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Bombing London Is No Longer Good News For The IRA


Anthony McIntyre • Parliamentary Brief, August 2005

The sound of exploding bombs in London is something many who live there are well used to. But it wasn't just those who lived through the 1940s Blitz who could remember the thunderous roar of high power explosives detonated in some part of their city. After the Luftwaffe came the Provisional IRA.

Each time the British capital found itself rocked by some IRA engineer's increasingly powerful and sophisticated device Sinn Fein members could barely contain their glee. In the IRA prison wings the cheers would echo along the concrete corridors. Punching the air to shouts of 'up the 'Ra' was the ritualised form of celebration for republican prisoners elated at the misfortune of Londoners.

Today the mood music is different; mellow rather than raucous. With the political orchestra playing only one note - the peace process - cheering for bombs in London has given way to expressions of solidarity with the British ruling bloc. Sinn Fein boss of bosses Gerry Adams, no longer thinking as he used to that Guy Fawkes had the proper approach to the Houses of Parliament, was quick out of the traps to stand shoulder to shoulder with his ally against terror, Tony Blair.

I condemn the bomb attacks in London this morning. I have sent a message of sympathy and solidarity to Mr. Blair and the London Mayor Ken Livingstone. On behalf of Sinn Féin I offer my sincere condolences to the victims and the families of those killed and injured and to the people of London.

Listening to this it is tempting to forget that Mr Adams wasn't always in the camp of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. But times change and the wheels of political careerism are not oiled by expressions of support for what Adams terms 'ethically indefensible terrorism.' While the British Prime Minister and the Sinn Fein leader may have a shared interest in serial lying, of the two Blair has been the most consistent. He at least has always opposed bombing London.

When Gerry Adams' party colleague Gerry Kelly launched a car bomb offensive on London in 1973, it was the first blow in a campaign that would see the British capital bombed repeatedly over the following twenty-three years.

What started as an inept foray with a poorly co-ordinated operation, over two decades evolved into a sophisticated military strategy which saw IRA devices of devastating potency rip their way through the Baltic Exchange, the NatWest and Canary Wharf. Such was the effect of the IRA's campaign in Britain that the Organisation of Economic Development in a recent report placed four of its UK blasts in the world's top ten most costly attacks. The 1993 IRA bombing of the NatWest Tower in London came second only to the Twin Towers attack in New York in 2001.

Unlike the Al Qaeda strike on New York four years ago, and again on London this month, IRA bombings were only occasionally designed to cause civilian casualties. A recent news report in Belfast illustrated a debate that took place within the IRA in the 1970s on the wisdom of bombing the tube network. The proposal from a senior IRA figure in Belfast was rejected out of hand. The public outcry generated after the Birmingham pub bombs, which saw the IRA indiscriminately slaughter 21 civilian pub revellers, led the bulk of republican leaders to exercise caution against their more bloodthirsty colleagues.

Where the IRA did bomb trains, in Northern Ireland, the primary objective was not to kill civilians. In both 1976 and 1980 while civilian fatalities did occur as a result of train bombings, the fact that one of the IRA's most seasoned volunteers lost his life in the 1980 attack, indicates that the blast was premature and the deaths accidental.

This month's bombings come at an inauspicious time for Sinn Fein. The party's political fortunes have been capsized since its IRA alter ego robbed the Northern Bank and members of both Sinn Fein and the IRA hacked to death Sinn Fein voter Robert McCartney in a gruesome orgy of psychopathic violence not authorised by the Sinn Fein leadership. The pressure is on Gerry Adams like never before to call a definitive halt to the IRA's activities.

Adams solidarity with Tony Blair is tactical rather than ethical. He realises the deleterious effect of bombings on his relentless pursuit of political power. He took a political hammering in the US earlier in the year as a result of his refusal to wind up the IRA. Against this backdrop he is eager to project his relationship with the British Prime Minister as the Blair/Adams alliance against terrorism and very definitely not as Blair against Adams the terrorist.

Adams knows the price of success. After the 9/11 attack the Sinn Fein leadership moved quickly to distance itself in the public mind from 'terrorism.' It ensured that the first act of IRA weapons decommissioning took place barely a month later in order to avoid international opprobrium rather than in the more strategically fertile spring of the following year when Sinn Fein could anticipate a handsome dividend from the electorate in the Republic of Ireland for having 'persuaded' the IRA to disarm.

The IRA that bombed London was a determined force. But the British Government following the Orwell maxim that nine times out of ten revolutionaries are social climbers with bombs, came to realise that if it allowed republican leaders to sit aloft the gravy train, they would quickly come to accept the formula 'less republicanism, more gravy.'

The current crop of London bombers are unlikely to prove so amenable. Unlike the IRA they are theologically driven. Ideologically, Sinn Fein came to embrace the devil and all his works. Al Qaeda and its London bombers are of a different mindset. For those intent on destroying rather than supping with the devil, compromise is anathema. The IRA was a starter. The main course is currently under way. And what a bloody feast it promises to be.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

17 August 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Changes Needed All Over
Eamonn McCann

Get Tough Now
Dr John Coulter

What for the Future?
Mick Hall

Why has Gerry Adams never finished Ulysses?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bombing London is No Longer Good News for the IRA
Anthony McIntyre

The Conflict Encapsulated
David Adams

No More Second Class Citizens
Paul Little

Nothing Has Changed
Anthony McIntyre

Venezuela: Lessons of Struggle
Tomas Gorman

10 August 2005

Failed Entity
Anthony McIntyre

Towards Justice: Damien Walsh Lecture
Fr Sean Mc Manus

Where Terror Reigns
Fred A Wilcox

Lack of Trust — Or Courage?
Mick Hall

Process of Consulting Loses Sway
David Adams

Unionism Can't Run on Empey
Anthony McIntyre

Another Side to the Surrender
Brian Mór

Provisional Surrender A Sell-Out
Joe Dillon

The Greatest Betrayal of All
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh

Censorship at the Irish Echo
John McDonagh & Brian Mór

Take Ireland Out of the War: Irish Anti War Movement News
Michael Youlton

Venezuela: Factories Without Bosses
Tomas Gorman



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