republican struggle during the decades prior to the
appearance of the Belfast Agreement met the full onslaught
of British anti-insurgency strategy. The thinking
behind such a strategy can be digested in various
publications but especially the writings of the British
military anti-insurgency expert, Kitson.
As well as seeking to divide and conquer the nationalist
and republican elements of society by courting the
more moderate elements, the strategy involved the
arming of opposition groups: in our context the various
fascist Loyalist organisations who were then released
upon the anti- Unionist population; and in due course
the murder gangs created a situation so that the alleged
'defenders of the people', i.e., the PIRA, could not
defend even their own.
There were cases where apparently the loyalists came
to murder republican activists who were not at home
but shot instead other members of the activists' families.
It grew impossible for the PIRA, especially in rural
areas, to protect the lives of anyone for the murder
gangs had the freedom to pursue their blood thirst
from the so-called security forces.Parallel with this
was the shoot-to-kill policy of the RUC and the British
Army pertaining towards certain republican activists.
But a more sinister development was taking place,
while this naked violence was occurring, and that
was the policy of pouring finance into the deprived
nationalist and republican areas of the occupied territory.
A multitude of little groups - community and otherwise
- sprung up, as small factory units employed small
groups of the unemployed. Government schemes appeared
apparently out of nowhere for the sole purpose of
smashing the revolutionary movement: provide work
and leisure facilities and there will be less recruits
for the PIRA,the CIRA, or the INLA was their intent.
Even today in the community service area the nationalists
are far ahead of the unionists in this respect due
to the fact that Kitsonian ideas have been earlier
applied to the former.
I knew of one community or tenant's group in the north-
west that was heavily under the influence of republicans
who were receiving grants and assistance from various
British based so-called charities but the republicans
were not aware that the ideas of Kitson was influencing
There is no doubt also that a war weariness had set
in within the psyche of elements of the Provisional
leadership arising from the anti-insurgency strategy
of the British: volunteers who had given much and
lost even their youth and family members to the struggle.
A long drawn out struggle that appeared to have no
end, the latter being salved by the yearly expressed
slogan in An Phoblachta - 'This is the year of freedom...'
Also there were those bitten by the bug of 'power'
in the leadership who could not see themselves stepping
aside and being replaced by new blood but lacking
the will to continue they sought solace from elsewhere
via an excuse to end the war without losing face.
(Now here I'm being kind to certain individuals.)
Thus the whole scenario of apparent nationalist unity,
with the input of right wing Irish America, provided
the Provisional leadership or elements of it with
the means to continue in power pursuing peace and
equality based upon partition (republican stroke unionist)
instead of national liberation and self-determination.
The rot had set in and it was only a matter of time
for republican principles to be thrown aside along
with the concept of revolution. Earlier, without a
whimper Connolly's socialism had met the same fate
from the leadership.
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