Of Decommissioning and Opportunism

Danielle Ni Dhighe danielle at irsm.org
Wed Nov 5 20:00:38 MST 2003

At 04:29 AM 10/28/2003, D OC wrote:
 >As might be imagined, I have a slightly different
 >take on recent events here than Danielle has.

I rather imagined you might.

 >Anyone who wants to know *accurately* what happened
 >should read the wording of statements released

I would certainly encourage people to read those statements and make up
their own minds about the matter, but I would caution them to read those
statements with a critical eye.  It's more important to note what Sinn Fein
does than what it says.  For all that you say about SF's alleged socialism,
the reality when SF members were ministers in the Stormont Executive was
that they supported privatisation schemes and fought against the demands of
low-paid school employees.

Six months before the GFA was agreed to, Martin McGuinness, who was your
party's chief negotiator during the talks, publicly stated that Sinn Fein
would *never* accept a revived Stormont.  "P. O'Neill" (for those
unfamiliar with the name, it's the pseudonym the Provisional IRA signs its
public statements with) stated around the same time that decommissioning
would never happen.  Do you really wonder why some people are skeptical?

 >Sinn Fein has said that the recent negotiations were not
 >about merely getting elections but rather to reestablish
 >the structures of the GFA.

The primary structure being Stormont.  They wouldn't go to all this trouble
just for cross-border tourism and fishing agencies.

 >not to mention the despair of the British and Irish Govts
 >who looked on the GFA as a means to institutionalise and
 >split Republicans.

Well, it's easy enough to argue that they achieved the former, although the
latter certainly didn't happen to any significant degree.

 >The other thing is that your analysis lacks any dialectical
 >aspect - Peace is, in my presentation, contingent upon the
 >advancement of an effective and meaningful Peace Process.

What does that mean in plain English?

 >As for the IRSP doing campaign work on doorsteps - it must
 >be very small scale as I've never heard anything.

I'll concede that we're a much smaller party than yours and thus campaigns
we undertake rarely get much publicity, but my real point was what we're
advocating as an alternative to the armed struggle, which you seem to have
dismissed out of hand.

Now I happen to believe that most socialists, even those who might
otherwise be critical of the IRSP/INLA, would tend to think renewing the
struggle in communities and workplaces would be a better strategy than
going into government and enacting neo-liberal economic policies!

 >Successful leaders are often refered to as 'opportunist' by their
 >defeated opponents - its an easy term to level at people.

Opportunist: one who takes advantage of circumstances often with little
regard for principles.  That's how my dictionary defines the term.  If I
use it to describe the Provisional leadership, it's because I believe my
analysis supports it, not because I'm a "defeated opponent".

 >IMO, the traditionalist wing i.e. O'Bradaigh et al were too
 >rigid for a 'struggle of position'.

I would agree with you on that point.  I'm equally critical of the
traditionalists.  They seem to think a few more bombs will push the British
out.  Their militarism has rendered them irrelevant in most republican
communities and they seem to have nothing else to fall back on.

 >As for shifting against the left wing in the early 1990s - I
 >don't see much evidence of that - I'm not sure what you're
 >referring to.

My analysis is based on talking to former members of your movement who were
pushed out because of their principled left politics as well as looking at
the evolution of your party since the pan-nationalist front concept was

 >Its certainly true that the nationalist middle-class are now
 >beginning to support SF - but that's a sign of strength in that
 >they're coming under the leadership of a disciplined working-class

If the petit-bourgeoisie now see SF as a better vehicle for their class
interests, I find it difficult to interpret that as a sign of strength for
SF as a supposedly socialist party!

 >Sinn Fein has roots deep in local communities and is committed
 >to achieving Irish Unity and the 'Ireland of Equals'.

Again, what does that mean in plain English?  It sounds like a political
slogan that could just as easily come from Fianna Fail or the SDLP (both of
which have "roots deep in local communities").  If your party's goal is a
32-county socialist republic, why dance around the issue with vague talk of
an "Ireland of Equals" that the center-right could just as easily use?

Danielle Ni Dhighe
Prisoner Welfare Officer & Puget Sound Chapter Contact
Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America
danielle at irsm.org - http://www.irsm.org/irsm.html

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