Bernadette McAliskey's speech

D OC donaloc at
Mon Nov 18 07:15:48 MST 2002

>It is important to make that distinction not to be politically
sectarian, not to be divisive, but because in the days, years and
months that are coming, there will be no Irish Republican Army. We
are looking at this point at the final stage of the Peace Process,
which is the disbanding of the main organisation of military
resistance for over 100 years.

This is quite unreal.

>In order to facilitate the development of the Good Friday Agreement
and in order to facilitate the setting up of devolved government and
local power sharing systems, it was crucially necessary and could not
have been done, had the British not been able to enlist within that
process the leadership of the broad republican movement, both
politically and military. But equally in order to maintain the
British position, while it was necessary to draw them in to
facilitate its creation, the maintenance of those systems and their
smooth running mean that they must now be excluded. They were
necessary to create devolved administration. They are not necessary
to maintain it. It is as simple as that.

There can be no elective-representative structure without SF, even the SDLP
concede this.

>Sinn Fein as the leadership of the single biggest organisation in the
broad republican movement is now facing two choices. One is to stay
in the Assembly by conceding to the demands of the other people who
wish to maintain it: disband the Army. It is as simple as that. Not
my organisation, not my army, not my choice, not my nightmare. I
didn't vote for the Good Friday Agreement and told them this day was
coming as early as 1994, as did many other people here. That's their
choice. Their other choice is to walk away from government.

As for the dichotomy, it's not accurate. The GFA remains in place without
the assembly, in fact in the breathing space offered by this suspension,
Republicans are looking at working more extensively in those cross-border
structures established under the GFA. It's not any skin off Republican teeth
that the partitionist Assembly and Executive have been suspended.
Surprisingly, we fought to keep them up but the were closed because the
Unionists could not take equality. The Brits (and whoever else) decided that
they would prefer Republicans to carry the can for what was clearly a
Unionist decision and so they arranged the raids on SF's Stormont offices.
Republicans are simply demanding the immediate and full implementation of
the GFA. There can be no walking away from the structures established under
the GFA, no more than the agreement's terms itself. Unrealisable demands
will get the Brits or Unionists nowhere.

Right now, the main discussion is over the Brit's proposed legislation on
Policing. I remain unconvinced that they will get anywhere near implementing
the Patten Agreement in full. We'll see how serious the British are on this
now. The other big issue is whether the Brits call elections in May.

>I would have preferred to have seen the instinct of the republican
movement demonstrated when the police invaded Stormont. There was a
day when Gerry Kelly would have walked out on his heel and told them
where to stick their Assembly. There was a day when Bairbre de Brun
would have walked down the steps of Stormont pulling the door behind
her and saying, "When you are serious about democracy, call me back".

If these SF representatives had have done this then they would have acted in
a reactionary manner. Both communities want the GFA structures to remain in
place, SF is now seen as defenders of the Agreement - whereas the Unionists
look like wreckers (irrespective of the police stunts). It is perhaps
interesting that Bernadette remarks about how many mistakes they made and
that not one which could have been made was left unmade, well I think her
political judgement is again unsure.

>That's not to say that they should embark upon taking people back to
war, embark in some increase of violence or threat to the public
peace. Those are not the choices. The choice, no matter how long they
take about it, will simply be to disband, demobilise and demilitarise
entirely their organisation, and go as Mr Trimble has said,
wholeheartedly into constitutional government and the constitutional
running of the state or to walk away from government.

The choices occur within a framework. This way of thinking, of putting
everything in either-or dichotomies, in splendid isolation from fact and
circumstance, is inappropriate. We need to look at the whole range of
alternatives, assess them in their current circumstances and against an
analysis of the whole state structure here and then make the right choice.
As for her allegations, I don't think that they relate to reality.


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