The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Use of Loyalty


Mick Hall • 05.06.03

On seeing how the current Sinn Fein leadership have dealt with the revelations about Belfast Republican Freddie Scappaticci, allegedly being the British agent within PIRA, code named Stakeknife, one cannot help feeling that they're saying to themselves, "So what if we are making this up, what are you going to do about it, you know only to well this is not the first time we have done this type of thing. You can bleat all you like but the sheep out there are being shepherded by our dogs and our people know only too well that they can bite."

The Adams leadership's public response to this wretched affair has been one of arrogant and nonsensical denial, coupled with a complete absence of the undoubted political skills they possess and have displayed in the past. For example, in years gone by, even if they were 100% certain that the Stakeknife story was untrue, they would have played it against the British for all its worth, the more so in the USA. Instead they issue lame denials, subtle threats to those within their own constituency who disbelieve them and a silence that is also echoed in Downing Street.

This stance got me thinking about the whole issue of decommissioning PIRA weapons and the Sinn Fein leadership's public attitude to it. The public perception that emulates from Adams and CO, via the media, is that they are unable to convince rank and file volunteers to allow the decommissioning of weapons. Adams wishes this were not so, but he can only march at the same pace as the army if he is to retain any influence with it. Otherwise there will be splits, renegades, etc. The outcome of which would be more violence such as that which tragically occurred in Omagh. But is this necessarily so?

To date each time Adams and CO have wished to tread new soil previously outside
the Republican tradition, they have done so with comparative ease after careful preparation, issuing very subtle threats and publicizing the fact that trust and loyalty - not to them but the RM - were their watch words. It is becoming increasingly clear that the decommissioning of weapons is causing on the surface more problems than it is worth for the Adams leadership. Whilst they may have at one time felt they could circumvent it, international events post September 11th have proved otherwise and this strategy now looks like a non runner. Add to this the fact that the British have sniffed the Sinn Fein leaderships desperation to see the GFA fully implemented; it is after all, all they have to show in the North for the major concessions they have made to the British State (many of which are way outside historical parameters of the Republican movement). Thus logically for them all their strategies for the immediate future in the northern Statelet flow from the decommissioning of weapons.… Unless this comes about there will be no more rides in ministerial cars, gradually the invitations to the Thief in Chief's White House will dry up, and Sinn Fein could very well go the same way as the Officials/Workers Party.

So the question needs to be asked, if as it seems, the Sinn Fein leadership genuinely believes that the armed struggle is over, why, once having gained the release of Republican prisoners and signed the GFA, did they not give the order to dump arms and stand down the army? Whilst they may have had a somewhat bumpy ride from the Oglaigh na hEireann, less so from the British government, subsequent events have shown this would have been nothing they could not endure and rise above. In doing so they would have removed the major stumbling block to the full implementation of the GFA, the success of which they have staked so much upon. Sure there would almost certainly have been other obstacles put in their way by the Unionists, but in the main these would have been far more obviously political and thus far easier to circumnavigate.

For the majority of PIRA volunteers there would have been no shame in standing down the army and dumping weapons, as it was custom and practice within the Republican movement when a military campaign had run its course without achieving victory. Previous generations of Republican soldiers had done so and rightly held their heads high. The one thing one can say without hesitation about the volunteers that have made up the ranks of PIRA since its formation, is in the annals of Irish Republicanism they are second to none in their willingness to fight against overwhelming odds and sacrifice their all. They gave it their best, no-one could ask more of them.

On the order being given to stand down and dump arms there would have been many witty remarks along the lines of "the long war to the long wait", etc., but most Republicans, despite their disappointments would have recognised that they gave it their all, but militarily the opposition was too great when coupled with the wheels of history travelling against the Republican movements flow.

So the question that must be asked again is why the Adams leadership did not choose to go down this road. Perhaps, if the army had been stood down and weapons dumped, the loyalty and military discipline that Adams has continuously traded upon to get his way within the RM would no longer have been applicable. All those Republican volunteers including many who had ceased serving but still felt a loyalty to their command structure, would have been released from military discipline, loyalty to the serving leadership, etc. Many of these men and women have long felt uneasy about the direction the leadership has been going in. Recognising Stormont is one thing, but serving as Ministers in a northern Statelet administration, maybe RUC committees in the future, visiting the White House prior to the Iraq war, undenied rumours of weekends at Chequers, the Stakeknife affair etc, for many is more than a step too far. Once released from their immediate obligations would there not have been a rush of questions directed at the current leadership from those volunteers that had been stood down, possibly followed by the wider RM and its supporters?

If so and the army had been stood down, the Adams leadership would have had no-one to legitimately elbow former comrades back into line. For this leadership the cat may well have escaped from the bag. That being the case, who knows what type of Socialist Republican Movement might have blossomed? One thing we can be certain of, it would not be in the image of the undemocratic, conservative, top down leader orientated RM that Adams now leads.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



I have spent
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Index: Current Articles

5 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Irish State Collusion with MI5
Eamonn McCann


Use of Loyalty
Mick Hall


Victimisation of Victims
Christina Sherlock



Newton Emerson


Heat, Not Necessarily Light

Anthony McIntyre


The Party's Fool

Karen Lyden Cox

Targetting Iran
Michael Youlton


2 June 2003


Nameless, Faceless
An Apology to Our Readers

Carrie Twomey


Hypocrats Accuse West Belfast Man of Being RUC Tout
Anthony McIntyre


Connolly and the First World War: Political Lessons for Today

Liam O Ruairc


I Got Your "Stake Knife"
Brian Mór


Hey, Fugheddaboutit
Brian Mór


It Wasn't Me
Brian Mór


The Chessboard: Another Great Game

Davy Carlin

The Last Time I Saw Mu`ab
Annie Higgins




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