William Johnstone tries in vain to find a difference between Sinn Fein and the Workers' Party. William Johnstone is a Ballymoney unionist with an interest in history and politics.
Let me get something straight here. I made a comment recently about how Sinn Fein has many similarities with the Worker's Party. Since then, I have been thinking about that.
The Republican movement split in 1970. The result of that split was the emergence of four groups. The "splitters" became known as Provisional Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA. The remainder of the original movement became known as Official Sinn Fein and the Official IRA. It was not a harmonious split. Throughout the 70s, both factions turned their guns on each other during bloody feuds.
The main reason for the split, as I understand it, was unrest and anger from mainly Ulster based Republicans that the Southern leadership and their allies in Northern Ireland were not doing enough to protect Nationalists particularly in Belfast. Also, the "Officials"were moving in a particularly political direction at the expense of the military. The old Leftist Republicans like Cathal Goulding, Sean Garland and Tomas MacGiolla were under the spell of Roy Johnson who was weaning them away from a military victory, or even a military campaign. Whilst the Southern leadership were debating the works of Marx, Nationalists were under nightly attack from a a variety of groups.
The Provisional movement worried less about Marx and Trotsky and more about arms procurement and renewing the fight in Northern Ireland. They sought and obtained the blessing of Tom Maguire, the last surviving TD of the old Dail from whence Republicans drew legitimacy for their campaign.
In 1973, the Officials called a ceasefire that basically held, aside from the odd feud with Provisinals and a very bloody spat with the fledgling INLA/IRSP.
What I need straightened out is where the difference lies between Sinn Fein / PIRA and the Worker's Party/OIRA? The old Officials expelled anyone who disagreed with them - the Shinners forced Ruairi O'Bradaigh, Daithi O'Connell and co out of the organisation for disagreeing with their change of policy. The Officials recognised the Dail and took their seats in it - so have the Shinners. The Officials accepted partition and the concept of majority rule - so have the Shinners. The Officials run down the military campaign and then abandoned it altogether - so have the Shinners.
I could go on and on but it wouldn't become any clearer. The old joke that the only difference between the Officials and the Provisionals is 25 years rings true. Not that I would know much about it, being a stupid Prod and all that .........