Thursday, January 16, 2014

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A Brief Response to the Belfast Newsletter

The blogger Ardoyne Republican with an appraisal of the contributions to the Newsletter on the question of Physical Force Republicanism. It intially featured on his own blog, Ardoyne Republican.

As a seasoned political observer and an Ex-Political Prisoner, I have read with interest a series of articles on the internet and in newspapers penned by a number of former Blanketmen. The articles concerned recent armed activity by Óglaigh Na hÉireann (ONH) and the (New) IRA.

It is without doubt that those who authored the articles are Veteran Republicans who still carry some degree of respect for the sacrifices they and their families made in pursuit of Irish freedom. Given their long years of political imprisonment, they also continue to have many friends from various strands of Irish republicanism.

Some arguments against the use of armed activity published are based on the premise that 'it is shameful to prosecute an armed campaign that has no chance of success and will only fill the jails or worse'. 'Not one life was worth losing' alongside terms like  'disastrous, insane & madness' were included in the articles.

In my brief analysis of the articles, I am somewhat bemused that they were given to the Newsletter. A publication which has always been Anti-Republican. The fact that the authors are seasoned Republicans, why they didn't form a delegation and asked to meet the Leaderships of the New IRA & ONH to put their arguments to them in person rather than through the mediums of the net and a Unionist paper. A face to face meeting would have been much more effective and no doubt, the request would have been granted. Unfortunately, I suspect such a request would now be rejected as the publication of views has never been met with open arms by armed republicans.

Another problem I have is that the armed campaign by the Provisional IRA had strong community support between 1969 and 1974, when there was every chance of success of freeing Ireland from imperialism. The IRA never really gained the same level of support after 1974, apart from the 1981 Hunger-Strike. In fact, support for the armed struggles of the INLA and Provisionals were indeed declining throughout the Eighties and Nineties. The effects of Ulsterisation, Criminalisation and Normalisation worked quite well from an imperialist perspective. The facts speak for themselves.

Previous armed campaigns with the exception of the recent Conflict had minimal support whether in the Forties, Fifties or Sixties. Though the articles fail to address these particular campaigns. Likewise, one Ex-Political Prisoner stated that Republican Groups need to formulate 'non-violent alternatives'. With respect to his view, Republican Parties such as the IRSP, RSF and RNU have drafted various critiques of the Belfast Agreement. As well as, presented and published their political alternatives. They may not be to people's liking but they are readily available upon request.

It is easier to sit on the sideline and criticise different strategies as has been done in the Newsletter. It is much more harder to chart a political path based on core Socialist-Republican principles. Those who did have faced harsh criticism from not only advocates of imperialism but also former comrades. Despite this, feasible alternatives to the Status Quo remain on the table but are repeatedly censored by the British, Stormont and Dublin Establishments.

Why don't the Ex-POWs' get together, analyse the situation facing the Irish Working-Class, how best Irish Republicans, Socialists and Democrats address the ongoing occupation and the protracted denial of our National Sovereignty. Then they could pen their own alternative. Maybe then we all could debate the document in a comradely fashion and agree or disagree on it's merits. Whenever a final agreement is reached, it could then be submitted to the groups engaging in armed actions and hopefully help them plan the way forward without armed activity?

63 comments :

John said...

Some very good points.The fact remains, however, that physical force Republicanism will not go away until the English do.These men would be better off talking about the treatment handed out to Irish Republicans such as internment, failure to implement the prison agreement, stop and search,the indefinite imprisonment of CIRA POW William Wong,instead of taking a pro establishment line.

Andy said...

What "English" do you exactly mean there John?

tiarna said...

I find it a very weak argument for violence if even there is an argument in the piece at all. In fact the author comes across as disingenuous about what he really should have been writing about, I quote;

"The fact that the authors are seasoned Republicans, why they didn't form a delegation and asked to meet the Leaderships of the New IRA & ONH to put their arguments to them in person rather than through the mediums of the net and a Unionist paper. A face to face meeting would have been much more effective and no doubt, the request would have been granted. Unfortunately, I suspect such a request would now be rejected as the publication of views has never been met with open arms by armed republicans."

What is suggested above is that had those who had featured in the News Letter discretely met with Dissidents instead then they might have been listened; but because they used the News Letter then Dissidents see their logic and reason as invalid. What Bullshit! No matter what they had done the Author of this piece would probably be giving some other reason for rejecting what the former Blanketmen say.

The Author then goes on to give a speel about how the IRA also had to live with criticism therefore we they will do the same. We are not talking about the rights or wrongs of previous organizations the topic is today, what dissidents are doing and what relevance or effect it is having across the board.

What is noticeably missing, intentionally so, is any clear coherent or rational argument to justify the futility of armed action. The only apparent reason for writing the piece above seems to be more about the Authors choice of morning reading with his coffee and smoke. A load of cods whallop he should have addressed something more substantial than the reputation of the News Letter.

So in the end the violence continues because dissidents are picky about the choice of newsprint. That is the most fucking pathetic argument for violence I have ever heard. Grow up.

tiarna said...

PS: I mean is Ardoyne Republican talking about an justifying and 'armed struggle' or a bitch fight??

sean bres said...

The idea that the recent spate of articles resulted from the boys concerned approaching the Newsletter seems to have gained traction. Maybe Mackers can clear up once and for all now whether this was the case or that the lads were responding to an approach. In the latter instance this persistent theme that they shouldn't have gone to the Newsletter is rendered null and void - because they didn't. In respect of John's comment it's disingenuous to suggest the boys have not challenged the policies you identify - clearly for any follower of the political narrative here they have consistently done so over a sustained period of time. This is not about taking a pro-establishment line or even to decide on the morality of armed struggle but to determine its strategic worth at the present moment and to formulate alternatives, as Martin here is also trying to do, that can realistically hope to move the situation forward

AM said...

Sean,

I don't think the author of the piece is making the charge that anybody 'went' to the NL but that they spoke to the NL however it was arranged.

As you have asked - no, we did not go to the NL. The NL came to us: myself and Richard first and Tommy also if I recall correctly. But I have no reticence whatsoever about speaking to the NL. And when the NL reporter asked me if there were other people who I could put her in contact with I did just that.

I think AR hits the nail on the head - it is not about the NL as such but about what he states with admirable bluntness - armed republican groups don't like the publication of views: in other words they don't favour public discussion.

People like myself are well used to this type of rebuttal. It was the same with the BBC or the Irish News. Speak to either and the Shinners sent mobs to your home. They were the anti-republican press and should not be spoken to.

In my view where public discussion takes place is not the issue.

I think AR is wrong in the case he made but he has made it and he has every right to regardless of who doesn't like it. And I appreciate the fact that he had no qualms about letting it appear here where he knows it could be savaged and not necessarily for any good reason.

Dixie said...

The author attempts to justify armed actions today by harking back to the past. However there is no attempt to explain how something which no longer has even the support of a large section of disaffected Republicanism is going to advance to a stage where the majority of ordinary people would support it.

Militant Republicanism will not reach the military capability of the recent past. Even when it was at it's strongest the IRA didn't foresee, nor would they believe if told, that it's leadership was quietly undermining it to such an extent that eventually many brave lives were lost for nothing.

Even now we see the adoption of the Provos ballot box and armalite strategy which to me is proof that these groups are looking to the past for the tactics of today. That is not forward thinking. In fact I'd say it was nothing less than reenactment.

If Republicanism is to move forward we must realise that we are living in the 21st century and completing against modern technology, never mind the British capability of infiltration at every level.

We must play to our strengths and our strength lays foremost in unity. Republicanism is strong numerically but not showing any sign of coming together outside of certain situations like the annual Bloody Sunday March and even the recent anti-internment march.

My belief is that Republicans are disgusted at the betrayal of SF and they see a wasted generation, with on the one side former comrades now a part of that we fought to destroy and on the other, fractured into small groups, some intent on trying to recreate something which which has already led us into a cul-de-sac.

These Republicans, if the harsh facts are to be accepted, have seen too many years washed away by failure and they fear that association with armed groups will see them face renewed harassment, house raids and internment.

My alternative to armed struggle is to rebuild on the foundation of unity, remove the fear of continued and fruitless war and encourage the people to challenge the British and Stormont governments in regards to their attacks on the working class.

We need a Republican Movement that looks forward to achieving victory in the future not looking back to the failures of the past. Our fallen comrades need not have died in vain if we take a route that has any chance of bringing about the ideals they sacrificed so much for.

Do we remain as we are and stagnate or do we redirect and flow stronger? That is the question we need to get out there.

tiarna said...

AM

You are right it is more about things being out in the open that was objectionable than the NL. Albeit there can be discrete meetings (he AR seems to indicate that that is unlikely).

What AR is not taking cognizance of is that there are many in republican districts feeling re-assured that their voice has been heard and represented by the blanketmen interviews --it is not all about dissidents. It is common place on this site alone that many are expressing the lack of representation, torn in two between dissidents and SF, where effectively one lot are chasing parked cars (SF, they parked them) and the other lot chasing their tails and in the whirlwind of confusion a few people get killed.

I found AR's response mind numbingly trite. I also see this 'big girl' attitude of huffing or sulking about 'you' spoke to so and so and so we aren't playing with you anymore.

Robert said...

Martin,

'As a seasoned political observer..'

'A Brief Response To Belfast Newsletter' illustrates that seasoning is not necessarily accompanied by reasoning. The brevity of the piece trumped by the briefness of the thinking that preceded it. If your, 'brief analysis of the articles' has left you somewhat bemused spare a thought for the readers bemusement as one attempts to find some basis for a complaint as to,'..why they didn't form a delegation and asked to meet the Leaderships of the New IRA & ONH to put their arguments to them in person rather than through the mediums of the net..' - via the internet!

In contrast there is an obvious element of sagacity to the Gemma Murray interviewees that you set out to critique. The essence of the critique may have been better captured with the introduction -'As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Republican Socialist Faith..' The appraisal represents a very thin veneer to what can be discerned as your annoyance at what is perceived as a series of heretical assaults on Republican theology, compounded by their publication in a 'Prod Paper'.

AnBuachaill said...

Unlike some others I think the author of this piece makes some good points.

Tiarna,

I don't necessarily think that it is the authors intention to justify or defend the armed campaign in this article. In fact I can not see one line where the author specifically advocates armed struggle. Rather it seems to question why various articles were given to the Newsletter. Furthermore it suggests an ALTERNATIVE approach to plot a way forward, possibly without an armed struggle. I entirely agree with the authors final point and I think it should not be simply ignored or dismissed by other contributors:

"Why don't the Ex-POWs' get together, analise the situation facing the Irish Working-Class, how best Irish Republicans' Socialists and Democrats address the ongoing occupation and the protracted denial of our National Sovereignty. Then they could pen their own alternative. Maybe then we all could debate the document in a comradely fashion and agree or disagree on it's merits. Whenever a final agreement is reached, it could then be submitted to the groups engaging in armed actions and hopefully help them plan the way forward without armed activity?"

I personally believe that the issues of armed struggle should be debated through all mediums, including unionists. However, it is entirely legitimate for a person to simply question, as the author does, why the bulk of these articles are being carried by one particular outlet!

Also Tiarna: "What is noticeably missing, intentionally so, is any clear coherent or rational argument to justify the futility of armed action".
The futility of an armed campaign is not actually proven, it is merely an opinion of yours and many others. I do not believe the author seeks, nor is he obliged to justify the "futility of armed action".

Dixie: "The author attempts to justify armed actions today by harking back to the past"

Again, I don't think the author, in this piece is attempting to justify armed actions, but pointing out problems which he/she identifies with the argument against an armed strategy. Nonetheless, is it not wise to always look back on the past? Surely valuable lessons can be learned from certain failures and successes in the past.

I also think that the authors points about the declining support for armed struggle throughout the eighties and nineties, as well as minimal support of the forties,to sixties are valid. Of course there should be forward thinking but it is not sufficient to simply accuse the author of harking back to the past. An interesting point has been raised and it deserves to be fully addressed rather than side stepped.

Emmett Grogan said...

perhaps Ardoyne republican would like to tell me this.

why are there so many different factions of Republicanism opposed to the agreement?

If they have a similar ideal while sharing a support for physical support actions would it not make sense if they where united?

I ask this because I am wondering who, in the unlikely scenario that their actions forced a British withdrawal would run the new country ?

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT WOULD HAPPEN -
a bunch of headcases would fight it out to become the leader stating that their ideal is the correct one. They would become as totalitarian as modern day Sinn Fein. These geniuses can hardly run a social club, so called conflict resolution centre or a prisoners defence fund, never mind a new state. Give my head peace AR.

belfastgit said...

AR
"Another problem I have is that the armed campaign by the Provisional IRA had strong community support between 1969 and 1974, when there was every chance of success of freeing Ireland from imperialism". AR, there was very strong support for the IRA between those years, but there was never a chance that Imperialism, British or otherwise, would have been forced out of Ireland. You only have to look at the "Free State" to see the hold Imperialism has had and still does have there. As for the "North" it's being embedded here as well. The only way the IRA could have got rid of Imperialism (as I said, British or otherwise) would have been behaving like, say, the Taliban ie prepared to take themselves and the British establishment off the face of the earth by blowing themselves up along with their oppressors. If that had happened, you wouldn't have seen the oppressors for dust!

tiarna said...

AnBuachaill

Re: the authors intention and what words he did not use namely openly supporting violence.

That is a fair point but the syntax used implies a close relationship and a seemingly authoritative knowledge so much so that he can say that had a request to meet been made it would have been granted but he now suspects that such a request would be rejected because of what they did. The overall content indirectly supports the current violence by attempting to draw upon contradictions of various earlier 'campaigns' and why none of the NL article dealt with these; namely 'minimal support' and where the IRA began to lose support in the last campaign (1974 etc) --these are defenses of the dissidents current problems and why calls to stop do not hold sway.

You observe that, " Furthermore it suggests an ALTERNATIVE approach to plot a way forward..." and you quote the final paragraph of the article. You are right about that it does suggest that an alternative way forward may be considered. BUT, unfortunately the author is putting it onto those who wrote the NL articles to come up with an exit strategy for the dissidents, which I am sure they probably would help if they can, but they aren't responsible for the violence --so it is not their violence --so its not their heads to stop it. Only dissidents causing the violence have the power to stop it.

You say, "The futility of an armed campaign is not actually proven, it is merely an opinion of yours and many others. I do not believe the author seeks, nor is he obliged to justify the "futility of armed action"."

Not quite, in all the years dissidents have been trying to do whatever it is they try it isn't getting them too far, its not working, and look at the cost thus far. They do not show any sign of a learning curve or any other prospects other than continuing to fill graves or prison cells. They have secured massive security budgets so their enemy is well paid with lucrative extras. Their arch nemesis in SF have a free reign unopposed by any serious republican opponents. But most of all they are not going to get one inch closer to a United Ireland. In all that is a pretty futile and barren end-result for what it will cost to get there.

Ardoyne Republican said...

Firstly a chara, my blog post was not to advocate armed struggle and am pleased that TPQ has published it in the context widening the debate. As with the former Blanketmen, I too am entitled to my opinion. I feel that had the lad's sent the organisations a request for a meeting it would have been met. Given the history of armed groups, they tend to shy away from anyone who publishes their views. In response to Tiarna and Emmet, as an Irish Republican I'm pretty thick-skinned when it comes to insults etc. They don't quite add much to the actual debate but work away a Chairde! Concerning the News Letter itself, I don't care much for the newspaper as it has always ignored the legitimate politics of Republicans and as such I disagree with fellow Republicans giving it any credibility...

AM said...

AR,

but how was any approach then going to work if the armed groups tend to shy away from people who publish their views? All of the people who spoke to the NL have been publishing their views for years.

It can be said of all papers that they have ignored the legitimate concerns of republicans. Over the years republicans gave out more about the Irish News than they ever did about the News Letter. And it all boiled down to the same thing as we hear today: the Irish News challenged republicans who tend not to welcome challenges. Even today republicans from your neck of the woods can be found hitting out at the North Belfast News for its discrimination against and smearing of republicans.

The only reason I can think of for not talking to the NL would be a sectarian one.

While you will hardly regard this as an insult, it does no harm to have a thick skin.

tiarna said...

AR

Nobody can win, you found the articles in the News Letter offensive. You must have learned well from your enemy. ie, talks, about talks, about talking about nothing.

I was expecting a "brief analysis of the articles" but all you wrote was just to say you don't approve of the news letter and the blanketmen probably lost their shot to talk to the trigger men.

The articles had a republican audience nevertheless and the writers put across somethings that a lot of people welcomed reading. If armed groups want to ignore what grass roots republicans have to say wherever they chose to say it then they are just cutting of their noses to spite their faces. Unfortunately we all suffer because of they feel they have the luxury to be 'thick' headed not thick skinned.

Emmett Grogan said...

AR, Have you tried sending RNU's manifesto to Penguin or Faber for publication?

I have no doubt, givin the wealth of intellect and progressive minds that helped structure the document, that it would sit comfortably amongst Adam Smiths, Plutarch, and Habermass finest work.

Far be it from me to question one of such academic endeavour as yourself, but allow me to suggest a title for your lifes work - RNU The Thickest of Skin. what do ya think? eh mo chara ;)- has a certain ring to it don't ya agree.

Ardoyne Republican said...

Coming from Ardoyne, my comrades and I have been regularly informed we are sectarian, therefore I'm not too surprised at the same tonite.

Regards the suggestion of a meeting with the armed groups. Are you seriously suggesting that prior to the articles being published they wouldn't have had a sit down with a delegation? After all, despite the well-published views of the Blanketmen against armed actions. You are all still well-respected! Holding alternate opinions from one another does not confuse that respect chara.

Finally, once again I suggest that the Blanketmen meet, formulate their opinions, draft a way forward for Irish Republicanism in the 21st Century and then publise it. Yous have the intellectual ability to do so and I for one would love to read and debate such a document..

Feel te love said...

AR

We are living in a time and climate when keeping Irish Republicanism alive will be struggle enough.

Guns and bombs just add more hurt and as usual the republican community will be the main bearer of pain.

Robert said...

Anthony,

'The only reason I can think of for not talking to the NL would be a sectarian one.'

I would wager my house on two certainties, one - sectarianism being the basis of objection to being interviewed by the NewsLetter and the Communist Party Of Hawaii realising a Socialist Republic a Millenia before any of the current crop of armed Irish Republican groups.

Dixie said...

Firstly Emmet is proof of the mentality that has plagued Republicanism for years and that is to attack the person instead of helping develop debate around a given topic.

He's not alone and the personality complex is another cancer eating through Republicanism.

I don't rightly know whether AR is defending Armed Struggle or not but he must be otherwise why defend the right of armed groups to turn their backs on Republicans with differing views just because those views were aired in public in a Unionist newspaper?

AM makes a very valid point, would they have turned their backs had the papers been Catholic anti-Republican?

You'll be turning backs a lot of times because I don't know of many pro-Republican newpapers with any sort of readership.

Gabhain said...

AR

The current physical force campaign is militarily useless. It is inherently counter-productive and the climate which it fosters ensures the failure of any alternative strategy to the GFA illusion.

Armed actions since 1998 have had an overwhelmingly negative propaganda value when viewed cumulatively. The constituency prepared to consider the legitimacy of a target shrinks on a daily basis.

My understanding of Irish Republicanism is that every Irish person is entitled to an opinion. Republicans aren't the ones shaping those opinions in a positive way at the moment. Any progressive initiative is washed away by the mass media manipulation of every negativity; whether real or orchestrated.

Willfully ignoring the opinions of the Irish people without striving to effect positive change on those opinions is not Republican in my opinion; it is much too close to how Britain has always treated the will of the Irish people.

AM said...

Robert,

knowing quite a few of the RNU people as I have done over the years, sectarianism isn't really one of the features that jump out from them. They have never really struck me as being sectarian. Some of the ones I know better would be very anti sectarian in outlook. But, it strikes me that the only substantive reason I would find for me not talking to the NL would be a sectarian one.

I think the reasoning on their part is really about not having the discussion in public (in any paper) rather than being sectarian in their approach.

AR,

I think the suggestion of exclusively sitting down in private is a way to garrotte discussion rather than lynch it outright. It gets pushed into ever darker corners where it ends up being slowly strangled. There is nothing new about this to republicanism. The Shinners would do it all time - 'make your criticisms in private to the leadership' is I am sure something you faced when you sought to highlight matters of concern. The absence of transparency is a problem that such meetings totally fail to address. The armed groups should be openly engaging with the full range of opinion in Irish society. Armed actions have an impact on that society.

Feel te love said...

Mackers. Martin appears to be putting it up to yourself and others to provide an alternate strategy for a non violent way forward for republicanism in the 21st centuary.
Is this something you and others would be willing to facilitate?.
The organisations involved in physical force republicanism at this point in time, dont appear to have any exit strategy and though such a strategy may be rejected. That it is an option must be of benefit, for those within these organisations who see no alternative to the direction they are headed.

AR

Grassroots republicans/nationalists need a voice. A lot of people are fed up with SF saying they represent them when all they represent is betrayal for many.
Dee Fennel is going to put it up to SF and CARA come the elections. If he is electected he will send a clear message to all that the people do have a voice and can have an input into what does or does not happen in thier communities, whether it be housing,sectarian marches or many of the issues that inflict places like Ardoyne.
The reality is that the brits the Irish,unionists/nationalists are all on the pitch while republicans are corraled into a small corner of the stands, throwing paper cups onto the pitch,letting of the occasional flare and screaming the referee is an oil tanker. They are effectively being ignored. The brits are using whats is going on to justify oppression of republicanism. Martin, republicans must at some point halt offering the brittish justificaion for thier in/actions.

DaithiD said...

AR Thankyou. You didn’t justify armed conflict in this piece (as at least commentators noticed) but who would you discuss an agreed document with if one was produced from all concerned? Surely it is case closed as far the Unionists are concerned, they have SF signed up to GFA, surely without something like armed struggle they are not incentivised to revisit it?
I also wonder would those that toss the word ‘futile’ around like confetti have referred to the Easter Rising as futile at the time? Certainly those lead from the GPO were met with more fists than flowers, so the ‘lacking community support’ line could have also have been made. Nothing those men & women strove for was inevitable.

tiarna said...

Feel te love

Dissidents already have an exit strategy available as AR himself refers, I quote, "Previous armed campaigns with the exception of the recent Conflict had minimal support whether in the Forties, Fifties or Sixties. Though the articles fail to address these particular campaigns." It is available to dissidents to address those cessations.

It really is not morally or integrally proper for Dissidents to put onto those objecting to violence the responsibility to solve their dilemma.

Feel te love said...

Tiarna.

Of course you are correct, the onus should not have to fall onto others to put proposals for bringing violent acts to an end, but it does help.

Had John Hume and the SDLP adopted a position of inaction towards the IRAs overtures. I wonder what we would be discussing today.?

tiarna said...

Feel te love

I had said that earlier that the blanketmen probably would help where they could. My concern is more that the message from AR that comes across is that if those who do not support violence do not propose an exit strategy then the violence continues and its not dissidents fault --that is a cop-out clause in the way AR phrased it.

Ardoyne Republican said...

Once again the charge levelled against my post has claimed my objections to the NL is sectarian.

With all due respect, nothing could be further from the truth a chaired. My objections are based on the paper is Unionist in every respect and an advocate of the continued occupation of six Irish Counties, partition and a strong supporter of imperialist wars etc.

I accept the Irish News and other publications aren't much better. Although, at least some permit articles, letters and platform pieces by Irish Republicans unlike the Newsletter.

As for my view that a private discussion between the Blanketmen and the various armed groups. I firmly believe their positions would have been taken on board. It isn't the responsibility of the Blanketmen to chart the way forward but they are duty-bound to try, just as I am as a Political Activist.

The protracted denial of Irish National Sovereignty needs addressed in a substantial manner if the Irish people are to stop armed operations taking place. The current Status Quo in both States does not convince every citizen that armed activity is done and dusted. No matter how many people in our Nation desire. That is the challenge for everyone. The realisation of a 32 County Socialist Irish Republic can bring the territorial, economic and social liberty everyone on this island needs.

AnBuachaill said...

Tiarna,

"namely 'minimal support' and where the IRA began to lose support in the last campaign (1974 etc) --these are defenses of the dissidents current problems and why calls to stop do not hold sway".
That may be the case but I think the minimal support argument is a valid one which should be addressed by opponents to armed struggle.

"the author is putting it onto those who wrote the NL articles to come up with an exit strategy for the dissidents, which I am sure they probably would help if they can, but they aren't responsible for the violence --so it is not their violence --so its not their heads to stop it. Only dissidents causing the violence have the power to stop it"

I agree that only those causing the violence have the power to stop it. But I firmly believe that a viable, alternative strategy needs to be presented to armed groups, not merely hammering the same argument that an armed strategy is futile. These groups are wedded to violence and they are unlikely to stop unless there is a real incentive for them to do so. But who better to help with such a strategy than those republicans who do claim that the armed campaign is futile?

I also agree with your point that 'dissidents' have not got any closer to a united Ireland and their enemies have gained advantage. However, SF, after taking the political route are also no closer to a united Ireland. I presume 'dissidents' simply do not want to accept a defeat, have not seen any merit of politics to achieving their aims, and perhaps they wish to carry the torch for future generations in possibly more favourable conditions? I don't know. But at least the author of this piece, who you say supports armed strategy, is putting forward his/her take on things, and should be welcomed for it.

Emmett Grogan said...

Dixie, I welcome debate in any format, however I am aware that trying to formulate a intellectual progressive dialectic with some of these clowns (and I use the word clowns for that's what they are, clowns) is a lugubrious venture. The seem to spue out the same old "provie" shite that was good for the Sinners before they conformed and look where that got us. don't get me wrong Rnu would be good perhaps for a local community meeting about the future of the social club or a litter collection but as for the national question and the part they will play in shaping a political philosophy that is workable and sellable to the Irish people - give me a break. It's the equivalent of Eddy "the eagle" Edwards debating the future of Olympic skiing with the Scandinavians. If these groups were not as dangerous I'd piss my pants laughing. I'm sure Chomsky is shittin himself now we have such great minds challenging for the anarcho lefts throne.

tiarna said...

AR

"Once again the charge levelled against my post has claimed my objections to the NL is sectarian."

Nobody is leveling that 'charge' against you, you are simply creating a straw man/red herring to avoid addressing half of what has been laid out above. You said you were going to give some sort of 'analysis of the NL articles' then you didn't.

For completeness AM has clarified that there is no sectarian charge being leveled. AM has stated that on reflection the only reason HE personally could comeup with for not talking to the NL was his own view that he would be sectarian.

"I accept the Irish News and other publications aren't much better. Although, at least some permit articles, letters and platform pieces by Irish Republicans unlike the Newsletter. " Are you denouncing the Blanketmen as no longer Irish Republicans because their Article were published in the NL? There is no way you can support or back that one up.

"The protracted denial of Irish National Sovereignty needs addressed in a substantial manner if the Irish people are to stop armed operations taking place. The current Status Quo in both States does not convince every citizen that armed activity is done and dusted. No matter how many people in our Nation desire. That is the challenge for everyone. The realisation of a 32 County Socialist Irish Republic can bring the territorial, economic and social liberty everyone on this island needs."

Forgive me but have you lost your marbles? "if the Irish people are to stop armed operations" they have to jump to your, or dissidents, dictates or the violence contues? That sounds awfully like holding all Irish citizens to ransom.


"... 32 County Socialist Irish Republic can bring the territorial, economic and social liberty everyone on this island needs."

You think you can force everyone on this island to accept what you dictate what "everyone needs". Whatever you think your political ideology is, it is listed under Tyranny in any common dictionary.

While I could understand that Blanketmen might feel a sense of moral connection or responsibility to do what they can to figure an exit route --but you say its their 'Duty'. If dissidents thought they were big boys using violence then they should be mature enough to know it is their responsibility to stop the violence not anyone elses. I really am not trying to be insulting but that really sounds like a cry for mummy and daddy to come in an clean up the mess dissidents created for themselves.

tiarna said...

AnBuachaill

"That may be the case but I think the minimal support argument is a valid one which should be addressed by opponents to armed struggle."

Ok, opponets of armed struggle are being held hostage by a very small and maybe well armed radical group/s.

"These groups are wedded to violence and they are unlikely to stop unless there is a real incentive for them to do so. But who better to help with such a strategy than those republicans who do claim that the armed campaign is futile?"

The Blanketmen have been active and vocal explaining their views, which, dissidents refuse to read. Simply put, no one can reason with the intentionally unreasonable.

"But at least the author of this piece, who you say supports armed strategy, is putting forward his/her take on things, and should be welcomed for it."

The author is truculent on the analysis which he himself reneged on providing as his opening promised. Then he has been evasive throughout prefering to blame everyone else (mostly Blanketmen) for not sorting out the mess dissident have created for themselves. I would welcome constructive and serious discourse from AR but he is entrenched in some sense of what the world owes him and dissidents. Maybe for legal reasons we can all go along with the notion that he is not defending violence, wink, wink, yeah, I'd never believe it, its all pure flower power language.

AM said...

Feel te love,

if AR is putting it up to us to provide an alternative, then he has been answered very well by Tiarna. I think it was AnBuachaill who pointed out that SF have no strategy to get a united Ireland - yet they always responded to critique by asserting that none of their opponents were outlining an alternative.

I can't speak for the rest of the contributors to the NL as it was not a coordinated, integrated effort, but my own view for quite some time has been that the balance of forces does not allow for the development of a strategy to end partition. The majority of people in the North can neither be persuaded nor coerced so what is to be done? In order to debate that it is not necessary to persist with what can't be done. If I am doing a rain dance to change the weather you would be quite right to come up to me and say 'call it a day as you are having no impact,' no matter how often I tell you that I won't stop until you outline what will change the weather.

I think it is imperative on people who have been through the jails to do two things: never abandon people who are in jail today because of republican activity; seek to ensure that they do not go to jail for republican activity.

There is no strategic mileage in armed activity today. I think once that becomes the general assumption any alternative republican consolidation might take shape. Even if republicanism cannot bring an end to partition there is much that it can do.

So in that sense, rather than argue that an alternative is needed to armed activity, it might be more plausible to say that alternatives may not emerge until armed activity is desisted from.

Henry JoY said...

The ' raindancers ' continue to dance their dance Anthony and you continue yours too.

To suggest or argue that it's more plausible that alternatives may not emerge until the ' raindancers ' desist is indeed another subjective opinion, another subjective suggestion or another subjective argument.
None of us, niether I nor you can objectively declare that the differing 'dances' are essentially nor mutually exclusive. Neither can we objectively declare the 'dances' essentially nor mutually beneficial. This is effectively the bind we find ourselves in, a bind not of our own making but a bind we allow ourselves to stay trapped in for as long as we choose to dualistically evaluate and pontificate.

I won't suggest you call an end to your 'raindance' Anthony, for in fairness you've acknowledged it's minimal potential to influence, but I'm curious as to what degree you're enjoying it?

Niall said...

D
Is the Irish working class cognizant of the "situation" it is facing....which is anyone?

AM said...

AR,

The criticisms of the Newsletter as being a host because of its unionism seems misplaced. Were the people receiving the RNU leaflets in Rathcool and the Shankill any less unionist? If the Protestant workers of Rathcool and the Shankill can read what RNU thinks then they I can see no reason why they would not have the same right to read what other republicans think.

I am of a view that the leaderships of these groups, rather than consider responding to requests for private audiences from those who might petition for them, should be expanding the discussion as widely as it can and inviting as many people to take part in it as possible. The let 'a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend' type of thing.

I think it is wise to do what the Provos did. They didn’t want their activists to be exposed to different perspectives and tried to divert all critique to a place of the leadership’s choosing. The grassroots of course were denied the chance to see just how short the leadership were on ideas.

Moreover, the leaderships are what drives these armed activities rather than them being the outworking of some insurrectionary energy on the ground. They are the most committed to pushing the armed line and therefore the least likely to take on suggestions to desist. My experience has been that they are set in their ways. One of your colleagues has detailed how he has been trying since about 2005/2006 to advance an unarmed approach. He has not been successful and I doubt the NL contributors would stand a better chance.

Some of the leaders within the groups have invariably heard the opinions expressed on many occasions. As you rightly say of the people making the recent observations ‘they also continue to have many friends from various strands of Irish republicanism.’ The conversations with these leaders in my view has reached nothing other than an agreement to disagree.

Even at that, you assume a unity of purpose between the people who spoke to the NL when nothing of the sort exists. There is no grand plan, no stratetgic unity. Some might think there is an alternative strategy that can bring an end to partition and it is worth putting to the leaderships while others would not.

Robert said...

Anthony,

'..you assume a unity of purpose between the people who spoke to the NL when nothing of the sort exists. There is no grand plan, no stratetgic unity.'

I think this goes a long way to explaining why lemons were being sucked over the Newsletter interviews when they contained nothing new or revelatory.

Thats leaves a sweat on the Hawaiians!

Robert said...

Martin,

I apologise for the assumption of a sectarian motive where none existed.

AM said...

The post @ 16:19 should read I think it unwise to do what the Provos did (not 'wise'). Apologies

Feel te love said...

Mackers. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Fifty years from now the whole island of Ireland will more than likely be a part of some European super state. Those engaging now in armed struggle must be aware of this and if so and in this context, those engaged in physical force republicanism must have motivations or objectives that are at odds with republicanism.

You make some good points Mackers. Particularly about debate directed towards leadership of the various organisations. Shying away from open and honest discussion about why there should be an abscence of violence, threatens not republicanism. A wide discussion needs to be had and it needs to be had by as many people as possible, especially and including the rank and file of these organistions.

Maybe the spectre of facing truth and reality is frightenning for some.

larry hughes said...

A few contributors have hit on a couple of constants I have noticed in relation to republicans today. 1. They always lament that SF refuse to engage in republican debate. Surely for SF which is now a partitionist entity that would be seriously silly.
2. republican groups themselves shun people who have serious misgivings about the future strategy and armed struggle. Surely they are in a self defeating predicament on both fronts?

AM said...

Feel te love,

glad you mentioned the time aspect. That is the big downside of the blog: it just eats into time. For a while I have been tempted to write nothing and just help host the thing.

Tain Bo said...

Feel te love,

We can scratch on the walls of the old war cry all we want the British show little interest in any argument and show less for any argument for the gun.
All they do is patiently sit back and watch armed republicans scratching so hard they rip their own nails out crying for English blood.

Even if they did manage to get a campaign going again the reality is it would just be going round in a circle that would end no different than the last campaign.

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

Completely agree with you. The problem is a tiny group of people are attempting to convince themselves they are the inheritors of '16 and if they sit tight long enough the political world will come to them. As summed up by the fact their manifestos are available upon request! Jesus wept. The republican idea is centuries old and like driving a penny farthing bike in a formula 1 race. Ignoring those seeking a modern political vehicle doesn't help them. We do not have a largely illiterate dispossessed population tacitly supporting a tiny political vanguard elite. We seem to have a politically illiterate fragmented 'vanguard' which a literate and generally well off population just wish would go to hell away. Nor does bleating like lost lambs for SF to see the light and come save them from political purgatory place them in any better light.

It's 2013 not 1845 or God forbid 1690. Though certain people (thankfully ever decreasing in number) insist on living in those days.

Tain Bo said...

Larry,

Reading through this article two things come to mind it collapses under its own weight or it floats off under its own weightlessness.
The only part that has an element of possibility is disingenuously embedded in which an alternative is needed from those who penned their individual view of armed struggle.

I am unsure why armed factions would not already have an alternative which suggests as you say they are convincing themselves they are the inheritors’ of 1916.
Which is fair enough but the political minds of the time didn’t foresee what lay ahead a bloody civil war that left the country crippled and weak enough for the British to hold onto the north paving the road for unionist domination.

I just don’t see how they can claim they will deliver a win against the Brits militarily.
It is counterproductive as the Brits isolate and are too far ahead on the information front for factions to gain any traction.
Your Penny Farthing pitted against a Formula 1 race car just about sums up the difference.
In my opinion it would be better to have no republicans in Jails and the minds wasted could be put to use fighting a more important political campaign.

It is a dead end and they know it is trapped in cul-de-sac and stands little to know chance of breaking out.

On a happier note it is good to see you are still knocking about.

AM said...

From Ardoyne Republican

I would like to make a few final points in this particular debate a chairde.

It's been great to read so many differing views concerning my original post on my blog and I appreciate the honesty and frankness.

However, there seems to be some confusion amongst some responses. Such as they believe I was speaking on behalf of the various armed groups currently engaged in operations. I don't represent nor speak for them, they are more than capable of doing so themselves. What I did was to give a personal opinion regarding the issues facing Republican Activists in 2014.

My thinking is from a political not a military point of view. I strongly
believe that using a Unionist/British Newspaper to publish your views is
very wrong. As the NL is doggedly British, Imperialist and Anti-Republican. Hence my analysis.

In conclusion, I have never thought or expressed that Irish Republicans are the elite or a vanguard. Republicanism is based on equality and I have always treated everyone in that light! What I do know however, is that while the occupation of six Irish Counties, the Partition of our Nation, Imperialism controls our country..Armed resistance is inevitable! Oiche Mhaith.


tiarna said...

AR

Thank you for clarifying your political/combatant status which I fully accept.

"My thinking is from a political not a military point of view." You didn't provide a political point of view (re: your promised analysis of the articles) you berated the News Letter and criticised those whose articles were published in it. You went on to state that the News Letter does not publish articles from Republicans, therefore, by implication you were denouncing the Blanketmen as no longer Republicans because they committed some form of blasphemy in your 'political' eyes for being published in the News Letter.

Your mind shows itself to be completely closed to the idea that there are other people who have valid views other than dissidents. The articles are a valuable contribution because they gave voice to republicans/nationalists who welcomed the articles and their content. Another positive about the articles was that the Balnketmen maybe were no longer a "Captive Voice" and through the News Letter they were addressing more than the already converted so to speak. The question is how far does your negative political view go -should republicans/nationalists start burning certain books that you or dissidents also do not like? maybe we should eradicate the colour indigo throughout Ireland because --think of a reason -I got one, how about this, because dissidents don't like it. That is how extreme your political view is. Do you not see that as a bit scary if people see you in that light?

"I have never thought or expressed that Irish Republicans are the elite or a vanguard."

Your entire world view was exclusively that radical groups seemed to know what, 'everyone needs2 and they are going to get it whether Irish people, other republicans or nationalists want it from them or not. You were explicit about that. Now if you wrote those views in error then maybe you need correct that but it is up above in black and white.

Henry JoY said...

Táin Bó

"but the political minds of the time didn't foresee what lay ahead a bloody civil war that left the country crippled and weak enough for the British to hold onto the north paving the road for unionist domination."

Disappointing and disingenuous revisionism Táin. Read one way, you seem to lay blame with the leaders of 1916 for unionist domination? (Ala Eoghanín Harris)

Surely your remember, realise that the Irish Volunteers were formed as a response to the UVF. It wasn't the other way round you know.
(The politicians of the majority, if not the majority of political minds were urging participation in an imperialist war. The more radical were involved with the Volunteers and the revolutionaries within the IRB were calling the shots. It's unlikely, as evidenced by the decision to ignore McNeil's countermand for the Rising, that the revolutionary leadership didn't foresee on-going division.)

Best guess is this reading was not your intention but is how in my opinion your comments and those of the 'desistors' are viewed by PFRs.

Those that work in 'Sales' say that if you want to sell John Browne, first you have to see the world through John Browne's eyes. Carl Rogers' accurate empathy comes to mind here too. So if you want to influence another it's more useful to step into their model of the world, at least metaphorically.
Larry's analogy to a race is probably off the mark in that regard (tells us something of how he views the world), or if it has indeed any accuracy it would be in terms of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Outcomes, winning and loosing, are not in my opinion the currency of PFR's. Their currencies are those of resistance and defiance. And are are focused on immediate process (action) in that context.
Resistance has been historically the mainstay and will continue to be so.
Urging PFR's to desist has in all probability more to do with the 'desistors' own urges than with any realistic expectation of success in said venture. Time might be better spent on going a bit deeper into analysing why it's important to urge PFR's to desist rather than the act itself.

Perhaps it might be just as effective to model restraint as to demand or request it?

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

I have come to the painful conclusion that rather than even contemplating totally futile military activity, McGuinness and Co. have basically and belatedly arrived at the only solution. That is British rights for 'British' citizens in the North thereby forcing the Unionists to die a political death by a 'thousand excruciating cuts'. And denying them the gravy train of security based jobs whilst jailing our kids.

Demographics will win the day one way or the other in the longer term and as in Scotland it will be down to what the locals see as relevant to themselves when the time comes.

larry hughes said...

Henry Joy

It's more like the difference between history and historicism. PFR's insisting on applying the realities of long ago to the modern era. Like attempting to force the square peg they believed to have had merit a century or three ago into the round hole of todays political and social world.

Bit like living life in the 3rd conditional; if only the titanic hadn't hit the iceberg it wouldn't have sunk. Good luck with that.

Henry JoY said...

Larry
I like you at first glance don't always understand which square pegs will fit easily into which round holes but if it's any help the diameter of the circle (2 x radius) can't be any less than the side of the square, otherwise some external force is required.

Mathematics and economics (of which demographics owe their origin) aside I congratulate your declaration of support for the 'stoopers' strategy of British Rights for British Citizens . Not a bad one in truth for those that have achieved the benefits of the 'noveau riche' but by my guess somewhat lacking for those that haven't yet caught or those that have already missed the boat.

All that said very few of the 'stoopers' to their credit have worn the poppy. Have you?

Tain Bo said...

Henry JoY,

Are you saying that somehow the leaders of 1916 were psychic and could see what lay ahead? Hardly a poor case of revisionism I just have the luxury of history to use as a guide.
Predicting what lay ahead and blaming them are two choirs singing two different songs.
I am saying the country was knackered and thusly made it possible for the stronger nation to manipulate and win partition.
Much the same happened more recently when the knackered (want to be politicians) were led by the nose and somehow they were the horse that pulled the PIRA/INLA wagon which lead directly to a conditional surrender.

I owe no allegiance to a crown nor to a foreign government I fully understand why militants decide to plough on and as an Irishman can agree with their right to do so.
That however also allows for the argument to disagree with the present armed struggle.
This is problematic for me as I refuse to turn my back on republican prisoners.

Rather than see PRF concentrate on having a go they should consider a purely defensive role and build on the near future with the 2016 anniversary close at hand their energy would be better spent on increasing awareness as national republican pride will be up for grabs.
How much of that support they can garnish depends on the effort they put into it and so far the gun is not attracting people towards unity.

Their silence does not help their cause that has the effect of self-censorship so without a strong political party where exactly are they going militarily?

Would things have been different if 1916 had been 1919 instead they certainly would have gained international support that was forgone during the Great War.

Today the Brits dominate in a different way and have PRF figured out they are careful not to stir support for PRF but insist on waiting them out.

In the end it is up to the individual whether they are for or against circumstances would have to change greatly in favour of PFR in order to justify continuation as for now all republicanism is doing is losing people to jails.

Tain Bo said...

Larry.

A dead giveaway might be the way the Brits are reacting to PRF and too republicanism in general.
They have never had it so good and are not about to leave if they had any intention of leaving that would have been clear during the treaty.

I probably won’t live long enough to see the demographics change but I hope by then both side of the border are financially well off otherwise we will probably see just another round of fighting in our long history of fighting.

If PRF refuses to adapt then it will be lost in the pages of history considering we can’t agree with ourselves the Brits only sit back and laugh.

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

The very possible outcome to all this will be a partitioned Ireland with RC majorities in both jurisdictions.

Henry Joy

My granda survived Dunkirk and D-Day only to die of heartattack doin vigilante in the early 70s in Armagh. The idea of wearing a poppy holds no fear for me.

Tain Bo said...

Larry,

I don’t find the idea of the RC Church holding power in political affairs an attractive prospect.
They like any other religions should stick to saving souls; I don’t mean that to be disrespectful of religion or to those who believe in religion.
We know that politics and religion only cause more problems. I have never liked the influence the RC Church holds in the Free State.

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

agree totally re RC church. My use of 'RC majority' was an attempt to put things into simple logic for our unionist brethren. Just because they're paranoid doesn't mean for a split second we aren't out to get them.

Tain Bo said...

Larry,

I got what you meant I was just wondering if the RC Church would have as much sway in our neck of the woods or in the very distant future would we be smart enough to separate Church and State.
I never did favour the prospect of United Ireland if the RC Church held a major say in matters beyond redeeming heathens like me.

As we know religion is literally deathly business for some so of course we are always out to get them after we figure out how to get ourselves.

Though it would be nice to see the back of Peter and Marty and all the other clowns who run this circus although I believe even god abandon us all to suffer that lot.

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

Prefer religion to be barred from political influence but never going to happen in this country.

Perhaps best to keep Marty and Peter in place until they both get senile together in political bliss. Otherwise 'Christ' knows what sort of nut-jobs might appear on the scene to replace them.

Tain Bo said...

Larry,

I hate to agree with you on that one but you are right religion will always be a major factor or influence on our political landscape.

I thought they both display signs of senility as the only thing they seem to remember is to disagree.
When I suggest replacing them it would be with those less tainted with the past as they want us to move on whilst they stand still playing the blame game.

larry hughes said...

Tain Bo

The electorate keep putting them in then crying 'foul'. Recon a collective junket for all is required to somewhere nice, like Kabul or Damascus. Start another property bubble there even!

Tain Bo said...

Larry,

Nice suggestion but still too close to home I was thinking two permanent seats on the international space station that way they would be literally high above the people and not just believing they are above the people.

larry hughes said...

Stormont today is something i've never suffered more than 2 minutes of. I see the 'heads' siting there like Sean Lynch trying to look ever so serious and dare I say 'dangerous' lol

I simply have to move on to something more worthy like 'tellytubbies'. There's a 'one way ticket' to Mars opportunity coming up. I know MH is very capable of applying, maybe he could extract some of those MLA's out of the Stormont bubble to accompany him.?? That would be worth a viewing.