Up Blind Alleys

Former H Block blanketman, Thomas Dixie Elliot, addresses the "no alternative" mantra.

Countless times I've had Sinn Féiners demanding to know what was my alternative to the constant failures which Sinn Féin hides behind a 22 year old peace process.

Something now so old it is constantly crying out to Westminster and The US for the equivalent of Botox injections.

Being as it mostly occurs on Twitter where few words are allowed I drew this up as a means to showing them that the hypocrisy of their leadership cost countless lives in the past. Many brave young men and women believed in what they said then at the cost of their own lives and freedom.

The alternative was always there but Adams has since proven that the time was not right for himself and others like McGuinness to take that road because they had to firstly lead the Movement up blind alleys to get to where they are today.

And today they sit where Fitt and the SDLP were sitting in 1973, in the Stormont Executive, Fitt being Deputy Chief Executive to Brian Faulkner's Chief Executive. Quite simply no different to Deputy First Minister and First Minister.

In fact I asked Declan Kearney on Twitter, a while back, to explain how the Peace People were wrong in 1976 and Sinn Féin are right today and he blocked me rather than answer which tells it how it is.


  1. Was it not clear to members of the IRA through the '80s, that the organisation was not growing and had no prospect of a military victory unless it grew much larger? Were members aware of the overall size of the IRA? If they were, they must have seen the logic that they had no prospect of a significant military achievement.
    The Libyan arms came in and, apart from semtex for bombs, appear not to have been used. Did members of the IRA not expect that this huge weapons cache would arm a Tet type offensive or a grasp for territory or some such guerrilla effort? Did they not ask why this was not done? Did they not wonder why the IRA was not fighting a guerrilla war at all but was content with spectaculars? Surely it was obvious that this was not really a war at all.

  2. Apologies for accidentally using the moniker "admin' which I had set up for a different site nad which has carried over to this.

    Malachi O'Doherty

  3. Dixie

    sadly your contribution can't be considered a decent rebuttal to the argument that the 'war' had become stalemated.

    In fact it seems that given the now widely accepted level of penetration achieved by the security services into both Loyalist and Republican paramilitary organisations that even the idea of a stalemated situation, as roguishly promulgated by the British military, was also facetious.

    Counter insurgency in the modern era, especially in Europe, requires a minimisation of the volumes of blood spilt on all sides. The Brits, many might argue, skilfully achieved this in their orchestrations.
    That some former'terrorists' get to become Statesmen and that some get left out in the cold is the way of the world. And as all mature and intelligent people ought know the way of the world is not always fair!

    Time to work through it Dixie or at least set out a workable alternative strategy for achievement of what many now consider an improbable or an unimportant, in the daily and mundane scheme of things, goal.

  4. Completely agree with what you have to say. I'm kinda curious myself though, at what point did you and other blanketmen realize the penny had dropped in regards to the direction the IRA and SF were going to pursue? Of course, it's easy to see now that the documents from the early 1970s right until the 1980s have been released give us all a concise picture over what direction they were heading, but when did it start to click on for people like you in the movement over what was really going on? Passing through the graves in Milton Cemetery, the idea that so many men and women with their lives ahead of them were used as cannon fodder by a movement controlled by psychopathic leaders is a very disturbing thought indeed. Now nearly 20 years into smokescreen politics though, I think the penny is beginning to drop for many people living in key SF-dominated areas (I live in West Belfast btw) if the electoral decline in support is anything to go by. Many ordinary folk otherwise sheep followers of SF I think are coming around to the reality of who they have been voting for all these years and they are starting to catch up with men like you. Just hang in there.

  5. Dixie, I sympathise with your grief over the losses of so many, including the 'brave young men and women' of the IRA, without victory for the latter's cause.

    And I appreciate your frustration with SF in their 'no alternative' response. However, they are correct in that. A great pity they took so long in recognising the fact, but there it is. They came to see Gerry's former 'bitter end, come what may' dogma was the road to disaster for all, and for the IRA in particular. Are you suggesting it ought to have been followed??? Or are you just highlighting SF's hypocrisy in secretly bowing to the fact, while they spun a 'victory' line?

  6. Malachi asks some interesting questions, can any former members offer their thoughts?

  7. I think Dixie wants to SF to open up about their shady past and acknowledge the deep betrayal felt by former comrades and the lies deeply embedded within the party. It is just wrong to continue to vote for a party with corrupt values and an ethos completely alien to the party that once was. That's not to say that violence should continue or even that it was worth it, but to acknowledge SFs role in perpetuating a conflict that senior figures knew they couldn't win (at the expense of now hundreds of dead men and women) and destroy this myth that people like Gerry Adams should be seen as "peacemakers" when they rejected a settlement that was already very smiliar to the one on offer in 1973/4 (which senior figures in SF rejected) before agreeing to the GFA in 1998. Fact is, SF need to build a solid base of electoral support and prolonging the war proved to be advantageous to them in doing so. By the early 1990s, they now wanted to "distance" SF from the IRA as slowly their electoral prospects were finally being met. That is not a philosophy of any kind of "peacemaker" but one of a manipulative psychopath.

  8. I don't know if you missed the part of my piece'The alternative was always there' and that's the point I was making. When I hear McGuinness prattle on about being Chief Negotiator in regards to the GFA it turns my stomach because what they accepted was not only contained in the Sunningdale Agreement but came as a better Agreement back then. So what the hell did they negotiate?

    Adams admits now he was involved in the peace process from at least 1987, he stated this while under cross examination by Eilis McDermott during his brother's 1st trial. Yet he and McGuinness continued to encourage war instead of trying to convince the IRA rank and file the war could not be won and that he was seeking an alternative to it. How many wasted lives did this subterfuge cost?

    The fact is people on all sides were dying needlessly as Adams went about buying the time he and McGuinness needed to undermine the IRA. All the while they remained the safest Republicans in Ireland. The British clearly never wanted to put McGuinness in jail throughout the conflict and they saved Adams' life when the UDA were going to attach a limpet mine to the roof of his armoured car in May 1987, the same month as Loughgall; see the De Silva Report, the same year he admits to having been involved in peace process work. In fact the same year his niece went to the RUC with something which could have seriously been damaging to Adams and the Movement, the fact that her father, his brother had raped her.

    Furthermore, Confidential documents released on 30th December 2008 from the British state archives show that the IRA leadership proposed a ceasefire and peace talks to the British government in 1978. And state documents from the South dated 15th February 1977 say that the IRA had made a similar offer to the British around Christmas 1976. These offers were rejected by the British who believed the IRA weren't serious.

    However that tells us the IRA leadership knew that the War was unwinnable while we languished on the Blanket Protest and 10 Brave Men eventually died. Why didn't that leadership tell Bobby and his comrades they didn't believe that the war was winnable and dying on Hunger Strike would only be a waste of their lives?

    In all honesty do you believe I'd want a continuation of armed struggle, especially knowing that now?

  9. Dixie

    I now see you meant the alternative of negotiating the peace, which SF eventually did. I thought you meant the other alternative - the war to the bitter end, as Gerry once espoused - to be the one they should have taken. I apologise for misreading you. Good to read your piece in that light!

  10. Thanks Dixie, but I dont think trying to better Sunningdales terms should be a criticism, isnt it only with hindsight it appears an error? There was many flaws the IRA of that period so it might of been reasonable to presume with some changes (Northern Command,polticisation of vols,cell structures...etc) the future might favour the IRA more? Plus its hard to reconcile resposibility La Mons with pursuing a peace of sorts, so maybe Adams is lying (as usual)?
    Additionally, the concept of what constituted a 'win' evolved through the years too, for example 'the long war' concept replaced the 'year of victory' type expressions from 72 onwards, so what they thought and when has to be more complex than assuming they could possibly know it was unwinnable.

  11. Daithi, the basis of his argument is that countless of volunteers, men and women with their lives ahead of them, were used as cannon fodder and betrayed in the most evil and callous way by senior figures within the Republican movement. With the undeniable public knowledge now that the IRA (and by extension SF) were heavily infiltrated by informers leads us to the conclusion that the British administration sought to "neutralize" the IRA from within to bring them to the table and lead them to where they are today.

  12. P SI, at some stage they were cannon fodder if you like (I just think the period is narrower than above), certainly after the 94 ceasefire broke what vols were fighting for was ill defined, and no lives should of been taken if it wasnt a liberation struggle.In general, I subscribe to Anthony McIntyres characterisation of the leadership being assets rather than agents.

  13. Ps for clarity, by leadership I mean Adams and MMG