The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Disbanding the Provos

Tommy McKearney • Fourtwrite, 9 August 2004

The recent signal from Gerry Adams advising the Provisional IRA to disband should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Sinn Fein politics nor indeed, should sceptics within unionism and elsewhere doubt his sincerity. Ever since Mr. Adams and his supporters took control of the Provisionals in the early eighties, their direction has been away from armed conflict and towards parliamentary politics.

There is a clear and unbridgeable contradiction existent between supporting armed insurrectionism and pursuing the path of parliamentary reformism. Theoretically and in practice, it is impossible to maintain a foot in both camps indefinitely. Danny Morrison may have spoken of a strategy of armalites and ballot boxes but in reality his proposal was rhetoric to lull the faithful rather than a guideline for action. Neither London or Dublin would ever invite Sinn Fein to play a part in any administration while the party supported a war to overthrow the status quo. Moreover, no political party with electoral and parliamentary ambitions could hope to improve its position while denied access to vital media and broadcast outlets, as was the case for old ‘non-conforming’ Sinn Fein.

With the ceasefire of a decade ago, Sinn Fein met the criteria insisted upon by the two governments for inclusion within the parliamentary process, with all the attendant advantages of media access and prestigious meetings that this brought. Both governments have known for some time that the IRA has no intention of returning to war but its existence could not be denied nor officially condoned. The organisation did, nevertheless, pose an imaginary threat to the established order and this was constantly seized upon by reactionary unionism in order to justify its refusal to share the administration of Northern Ireland with Sinn Fein.

Faced with this impasse, the Sinn Fein leadership has known for some time that if it is not to see direct rule from London continue into the indefinite future - with all the implications that has for the party’s image and prospects – that the Provos must be disbanded. Confronted with the option of either maintaining an almost redundant army or advancing with its party agenda, there was never any doubt what would happen. Gerry Adams has now spoken and the ‘Boys’ will file obediently out the back door and into history. There will remain almost certainly, a small cadre of people sympathetic to the Sinn Fein party with access to firearms but this clandestine group will act more as a security detail than a machine with insurrectionary potential.

Whether the demise of the Provos will provide a speedy return to Stormont rule remains a moot point. The DUP is not anxious to surrender its current advantage over David Trimble’s UUP and sitting in an executive with Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness might tarnish the implacable face of Paisleyism. Peter Robinson and his colleagues will design a few more hoops for Sinn Fein to jump through. Joining the Police Authority might be just one of several.

Still, if Gerry Adams can advise the Provos to disband with so little fuss, his party can surely digest anything.














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

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

14 August 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

At One with the West Belfast MP
Kathleen O Halloran

Disbanding the Provos
Tommy McKearney

Lessons from the Ceasefire
Mick Hall

Jobs for the Boys
George Young

Working Withing British 'Law' With A Vow NOT to Use Force Against the British
Sharon O'Sullibhan

Conditions for Irish POWs Today
Deirdre Fennessy

The Faithful...
Liam O Comain

Globalised Indifference
Anthony McIntyre

No Human Being is Illegal!
Sean Matthews

8 August 2004

An Ireland of Equals!
Kathleen O Halloran

A Socialist in West Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

A Living Tapestry of Tongues
Sean Fleming

Paranoia is Healthy: Michael O'Connell's Right Wing Ireland?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

'The Labor of Reading'
Liam O Ruairc

Seamus Costello, Joe McCann and myself. . .
Liam O Comain

Anti-Semitism at the World Social Forum?
Cecilie Surasky



The Blanket




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