Republican Movement and GFA

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Mon Aug 2 16:53:01 MDT 1999

Gary wrote:

>This was a very thoughtful and well-argued piece, Phillip.  But I just do
>not see the British leaving Ireland. The way out has always been through
>the door as Confucius said.  It just seems to me that they cannot stabilize
>Ireland long enough to pull out.  As well they won't do a de Gaulle and
>abandon the Unionists as the French settlers were abandoned in Algeria.

Yes, I agree, the problem for the Brits is whether they can stabilise
things long enough to pull out.  And where that leaves the Unionists.

I used to think that if the Brits could stabilise things, they wouldn't
need to pull out - ie they could withdraw the troops but they would stay in
the sense of partition being maintained.

At that time, however, the Brits still had to be worried about
republicanism.  Because republicanism is not just A group, but in a sense
an historical consciousness which becomes manifested in a revolutionary
movement and rebellion every generation over the past 200 years, it is a
tricky one for the Brits.

That's why, as you have seen, I am unsure about the possibilities.  I think
it is too early to make hard prognostications.  Also the Irish struggle has
a way of confounding us all!

But I am most wary of all about imagining there is a cycle, and so things
will just go round as they have in the past.  I think, at long last, the
past has finally become a foreign country in Ireland (to paraphrase LP
Hartley's 'The Go-Between').

>In any case we are in broad agreement about the current political
>situation. I am though, as I think you are, very unwilling to stoop to
>simple condemnation of the IRA and Sinn Fein, including Adams. I recognize
>the sacrifices that have been made.

Yes, simple condemnations of Adams and co. are useless and lack any
understanding of the significance of republicanism.  Adams et al are not
some trade union flunkeys or Labour 'leaders' who have sold out the working
class.  They are people who led a revolutionary struggle from the front for
25 years.

>Still we shall see how things evolve over the winter.  The current fuss
>about gun smuggling and the punishment killing is placing a lot of strain
>on the Adams camp.  They have not actually achieved anything and their grip
>on the organizations must be weakening somewhat.

I have to admit that I don't really keep up much with current events in
Ireland.  I am too busy now in New Zealand.  I don't read An Phoblacht any
more, or even get the NZ solidarity mag, which I sometimes used to write
stuff for.  So I'm a bit out of touch.

But I think the leadership's evolution must put a great deal of strain on
the membership.  They have trusted the leadership up to now, by and large,
on the basis of its record and despite widespread grave doubts.  But
republicans are not blind cult followers, like a lot of their 'left'
critics; they have a tendency to break with leaderships that go too far in
accommodating to imperialism.  A fact that Adams and co. are well aware of.

Of course, the dilemma of the Adams cabal is that, as Bernadette has
constantly pointed out, is that they have got themselves in so deep, all
they can do is concede more and more.  Given that Adams and co. overthrew a
prior leadership whose big 'sin' was a few months ceasefire with the Brits
and resulting political confusion, they will be watching their own backs.

I think the Adams group has basically acted pragmatically all the way
through.  If they had've seen in 1990 where they would be in 1999 I think
they might not have taken the course they did (which is also what Trotsky
said about Stalin).  However once they got part way down the road, they
started to have to cover their asses and manoeuvre, getting rid of more
radical elements like Ivor Bell in the north and squeezing Rose Dugdale and
Jim Monaghan (not this list's JM, but the former IRA OC at Portlaoise JM)
out of the leadership.  They even made our cumann (branch), which Jim and
Rose were in, fuse - completely against our will - with a neighbouring
cummann which was anti-the armed struggle and pro-pan nationalism.

So a level of skulduggery entered into things.  By getting rid of people
like Bell, Jim and Rose, and others, they began to make sure there wasn't
an alternative leadership in the wings.

Meanwhile, pan-nationalism in Ireland is such a crock that it has taken
them deeper and deeper into the morass.  Now Adams and co. are fighting for
their political lives.  Whether Blair thinks it is worth saving them, well,
that will be interesting. . .

Philip Ferguson

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