Alternative Strategies

Donal donaloc at
Mon Feb 4 10:04:15 MST 2002

Liam posted a note on possible alternatives to the current strategy. I have
never suggested that 'there are no alternatives to the current strategy'
rather I would suggest that of the extant, feasible options for pursuit - we
have chosen the most adequate one.

Now let's analyse them (I will include two others, the current strategy and
the 'Do Nothing' option of continued war).

Option 1. Continue the military war - this would be feasible into the
short-term; however, we would have to negotiate at some stage anyway - we
couldn't defeat the Brits - we knew this through bitter experience - our Tet
offensive (1985-88) couldn't deliver. But they couldn't defeat us - so we
had to choose another option.

Option 2. Push for border to be redrawn - this would result in the
liberation of my county and Tyrone - it's unlikely that the Unionists would
allow Armagh and Derry to go free - so it's likely that they would be split
in two. The main problem with this is that it would just crystallise the
problem - People in Larne would just have to get used to living under Brit
rule and sectarian terror or else move out. Not only would this be
unacceptable to us, it would be unacceptable to the Unionists too.

Option 3. Push for UK vote on future of Six Counties - For a start, the UK's
claim to the six counties is a lie. The future of the Irish people must be
determined by ourselves. In any case, this option is not one a Republican
movement would ever pursue. The Brits never wanted to retain the six
counties, that was never what it was about - that's just a Unionist myth. If
the Brits held a plebescite tomorrow they wouldn't get out. The option for a
six-county wide poll would be included in options 4,5 and 6 (it is in the
British-Irish Agreement - but has yet to be tested).

Option 4. Push for Joint Authority - SF are quite receptive to this option.
Indeed, it is thought that if the DUP succeed in bringing about the collapse
of Stormont then this will be the outcome (quite a reward for them!). We
would prefer to have some degree of self-governance, but joint authority is
certainly not something we would turn our noses up at. Of course, we would
scream high murder over it, but it would be a move forward, particularly if
the status was underpinned by a Constitutional arrangement. The one reason
this is not an option for the moment is the consistent refusal by Trimble to
buy into this. He would come under extreme pressure from Paisleyites as it
would be worse than the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985. This is a non-runner
at present - but may come about before reunification.

Option 5. Enter Stormont but not the Executive - as I stated before this
would be the equivalent of a stickie policy in Stormont. We would just be
allowing the Unionists to carve up the entire devolved powers - and if you
expect the SDLP to stop them, you forget how downright incompetant and
morally unsound that bunch is. If we put constitutional arrangements in
place to ensure that Stormont wouldn't return to the bad old days we would
be writing ourselves into oblivion - the SDLP would be centre-stage in the
defence of Nationalists. We would be allowed to snipe on about how services
were getting run-down but without the National issue we would be going
nowhere in terms of political strength and an ignominous end would be

Option 6. Enter Stormont and the Executive - this option would necessitate
our administering capitalist austerity in the transitory period. On the good
side, we gain experience of managing the NHS, Education, general government
experience (how to deal with Civil Servants), we also get the opportunity to
destroy the SDLP at the polls (having displaced them from the 'middle
ground') and we get to push a radical agenda (albeit constrained by our
powerlessness. At all times, we can blame the Brits for austerity and combat
Unionism through proactivity on the equality issue.

I think that there may have been other options but this at least is my views
on them. Such a schema is limited as the course of the last few years has
led us into compromises we could not see beforehand. As Phil correctly says,
there are not too many within the movement who would have seen themselves in
this position five, ten or fifteen years ago. For many outside the immediate
activist-base and for those with a long tradition of Republican involvement,
these are testing times; however, I think that we have passed the worst

Liam writes: More importantly, most of the divisions and splits that have
weakened Irish
Republicanism since would have had less chances to happen, and the
Provisionals could have gone ahead as unified movement.

I think that we are stronger now than we have ever been.

Liam: Today, the task ahead is to create a space within Irish Republicanism
and progressive
currents where different alternative strategies can be worked out; so that
never again they will be faced with the argument that “there are no

Different alternatives must always be considered. Political space for such
to be identified is very necessary. I would like to see all Republicans
recognise the valid opinions of our comrades and to engage them; however,
this must be done on an internal basis. We must also know that the unlimited
space for internal discussion and debate is not space for any external
fracturing of the struggle. That means that when the movement decide
something, everybody must abide by that decision; however, that goes for
leadership as well as base-activists. For us to be able to bring this mode
of decision-making in more completely, we will need the entire base to at
least be singing from the same hymn-sheet in terms of our ultimate
objectives - we have never had this - that's why we need an education
programme to be implemented rapidly.

Is mise,


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