2000: The republican debate: GFA a victory or defeat? (Jack Holland, Irish Echo)
2002: Time has run out for an armed IRA (The Observer)
2004: Padraic Paisley (The Blanket)
2005: The IRA Is Morphing Into the ‘Rafia’ (LA Times)
2006: The Blanket & "Manifesto: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism"
2006: Freedom of Speech (The Blanket)
2006: ‘The Blanket’ and the Cartoon Controversy: Anthony McIntyre Interviewed (Martyn Frampton, Henry Jackson Society)
2006: An honour to have been part of Blanket protest (Irish News)
2006: The Price of Our Memory (Speech given at the Annual H-Block Hunger Strike Commemoration)
* A Structural Analysis of Modern Irish Republicanism: 1969-1973, PhD Thesis, Queen's, (1999).
* Modern Irish Republicanism and the Belfast Agreement: Chickens Coming Home to Roost, or Turkeys Celebrating Christmas? in Aspects of the Belfast Agreement, (2001).
* Provisional Republicanism - Internal Politics, Inequities and Modes of Repression in Republicanism in Modern Ireland, (2003).
* Modern Irish Republicanism: The Product of British State Strategies, 1995, (reprint), in Irish Political Studies Reader: Key Contributions, (2007).
* Of Myths and Men: Dissent within Republicanism and Loyalism, Transforming the Peace Process in Northern Ireland: From Terrorism to Democratic Politics, (2008).
* Chuckle Ar La, Irish Review - Special Issue on Belfast Agreement, (2008).
* Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism, (2008)
Older Archive is in process of being updated:
- Address made to the Sinn Féin internal conference at the RDS, Dublin, 1995
- Republicanism Disfigured, September 1995
- Frustrations of the Grassroot Republican, October 1995
- Gerry Adams, Keeping the Mutterers At Bay, Parliamentary Brief, November 1995
- A Star That Does Not Shine, Winter 1995
- The Bridge Trimble Won't Cross, Parliamentary Brief, December 1995
- Sad to say, but how wide the gulf now? Parliamentary Brief, March 1996
- Farewell Ardglass (1997)
- Nationalists have only themselves to blame 25/1/98
- Why Stormont reminds me of Animal Farm 12/4/98
- We, The IRA have failed 22/5/98
- Is Sinn Féin a victim of its own design? Parliamentary Brief, May/June 1998
- Sinn Fein stance harms republican cause 20/7/98
- Inside their minds 17/8/98
- Using 'Disappeared' as political pawns adds to IRA shame 4/4/1999
- British State Strategy: article in The Sovereign Nation, May/June 1999
- IRA fighters spilt their blood in vain 4/7/99
- Another victory for Unionism 4/7/99
- The Man Northern Ireland Must Prove To Be Wrong, Parliamentary Brief, Summer 1999
- Getting the Vote Out: article in The Sovereign Nation, July/August 1999
- Real IRA - really no excuse 22/8/99
- A review of the Patten report. Sept 1999
- Sinn Fein has no alternative to British rule in Ireland 14/11/99
- Sinn Fein leadership is trying to forget its republican past 15/11/99
- Farewell to arms 21/11 99
- I'll Keep Speaking Out: letter to the Andersontown News, 27/11/99
- Mice Catching Cats: letter to the Andersontown News, 11/12/99
- Follow Me, I'm Right Behind You 1/02/00
- Britain is the ruling power 12/02/2000
- Dangerous Liaison 18/02/00
- The Spoils of Victory 27/03/00
ADDRESS MADE TO THE SINN FEIN INTERNAL CONFERENCE AT THE RDS, DUBLIN
I do not agree with the peace strategy. But this should not be construed as being anti-leadership. I am not so stupid, nor are the delegates here today so stupid, not to realise that this leadership are the people responsible for rubbing the noses of the British state in their own dirt over the past twenty five years and for which they should be applauded. A principal reason for my opposition to the peace strategy is that it cannot secure a declaration of intent to withdraw. Furthermore, I object to its strategic orientation toward the forces of constitutional nationalism in the North but more particularly in the South. The leadership manage the strategy quite well. But they do so by compensating with good ring craft for a lack of punching power. There is no punch in the strategy that could secure a declaration of intent to withdraw.
One of the reasons that it cannot secure a declaration of intent lies in the compromise made on the question of national self-determination. There has been a fracturing of the concept. In 1972 when the republican delegation went to meet the British in Chelsea, the first demand, recorded in the British House of Commons library, was for the right of the Irish people to national self-determination. Since then the concept has taken on an SDLP connotation. Republicans are now saying that no longer have the Irish people just the right to national self-determination, but they also have the right to decide how to exercise national self-determination. And this means that if a majority of people in Ireland as a whole decide that there will be no united Ireland until a majority of people in the North decide to come into one, that, by the very logic of the new definition, constitutes national self-determination. It is, I regret to say, a partitionist compromise.
And this takes us directly to the question of British strategy. Contrary to what some have said here today, the British state have had a very clear and consistent strategy since the early 1970s at least. Different governments may have had different policies and different emphases may have been placed on different things from time to time, but the state has always had one strategic objective. That objective has been to render ineffectual the military capacity of the IRA, and/or, more importantly, to render ineffectual the military capacity of the IRA to effect political change. Foremost, that change that would bring about unity without the consent of the unionists. In my estimation the British have largely succeeded in this objective. This is because the present strategy, if not yet having capitulated to the unionist veto, has come dangerously close to doing so.
This being so, what is the purpose in all-party talks? What have we to talk about at them when the outcome has been pre-determined in advance - no united Ireland without the consent of the unionists?
The logic of the strategy is that the only thing that can emerge from it or all-party talks is an internal solution with the externality of an Irish dimension grafted on. Some may argue that this should be construed as meaning that the extent to which Dublin comes in is the extent to which London pulls out. But even if true, the fact remains that the unionists will determine when the north will join a united Ireland. We may go to such an Ireland in a green vehicle, but the pace at which we go shall be determined by the unionists. This, in my view, is not acceptable. It is unity by consent which is a partitionist fudge.
We have heard today that there are some who are leaving the movement because they disagree with the peace strategy. There is no one more opposed to the strategy than me. Most people know my views on the matter. At the 1986 Ard Fheis, Martin McGuinness said if you walk away from this conference the only place you are going is home. He is right. I have been in this movement twenty-two years, eighteen of it in prison. I am not going home.
This leadership is not going to sell us out. Any suggestion that they will is ridiculous. But that does not mean that the strategy is right. I believe it is wrong. I will argue to change it. There are people in leadership who do listen to such arguments and ideas. They do not agree with the content of those ideas but they are at least prepared to tease out for debate ideas opposed to their own. In particular I would like to single out Mitchel McLaughlin, Gerry O'hEara and Tom Hartley.
But having said that, I too could be wrong and may be critical at a time when the leadership is doing its best to move the struggle on. So for that reason I am not going to take up the position of some others whose rallying cry is 'back to war'. My message to this conference is not back to war but 'back to work'.
FRUSTRATIONS OF THE GRASSROOT REPUBLICAN
The IRA ceasefire is now just past its first anniversary. That landmark was deemed by many this time last year to be a potential non-event. Those who thought otherwise, were inclined toward the view that if the anniversary was reached then the basis for a permanent peace would have been long since established. Neither school of thought were correct. We have the first anniversary but no sign of permanent peace.
British involvement of itself in Ireland has less been the primary factor in determining political violence over the past twenty five years than has the pro-union stance it has taken. The military and political actions the British state has been compelled to take and the nature of the alliances it has felt obliged to construct by the very logic of that stance, has led to a politically violent situation of extreme polarization in the North of Ireland.
Consequently, it is insufficient to define this polarization in terms of two communities apart. It is more accurate and politically honest to view the polarization in terms of one community alienated from the British state and those who support it.
The republican position amounts to one of demanding that the British state cease to maintain the pro-union stance, become genuinely neutral and act as persuaders for unity. At present it is inconceivable that the British state will bend to the last of these demands. If it were to, there exists the possibility that it would be accused of 'coercive persuasion'. And it has with massive military force nailed its colours to the mast that it will not coerce the unionists.
Yet the British state could cede the first two republican demands without in any way coercively persuading the unionists. By pursuing such a course of action it would open up the space for a process of what the nationalist columnist Desmond Fennell twenty years ago termed 'imaginative persuasion'. Nationalists, without the structural blockage of the unionist veto, would have the political space to engage in a process of imaginative and non-coercive persuasion. The very minimum that is required for this is inclusive all-party talks.
It is becoming apparent to many in wider 'nationalist Ireland' that the primary aim of present British strategy is to secure the eradication of militant Irish republicanism, rather than create a peace which would obviate the raison d'etre of the latter. With every twist and turn of British political maneuvering this dangerous but accurate interpretation of their intentions has taken firmer hold. It is manifesting itself in increasing disenchantment on the ground. During the 1981 hunger strike, the leader of the republican prisoners in the Maze prison camp, Brendan McFarlene, commented that 'it appears that they are not interested in simply undermining us but completely annihilating us'. The proceeding years were a consequence of that as much as anything else. That phrase of McFarlene's captures the essence of republican feeling on the ground today.
The longer the present impasse is allowed to linger, the more apparent it is that it is to the detriment of republicans and to the advantage of those who have been responsible for the state of oppression experienced by nationalists throughout the history of the Northern Ireland state. Furthermore, republicans are understandably apprehensive as a consequence of the 1975 truce. The Guardian on the 15th of July 1975, reported that:
Constitutionally, politically and militarily, the situation in Northern Ireland has never been so fluid or open to speculation. So called solutions like independence, restored majority rule and British withdrawal are openly canvassed and debated in the best informed circles, and with every day that passes the wilder predictions are growing more credible.
By the 10th of October 1975 the Times was reporting that British officials 'are privately anxious that the so-called ceasefire should continue ... they acknowledge that much of government policy is based on its longevity'. And in spite of the movement, fluidity and British professions of good faith, the aim of British government policy in that era became evident in the criminalisation strategy, resulting in the hunger strikes which prompted the very comment of Brendan McFarlene.
Republicans are now faced with a British government intent on dividing the nationalist consensus that all party talks should proceed as a matter of urgency. Little has seemingly changed in Tory strategy over the years. In 1972 the Conservative MP, Julian Critchley, revealed British state thinking in relation to the Dublin government when he claimed that the taoiseach Jack Lynch's 'attitude to the IRA in the South ... is the key to the eventual military victory for which the security forces are working in the North'.
This type of unchanged thinking can only serve to create the very combustible mix with which to hurl the people of these islands back into the cul de sac of violent political conflict.
SINN FEIN STANCE HINDERS REPUBLICAN CAUSE
by Anthony McIntyre
An edited version appeared in the Sunday Tribune 20/7/97
Whatever surprise the imminent announcement of yet another IRA cease-fire holds for some lies only in its timing. Coming so shortly after Mo Mowlam, with a viciousness even Roy Mason would find hard to rival, directed the battering of innocent nationalists off the streets, the cease-fire announcement is in stark contrast to the steely and defiant IRA response to previous such repressive activity indulged in by British Labour governments.
But modern republicanism has travelled quite some distance since the Mason era and the heady days of its formation in 1969; or even since the 'summer' of its 'political' metamorphosis in 1986 when the Sinn Fein president could proclaim: 'if at any time Sinn Fein decide to disown the armed struggle they won't have me as a member'.
That is not to say that Sinn Fein have 'disowned' the armed struggle outright although there have been instances when the activities of IRA volunteers have been condemned by the Sinn Fein leadership. What is of more importance is that Sinn Fein has felt compelled to join all those other forces in Irish political life who refuse to support the actions of the IRA in public. Consequently, it may be said, Sinn Fein has contributed to the isolation of the IRA in public and political discourse.
And it is primarily the isolation and defeat of the IRA that concerns the British state. If the IRA were to cease to exist the British would not care how many nationalists voted Sinn Fein. They know that republicans without armed struggle are like birds without wings - unable to go anywhere. This was articulated most plausibly by Danny Morrison a number of years ago when he wrote that even if Sinn Fein were to win all the nationalist seats in the North and probably even if it won the majority of seats in the twenty six counties Britain would still not withdraw - armed struggle would remain essential.
Regardless of the merits or otherwise of armed struggle the rationale behind the absence of faith in an exclusively unarmed strategy is quite clear. More importantly it is a no less valid rationale today than it was at the time of Morrison's original comments. The fact that the unionists refuse to entertain either a British withdrawal or a united Ireland and have been given an immutable guarantee to prevent any such outcome means that neither republicans nor 'nationalist Ireland' in general can advance to the traditional republican objective in an unarmed manner.
The Sinn Fein leadership has recognised this and, premised on its own belief that the IRA cannot secure a British declaration of intent to withdraw, has politically, strategically and, to a lesser extent, discursively felt compelled to gradually nudge the republican project away from its traditional objective of a united Ireland regardless of unionist consent, and dangerously - others would say deliberately - towards the 'partitionist fudge' position of unity by consent.
The British for their part, do not care if Ireland is united, only that it should be so with the consent of the unionists. This is not out of a respect for the democratic wishes of the unionists but is the logic of a permanent structural acquiescence to the unionist strategy of threat. Ultimately, what the British are allowing republicans - by permitting them into all-party talks where they can argue for a united Ireland without the remotest possibility of securing it - is an opportunity to dig a tunnel to the moon. Despite Mr Adams's professed commitment to 'work to create the political conditions which will change British government policy towards Ireland', his formidable political and organisational skills, his insatiable desire for justice, the resilience and determination of his organisation in general and the vibrancy of his party on the ground, digging a tunnel to the moon is surely beyond republicans.
All-party blether characterised by blah blah blah and wah wah wah can only produce at best an outcome rather than a solution. And in order for that outcome to be dressed up as a solution the participants shall have to sign up to a package swathed in gobbledegook and jabberwocky, deliberately pitched above the heads of most of us. Sinn Fein enter those talks extolling the supposed virtues of conflict resolution. Yet as Kirsten Schulze has recently pointed out the compromise necessary for conflict resolution in disputes of the type in the North ''was often imposed through the use of force by the majority community''. And the British government in the form of Blair and Mowlam has made it perfectly clear that the majority community shall have their wishes respected.
Republican leaders are as intelligent as the republican base. And significant sections of that base are in no doubt that all-party blether can lead only to what Tony Blair has said it would - no end to partition; no British declaration of intent to withdraw; no united Ireland. Stripped of those elements the outcome can have no identifiable republican content. So what is the logic of the republican leadership in so desperately seeking admission to all-party 'talks'? It can only lie in Mr Adams' revealing article in Thursday's Irish News, in which he stated Sinn Fein will press for 'a renegotiation of the union'. That at least is arguably an achievable goal at all-party talks - but it is hardly a republican one.
In Friday's Irish News Mr Adams claimed the paper had miscontextualised his comments of the previous day. Papers habitually do such things. But whatever the truth, the question remains of how such a statement as 'a renegotiation of the union' ever came to be part of the republican discourse. My own view, for what it is worth, is that the original Irish News article was an accurate reflection of the Sinn Fein leadership's position - what other basis is there for going into all-party talks? - and Mr Adams' allegations of miscontextualisation was an exercise in steadying a base justifiably upset by the possibility of republicans being reduced to the status of union renegotiators.
The outcome of all party talks shall be 'partition plus'. What the plus will encompass is a matter for conjecture. Sinn Fein will undoubtedly strive to magnify that plus beyond anything the unionists will be happy with. Yet the terms of reference are such that a Sunningdale type arrangement is the most that can be expected.
And Sunningdale, while an advance on what exists in the north at present, nevertheless produced for the first time what Mr Adams termed a fully fledged catholic partitionist party - the SDLP. Given that, time alone shall tell if researchers and analysts may yet come to conclude that the peace process produced a second - Sinn Fein.
Republicanism has been in a state of ideological and strategic turbulence throughout the 1990s, in itself no bad thing as calm waters move nothing. But unlike similar turbulence in the mid to late 1970s which produced a determined fighting machine clear in its aims the 1990s has resulted in a strategic aberration termed the peace process. Republicanism can now front itself with the traditional goals but this remains a purely discursive exercise. The strategic reality is that, given the present peace process, the most republicans can gain is a renegotiation of the Union. As Mr Adams himself said in 1986 - the notion that the British can be talked out of Ireland is contemptible. Nothing in the intervening years has altered that unpalatable reality.
There now exists a very real danger that the spin in the peace process will hurl republicanism out of its own ideological orbit and into the arid sterility of constitutional nationalism. IRA volunteers, Sinn Fein activists and the wider republican community deserve much better.
I'LL KEEP SPEAKING OUT
As a rule I advise others never to respond to anonymous authors. Debate only with real people not shadows. I shall not depart from that rule. But republican friends have persuaded me to comment on the vulgar attempt at intimidation carried in last week's Andersonstown News letters page. In political debate we must be thick skinned - we give it and we get it. I shall be the last to complain about that.
But I shall speak only to the republican base and not the nameless letter writer. I believe that republicanism is being smothered to death; that it is losing its radical soul and is being rapidly transformed into constitutional nationalism; that the difference between republican policies and those of the SDLP are razor thin; that the slightest whimper of resistance to this is being sat upon. I may of course be wrong about where the present republican strategy is leading us. But I shall never know if I am denied the option of collectively, openly and fully discussing alternatives.
I believe that the republican leadership has an inalienable right to speak to the republican base through whatever medium it chooses. Censorship is a crime against the public intellect. When the republican leadership was censored North and South it was a crime not just against them but against us all. I further believe that the republican base has a similar inalienable right to receive as many alternative explanations of events as it wishes to consider. I remain convinced that the base has been denied this right for quite some time. There has been little ventilation of alternative views; there has been a concerted attempt to ensure there shall be 'no other voices'. The republican base has been allowed to participate only in a dangerous strategy of conformity.
As a member of the republican base, presumably no better or worse than the next member, I have made a conscious decision to use every means available for the purpose of informing the base. I have gone to the papers, spoken on TV and radio, polemicised and analysed. Again, I may be wrong in some of it - maybe all of it. But there is only one place in which a republican should be silent - in the custody of the RUC. If I were to be convinced that no one in the republican base wanted to read what I write or hear what I say I would call it a day, ignore the media and spare myself the wrath of some fellow republicans. But is the republican base uniformly hostile to my views? Or is there a thirst for wider discussion?
Quite unlike Vincent McKenna I have been and remain a Provisional republican. That I am no longer a member of the Republican Movement is largely due to my refusal to be muzzled. I left - I was not expelled. I respect grassroots IRA volunteers and Sinn Fein activists. Many of them are the best within our communities. I am not their voice but I feel they are denied any voice. David Trimble and John Hume seem to know more about their future than they do themselves. I will not turn my back on them to curry favour with the BBC.
I have been warned that the BBC will do a hatchet job on me if I have any skeletons in my cupboard. I suppose, like the rest of us, I have plenty of skeletons. But none of mine are secrets. And each has a backbone. I am less ashamed of skeletons than my accuser is ashamed of his or her identity. There is nothing of significance in my private or political life that the republican community does not know about. And they, not the BBC, are what matters to me.
Undoubtedly, there are those who think I can be silenced, that my views can be stifled and prevented from filtering through to the republican base. They are mistaken. Short of the silence of the grave my republican voice will not go away you know.
Andersonstown News 27/11/1999