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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


John Martin • The Plough 16/05//2004

In 1998 in its ceasefire statement the INLA said, ‘We have accepted the advice and analysis of the Irish Republican Socialist Party that the conditions for armed struggle do not exist. The Irish National Liberation Army has now shifted from the position of defence and retaliation to the position of complete cease-fire.’

The INLA was involved in a war of national liberation against British Imperialism and its local allies. In accepting that the conditions for armed struggle against that imperialism no longer existed it recognised that a particular stage of struggle had ended. The time for taking the war to the Imperialists and their reactionary loyalist allies had come to an end.

But no section of the republican socialist movement thought that the Good Friday Agreement was the end game. The IRSP called for a no vote in relation to that agreement. Six years on the question has to be asked were the sacrifices endured by the republican population in over nearly thirty years of armed struggle wasted by sordid political trading that has in the end produced little but electoral gains for one republican political organisation? It should be noted that the current electoral strength of Provisional Sinn Fein is just slightly ahead of the electoral strength of Sinn Fein in the 1950’s.

Britain still claims sovereignty over part of Ireland. The divisions among working class people in the North have sharpened and economic exploitation continues on both sides of the border. Loyalist murder gangs still exist and are manipulated by both the Special Branch and British intelligence agencies. There has been no satisfactory resolution of the burning issue of collusion. Attacks on perceived nationalist families continue and street demonstrations of a virulent anti-Catholic and racist nature have been commonplace since the first IRA ceasefire while the British overlords and their lackeys either have done nothing or wring their hands in mock despair. No amount of political tinkering will change the virulent anti-Catholic nature of the ‘Northern Ireland’ state. Those who think they can fundamentally reform that state are simply wrong. The leaders of Unionism so long as they have the backings of the British imperial state has no desire or incentive to reach any satisfactory accommodation with the rest of the inhabitants of the island. The leaders of Unionism have shown by their complicity in sectarianism that they are incapable of overcoming their own historical baggage.

Not everything is doom and gloom however. It would be churlish to fail to acknowledge the positive developments that have occurred over the past few years. Many people in nationalist areas now have slightly more access to job opportunities. A new political self confident, even arrogant political elite is emerging and the Catholic middle classes have rising expectations. Compared to many parts of the world the six counties is comparatively well off.

Many ex-political prisoners have used the cessation of violence to develop both their personal and political skills. Many working class communities have used the peace money flowing from Europe to benefit their local communities and heroic work at interfaces have reduced some of the sectarian tensions.

The recent International Monitoring Commission Report puts all the positives from the ending of the armed conflict at risk. Political prisoners subsequently released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement had to acknowledge that they belonged to an armed organisation that was now on ceasefire. Many of them on release gave a commitment to work within the ex-prisoner community to better the conditions of the whole ex-prisoner constituency. They joined and supported Teach Na Failte, the Republican Socialists Ex-Political Prisoners Association on the basis that they were ex-INLA prisoners. Working in Teach Na Failte, they have participated in peace-building exercises, taken conflict resolution courses, mediated in local disputes and encouraged the politicisation of working class communities. Much of this work has been on a voluntary basis as Teach Na Failte was denied proper funding for a long period. Much of this work has also been behind the scenes and confidential. This work has involved them in direct contact with members of the INLA as Teach Na Failte sought to consolidate and spread non-violent responses to anti-social behaviour. All sections of the Republican Socialist Movement have endorsed the work of Teach Na Failte.

All of this is in jeopardy if the IMC report is acted on. The recommendation in 8.7 that “no organisation, statutory, commercial or voluntary should tolerate links with paramilitary groups” and that the onus should be on the person believed to have paramilitary links to “show there is no basis for that suspicion” is a recipe for witch hunts, innuendo, gossiping lying and demonisation. It is going back to the days of Douglas Hurd who introduced political vetting thus preventing many groups from funding because of alleged connections to someone who may or may not have been associated with armed organisations. How on earth can a person show that there is no basis for suspicion?

It is very clear from even a cursory reading of that report that the IMC is not an independent body. We totally reject that the members of the IMC are independent. Lord John Alderdice is a failed politician who jumped ship as leader of the Alliance Party to take up a well-paid sinecure as speaker in Stormont. He supports the retaining within the British Army of soldiers guilty of the murder of Peter McBride. The two representatives from Ireland and Britain both had portfolios for dealing with so called “terrorism” and the USA representative Dick Kerr was deputy director of the CIA, which produces books on how to torture, kill, assassinate and so on as well as having been involved in the overthrow of democratic elected governments. During his time in the CIA that organisation engaged in drug dealing and illegal arms trading. Hardly an individual to lecture any Irish republican on respect for the law.

It produced its first report three months early at the specific request of the two Governments and specifically to address the Kelly’s Cellars incident of the 20th of February. It names the four individuals allegedly involved in the Tohill affair. As of this moment they are not guilty of anything yet are publicly named in an official document. At the same time an individual charged with the killing of a Catholic whose death the IMC says was paramilitary related is not named.Why the different treatments for republican and loyalists? Furthermore, the report totally ignores the whole issue of collusion. The running sore not only of the Pat Finucane case but also of numerous other deaths due to security force collusion with loyalist murder gangs is not addressed. Yet the IMC sees fit to take evidence from the same security forces believed to be implicated in murder. The IMC cannot be seen as independent. It even admits that the British Government has not yet given it permission to address the whole issue of demilitarisation of the British forces.

This whole politically biased report is clearly directed at Republicans. It also makes clear that it sees its role as making “the rule of law work”. There is still strong political disagreement as to what constitutes the rule of law and who should be enforcing that law within the Northern state.

Furthermore the IMC seem to think that policing is not a political issue. They believe all political parties should support the current policing set-up. They miss the point entirely. Many republican deny the legitimacy of the Northern state and so cannot support the police force of that state.

That is a highly charged political issue and the IMC miss that point entirely.

The evidence that the IMC reached its conclusions is not available. They claim to have a wide variety of sources including British security forces yet do not specify what those sources are. This opens the door to malicious muck spreading by people with their own petty vendettas. It echoes the McCarthy era in the USA in the 1950’s

The IMC also acknowledge that they don’t require the same level of proof that would be required in a court of law and yet they are prepared to name and shame individuals. Their objective in Article Three – “to promoting the transition to a peaceful and stable and inclusive devolved Government in Northern Ireland” while political questionable is also undermined by its recommendations in 7.7 to hold individuals “personally and publicly to account”. This is taking the society back to the days of political censorship, of gagging orders. Furthermore it has implications for the safety of the individuals concerned; “-to shine a spotlight” will put peoples’ lives at risk and would surely be in breach of the human rights of the individuals concerned. Even the IMC must recognise that International Agreements oblige them not to put the safety or life of any person at risk nor prejudice legal proceedings.

That part of the report concerning the INLA is factually wrong, politically biased, and based on inaccurate falsified special branch documents. The IMC did not seek the views of the Irish Republican Socialist Party. No member of the Republican Socialist Movement gave evidence to the IMC. Nor will any member of this movement give evidence to the IMC.

"It declared a ceasefire in 1998 which still survives after a fashion. The INLA remains active." (IMC report 3.6)

Let us be very, very clear. It is our very clear understanding that the INLA ceasefire was not the result of an agreement, negotiations or vague promises. The INLA did not make any secret deals with anyone and the ceasefire did not depend on gaining the goodwill of any group government or agency. It is not for the IMC, the British Government nor the Irish Government to define the INLA ceasefire. That is solely a matter for the INLA itself.

We reject utterly the following allegation from the IMC: “The group is heavily involved in criminality, especially drugs, and finances itself by extorting money from both legitimate and illegitimate sources.” No member of the INLA is involved in drug dealing. The IRSP have challenged those journalists who have made these allegations in the past to produce the evidence. We repeat that challenge. We have specifically approached two well know journalists who have repeated these allegations in to produce the evidence of INLA involvement in drug dealing. We are still waiting. We note that one member of the IMC was a former leader of an organisation that traded drugs for guns in the 1980’s so we will take no lectures from those who hands are stained with the blood of the poor of Nicaragua. We are however aware that a small number of pseudo gangs, and former members of not only the INLA but other republican armies are engaged in extortion, racketeering and drug dealing using the name of the INLA. Some of these gangs are operating obviously with the full approval of the so-called security forces. The Irish Republican Socialist Party reject in its entirety the first IMC report. It is a hastily prepared cut and paste job totally devoid of intellectual rigour, factually incorrect, politically biased, without any understanding of the republican position on the national question and based on a mishmash of half truths, gossip and extracts from the more lurid stories of the gutter press. The IMC’s independence is a sham; it is a tool of policy for both the British and Irish Governments with a mandate to isolate and demonise republicans. The haste with which the whole of the great and the good, including the political and church elites endorsed this badly researched piece of work only exposes their own political bias. Those who have endorsed the IMC report have been sold a pup.





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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

11 June 2004


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The Chen Case @ the European Court of Justice - Money Talks and a Government Lies
John Meehan


A Left Vote for the Right Person
Anthony McIntyre


John Martin


Response to:
"Irish Americans"

Peter Urban


Sri Lanka: up country with the Tamil Tigers
Cedric Gouverneur


The Letters page has been updated.


7 June 2004


“A house ransacked by soldiers”: Translation’s plunder and preservation
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Acquittal of the Bogotá 3 - Interview With Caitriona Ruane
Toni Solo


Da Big Gorilla
John Kennedy


John, Pat and Neil Sedakas
George Young


Volunteer Robin Livingstone
Anthony McIntyre


The Anti Racism Network (ARN), in the beginning …
Davy Carlin




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