The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Ballot Box Pressure



Mick Hall • 21 February 2006

We have once again arrived at a T-junction of the type that have periodically occurred in the struggle of Irish Republicans to attain a 32 County Socialist Republic. By voting to accept as legitimate the writ of the PSNI and the British administered justice system in the north of Ireland, the membership of Sinn Fein at their recent Ard Fheis have, to quote a former senior member of Óglaigh Na hÉireann, "all but urinated upon the core beliefs that have sustained and maintained Irish Republicanism since 1916".

It is not an exaggeration to say that during the tragic period of the Irish civil war and the bleak but heroic days of the Blanket protest and hunger strikes of the early 1980's, it was an absolute belief in a future 32 County Socialist Republic that was the catalyst that maintained the moral of the Irish Republican Movement and steeled and spurred on the protesting prisoners in their titanic struggle against the British State.

Thus it is impossible not to conclude that having passed the motion on policing, Sinn Fein, for good or bad has become little more than a political shell of its former Republican self. Mr Adams and his closest collaborators have clearly decided in its present form the Provisional Republican Movement has outlived its usefulness. Having removed the core Irish Republican component from SF's platform, by accepting the writ of the UK justice system and thus the legitimacy of the northern statelet, Mr Adams in the future seems intent on restricting any hardcore Republican flag waving to old soldiers and barely tolerated off message politicos, at carefully choreographed and stage managed commemorations and parades of the type we witnessed earlier in the year in County Fermanagh, to commemorate Sean Sabhat and Feargal O hAnnluain.

In place of the Provisional Republican Movement, Adams seems keen on creating his own variation of Sinn Fein Lite, which will not be dissimilar to New Labour, the political party of one of his main political benefactors, Tony Blair (One could not help but notice that, like New Labour before them, SF had changed the traditional colors of the backdrop at its [Special] Ard Fheis from green with a dash of red, to one of blue and a dash of green; blue being the colour of political conservatism in the UK). That he has chosen to do this at a time when Mr Blair's reputation lays in ruins and his career is coming to a disastrous end, and when New Labour has been revealed as an organization with plenty of surface froth, but few real progressive political clothes, and which is increasingly seen as being a poodle of the multi-national Corporations and their Neo-Conservative gofers in the US Administration, simply highlights the time warp the UK State apparatus has tied Mr Adams and his leadership coterie within during the endless rounds of peace process negotiations.

During the course of the Peace Process, and at the UK government and SF's new US friends prompting that SF must be made more attractive to the Unionist parties if it is to serve with them in a Stormont Administration, Mr Adams has spent his time quietly, but meticulously gutting his movement of its core Republican foundation that culminated with the passing of the policing resolution at the special Dublin Ard Fheis.

Few non-SF Republicans now believe he will cease his journey away from the Republican path, but will move swiftly to remove the remaining progressive content from SF's platform. First to go will be all talk of a woman's right to choose, which will be closely followed by removing the word 'Socialism' from all SF documents and practice, to be replaced by meaningless words such as, 'take a bold step' and 'make a difference', 'hard choices', 'the real world', 'political reality', 'tough decisions' etc, so beloved of many of today's sleight of hand politicos.

As to those the media and Gerry Adams have blanketed together as Dissidents, they have a hard road ahead and in the short term are in need of an organization, or indeed individuals who will just say No! — for that is what the situation demands at this stage of the struggle.

Whilst such a political position cannot be one of permanence, and if the [non armed struggle] Irish Republican Dissidents begin to gain a degree of mass support, there will be a need to flesh out a party program; but that is for tomorrow, not today.

After the SF leadership has cajoled, hoodwinked, bribed, Tammanied, and called to attention their membership into accepting the writ of the UK State within the north east of Ireland, it is essential that someone stands before the nationalist electorate and says, 'No, enough compromises to the UK State and the Unionist Parties'. The leadership of Sinn Fein is hopelessly mistaken in their belief that their current strategy will lead to not only reunification, but also a more equal and just society throughout the island of Ireland.

One only had to view a recent edition of the BBC NI Hearts and Minds TV program, to see the chasm which is emerging between many Republicans and SF party apparatchiks. On the program a confrontation took place between SF insider and former Daily Ireland front man, Mairtin O'Muilleor, and ex member of SF and its Ard Chomhairle Gerry McGeough. Whilst one might not agree with some of McGeough's more conservative political beliefs on social issues, the appearance of the two men was revealing in its contrast and said a great deal about just how far down the New Labour road SF have traveled. McGeough looked every bit the smartly turned out schoolmaster he once was, whereas Mairtin O'Muilleor was dressed like the type of zoot suited, expense account businessman you see doing deals in the bars of swish city centre 5-star hotels the world over. O'Muilleor spoke of the opportunities for business when SF signed up to policing, whereas McGeough said it was time for a line in the sand as far as compromises to the UK State and DUP was concerned.

I do not feel it is an over exaggeration to say that the core Republican base is becoming increasingly demoralized and bewildered by the continuous SF compromises to the UK State and the DUP. If Gerry Adams were to say tomorrow to Blair and Paisley, 'Up yours, we base our eligibility to government on our electoral mandate', there would be rejoicing amongst the Republican base and beyond, dissidents included.

Having said this, few wish to return to the dark days of the 'long war.' What people want is a compromise in which they can come to some sort of workable arrangement with the unionist people of the north, but which will not force them to give up their hopes and dreams for the future, and recognizes that in a true democracy, a democratic mandate acquired through the ballot box is all that is required to become an active citizen who works politically for the good of their community.

What many Republicans have concluded, if the opportunity arises, is it is time to just say No to SF at the ballot box on 7th March, not least because if they have a degree of success in doing this, it cannot but put pressure on SF to re-consider it rush to the right politically.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

22 February 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Litter & Glass
Anthony McIntyre

Not Worth the Paper Its Written On
John Kennedy

Ballot Box Pressure
Mick Hall

Commission of Truth Needed, Says O Hara
Peggy O Hara

RSF Election News
Press Release

Help Sinn Feign
Brian Mór

British Policing Must Never Be Acceptable in Ireland
Francis Mackey

The Next Step
Dr John Coulter

Conclusions from the Ard Fheis
Brian Halpin

McAleese Should be Criticised
David Adams

The Best Woman to Succeed
Dr John Coulter

Fred A. Wilcox

The Critical History of (Irish pop) Noise
Seaghán Ó Murchú

No Clean Hands
Anthony McIntyre

13 February 2007

Compromise, Compromise, Compromise
Helen McClafferty

Martin Galvin

The Heart of Collusion
John Kennedy

Bad Tactics
Anthony McIntyre

The Clothes Make the Man
Mick Hall

Follow the Leader
John Kennedy

Dry Your Eyes
John Kennedy

The Foreman
Anthony McIntyre

Mc Cain and Northern Ireland
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Rumours of Retirement
Dr John Coulter

Liam O Ruairc

If MI5 rules, What was the 30-year war all about?
John Kelly

PRUC Service
Brian Mór

Nationalists Divided Over Sinn Fein Support for British Policing
Paul Mallon

Remember the B Specials?
Dr John Coulter

The Boyne Harriers
Brian Mór

Coming Full Circle
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Need for an Anti-Imperialist United Front
Philip Ferguson



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