19 March 2009 Edition
‘Dissident republican’ groups – what’s the agenda?
THE groups that carried out the armed actions in Antrim and Armagh last week deserve to be shunned by all republicans. They are not undermining British rule in our country one iota. What they are doing is entirely counter-productive to the objective of ending the union and building an independent, 32-County republic.
If these groups did not exist, securocrats within British intelligence would have to invent them. There is a major question mark over who actually controls and directs these gangs. When considering this question one has to ask Qui bono? Who benefits from their actions?
They have no political organisation and no support within the community – prerequisites for any revolutionary republican organisation.
Irish history shows that republicanism has only ever moved forward in its aims when republican organisations have tapped into the mood of wider nationalism and combined the demand for Irish freedom with bread and butter socio-economic issues or demands for basic civil rights. This approach sustained the IRA’s heroic armed struggle throughout the 1970s when it was the spearhead of an uprising by the nationalist population, and then into the 1980s and beyond when it was the cutting edge of the wider republican political struggle.
By the 1990s republicans were in a position to move forward with a peace strategy described by a leading unionist politician as the most destabilising development ever to have occurred for the Union.
That strategy has been hugely successful. The Orange state as we knew it is gone. The relationship between the North and Britain has been fundamentally altered. The Union is being hollowed out as an increasingly confident nationalist community takes co-ownership of one institution after another. The Irish language and national identity in the Six Counties is assertive and robust. The North is being demilitarised, the police civilianised and their direction and control is coming under the representatives of Irish people as opposed to British Ministers. Electorally, republicanism has never been stronger North or South. Republicans are daily building contacts with loyalists and unionists – a development essential to building a united Ireland.
The current republican strategy is the single most effective in many decades. The actions of so-called ‘dissident’ groups can only harm these efforts and are designed to do so. These groups cannot, in their wildest dreams, hope to emulate the armed struggle of the IRA – one of the most effective guerilla organisations the world has ever seen - in fact they merely tarnish the reputation of republican resistance – so what are their real motives?
Major difference over miners
SEÁN Ó FLOINN is an excellent writer but his article last week on the 25th anniversary of the British miners’ strike sees a victory where we – all trade unionists and supporters as well as the miners – suffered defeat.
We lost; Thatcher, the Tories and the union busters like Coal Board boss Sir Ian McGregor won – let’s not pretend otherwise.
Without the support of other unions, the miners and their families were almost alone up against the British state, including the military, the police, MI5 and the ‘free enterprise’ (i.e. anti-union) barons with their open cheque books and dirty tricks. And 90 per cent of Fleet Street was against the miners too. There was support – there were collections and solidarity in Ireland and around the world – but not enough.
I admire the miners, their families and their communities and I always will. The British miners’ strike was one of the most heroic, selfless, emotional and inspirational struggles in labour history.
As an Irish trade unionist working in London in 1976, I remember the strike for union recognition at Grunwicks when we faced the mounted police during a unions’ mass picket. We called the police with their batons on horseback “Cossacks”. Tension gave way to apprehension and, if truth be told, a little fear. But then we heard the Kent miners had arrived. The miners marched up in their ranks to join us. It was like a people’s liberation army arriving. It was exhilarating. I’ll never forget the miners but let’s not pretend we always won when we didn’t in 1984/85.
Seán Ó Floinn says the struggle itself was a victory. I disagree. It might have been unavoidable, a bit like ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’, but we didn’t win. The bad guys won and the good guys lost. Let’s remember that and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Misty eyes don’t help a clear vision for the future.
Indo columnist: ‘I would party at Hunger Strike deaths’
I WROTE to Irish Independent columnist Ian O’ Doherty in the last few days about a piece he had written for the Indo where he mentioned, ever so matter of factly, that he “hated” Celtic fans.
He didn’t reply.
I was then told that he had supposedly been boasting that during the Hunger Strikes of the early 1980s he had partied in celebration at the deaths of those young men.
So I contacted him again and asked him if this was true.
Ian O’Doherty replied from his work e-mail address ([email protected]) last Friday, 13 March, under the subject heading “Celtic fans”, saying:
“I was about 8 when the Hunger Strikers died. Although, in fairness, I would have a party now.”
What an utterly sick excuse for a human being this individual is.
No matter how much you are against another man’s political views you do not celebrate when they have the courage to die for those views.
This individual is utterly reprehensible and it’s only at a rag like the Indo that his warped agenda would be tolerated.