It's long past time to call a spade a spade. Basically, I blamed a previous leadership for diverting the struggle away from Republican objectives for short term political gain. It seemed to me that personal ambitions had replaced any desire to contemplate a political course based on traditional principles of opposition and non-conformity. What materialised was a compromise of historical proportion that objectively positioned Irish Republicanism on the side of British rule. Hence a proud revolutionary movement was ideologically castrated and, effectively, neutralised.
During the course of the past twenty years, Republicans have had to swallow many bitter pills as they witnessed one climb down after another. Outward signs if this behaviour have been evidenced by Royal handshakes; attendance at British ruling class banquets; the courting of American influence and, more recently, extending the hand of friendship to the modern day descendants of the counter- revolutionary Blueshirts. A record as cynical as it is shameful.
But to get to the point of this criticism. For too long, I have been willing to give the ordinary members of Sinn Fein the benefit of doubt. Naively, I had been holding out the prospect that with each new departure from tradition something within their collective consciousness would awaken them to the long term dangers of Sinn Fein political strategy. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew this to be a furlong hope. For leaders must ultimately rely on the compliance and unquestioning loyalty of their flock. A good Shepard knows that his sheep will always follow him, even over the edge of the precipice
And so, to learn that the membership of Sinn Fein welcomed Leo Varadkar to the heart of West Belfast with raucous applause came as no surprise. Are we in the grip of collective amnesia after more than 40 years? Do we forget what this man's party stood for since the time of Partition? Fine Gael was, and continues to be, the party of conservative, capitalist Ireland.
Under Eoin O'Duffy the Blueshirts represented a proto-fascistic ideology of the Catholic middle class. It's conception of Republicanism was both confessional and right wing. Indeed, and this the greatest irony, it sent young men off to Europe to overthrow the government of the Spanish Republic, whilst other young Irishmen fought and died to uphold it.
Fine Gael, with the support of it's Tweedledum counterpart, Fianna Fail, is driving forward the neoliberal program of austerity dictated to it by the European troika. Consequently, the effects of austerity have been very damming in terms of the economic wellbeing of the working class; sections of the middle class have suffered also. Parties in government, whoever they may be, do not have a choice other than to administer this shock treatment to the economy. Indeed, the one country that did try to resist, Greece, was bullied into submission even though under a left-wing government.
Finally, I have a question to ask of those who clapped like performing seals for our own brand of Irish conservatism: Are they unable to grasp to where this must all lead to in the future? If so, I have a piece of advice for them free of charge. They would do well to ponder the fate of several parties that provided support for either one of the big two in past coalitions: Labour, Progressive Democrats, Democratic Left. For it will be too late to complain whenever the big boys wipe the shite of their shoes on you as they walk through the door.
As for a reconversion to any expression of radical Irish Republicanism. Well now! I have given up on that idea, for sure.