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The View From Outside


Jerry Pepin • 15 February 2007

I have, all my adult life like most British socialists, supported the right of Irish Republicans to take up arms. This position I believe has two origins. The right to oppose oppression, to physically confront the forces of oppression is a principle elevated to special status when it is our own state that is guilty. It is invariably the case, however, that oppression of any form contains within it a class dimension. There were areas of South Belfast barely affected during the conflict whilst the endurance of the Provisional's campaign can, I believe, be attributed to the essentially working class nature of the movement. There has, inevitably, therefore been some natural common ground between socialists and republicans and it is in this context that I comment on the rapidly changing political landscape of the North.

As an outsider it is not for me to take a view on the policing issue, I have not been subject to a sectarian police force, I don't live in the community affected. The issue has, however, served to concentrate my mind on the political direction of SF. As a socialist I believe that the political method and the goal to which it is put cannot be divorced; if you don't have the right method you aren't going to the right place. Again, it is not for me to say that the armed struggle should or should not continue. Moreover, it seems to me that the restoration of a functioning civil society with some access to justice and without overt, state endorsed discrimination is a very considerable achievement. And, contrary to some on the left, I do not believe this was on offer in the mid seventies; Wilson might have agreed but the DUP did not and neither, crucially, did the British Army who refused to move against the UWC barricades. No, it had to be fought for.

Legitimately, I can comment on how SF got to this point and what, consequently we might expect from them in the future. Without mincing words the current Provisional leadership have lied to, deceived, bullied and undermined the PIRA in a long, calculated, machiavellian campaign to turn that organisation on its head. Every move that Adams made against the O'Bradaigh/O'Connaill leadership could also over the last fifteen years and on the same justification have been made against his own position. That is wasn't is an indicator of the danger posed by the disdain for politics prevalent inside the PIRA, a stance championed previously by Adams. No doubt the Adams supporters justify this Stalinist subterfuge on the grounds that this is where they want to be and without Adams hoodwinking the PIRA the violence would still be going on. It might. No-body knows. But by pre-judging the issue and putting more trust in the Catholic Church, the SDLP, Fianna Fail and the British Government than in honest debate with PIRA volunteers, the leadership has poisoned SF politics forever. When activists are told to speak about "republican labour" rather than socialism it is not the middle class of this island who are being deceived. Neither has the path trod by the leadership been one of least suffering. It was not necessary for explicit collaboration between the SF leadership and the British to achieve the orgy of death in Tyrone during the eighties. The British organised the death squads, some their own, some local. At Army Council level, the PIRA were prevented from mounting any effective opposition to this threat. The countless volunteers, SF activists and their family members who died were sacrificed in the common pursuit of a peace process by those parties determined not to allow any potential threat from the independently minded inhabitants of Tyrone. The open-season for Tyrone republicans was the Bombay Street for the present SF leadership. To add insult to injury the same leadership, in their quest for non-violence later sanctioned the use of the "human bomb", a tactic as guaranteed to undermine support for the PIRA as it was to cause the death of civilians.

Gerry Adams is the Tony Blair of the republican movement. Like Blair, he has entered an organisation, plotted to take control and ditched core principals. No matter what the merits of the changes themselves the Stalinist methods and the contempt for democracy render SF incapable of further progress as a progressive party. Over the last few years I have believed that SF would soon become indistinguishable from the SDLP once the Northern Ireland Assembly had taken root; willing victims of the DUP's strategy of extracting indefinite concessions until SF is weakened beyond effective opposition. I now believe the picture is far worse. Within perhaps two parliaments SF will be indistinguishable from Fianna Fail. Let us hope that Gerry Adams is never elected Taoiseach; it might result in Ireland becoming, for the first time in its history, an imperialist power.





























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

6 March 2007

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Support Peggy O Hara
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St Bore's Day
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Coulter's Pre-Election Report
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Rest, Do Not Surrender
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Super Six Dictator
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Anyone Up for a Serious Alternative?
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The View from Outside
Jerry Pepin

Boom to Bust?
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Tyre Trees
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Fred A. Wilcox

The Critical History of (Irish pop) Noise
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No Clean Hands
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