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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
A far cry from the hunger strikers' sacrifices


Anthony McIntyre • Irish News, 22 February 2005

The haul of Northern Bank notes is not the only thing that has lost its trading value since PSNI boss Hugh Orde issued a 'no longer legal tender' notice.

Fudge, which for so long was held up as the indispensable bartering chip of the peace process, now too is considered dodgy currency.

Sinn Féin, which prided itself as the engine of the peace process, has come off the rails. The price it is willing to pay to be permitted to climb back on, is way below what anybody else is prepared to accept.

The laissez faire forces of the political marketplace are coming to displace the interventionist strategies that have characterised the peace process since the first Provisional ceasefire of 1994.

The fudge subsidy provided by state benefactors is no longer available. Sinn Féin is being told to pay the same democratic price as the other parties. Now the government doormen seem intent on letting none bunk in for free.

Unlike much of the party's previous battles this one is unique in that it places it head to head with the Irish government, while the British stand back and take on the look of a concerned but neutral party.

In such circumstances it is well nigh impossible to portray the 'struggle' as one of national liberation from Britain.

Outside Sinn Féin the prevailing image is that of the Irish government determined to curb a widespread internal crime problem.

The current impasse has led some commentators, prepared to believe anything as long as it is whispered to them, raising the spectre of a return to war by the Provisionals.

What such a move stands to achieve is never explained.

With or without armed struggle the current leadership has singularly failed to deliver a republic. Nor will it do so by 2016 or even 2036 without the consent of the unionists.

Who today would bet on the unionists ever consenting to anything the current Sinn Féin leadership proposes? Consent is preceded by trust. And with the bulk of nationalist Ireland not in the remotest trusting of Sinn Féin there is no chance that the current leadership, widely perceived as endlessly lying, can ever win unionist confidence.

Despite the direction in which the Provisional leadership has taken the bulk of its movement, it remains true that numerically the bulk of radicals and republicans within the north, whatever its critics say, continue to remain within the Provisional movement.

The dissident alternative organisations continue to be wedded in cult-like fashion to the tried, tested and failed physical force tradition.

If republicanism is to escape the pariah status it is cultivating, its totalitarian leadership needs challenged.

A radical democratic republicanism equipped with the necessary organisational integrity to make any difference is best positioned to emerge from within a Sinn Féin free of the dictatorial stranglehold; the physical force alternatives view democracy as a disease.

The vast bulk of Provisional republicans are not criminals.

But the descent into wanton criminality orchestrated, sanctioned and tolerated by the leadership in pursuit of its goal of expansionism can only leave republicanism viewed through a prism of its current activities and not the fearless sacrifices of the 1981 hunger strikers.

Few could venture to call Bobby Sands a criminal. Michael McDowell fumbled while he did. But all of Ireland is awash with allegations that republicanism under the current leadership is a crime machine.

What irony then, if the Sinn Féin leadership, rather than Margaret Thatcher, succeeded in causing the republican struggle to be remembered by posterity as a criminal enterprise.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

24 February 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Socialist Objection and Alternative
Eamonn McCann

Taking the Peace
Jimmy Sands

Life Amongst the Proveau Riche
Brian Mór

A Far Cry from the Hunger Strikers' Sacrifices
Anthony McIntyre

Tragic Legacy
Mick Hall

Some Economic Results of the Civilizing Mission
M. Shahid Alam

21 February 2005

Time to Go
Anthony McIntyre

Stand Together in Pursuit of Justice for Robert
Catherine McCartney

The Murder of Eoin Morely
Ivan Morely

Exclusion Orders
Brian Mór

The 'Gud Auld' Days
Dr John Coulter

The Courage of Ward Churchill
Ghali Hassan

Awaiting the Prisoner of Zion From Within Israel's First Circle
Mary La Rosa



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