IRA says its armed campaign is over

by Kieran Healy on July 28, 2005

The IRA has announced that its armed campaign is over. Slugger O’Toole is a good place to go to get a roundup of reactions and analysis. The second-guessing and tealeaf-reading is well underway already. Here’s the first part of the statement:

The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign. This will take effect from 4pm this afternoon.

All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.

This is a big development.

By the by, if you ask me the name “Óglaigh na hÉireann”—this is what the IRA calls itself in Irish—actually refers to The Irish Defence Forces. The IRA has never liked the Irish Army much because, as a descendant of the Irish Free State Army, it is the only military force to have comprehensively defeated the IRA in the field. The Provos don’t like to be reminded of this.

Anyway, I’m a bit out of touch with the ins and outs of Northern Irish politics these days, so I hesitate to offer any comment. A couple of things spring to mind, though. First, this seems like a very serious move, if only because it’s unilateral. Validation of the claim will come, if at all, with the verifiable destruction of the IRA’s arms dumps.

Second, this is all bound up with the gradual evolution of Sinn Fein into the main nationalist party of the North, and a significant political force in the Republic. As Martina Purdy argues Sinn Fein and the IRA have done a very good job of managing the peace process in such a way that they didn’t really have to give up anything—nothing important, anyway. Sinn Fein simultaneously talked regular politics while presenting the IRA as a dog (belonging to someone else!) that it had a hard time controlling, and this allowed the party to leverage itself to a central political role. Leaders in Britain and the Republic put up with this for a long time, and not without good reason. But this latest shift can be seen in the light of Gerry Adams’s ambitions to become a legitimate statesman and a political leader in Ireland. The IRA is not useful in the long run to that goal, and he and his allies have been working for a long time to convince others in the organization that victory may be in sight. Recent events—the NI Bank raid and associated round-ups in Ireland, and especially the brutal murder of Robert McCartney—my have strengthened Adams’ hand in this respect.

Let me risk an analogy, with all of the qualifications and caveats you like. Yasser Arafat reached a similar point in his political life as Adams has, but decided against taking the compromise that was on offer. Better to be a martyred failure to the Palestinian nation than an ordinary politician mired in the world of compromise and day-to-day politics, and damn the consequences for the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. I don’t think Adams wants to go down that road. Instead, I think, he wants to do something like run for President of Ireland in 2011. He wants to do it with the IRA disarmed—if not disbanded, a crucial point of conflict— and, ideally, with Sinn Fein holding an increasing measure of political power in the South. It’s a big gamble. If it works, Adams will see himself as the Nelson Mandela of Ireland. If it fails, he won’t even be left with a legacy like Arafat’s: instead the IRA will reactivate the “armed struggle” (i.e., terrorism) a few years down the line, having never really given up the money-making side of things, and we’ll be back to the status quo.

{ 41 comments }

1

tvd 07.28.05 at 8:50 pm

Sorry, they will never really dump their arms, Kieran. It doesn’t work that way and never can. Besides, even if they did, they could always get more.

As in the GWOT, it will only be the moms & dads who have been sympathetic to the cause or at least “neutral” in the conflict who finally determine that there will be peace.

Hope abides. Arms are a cosmetic issue.

2

Paddy Matthews 07.28.05 at 9:14 pm

First couple of paragraphs and the first half of the second one, I’d broadly agree with you.

Instead, I think, he wants to do something like run for President of Ireland in 2011.

He may very well want it. But I can’t see him achieving it. While there may be many people in the South who might view him as another Nelson Mandela, there will also be a bigger number of people who loathe him or who, while not exactly loathing him, would not want him as President, symbolic office though it may be.

Under the presidential election system (Alternative Vote), they will (and can) vote for anyone to stop him. Even if Northerners are able to vote for President at that stage, I’d have thought there would still be a blocking majority. Of course, that assumes that Eoghan Harris & Co. don’t end up doing for him what they did for Mary McAleese <grin>.

Sinn Fein holding an increasing measure of political power in the South.

I’d think this is a far more realistic aim. 10-12% of the vote at the next Dáil election seems quite likely, with 10-12 seats being a realistic number to achieve. Once you’ve got those numbers, then you’re in business where getting into government is concerned.

instead the IRA will reactivate the “armed struggle” (i.e., terrorism) a few years down the line, having never really given up the money-making side of things, and we’ll be back to the status quo

This is where I think you’re being unrealistic.

Money-making won’t get you very far if you want to restart a terrorist campaign unless you have people willing to risk getting killed for a cause. Do you think someone is going to do that just because Gerry didn’t get into the Park?

Back in 1969, there was real discrimination against Catholics in the North and an effort being made to crush by physical force the campaign against that discrimination (Burntollet, etc). You had the attacks on Catholics by loyalists (Bombay Street) with the RUC twiddling their thumbs or actually joining in. You had the Falls Curfew. You had internment. You had Bloody Sunday. Those things produced the volunteers for a campaign, and produced the active and passive support necessary to sustain that campaign. After that point the cycle of violence and repression became self-perpetuating.

I don’t see those circumstances arising again, barring some sort of currently unforeseeable disaster. Any terrorist campaign along the lines that you fear would die a death due to lack of public support. They would be in the same position as the Real or Continuity IRAs are at the moment, or as the IRA was at the beginning of the 1960s. Northern Ireland has changed far too much in the last 10 years.

I think Adams & Co. know these things. Whatever chance they have of achieving their aims is going to come through politics rather than through terrorism. They are playing their lack of other options as a strength.

3

P O'Neill 07.28.05 at 9:23 pm

The imponderable of SF’s political ambitions in the Republic is the response of the other parties. On the one hand I’d look forward to anything that shakes up the stifling inertia of the Republic’s politics, in which 40% of the voters go for the corruption and incompetence of Fianna Fail in every election. But of course FF won’t stand idly by as a competitor for “their” voters emerges. What price a SF-FF coalition in 2007? With Gerry Adams holding a new portfolio, Minister for the Six Counties?

4

engels 07.28.05 at 9:29 pm

Not GWOT – GSAVE. Sometimes I worry for you guys.

5

Paddy Matthews 07.28.05 at 9:43 pm

40% of the voters go for the corruption and incompetence of Fianna Fail in every election.

Fianna Fáil were down in the low 30s at the local elections last year, and their vote in the polls at the moment has gone back down to that level.

When you combine the corruption and incompetence of one crowd with the undiluted arrogance of their government partners and the studied dishonesty of the last election manifesto, it tends to be a lethal combination.

6

tvd 07.28.05 at 10:09 pm

“Not GWOT – GSAVE. Sometimes I worry for you guys.”

A rose is a rose, mate.

7

Chris 07.28.05 at 11:06 pm

The IRA hasn’t the power it once had because the GSAVE has cut into its finances in America (and because the Irish diaspora is in as much trouble as the Jewish). Restarting wouldn’t be as easy aas it once was. Autre temps, autre moeurs. Remember, we’ve never seen an Irish suicide bomber.

A rose is a rose? I thought the boutonniere in Washington these days was turdblossom.

8

tvd 07.28.05 at 11:33 pm

The IRA hasn’t the power it once had because the GSAVE has cut into its finances in America…

Hear, hear. America’s nod nod wink wink tacit support for NORAID has been a friggin’ disgrace.

(Gotta get used to this G-SAVE thing. Hell, I thought “Afro-American” was really cool, and much easier to say. Dunno why it got changed.)

9

john m 07.29.05 at 12:20 am

“Remember, we’ve never seen an Irish suicide bomber”

Quite true – the IRA are a great deal more sickly inventive than that. Besides bequeathing the world the car bomb, their other great contribution to terrorism is the proxy bomb whereby your family (children included) is held at gunpoint, you’re strapped into a car bomb and informed that if you do not drive into whatever police station etc. (dying in the ensuing explosion) that they will be killed. Furthermore, the comment above that the IRA reactivating their terrorist activities is “unrealistic” is (at best) peculiar. Right now it is the broader political atmosphere in the world towards terrorism – especially, and this cannot be emphasised enough, in the US who effectively funded the IRA for 30 years and continue to fund Sinn Fein – combined with SF’s domestic political success that has brought about this position. Any significant change to this and they will revert to terrorism because, of course, it has been proven a highly effective strategy for the IRA/SF.

10

fjm 07.29.05 at 1:11 am

Arguing that Arafat failed because he refused to compromise is bizarre. Arafat failed because he never actually had a trustworthy opponent with which to negotiate. The Israeli government is not the UK government. Even now, while they are withdrawing from one area, they are expanding (against their own agreement) in another. Demanding that the Palestinians be the one to stop their agression first, is a lot like asking a battered woman not to keep beating her fists against her partner’s kinfe arm.

Please let’s not compare the leader of a conquered, dispossesseed and imprisoned people with the modern IRA.

Farah Mendlesohn

11

Christopher M 07.29.05 at 1:20 am

What happened to Mrs Tilton? I always liked reading her comments.

12

eirepol 07.29.05 at 1:52 am

The IRA will not disband and it is likely to retain some kind of armed capacity to enforce internal discipline and to reassure the rank and file that it can defend nationalist areas that could be the subject of loyalist attacks. Plus there is the issue of ‘ordinary’ criminality and the control of a massive underground economy.
Perhaps the best comparison is with the Official IRA who, despite ceasing to be vested with any political role in the strategy developed by the organisation that became the Workers’ Party, certainly never went away and tenaciously defended its turf in the few enclaves where it controlled the rackets. Armed conflict may be dropped from the political discourse of the republican movement but it would be absurd to pretend that the IRA will simply evolve into some kind of commemorative, old boys’ organisation.

13

dsquared 07.29.05 at 2:12 am

It all has a flavour of Cliff Richard announcing that he doesn’t want his records played on Radio 1 any more though doesn’t it? Sort of thanks lads, remember the old times but well, you know …

14

strewelpeter 07.29.05 at 3:22 am

Yesterday at 4PM was time to take a quite moment, reflect on a defining event, albeit a manufactured one that has been excruciatingly long in arriving.
For me it felt like the moment when a cancerous tumor that Ireland has lived with for 35 years has been removed. There is still a good lot of work to do before we get the all clear, this is no great cause for joy but it is a time of hope and growing confidence. A moment to savour.

One thing that everyone involved will need to understand and somehow make allowance for is that there is a small segment of the population of Northern Ireland who start today with the perception that they are without a police force. Until that perception can be changed, and it is still going to take a while, everyone is going to need to be very careful.

Regarding Grizzly Adams and his opinion of himself, its been common currency here to say that he’s more Arafat, or more recently Mugabe, then Mandela. But believe me when I tell you that from Gerrys point of view it is Mandela who is the Adams of Africa.

15

Marc Mulholland 07.29.05 at 5:03 am

I think the ‘armed struggle’ has been over for this generation for quite some. The end-game for Adams has really being moving republicanism into this ‘unarmed’ mode without splitting and handing on the grail of militant nationalism to a rump. In this he has largely succeeded; CIRA and RIRA don’t really have the moral weight required even with the the hardest nuts.

I believe, and certainly hope, that Provo disarming and disavowal of criminality will be pretty complete.

On who has the most legitimate historical possession of the title Óglaigh na hÉireann, I think it’s complicated. The name dates back to the pre-Great War Irish Volunteers, out of which evolved the IRA. The Free State army had no such line of descent, being a compound of only a minority of the IRA and a good deal of jetsam and flotsam who had sat out the War of Independence. Even worse, they were effectively armed and equipped by the British (as a consequence of this, the Army was very quickly wound down & the Free state became one of the least militarised states in the world). There’s a good argument to be made for the Official IRA being the most obvious historical descendants of Óglaigh na hÉireann rather than the Provos, however.

On democratic, rather than historical legitimacy, there’s no doubt that the Irish Defence forces are the true Óglaigh na hÉireann.

16

Brendan 07.29.05 at 5:28 am

‘Besides bequeathing the world the car bomb.’

Incidentally, this is false. As the Wikipedia makes clear, whilst the first ever modern car bomb (actually a truck bomb) was used in the US in the 1920s, its regular use was actually pioneered by Jewish extremists in Palestine (moreover this was the first use of the car bomb proper).

17

Ciarán 07.29.05 at 6:19 am

This is the end of the IRA. They may not go away in a formal sense, but they have become an albatross around Republican ambitions in the South and in the North and SF seem to calculate that they’ve squeezed all they can usefully squeeze out of their existence.

All that said, the important thing about this move is that – if they believe it – it provides NI’s Unionist community with what many of them had expected the Good Friday Agreement would deliver and never did: security. SF taking the same route as 1920s Fíanna Fáil is significant, but their (unintentionally) legitimating the new dispensation for Unionists is what will, in the end, deliver political change.

18

Russkie 07.29.05 at 7:06 am

> As the Wikipedia makes clear, whilst the first
> ever modern car bomb (actually a truck bomb) was
> used in the US in the 1920s, its regular use was
> actually pioneered by Jewish extremists in
> Palestine (moreover this was the first use of the
> car bomb proper).

Wow that’s a fascinating incidental remark from Wikipedia Brendan. Thanks for showing us how yet another yucky thing ultimately stems from, er, “Jewish extremism”.

19

otto 07.29.05 at 7:08 am

“Yasser Arafat reached a similar point in his political life as Adams has, but decided against taking the compromise that was on offer.”

This really is a bizarre comparison. The Israelis spent the 1990s Oslo period massively expanding settlements in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and then offered at Camp David/Taba to remove about 20% of them. If you think Adams would have accepted massive British government-orchestrated imposition of Protestant settlers into Catholic areas between the Good Friday agreement and now, then you can make the comparison – otherwise not. Britain has tried to make peace with the IRA – Israel, by continuously expanding settlements on the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and never offering to remove more than token numbers, is more interested in terroritorial expansion than peace – or only wants peace if it can have territorial expansion.

Take another example: I am rather a fan of Sistani’s measured approach to the US occupation of Iraq and the need to make deals with the Kurds and secular parties, in the interest, as you put it, of compromise and day-to-day politics. But put 50,000 Christian settlers into Iraq and see how moderate he stays them.

20

Brendan 07.29.05 at 7:23 am

OOOOOOOooops! More to the point it seems that, upon further investigation, the two events referred to in the Wikipedia were NOT carried out by Jewish extremists at all but were instead carried out by an Arab and the British Army (!).

So it just goes to show that you should never listen to a word I have to say about anything.

In fairness (to me) the Wikipedia article didn’t make it clear who was responsible: I had assumed that it was the Stern Gang or Irgun but I was wrong. Mea Culpa. My understanding (which could be wrong, and going by my previous record probably is) is that the Stern Gang did use car bombs as well.

However, my basic point that the IRA did not invent the car bomb WAS correct.

21

RS 07.29.05 at 7:44 am

“as a consequence of this, the Army was very quickly wound down & the Free state became one of the least militarised states in the world”

That, and coming out of a civil war.

22

Marc Mulholland 07.29.05 at 8:22 am

Coming out of a civil war didn’t usually, in the first half of the twentieth century, lead to massive demilitarisation of the state.

23

otto 07.29.05 at 8:44 am

Demilitarisation in Ireland was assisted by lack of external threats which an Irish army could deal with. If the UK wished to invade, no Irish regular force would stop – or even slow – them. And the UK would prevent anyone else from invading.

24

soru 07.29.05 at 8:47 am

To be fair, putting together ‘car’ and ‘bomb’ is not an innovation that is going to win anyone the Nobel war prize.

soru

25

RS 07.29.05 at 8:50 am

“Coming out of a civil war didn’t usually, in the first half of the twentieth century, lead to massive demilitarisation of the state.”

No, but going into a civil war did lead to a massive militarisation of the state, from which some degree of normalisation was inevitable.

26

RS 07.29.05 at 8:52 am

“Demilitarisation in Ireland was assisted by lack of external threats which an Irish army could deal with”

And also a lack (or fairly comprehensive defeat of) internal threats.

27

Dan Hardie 07.29.05 at 9:07 am

Historical footnote: it’s inaccurate, and silly, to say that the’ Irish Free State Army… is the only military force to have comprehensively defeated the IRA in the field.’ Contemporaneously with the IRA’s defeat in the Irish Civil War, the Northern IRA was equally comprehensively- and viciously- smashed by the RUC, the British Army and various unpleasant local militias; and the IRA launched further campaigns in 1939-45 and 1958-62, which they also lost. Anyone who does feel like boasting about the Irish Free State’s victory in 1921-3 might tell us what they think of the tactics used: torturing prisoners, suspension of habeas corpus, shooting internees after a drumhead court-martial…

As some have argued above, if there is a return to violence, whichever incarnation of the IRA leads it will almost certainly not have the popular strength of PIRA. The grievances and the insecurity of Northern Catholics are never again likely to be comparable to what they were in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and IRA recruiting will reflect this.

As Eirepol says, racketeering is going to be the pension plan for some Provisionals. If they act like the criminal gangs of Britain and most of Western Europe, they will make large amounts of money and protect themselves by suborning witnesses and jurors, spying on the police and employing good lawyers. If they act like the Mafia, or the Columbian cartels, or like their own pre-ceasefire selves, they will deal with problems by threatening or assassinating cops or judges. I think Adams will be able to prevent that, but possibly he can’t or won’t. If a copper really did start to give Slab Murphy problems, what would he do- hire a good brief or dust off the Kalashnikovs? Presumably Irish and British politicians will underfund their organised crime squads, just in case…

28

john m 07.29.05 at 10:27 am

Now I’m sorry I mentioned the car bomb – not only was I wrong but it’s pretty much irrelevant to the point I was trying to make. Swore off making blog comments a while ago and shall now, at no loss to anyone, re-instate that policy.

29

Thomas Nephew 07.29.05 at 11:22 am

I wonder if this is taking advantage of the apparent onset of a Islamist/Al Qaedoid/whatever terror campaign in London. IRA head honchos let Al Qaedoids/whatever become the hated enemy instead of them via a statesmanlike withdrawal. They look extra good by comparison in the process, and everyone is extra motivated to keep the IRA supporters on the straight and narrow: “let’s not re-open that front.”

Which would seem OK to me, as long as they don’t play brinksmanship or word games with their renunciation of violence. I just thought it was an angle I hadn’t seen discussed here.

30

Njorl 07.29.05 at 12:08 pm

So, 20, 30 or 50 years from now, when the Republic of Ireland and the UK are both part of a huge, borderless, European mega-state, will N. Ireland declare its independance? For some time now, either side in N. Ireland could have improved their lot considerably with a complete, unconditional, abject surrender to the other side.

31

EWI 07.29.05 at 2:27 pm

“By the by, if you ask me the name “Óglaigh na hÉireann”—this is what the IRA calls itself in Irish—actually refers to The Irish Defence Forces. The IRA has never liked the Irish Army much because, as a descendant of the Irish Free State Army, it is the only military force to have comprehensively defeated the IRA in the field. The Provos don’t like to be reminded of this.”

The Provos are a very different animal to the Irregulars of the 1920’s (who mostly became the backbone of Fianna Fáil).

“On who has the most legitimate historical possession of the title Óglaigh na hÉireann, I think it’s complicated. The name dates back to the pre-Great War Irish Volunteers, out of which evolved the IRA. The Free State army had no such line of descent, being a compound of only a minority of the IRA and a good deal of jetsam and flotsam who had sat out the War of Independence. Even worse, they were effectively armed and equipped by the British (as a consequence of this, the Army was very quickly wound down & the Free state became one of the least militarised states in the world). There’s a good argument to be made for the Official IRA being the most obvious historical descendants of Óglaigh na hÉireann rather than the Provos, however.

Only in the same sort of tenuous reasoning employed to ‘prove’ that they have the authority of the Second Dáil behind them, though. The massive demilitarisation occured because the finances of the new Free State were so precarious.

On democratic, rather than historical legitimacy, there’s no doubt that the Irish Defence forces are the true Óglaigh na hÉireann.”

Very true. (As an aside, the term “Irish Republican Army” was invented by the Fenians (IRB) of course – but during the 19th Century, not the 20th as you might have thought!)

The Arafat analogy is tenuous, as well – as someone else pointed out, Adams (and Sinn Féin in general) have much more in common with Mandela and the ANC.

And ascribing all this to personal ambition on the part of Adams is silly and childish. If he was motivated by personal gain, he could’ve simply joined the SDLP and saved himself decades of ostracisation and risk to his own life. Whatever else one may think of him, it has to be conceded that Adams is committed to his Struggle (which now will take a new form).

32

P ONeill 07.29.05 at 2:55 pm

I’m surprised that we’re 31 posts into the thread and the name Sean McBride hasn’t come up. Gerry Adams (or the Official IRA ) is not the first republican gunman/men to have rejected the Free State and its successor institutions but then come in from the cold. There must have been a time in the 1940s when people thought that McBride’s party, Clann na Poblachta, might sweep to dominance in the same way that people think the Shinners might now. Of course they did get two 1940s-1950s rainbow coalitions out of it, and a career as an international statesman for Sean, but looking back now it’s hard to see much sign of the Clann impact. That’s another potential route for Gerry — a bit of early excitement, maybe even coalition government. But 20 years from now on the Crooked Timber PodCast Thread about politics in Ireland, will the average punter remember who he was?

33

Urinated State of America 07.29.05 at 6:18 pm

“On who has the most legitimate historical possession of the title Óglaigh na hÉireann, I think it’s complicated.”

Achh, this definitively discussed back in 1997 in soc.culture.irish:

But don’t ye see it’s terribly important, since in 1938 the faithful
members of the True Da/il gave the Legitimacy – the _de jure_
governance over All-Ireland, founded by God at the Creation and renewed
in blood in 1916 – to the IRA Army Council. In 1970 the Army Council
bobbled the Legitimacy and dropped it by agreeing to go into the False
Da/il, so they did, so the Legitimacy reverted to the one remaining
faithful member of the True Da/il, Commandant General Tom MacGuire.
The Commandant General then handed the Legitimacy over to the Provie
Army Council, so he did, and wouldn’t ye know it, in 1986 they also
bobbled the Legitimacy and dropped it by agreeing to go into the False
Da/il, so back to Tom it went. Now the O Bradaigh Bunch secretly if
not anachronistically, if ye get me drift, formed the Continuity Army
Council and Tom handed over the Legitimacy to them. Surely O Bradaigh
has hidden somewhere the deed of transfer, bearing the Commandant –
General’s signature and wax seal, stamped by the One Ring. (Maybe
that’s what the Free Staters were looking for when they searched his
house the other day.) But since Tom MacGuire has since passed to the
great United Ireland in the sky, should the Conts ever agree to
recognise the False Da/il, the poor Legitimacy will have no place to
go, and Ireland will never have a legitimate government until the end of the world.

34

Paddy Matthews 07.29.05 at 6:31 pm

The Clann, as I understand it, appeared very suddenly on the political scene in 1946 and 1947, looked as if they were going to sweep all before them, but were thwarted by De Valera calling an election before they had managed to establish much of an organisation, and by their own incompetence in running too many candidates and splitting their own vote (ensuring that they took only 10 seats – far fewer than they would have been entitled to). There was also the fact that they were a mixture of old-school republicans like McBride and social idealists like Noel Browne, and that the two sides didn’t gel. By 1951 the Clann was essentially dead, even if the corpse continued to twitch until the late 50s (the last Clann TD was elected in County Cavan in 1965).

Whatever one thinks of the Shinners, organisation is one of their strong points, and they’ve been plugging away on the ground for a long time now, both in the North and in working-class and some rural areas of the South. They’re also a lot more internally coherent and disciplined than Clann na Poblachta ever were.

If they’re not in government after the next election, they can carry on campaigning in opposition – something that they’re very good at.

If they are in government, I couldn’t see them imploding in the way the Clann did, and I could see them managing to sell things to their base, at least initially – managing areas of government spending in the North like Health and Education didn’t seem to do them any damage in terms of public opinion. I suspect they’d market themselves as the left-wing and nationalist conscience of the government, in the same way as the PDs currently market themselves as the watchdog over the shysters of Fianna Fáil.

35

EWI 07.29.05 at 7:48 pm

“Historical footnote: it’s inaccurate, and silly, to say that the’ Irish Free State Army… is the only military force to have comprehensively defeated the IRA in the field.’ Contemporaneously with the IRA’s defeat in the Irish Civil War, the Northern IRA was equally comprehensively- and viciously- smashed by the RUC, the British Army and various unpleasant local militias”

For the sake of complete historical accuracy, it should be noted that the IRA north of the Border got support from Collins (the pro-Treaty leader) and de Valera both.

36

EWI 07.29.05 at 8:04 pm

“Whatever one thinks of the Shinners, organisation is one of their strong points, and they’ve been plugging away on the ground for a long time now, both in the North and in working-class and some rural areas of the South. They’re also a lot more internally coherent and disciplined than Clann na Poblachta ever were.”

In this they’re a lot like Hezbollah in south Lebanon, as I’ve noted before.

The SDLP have a long way to go before they’re in a fit condition to beat them electorally: the first step is an injection of backbone, and getting away from their current stance of being deer caught in the Provo headlights.

37

EWI 07.29.05 at 8:28 pm

“There must have been a time in the 1940s when people thought that McBride’s party, Clann na Poblachta, might sweep to dominance in the same way that people think the Shinners might now. Of course they did get two 1940s-1950s rainbow coalitions out of it, and a career as an international statesman for Sean, but looking back now it’s hard to see much sign of the Clann impact.”

There has always been speculation that John A. Costello was pushed into the declaration of the Republic of Ireland by McBride – which was a pretty important moment in the history of this State.

38

Tom Doyle 07.30.05 at 1:36 am

“[I]t’s terribly important, since in 1938 the faithful members of the True Da/il gave the Legitimacy – the de jure governance over All-Ireland, founded by God at the Creation and renewedin blood….was also the fact that they were a mixture of old-school republicans like McBride and social idealists like Noel Browne, and that the two sides didn’t gel. By 1951 the Clann…sake of complete historical accuracy, it should be noted that the IRA north of the Border got support from Collins (the pro-Treaty….a lot like Hezbollah in south Lebanon, as I’ve noted….thinks of the Shinners, organisation is one of their strong points, and they’ve been plugging…the
great United Ireland in the sky, should the Conts ever agree to
recognise the False Da/il, the poor Legitimacy…very suddenly on the political scene in 1946 and 1947, looked as if they were going to sweep all before them, but were thwarted by De Valera calling an election…and Ireland will never have a legitimate government until the end of the world.”

You People really know the history in detail. I’m impressed and humbled I must say. I’m in the US, but have been studying the subject for some years now, and I confess I thought myself pretty well versed. But reading your comments, why its like I’ve barely got my feet wet, while you’re all in way over your heads. I’ll just have to bear down. Well, it calls to mind what James Connolly often said, that…but you hardly need instruction about that from me.

39

Tom Doyle 07.30.05 at 8:45 am

“Hear, hear. America’s nod nod wink wink tacit support for NORAID has been a friggin’ disgrace.”

Say WHAT??

A FALSE and FOUL Aspersion!!!

“A Friggin’ Disgrace” you say? We did what we could, and more! You People did very damn well by us and you Know It!! We’re not all of us millionaires over here, despite what You People might think, if you think at all, which I’m beginning to doubt. And now you’re complaining about “tacit support!!” Duuuhh. Didn’t you get the memo, Omadon? It was SUPPOSED TO BE TACIT!!

40

Russkie 07.30.05 at 4:55 pm

The Israelis spent the 1990s Oslo period massively expanding settlements in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and then offered at Camp David/Taba to remove about 20% of them.

This is simply incorrect. Where’s does your disinformation come from?

41

derrida derider 07.31.05 at 11:05 pm

“The grievances and the insecurity of Northern Catholics are never again likely to be comparable to what they were in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s”

The dynamic is now much better than that. The massive diminution in income disparities between the 6 and the 32 counties and the increasing secularisation of Eire must over time must reduce the insecurities and grievances of Northern Island Protestants, too.

Despite the last election results the Paisleys and their ilk will fade away. Given demography, economics and the EU I think Sinn Fein correctly calculates that a united Ireland will one day happen and that armed struggle delays, not hastens, that day – a calculation they should have made a few decades earlier. Of course that awful self-pitying romantic version of Irish history – the force that delayed this calculation – is also fading, so Sinn Fein, a party dependent on that national myth, may not be around by then.

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