The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Misrepresentation of Republican Position Must be Addressed


Francis Mackey, National Chairperson 32 County Sovereignty Movement
• 2 March 2006

The issues raised in Gerry Adam's recent presidential address to his parties Árd Fheis give rise to an ongoing concern regarding the fundamental misrepresentation of the basic republican position by that party. There was a time when such Árd Fheisenna performed their proper function, a forum for democratic debate within republicanism, but given the tone and content of the presidential address such times are evidently passed within Provisional Sinn Fein. A political position and organisation which is not constructed or run according to democratic principles can in no way claim, duplicitously or not, to be representatives of Irish republicanism. As Irish republicans we are no strangers to the undemocratic premise of British Parliamentary activity in Ireland, endorsed by the Good Friday Agreement, and as resolute opponents of this activity we are no strangers to the undemocratic methods employed by those who sought furtive alliance with them. On behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement I now wish to address some of the issues raised.

Calling his parties' attention to the fact that 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hunger Strikes Mr Adams relayed;

'It is difficult to do justice to the memory of those who died on hunger strike.'

I submit to him that no such difficulty exists. We do justice to their memory by being true to it. We do justice to their memory by practicing a politics which does not undermine the legitimacy of their struggle. We do justice to their memory by defending what they defended. We do justice to their memory with freedom of speech and democratic debate. And we do justice to their memory by reflecting the Five Demands for what they are, a singular demand for the British Government to desist in its violation of Irish National Sovereignty. The Hunger Strikes were a separatist action deserving far more than opinion poll rhetoric to mark them. For as much as 2006 represents the 25th anniversary of those events it also marks the 8th anniversary of events which retrospectively criminalised them. Those who signed the GFA, and in so doing afforded rights to the British Government to rule in Ireland, did so at the expense of the rights which the Hunger Strikers entrusted to us to defend and pursue. Is Mr Adams now telling the republican community that the British Government and Margaret Thatcher were the ten men's lawful gaolers after all? This is the true difficulty of which Mr Adams speaks, and which he now faces, because it is the political truth of his actions.

Ninety years ago a group of Irishmen and Irishwomen, without electoral mandate given or sought, declared the sovereignty of the Irish people to be inalienable and indefeasible. They acted on their opinion. And they were right. The 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising is also the 90th anniversary of a continuous political practice which frustrates its realisation. Mr Adams and his party are now part of this frustrating politics. When Pearse stood in the portico of the GPO and read aloud the Proclamation of the Republic he brought a haunting spectre to Irish politics and to British politics in Ireland. He brought clarity to distinguish the difference between the two. The sovereignty of the Irish people represents this clear difference and it defines all political practices which are acceptable to it. Any politics which undermines, denies or usurps this sovereignty cannot be reconciled to the objectives of 1916 and can only serve to augment their continuous frustration. Implicit in the GFA, both in acceptance of British preconditions for talks which led to its signing, and to its actual content, is a denial of our national sovereignty and our right to national self-determination without external impediment.

The veracity of this observation is to be found in the actions of Mr Adams and his party. The acceptance of the 'consent principle', the criminalising of armed struggle, decommissioning at a British behest, the standing down of PIRA and the endless rounds of one-way 'difficult decisions' for republicans to make all point to the inevitable consequences of practicing British politics in Ireland. It will not end at this. Having conceded to the legitimacy of partition Mr Adams and his party must now act within the political parameters as defined by the governing authorities of both partitionist states. In effect Mr Adams faces what could be termed The De Valera Test. The measure of ones loyalty to a political and constitutional dispensation is to be gauged by the vehemence in which former comrades, who remain resolutely opposed to it, are dealt with by the accepted institutions of the new dispensation. It represents the ultimate authority of, and complete subservience to, the newly recognised state. The British demanded it of Collins in relation to the Four Courts garrison, the Twenty Six County state demanded it of De Valera in relation to the IRA and both will demand it now of Mr Adams in relation to 'those who are frequently labelled by the media as 'dissidents'.' This is the clear political reality of the Policing issue and I urge Mr Adams to abandon it in the same forthright terms which he accused others of abandoning 1916.

I welcome Mr Adam's invitation to debate the current political situation with us pertaining to partition and in as much as the invitation will be welcomed by republicans it equally needs to be explained if it is to be taken as sincerely meant. Accepting the invitation in the spirit of his own words,

'Sinn Féin will listen attentively and respectfully to everyone's ideas'.

I earnestly hope that such spirit will extend to its practice. The 32CSM are strong advocates of democratic debate within republicanism and between republicans and other parties. To this end we initiated this process with our strategy document Irish Democracy, A Framework For Unity outlining our analysis and proposals to address the present impasse in our country. Included in this strategy were submissions to the various parties and governments seeking clarity on their publicly held positions and offering alternative political stratagems as they related to the current political and constitutional dispensation. This was forwarded to Mr. Adams, as president of his party, in November 2005. Has it been received 'attentively and respectfully' given that its actual receipt has not yet been officially acknowledged let alone responded to? As Chairperson of the National Executive of the 32CSM I re-issue the invitation to Mr Adams, and the other parties, to engage with us on our analysis to see which political opinion should be entitled to more than its mere holding.

No political position should fear democratic debate and the veracity of such positions should not be gauged by their veneered popularity but by their ability to withstand the scrutiny of such debate. Mandates in Ireland mean different things to different people and have done so throughout our history. Indeed mandates have been cited to justify occupation and partition and have also been invoked by those who abandoned the republican struggle to justify their doing so. Our sovereignty mandates us to act in its defence. Its violation by the British government mandates us to seek its restoration. The 32CSM will not abandon our mandate.






Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

5 March 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

MI5 and Omagh — The Bomb to End All Bombs?
John Hanley

MANIFESTO: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism

Freedom of Speech
Anthony McIntyre

The Parameters of Free Speech
David Adams

MI5 and the Stasi Syndrome
Dr John Coulter

Misrepresentation of the Republican Position Must Be Addressed
Francis Mackey

The Progressive Road
Mick Hall

Imperialism and National Revolution
How the Trotskyists got it wrong

Robert Clough

Nick Laird's Utterly Monkey
Seaghán Ó Murchú

No Dangerous Liaisons
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters page has been updated:

Remembering the Hunger Strikes

Sunday Times Responds

Rights and Responsibilities

The Whys

Images of the Dublin Riots
Carol Russell

28 February 2006

Gratefully Remembering
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

Another Unjust Execution?
Maria McCann

Sinn Fein Be Warned - The Truth Will Out
Martin Ingram

Who Will Be Left?
Aoife Rivera Serrano

Irish Republican Socialists Show Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Willie Gallagher

Queens, New York City, Republicans decry Irish parliamentarian's inappropriate intervention on U.S. immigration bill
Patrick Hurley

Bush's Double Standard
Fr Sean Mc Manus

"Democratic Unionist Pharisees"
Dr John Coulter

A Society That Failed to Protect Its Children
Anthony McIntyre

Unreal Paradigms
Mike Marqusee

The Letters page has been updated:

Dublin Riots


Moon Man?

Independent Workers Union rejects Sunday Times allegation of involvement in Dublin riot
Noel Murphy



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices