, as they awaited their appointment with the firing squad, if in a hundred years time the 32 county Republic would be a reality.

Maybe not. After all, they went to their deaths at the end of a rising that had only lasted a few days and didn't really come to fruition outside Dublin.

What about those who died during the War of Independence? By then the tide had turned, especially after the formation of the Second Dail. Sinn Fein had swept the boards and the IRA had changed tactics. The new type of guerrilla warfare was confounding and demoralising the Security Forces and Parliament. Those who died during the "Tan War" had every reason to believe that victory was in sight. The Republic proclaimed by Pearse was within grasp.

A hundred years later, there is no Republic. In fact, it's much the same today as it was the day the Treaty was ratified.

This post is not designed to gloat about the failure of Republicans to deliver a 32 County Republic. It's about looking at the reasons for that failure. Wondering what, from a Republican perspective, went wrong.

The historical finger of blame for the failure of the original IRA to achieve the Republic is always pointed at Michael Collins and the delegation he and Griffith led, the signatories of the Treaty. The treaty accepted much less than the Republic but arguably did give Republicans the freedom to achieve freedom as Collins asserted. Pragmatism led the delegation to regard three quarters of a loaf as better than no bread at all so they accepted self government of 26 of the 32 counties in a Free State.

The dissenters, led by the disingenuous de Valera, objected supposedly on the grounds that the Treaty was a sell out (and many saw it as that) but de Valera seems to have been more offended and enraged by the fact that the Treaty had been signed without consulting him first. Ok, that doesn't cover all the issues but many commentators agree the Dev's ego was bigger than any other issue of the day. Others like Brugha, Boland, Lynch etc were different. They had deep set objections and violently opposed the Treaty, leading to the Civil War which arguably still boils beneath the surface in Eire.

The IRA never really went away but it never really garnered the support it needed from the early 20s until the late 60s. Suppressed in the South by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael at every opportunity (despite de Valera's earlier posturing) it was dealt with by uncompromising vehemence in Northern Ireland. Yet that thread of continuity ran unbroken from the end of the Civil War until the outbreak of the euphemistically labelled "Troubles".

The current Sinn Fein leadership has gone the way of Collins, De Valera and, latterly, those who went on to become the Workers Party. They have become engrained in the system; they are now part of the thing they once painted as a monster. Collins was said to have been bowled over by the wonders of Westminster. He led the Free State into being and his successors were almost passionately opposed to former comrades and pursued them with breathtaking enthusiasm. De Valera was no different. After abandoning Republicanism, he was singularly ruthless in dealing with old friends. The Officials were hardly behind the door when it came to settling scores and venting their wrath.

There is an interesting video clip available on YouTube featuring interviews with aged members of the Old IRA. They recount thoughts and experiences which I found interesting. Then, to my shock, up pops Danny Morrison! And there's the boul Danny castigating his predecessors for their failure to deliver the Republic! The same Danny Morrison who was part of the leadership that failed to win the Republic. The same Danny Morrison who famously coined the phrase "armalite and ballot box" only he traded the AK rifle for an HB pencil. He would be a confidante of Gerry Adams whose shame at his past is so great, he can't even bring himself to say he was in the IRA! Also in this clique is Martin McGuiness who, as the soon-to-be founders of Republican Sinn Fein left the Ard Fheis, shouted that they should stay and they (the Adams leadership) would lead them to the Republic.

Easter 2016 will come and go and there is no Republic. Sinn Fein is working every day to keep a partitionist settlement in place. They are thus preventing Irish unity, depending instead on a change of heart on the part of Unionists who, in reality, have no intention of changing their minds on that issue.

No firing squads or suffering for the Sinn Fein of 2016. Just respectability, money and the trappings of power with the Republic reduced to being part of a cheap electioneering campaign to keep them in the place they want to be.

Ah well, there's always 2116 .........


  1. I think many of us realised this long ago. We may not have articulated it very well but the feeling and understanding of it is there. We were discussing the events in west Belfast leading up to today and feel that the events, especially the disgraceful goings on around the mural, over shadowed family life and led to Easter being suppressed by Sinn Fein led propaganda for the election. The upsetting images of the Nugent mural dumped, and a community pushed to the point of civil disobedience over a mural they didn't want but forced upon them by a party that would fit right in to North Korea. We didn't go to the Parade to watch the Sinn Fein spectacle, instead we chose a family day, stayed home and had a traditional Easter sans pomp and ceremony from Sinn Fein led parade stuffed full of adults in dressing up clothes.

    I think the last paragraph of this piece sums things up. Today has left us with a dead feeling inside about the centenary, not by any show in the republic, but the tightening of the grip on this community by Sinn Fein. Every pole dominated by election posters that put party before people. Republicanism used to further the aims of Sinn Fein that handed welfare to the tories while the MLA posts pictures of him in Australia giving talks on the rising forgetting the aims of its leaders by handing the welfare of their own constituents to the British tories...laughable really.

    Easter Sunday evening is quite pleasant in Belfast as long as you shut the window to drown out the noise of the chopper.

  2. History repeating itself. I can not get over the similarities between De Valera and Adams, disingenuous indeed.
    "They have become engrained in the system; they are now part of the thing they once painted as a monster"

  3. I don't think De Valera would be happy with that comparison
    Adams seen the mistakes of the past, and then goes off
    and strengthens partition, worst of all some people still
    buy this shit under the guise "his"strategy.

  4. And so the story goes ... here's a link to a poem by the President of √Čire about betrayal.

    Oh Father why are you so sad on this bright Easter morn, how are ya!