Brief Response to Danielle and Phil

D OC donaloc at
Wed Sep 4 07:08:45 MDT 2002

First thing is that I thought the Phil's post quoting Bernadette
Devlin-McAliskey was a good contribution. Having said that, I think that the
issues which she quite clearly was wrong about with the passing of time are
quite important in really assessing the validity of her general analysis -
she doesn't see the internal contradictions within Unionism or British
Imperialism in particular only within ourselves. However, much of what she
said is the sort of thing you hear among some people.

The primary difficulty is that Bernadette's alternative is to go into
opposition within the Assembly - such a position would isolate ourselves
from the bulk of Nationalist opinion and weaken our strength in
negotiations. On top of that, we would have to rely upon the SDLP to fight
for equality etc, not something conducive to the maintenance of the
Ceasefire. Furthermore, we would inevitably suffer the blame for a collapse
of the institutions and that, too, would reduce our authority.

I think that as a movement we are very focussed upon issues related to
building popular support in pursuit of a consensus for change, freedom and
greater equality. It is precisely this sort of thinking which irks our
critics. Perhaps classically, Danielle makes the easy point:

"What I look at, though, is what SF is doing, not how many supporters
it has.  If we base our decisions on number of supporters, we may as well
pack it in and join Fianna Fail or the Ulster Unionist Party, the two
largest parties in the two statelets.

Further, it's fair to say that those of us who advocate socialism are a
minority in most places.  Should we pack it in and become supporters of
capitalism?  That is the logical conclusion of the argument you're using."

That's truly a misrepresentation of what we are about. We are working with
absolute commitment to building a party grounded in our communities and
their needs - that alone will guarantee our orientation given the
neo-colonial nature of both six and twenty-six county economies. My primary
criticism of the IRSP is that it seems entirely ignorant of the fact that it
is virtually a non-entity in terms of political power - the only arenas in
which one might expect its authority to be raised is in the areas of
violence in interface areas and the issues of robberies and drug-dealers.

Having said that, the influence of the past remains and I heard last week of
someone who was claiming to be a member of the RSM - which is nine times out
of ten an excuse to justify peddling 'our drugs rather than theirs' - when
in reality drugs are sold between different political groupings. Of course,
that sort of behaviour is condemned by the IRSP leadership (who I hold in
good esteem) but it is precisely that sort of behaviour which the RSM is
known for as opposed to any of its statements opposing sectarianism or
Republican 'administration of British Capitalist Austerity'.

The fact that the IRSP seem completely incapable of becoming anything more
than a critical rump of urban activists, has apparently missed the group who
seek instead to blame Sinn Fein for this scenario rather than examine *why*
this has come about in terms of their own actions and policies. I understand
that the RSM have grown slightly over the last few weeks - from various
media sources - however, I cannot forsee the circumstances where the IRSP
will ever become anything greater - well, at least this side of a united

Danielle states:

"The IRSP has not retreated from the core values of republican socialism nor
are any of our members sitting in a British Executive implementing social
austerity measures."

For the nth time, we retain our 'core' objectives but need to actually get
to the stage where we can achieve them. To get to that stage we have to
suffer a number of compromises but never lose sight of our overall
objectives. Its a risky strategy but the only one which will give us a
chance to eventually get into full state power.

> An alleged socialist party has no place in supporting capitalism nor do
its members have any place in implementing neo-liberal economic policy.  If
Ministers McGuinness and De Brun were using their positions to fight for
more radical policies, you might have a point - but they're not.

I am not an adviser to either of these two but I do know that they are doing
what they can - and admittedly that's not a huge amount. The Brits have
control, not just over the money that the Executive gets given but *over the
amount each Department can spend*. And that latter control would mean that
even if we had the authority to raise taxes in the North, we would not be
able to spend them. The situation is one I am very well aware of, but is not
being sufficiently publicised by our own people. Having said that Bairbre is
doing her best to ensure that what meagre resources she has been allocated
are distributed in an equitable manner and Martin has managed to break the
mould and taken the decision on the class-ridden 11+ to the people through a
consultation to every household. Having said that, both used PPP to finance
projects which the 'funding gap' would have failed to deliver in the
beginnings of their terms but since that time the number of PFI projects has
dropped dramatically. The real problem is the absolute lack of economic
self-determination which the Assembly has currently - however, before it
collapses or has an election who knows what SF may do.

Having made these defences, from conversations I have had, it seems that the
Speech is not well liked by many Republicans and I would anticipate some
stinging criticisms in the weeks to come. I will post these when they become
available. The point of the speech is, I guess, to stimulate debate over
tactics and strategic assessment of the steps ahead of us - as such, at
least, it has succeeded quite well.


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