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Provisional Sinn Fein - Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

Jerry Pepin • 29 August 2007

It has become fashionable to dismiss the last 30 years as the bloody failure of Sunningdale and load the principle blame for this onto the shoulders of Sinn Fein.

The group loyal to Gerry Adams have, over the past two decades, rested control of the PIRA, and therefore of the Republican Movement, from volunteers who distrusted politics and put all their faith in a flawed military strategy.I agree entirely with Anthony McIntyre (The Battle Against Truth, 19th August) that this was achieved by employing the most monstrous dishonesty. I also agree with Michael Costello (Eire Nua, Revisited, 14th August) that the Adams camp displayed a callous, cynical disregard for human life.

However, to lament Sunningdale or to promote the narrow, abstract, nineteenth century nationalism of Eire Nua is itself to turn from the truth.

It was not nationalism that inspired people to queue at the Provisionals' door in the early seventies. It was the much more universal aspiration of being able to walk down a street without being shot or beaten to a pulp. Every volunteer knew of Bombay Street, had seen the B Specials in action, had family and friends interned or killed and understood that on Bloody Sunday the state had turned on its own citizens and armed resistance was the only option. As it was working class areas that bore the brunt of these attacks and had necessarily spawned the civil rights demands to which they were the response, the Provisionals were essentially a working class movement. The nationalist goals of traditional republicanism were grafted on to an army brought into being through social struggle.

And for all the later lies, betrayals and Stalinist subterfuge, it was the Provisionals who took up the baton and defended those too weak to defend themselves. It was they that understood the point in history which required their presence. Sunningdale might have been offered by a weak and inept British Government. But when we British elect a Labour Government the power remains with the unelected, reclusive and ruthless representaives of the ruling class who hold the reins of state power. The British Army, in 1974, had no intention of allowing Sunningdale to work. This they made clear by their support for the Ulster Worker's Council and Paisley's adept exploitation of it. The provisionals instinctively new this and history has not undermined their assessment of the British Army's ensuing role in the north of Ireland.

I agree with Anthony that the ultimate agreement waited upon the expectation of power. Not that of Adams and McGuinness - they were ready to serve fifteen years ago - but of Paisley and the DUP. An expectation encouraged within them by the elusive but very real power in Britain and their instrument, the British Army. British imperialism forced and prolonged the conflict, not those reacting to it.

The point in History is now a different one. The British state will never again in Ireland repeat the crass mistakes it made in the seventies. It will never again be caught without intelligence, which it continues to gather, propelling it into such barbaric and counter- productive measures. It knows it will never again get away with shooting its own citizens on the street and now projects its military power across the world where the people it kills have less opportunity to object.

The front line is no longer Rossville Street but the dusty, blood- stained lanes of the middle-east. Eire Nua invites northern workers to join a republic where lies are a way of life, morality is defined by what you can get away with and corruption is the skeleton upon which the state hangs its wretched body; little wonder Adams thought he'd do well here. Nationalism, without social struggle, will not re-discover the inspiration that called them to Armagh and the H Blocks.






















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles


14 January 2008

Other Articles From This Issue:

Republicanism...Alive or Dying?
Anthony McIntyre

Pillocks of the Community
John Kennedy

Irish Unity Cannot Be Ruled Out
David Adams

A Great Republican and a Great Man
Aine Doherty

John Kelly
Anthony McIntyre

How Urgent the Need?
John Kelly, from an interview with Liam Clarke

My Grandfather's Insurgency
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Kitsonian Success With the Provos...?
Liam O Comain

McGuinness Takes the Finland!
John Kennedy

Provisional Sinn Fein - Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater
Jerry Pepin

John Kennedy

Operation Helvetic: To Be Expected
Michael Gillespie

Hung Out to Dry
John Kennedy

Re-Imagining Ireland
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Mick Hall

One Armed Bandit
John Kennedy

Terrorism and Leftism
Paddy Hackett

Power to the People
John Kennedy

24 August 2007

The Battle Against Truth
Anthony McIntyre

Divine Intervention
John Kennedy

Terence Killeen's "Ulyssess Unbound"
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Heads of Bigots Must Roll
Dr John Coulter

A Look at Bi-Nationalism
Michael Gillespie

Eire Nua, Revisited
Michael Costello



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