Skip to comments.N. Ireland - IRA's lefty roots still showing
Posted on 09/07/2001 1:09:12 PM PDT by Norn Iron
IRA's lefty roots are still showing
Copyright 2001 Irish Echo Newspaper
September 5 - 11By Jack Holland
In times of political revisionism it is always easy to find something to snigger at. Take, for example, Massachusetts Rep. William Delahunt's remark last week that if Sinn Fein is proven to be linked to revolutionaries "it could prove devastating" to its standing here in the U.S.
Those reporters (like myself) who over the years have stood on usually rain-soaked Belfast pavements listening to the Provisionals representatives read solidarity greetings from every revolutionary group from the ANC to the Sandinistas can be forgiven for muttering some platitude such as, "My, how things have changed."
There was a time, that is, when it was taken for granted that Sinn Fein was identified with revolutionary groups. Now, it is taken for granted that it is not -- at less in the U.S.
The occasion for the congressman's warning was the arrest of three Irishmen -- said to be prominent republicans -- in Colombia two weeks ago, charged with training the Marxist guerrilla group FARC, which has been conducting a mostly rural campaign against the U.S.-backed regime and its right-wing paramilitary allies.
Of course, even before they became politically respectable, in the U.S. the Provisionals have always had to tailor their message to suit their audience. They trimmed away the overtly left-wing rhetoric from The Irish People reports (taken and edited from the much more radical Republican News); they did not talk about their support (in the 1970s and '80s) for communist insurgents in Central and South America nor dwell on the generous handouts from Colonel Gaddafi which kept the "armed campaign" going for a decade longer than it might otherwise might have lasted. The face of the Provisionals in the U.S. was always that of traditional Irish-Catholic nationalism, Joe Cahill rather than the self-proclaimed revolutionary Brian Keenan, who still (when allowed) gives vent to some pre-peace process outpourings. In the U.S., that is, the mood the Provisionals wanted to conjure up was always like that of a Wolf Tones concert. "The International" was not sung.
In Europe, it was a different matter. There, extreme nationalism was suspect and identified with reactionaries and Nazism. So the Provisionals flaunted their left-wing links and could condemn U.S. and British imperialism with equal ferocity. However, they now move in different circles, where merely to utter the words "revolution" and "revolutionary" would be enough to make their new backers choke on their smoked salmon.
While some would see Sinn Fein's attempts to distance itself from the Colombian connection as proof that the Provisionals have become respectable, Unionists see the arrests as proof of the opposite. The fact that three Provisionals have been linked to FARC is to them yet one more piece of evidence that the IRA is still active and up to its old tricks. They are not alone is this. Former Irish Taoiseach John Bruton, writing in last week's Washington Post, accused Sinn Fein of continuing to support violence through its connections to the IRA. He dismissed with contempt Gerry Adams's claim that the IRA guns remain silent.
Reporters who have been covering this propaganda war have compiled a list of eight murders in the last 18 months that have been blamed on the Provisionals. The Irish Times listed the IRA victims as Joseph Foran, Thomas Byrne, Ed McCoy, Nicky O'Hare, Ciaran Smyth, Bobby McGuigan, Christopher O'Kane, and Paul Daly. They were shot because, according to reports, they were drug dealers. The Irish Times did not mention Joe O'Connor, a member of the Real IRA, who the Provisionals shot dead last October, bringing the estimated total to nine. That is, roughly one murder every two months since the beginning of 2000. If true, it means that the Provisional IRA, supposedly on cease-fire, has killed more people than dissident republicans, who are not on cease-fire. (In fact, fortunately, neither the Real IRA nor the Continuity IRA have not succeeded in killing anybody since 1998, though not from want of trying.)
The Provisional IRA has also in the last two years been engaged in a major arms-smuggling attempt in Florida, and just two months ago a major robbery in Belfast. It has also been accused of continuing to carry out "punishment" beatings and knee-cappings in working-class Catholic areas. A week ago, a leading member of the Republican movement in Belfast, Eddie Copeland, was charged with assault and attempted kidnapping of a suspected drug dealer. Skeptics then ask how it is that Sinn Fein spokesmen can proclaim, in the U.S. and elsewhere, that the IRA's guns are silent, and keep a straight face?
It would be more accurate -- and more honest -- if republican spokesmen said that the IRA's guns are "comparatively silent." In Provo-talk, silence is relative, as are cease-fires. It all depends on how you define them. But even if it is true that the IRA has been involved in all of the above actions, the organization could still maintain that it has not broken its cease-fire. Robberies, punishment shootings, the murder of petty criminals, are not part of the armed campaign, in IRA-think. The armed campaign was aimed at the army, police, and the Northern Ireland state. That war is over, as far as one can judge. But the IRA retains its role as a sort of enforcer.
Unfortunately, while this may meet the semantic needs of fastidious republican thinkers, it does not equate to the reality of the peace process, as perceived by the Irish and British governments, as well as the Unionists. They point out that the agreement entered into by Sinn Fein (and everybody else) entailed the embracing of nonviolent methods. Any organization linked to a paramilitary group that was still pursuing violence would automatically be disqualified from taking part in that process. The Ulster Democratic Party (linked to the UDA) was kicked out once, as was Sinn Fein. But since the signing of the Good Friday agreement and the entry of Sinn Fein members into government in Belfast, there has been what seems like a tremendous reluctance on the part of the British and Irish governments to confront Sinn Fein as they did before with IRA actions. Even the hated RUC has conspired to keep its mouth shut about IRA attacks, fobbing people off with "We are pursuing all leads" when asked about possible IRA links to killings.
The aim of this conspiracy is, of course, to keep the peace process on track. It is one of the ironies of the situation that former deadly enemies are now working together to do so
It's a well-known fact that the PIRA, RIRA and CIRA are all Marxist and not Catholic organizations.
Too many stupid Irish Catholics in the US, who are in their daily lives God-fearing Catholics and enthusiastic supporters of the free market, insist on supporting Democrats at home and terrorists abroad. My relatives are among this benighted lot and it drives me crazy.
The police can only say what they are permitted to say. Policing is not devolved but is handled by London and Dublin civil servants with London playing the main role if agreement cannot be reached.
It seems your bigotted roots are showing!!
As if the IRA factions have never used deadly violence against noncombatants? Omagh street bombing scene, 1998? Real IRA?
I think 1966 was a turning point. There was a thaw in 'hostilities' during the mid-60s but the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising and the reaction to it brought the thaw to a shuddering halt.
Also the thaw was seen as a threat to the two aspirations and people like Hume and Paisley took to the streets. Their street politics and the politics of the times elsewhere produced a lethal cocktail.
Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster. Friedrich Nietzsche
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