Pádraic Mac Coitir, a longtime republican activist and former prisoner, views what is happening with ETA as a victory for counter insurgency strategy.
We all have an opinion on armed struggle, whether it be here in Ireland, Palestine, Sri Lanka or Euskadi (The Basque Country). The common denominator between the struggles that took place in those countries, and many more was the desire for National Liberation. I would argue they were/are noble struggles and the people had the right to take up arms.
Of course armed struggles and wars must come to an end some day and in many cases negotiations between the warring factions were initiated. However, the situation in Sri Lanka was different in that the Tamil Tigers were almost wiped out by the Sri Lankan government which was supported by many countries that continue to oppress others throughout the world. The Palestinian struggle continues with no sign of an end to it. The Zionists have no interest in sitting down with anyone bar the collaborators in the PA.
Tomorrow ETA decommission the last of their weapons and that will be the end of them. Many in that organisation were heavily influenced by Sinn Féin and indeed the ending of their struggle is very similar to what happened here with the final act of surrender by the IRA in July 2005. What has ETA achieved? Of course I don't know what is going on behind the scenes but if they had have looked closely at our situation they would have seen that SF and the IRA have got nothing from a long drawn out armed struggle. There are approximately 400 political Basque prisoners still in gaol, most of them scattered hundreds of miles from their homeland. The Spanish government wants to humiliate ETA and while that is happening they will drip feed some concessions.
Yesterday I listened to a client called Pádraig O'Malley on BBC radio talk about resolutions to conflicts. His voice went through me. And bad as that was, he sounded very patronising. He went on about how 'old foes' eventually came around to respecting each other.
I would argue that in recent conflicts the only ones to benefit were the oppressors. I'm not being judgemental about other struggles but I have an opinion and I despair at times when I see members of SF and Brit spooks try to lecture others and claim our struggle is a template for others. It's a template for defeat.