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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
21st Century Vision?

 

 
Mick Hall • 16 February 2006

Within the Sinn Fein rank and file, there seems to be a ground swell of opinion building that believes more than enough compromises have already been made in the hope of resurrecting the Stormont Administration, and as this has still not happened, no matter what the party does it will never be enough to satisfy the DUP of Ian Paisley, and, more importantly, the British Government.

For many SF members, the old maxim when dealing with the British State, "'They never give you a pair of trousers without cutting off the buttons,'' has come home to roost. One can only hope to see the SF leadership, under pressure from below, begin a reassessment of its strategy vis a vis the GFA, and in the process revert to the straight talking language of the six county street.

It is the Brits who have responsibility for the north. All logic points to the fact that it is they who have the power to reinstall the Stormont Administration with or without the DUP.

After all, one of the reasons Ian Paisley Snr. is so popular within his political constituency is that he refuses to use spin and bullshit. He tells it as he sees it, and by so doing even his enemies have a grudging admiration for him.

SF has become soft and flabby during the years they have spent enchanted by the type of international diplomacy practiced by the British State, which was used astutely to entice them into a process, which for those who set it in motion, was never meant to bring SF to their intended destination.

Whilst SF were allowed into the first class compartments at the start of the journey, the British always planned to downsize them further down the line into steerage, which they considered to be more suitable accommodation for the Shinners.

SF, believing they had caught the 20.16 special-train to Dublin, had in reality, by sleight of hand and pomp and circumstance been deceived into catching the over-night boat-train to no-where. Thus all SF's rushing around, last minute packing, and organizing their journey onwards was pointless. Unlike the 20.16 to Dublin, which is a one-off special, the boat-train runs everyday, so there was no particular hurry in the first place.

The Peace Process was a device to end the seemingly endless war of attrition between the PIRA and the British State. That the PRM leadership decided to enter this process is not to their detriment, as the war had clearly reached a dead end. The duty of the Republican leadership was to salvage what they could from the debris of thirty years of armed struggle.

It might help if we momentarily look at this from Mr Adams' perspective and pose the question, how many coffins can one man shoulder? If you answer this question truthfully, then Gerry Adams' behavior in going down the GFA road has not been dishonorable, although I realize for me to attempt to sell this to many of the Republican dissidents would be like trying to sell sand to the Arabs.

The real mistake the PRM leadership made was being enticed so thoroughly into the trap set for them by Perfidious Albion. Firstly, the British spent considerable time and energy massaging Provisional Republican egos and in truth many succumbed to this flattery. There is no real surprise in this after the decades of the long war, with all that entailed, not least the years of excruciating boredom and anonymity.

The PIRA and its volunteers suddenly found themselves being portrayed in the international media as the greatest guerrilla army history has known. Leading Republicans', especially Martin McGuinness's, military prowess was trumpeted in the media as being on a par with any senior British Officer.

Indeed, we were led to believe from the press that in officers' messes throughout the UK, any mention of the name 'Martin' sent a cold shudder around the room. Senior British Army officers, not known as a species for careless talk, were overheard by journalists commenting that Martin McGuinness, if he had been born across the Irish Sea, would have risen to the top of the British General Staff.

Next came the 'bumming' up of SF leaders, excuse my crudeness but it is the only word to describe what happened. Presidents stopped their motorcades just to say "Hi". Presidential candidates shopped in specific bookshops to do the same. The British Prime Minister, we are led to believe, invited leaders of SF into his inner-most sanctum at Chequers for a bit of R&R.

Within the Third World, political acquaintances of Blair and Clinton/Bush were encouraged to invite SF leaders to their own countries on the pretext of asking them for advice on solving their own often intractable problems. That these same SF leaders failed to notice none of these overseas dignitaries ever accepted a word of their advice should have set the alarm bells ringing; that it never did just shows how this enticement worked.

My SF friends would say, 'OK, you may be right, but enough of the sour grapes, where's the beef, what is needed is positive suggestions not more harking back to the past'. Well, politics is not rocket science no matter how much spin doctors pretend it is. Today's politicians have the answer to most of the problems which arise during their watch at their fingertips, if they only looked. The one certainty about political activity is no matter what situation confronts modern politicos, it has occurred before somewhere in the mists of time.

Here SF have an advantage, for during the years of armed struggle, and despite the exaggerations I have mentioned above, the PRM really did build a formidable grass roots network of political activists prepared to go the extra mile. Sadly much of this precious human collateral has been squandered by the SF leadership, but there still remains a fair amount in the bank.

The main reason for Sinn Fein's electoral growth both in the north and ROI was sections of the Irish electorate admired the party's stance on supporting the underdog and their refusal to bend the knee to Perfidious Albion. However, what held many of them back from supporting SF at the Ballot Box was the continuation of the armed struggle. Once the second ceasefire became a reality SF saw its electoral support grow considerably.

Two things has caused this rise in support to plateau out. The British State, having been caught off guard at the extent of the good will displayed towards SF by the Irish electorate in both jurisdictions, decided to attack SF in a more aggressive manner.

However, the overwhelming factor was the decision by the Adams leadership to respond to these attacks from the British State with sleight of hand politics, softball returns and compromises. Whilst some compromises were to be welcomed and long overdue, others were a vain attempt to keep SF in the GFA game at almost any cost. In the electorates mind, the party was transformed from a gallant Celtic knight combating evil against great odds, into a lickspittle political 'mob on the rob' who would do almost anything to stay in the game.

Instead of placing the blame and responsibility for the stagnation of the Peace Process at the feet of the British government, Mr Adams and his colleagues kept harping on about the 'Secrocrats' being responsible for all the north's political ills.

Time and again the opportunity to place the blame where it belonged with the Blair Government was passed up presumably in the belief that it was essential to maintain cordial relations with the UK Prime Minister and his Secretary of State. This during a period when Mr Blair's political police were running informers within Mr Adams' coterie, bugging Mr Adams transport under a warrant signed by the Secretary of State and briefing the media and the IMC with often fictitious reasons as to why it was impossible for SF to enter the Stormont Administration.

Unless you are a physical force Republican of the Ruairí Ó Brádaigh variety, none of the above behavior by the SF leadership is a hanging offense, a good flogging perhaps some may believe. In any case it is not for me to say who should be in leadership positions with in SF or any other political party. But what is clear things cannot carry on as they are. It is time SF returned to calling a spade a spade and ceased all this 'thank you very kindly sir' bourgeois nonsense.

With the British State all but encouraging the DUP's intransigence in their refusal to enter into a new Stormont Administration, Sinn Fein has been gifted a powerful propaganda opportunity which they will pass up at their peril.

Having stood the PIRA down and participated with some success in the north's democratic electoral process, are Republicans expected to accept the DUP/UK States refusal to honor their mandate passively and by so doing acquiesce in the disenfranchisement of those who voted for them?

Or should they demand of their former associates in the Pan Nationalist Front (FF/PD ROI Government, Irish America and the Nationalist political parties from the north of Ireland) that they join with SF and other Democrats and mount a campaign of mass protest and civil disobedience until the British State shoulders its democratic responsibilities to the minority community in the north of Ireland?

Such a campaign is a win-win contest for Republicans, as it will expose the democratic shortcomings of the Northern Statelet or if successful will have re-written the song sheet. Forget Sunningdale for slow learners, what is needed is a 21st century version of the NICR Movement, Lutta continua.




 

 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



20 February 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Try separate the wood from the trees:
MI5, Sinn Fein/IRA and the intelligence war

Paul Maguire

Sinn Fein Set To Win … The Neanderthal Derby
Anthony McIntyre

21st Century Vision?
Mick Hall

The Real Betrayal?
Dr John Coulter

Cowardice on Cartoon Controversary
David Adams

Meeting Marielos
Anthony McIntyre


14 February 2006

2006 Ballymurphy Pogroms
Anthony McIntyre

Policing
Mick Hall

Why Ireland is Unfree
Chris Fogarty

Time to Grow Up
Dr John Coulter

The Letters page has been updated:

Time for the End of an Era

 

Ballymurphy Being Attacked Within

 

Ballymurphy Slaying

 

More GEM

 

UCC Address

 

Shannon Airport

 

An Open Letter To Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri (Wherever You Are)

The Irish "Peace Process" Reality and Fiction
Fourthwrite announcement

25 Years On -Commemoration Says "We Must Be United!"
Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee

Café Vaudeville
Anthony McIntyre

 

 

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