The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Irlande du Nord: Interview With Anthony McIntyre

André Poulin • À Babord! (Revue sociale et politique), Québec, 2006


Q: It been a long march to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. When was it clear for the Republican movement that it could not win the war and had to move toward a political solution to end the conflict?

A: Anecdotal evidence suggests that Gerry Adams had plans for an unarmed strategy in 1982. Some in the Republican Movement today still don't believe they lost the war. The acceptance of the departure has been uneven.

Q: Since the hunger strike, Sinn Fein and the IRA have embarked on a new strategy, "the Armalite and Ballot Box". Now that the Armalites are gone, can the ballot box strategy work, since it is clear that the British government, the Protestants and the Irish government are not ready to work with Sinn Fein?

A: The ballot box strategy can never unite Ireland. But it can help SF expand and it can produce communal goods for the constituency SF represents.

Q: Was the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) welcomed by all Republicans?

A: By the bulk, but not them all.

Q: Bernadette Sands-McKevitt, sister of Bobby Sands, said about the GFA that her 'brother did not die for that.' What was the POW position on the GFA?

A: The POW position on the GFA was to follow the leadership. Many POWs would have acquiesced for pragmatic reasons as it substantially reduced their time in prison.

Q: What was your position on the GFA?

A: I was resolutely opposed to it. It was a celebration of everything we had opposed. I could accept defeat but not a defeat tarted up as something else.

Q: Has people's perception of the GFA changed over the time?

A: It is not as popular as it once was. In the past year it has left Sinn Fein looking weak and directionless

Q: The GFA, or the Belfast agreement, as the Protestants call it, is presented in some Republican circles as a step toward United Ireland. What can it offer to the Protestant people in the long term?

A: It offered nothing of the sort to republicans. The Sinn Fein leadership put that spin on it for internal management purposes. It offers the unionists exactly what they were offered in 1974 — NI will remain in existence until a majority within NI decide otherwise.

Q: Gerry Adams has declared that United Ireland could be achieved by 2016 (100th anniversary of the Easter Rising). What is your thought on that?

A: Same as my thoughts on his denials that he was ever a member of the IRA. Absolute nonsense.

Q: What do you think about the claim that demographic trend favouring Catholics will bring united Ireland?

A: It will not. While virtually all nationalists are Catholic, not all Catholics are nationalists. A substantial minority seem prepared to maintain the union. Virtually all Protestants are unionists and with the level of Catholic support for the union it will be sufficient to maintain the union for quite some time to come.

Q: Eight years after the GFA, sectarian violence is still present. Have things really changed?

A: The GFA could never ease sectarianism but things are improved. We have a cold war or a war of position rather than a war of manoeuvre, to borrow Gramscian concepts.

Q: With the outing of Scappaticci and Donaldson (and now his murder), how can the leaders of Sinn Fein pretend that they were always in control of the peace process?

A: It is an interesting question as it takes us to the heart of the peace process. But, as is implicit in the question, there were more than them involved in directing the peace process. One possible reason for the SF leaders claiming that Denis Donaldson did not reveal anything to them about his time working for the British is that the same leaders do not want the grassroots to know just how in control of the peace process the British were.

Q: Can we now say that they have been manipulated by the British?

A: It seems a foregone conclusion that the British and Sinn Fein were singing from the same hymn sheet. The problem for SF is that the hymn they sing is a very British one.

Q: Is the political solution adopted by Sinn Fein in line with the tradition of the Republic movement?

A: Not at all. It is the movement learning to love what it once hated. It is a major departure from the tradition of the Republican Movement. There is nothing in its history that would lend legitimacy to its current actions.

Q: There always have been dissidence in the Republican movement; the numerous splits over the years are a good indication of that. Since the GFA, however, dissidence does not seem to be anymore about "betrayal of the first Dail Eireann". What is it new nature?

A: Theological dissidents would hold to that view. Others are unhappy with what they see as the betrayal by the current SF leadership. Some are incorrigible armed struggle adherents.

Q: If the path followed by Sinn Fein in not in accordance with Republicanism. Are there people ready to create a new political organisation that will not be associated with the armed struggle?

A: Republicanism is so fragmented. There is no real willingness on the part of those disaffected.

Q: The left in the Republican movement seems to be in some crisis, why and what are the solutions?

A: There is no effective left within the Provisional Movement. The republican left outside it are ineffectual such as the IRSP.

Q: If Sinn Fein is no longer the first political party of the Catholic community, what will happen? Will the armalite reappear?

A: The armalite will never disappear, but it is highly unlikely that it will become the cutting edge of mass insurrection as it did in the 1970s.

Q: What is the future of Republicanism in Northern Ireland?

A: It will eventually become a constitutional party. While Adams remains leader, he will push it to the right in a bid to gain more votes and power. He knows there is a ceiling on any leftist posturing which is considerably higher when it comes to adopting a rightist stance.

Q: Why did you create The Blanket journal?

A: Because SF were so censorious that a new vehicle to allow discussion was necessary. Also, because I enjoy writing and the web provide new opportunities for writers.

Q: How is your journal received in the Republican community, or more generally in the Catholic community?

A: It is not well received within the SF community. It seems well known about and the last figures I received indicated that it was taking 15,000 hits a day. It is hard to gauge just how popular it is within the nationalist community. Given that SF is the favoured party of that community I imagine it is not very popular. People stop me on the street and compliment The Blanket. But maybe that is because they are of like mind.

Q: Have you received some comments from the Protestant community on your journal?

Q: There seems to be an interest in The Blanket from within the Unionist community. Many of those who read it seem to find it a genuine attempt to comment honestly on political affairs.

Q: Have you received threats for your opinions?

A: Yes. From the IRA and Sinn Fein.

Q: How many people collaborate on it (The Blanket)?

A: Not many. The writers and the editor.

Q: How do you decide which article will be published, and which one will not?

A: Usually everything is published, except those which are libellous.

Q: Is The Blanket associated with a political organisation?

A: None at all. It is a free speech website.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

10 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

It's Good to Talk
Dr John Coulter

Bye-Bye Daily Lies
Geraldine Adams

Peelers Give You Trouble
Martin Galvin

If You Cannot Organise a Meeting, How Can You Expect to Organise a Revolution?
Liam O Comain

RSF not involved in proposed 'Front'
Republican Sinn Fein Press Release

Renaissance Republicanism
Mick Hall

Goulding, the Provisionals and the Current Political Process
Roy Johnston

Puppet Show
John Kennedy

Fr. Mc Manus on His Visit to Garnerville PSNI Training Center
Fr Sean Mc Manus

Irlande du Nord: Interview With Anthony McIntyre
André Poulin

Sectarian Interfaces: Glenn Patterson's That Which Was
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 9
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 10
Michael Gillespie

A Curious Snub
Fred A. Wilcox

Con Artist
John Kennedy

Against Civilisation
Seamus Mac An tSaoir

Blanket Coverage for All
Carrie Twomey

5 Years
Brian Mór

3 September 2006

Sinn Fein: Or the Party of Symbolic Republicanism
David Kruidenier

Public Commitment or Public Relations
Martin Galvin

Suits You, Sir
John Kennedy

False Memory Syndrome
Ray McAreavey

True Faith
Eamon Sweeney

Not the Cathal Goulding I Knew
Liam O Comain

Dark Days Ahead
John Kennedy

Return to Conflict No Alternative
David Adams

Sir Reg's Party Games
Anthony McIntyre

A Secret History of Irish Music
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Unionism's Favourite Nationalist
Dr John Coulter

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 7
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 8
Michael Gillespie

Trotsky and the Ghetto of the Sects
Mick Hall

Global Conscience Not US Capital: The Case for Liberal Intervention
Gabriel Glickman

Letter to Bertie
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign



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