sure most of the people who look forward to the
day Oglaigh na hEireann is stood down have given
some thought as to whether or not the recent speech
on this subject by Gerry Adams will help this become
a reality. Myself, I have little idea, for the Machiavellian
world which is Gerry Adams' daily fare is far too
complex for me to understand. This being so I will
take him at his word and wait and see how things
pan out, as I can see little point in trying to
second guess the man.
perhaps it would do no harm to reflect upon the
enormous weight of responsibility those who will
have to make this decision have on them. Ending
decades of Armed Struggle, for the leadership of
the main armed Republican organisation, is far from
a simple matter, whether it be intellectually, politically
or physically, for they and their comrades have
invested so much down the years in this method of
certain media commentators and politicians to portray
it as being on a par with flicking a light switch
is nonsensical, and overlooks the fact whilst the
PIRA are not a victorious army, they are not a defeated
one either, having never left the field. Thus when
this decision is made, the people responsible for
making it will not only be thinking of the current
political implications and the future well-being
of those volunteers for whom they have responsibility,
but also for Oglaigh na hEireanns dead, many
of whom the current IRA leadership grew up with
and fought along side, shared a British prison cell
with and over whose graves they swore to fight on
until the thirty-two County Socialist Republic was
a living reality.
Padraig Pearse made clear, in a powerful oration
he made in 1915 over ODonovan Rossa grave,
the Fenian dead are a powerful factor for those
Republicans who remain behind. Take the ten dead
Hunger Strikers, men who were willing to give up
their very lives for the Republic in the most harsh
and cruel manner. In the small hours of the morning
I doubt there is an Army Council member who does
not reflect on what Bobby, Francis, Patsy, Raymond,
Joe, Martin, Kevin, Kieran, Tom and Mickey might
have thought at the armed struggle being called
off before the Nation is reunited.
Nevertheless, whilst reflecting on their Republican
dead, those who have the power to take the momentous
decision to stand the Provisional IRA down, must
make it for today's and future generations, for
the good of the Nation, the Struggle and the Army.
No armed wing of a Liberation Movement can remain
on perpetual ceasefire, for to do so will inevitably
lead to a disintegration of moral and discipline.
the leadership of the Provisional Republican Movement
genuinely feel the continued activity of the PIRA
has become a liability, and not an asset as it was
in the past, then they must do their duty accordingly.
There is no shame in standing the Army down before
the ultimate goal of the Socialist Republic is reached.
Bitter disappointment, yes, but shame, no. For no
one can say the generations who fought under the
banner of the PIRA failed in their duty, as they
saw it, to the Republic.
The struggle for national liberation and the Irish
Republic has always been about horses for courses.
Indeed down the years, following the example set
in the 1916 Easter Rising by Clarke, Pearse and
Connolly, when they decided to cease fighting to
spare further suffering. IRA chiefs of Staff, starting
with Frank Aitkin in 1923, have issued the order
to stand the army down on more than one occasion.
Once the leadership of the Movement has decided
Armed Struggle is no longer a viable option in bringing
about a 32 County Socialist Republic, it is their
duty to do this. The more so in the current situation,
as the President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams, has himself
said, due to the contributions made by the volunteers
of Oglaigh na hEireann, avenues of peaceful democratic
struggle have been opened up for the movement to
True, the main objective has not as yet been achieved,
but the political landscape within the north of
Ireland has been transformed and is all but unrecognisable
from the hard, harsh days prior to the PIRA taking
up arms. Indeed one is not being poetic to claim
it has changed utterly. Today's nationalist communities
in the north of Ireland are confident, politically
astute and aware of their democratic rights: these
croppies will never again lay down.
Out of these communities a vigorous civil society
has emerged, which is capable of
show-casing the finest in art, music, literature,
political debate and history in the annual Féile
an Phobail (West Belfast Festival). Musicians, writers,
and poets from within northern republicanism have
made an impact way beyond what the media once derogatorily
termed republican ghettos. A new all Ireland daily
newspaper, Daily Ireland has recently been
launched, not from within the Dublin or London media
establishment, but from the heart of West Belfast.
case readers conclude this article is a mere eulogy
to the endeavours of the PRM, it is only correct
I mention those comrades from within the republican
community who argue vigorously with their former
colleagues in SF. They too have their own media
outlets and act as a die-hard watchdog, forever
snapping at Sinn Fein's heels if they feel the party
has strayed to far from its core beliefs. Former
Republican prisoners through the organisations they
have founded also play an important role in the
North's civil society.
Indeed if one is to understand the recent campaign
by the McCartney family to gain justice for their
murdered love-one, then one must place it in this
context of a risen people. What the McCartney affair
has shown is if these community's refused to bend
the knee to the British and their loyalist surrogates
during the last thirty odd years of war, they have
no intention of starting now when local satraps,
no matter which organisation they claim the protection
of, all but replicate a crime of the old enemy.
Of course the aforementioned civil society did not
come about on its own account, nor was it the gift
of middle class politicians, of whatever political
complexion or nationality. The catalyst for its
emergence was the work, courage and sacrifices made
down the years by the volunteers of O'glaigh na
hEireann and the communities from whence they came.
matter what today's politicians and the media may
claim, back in 1969 there was no real alternative
to armed struggle, as the Unionist community and
their British guarantee card refused to meet the
Republican/nationalist people half way. Thus they
were forced to demand their democratic and national
rights by force of arms.
as Mr Adams now claims, another avenue of struggle
is available, then one can only rejoice. For which
Republican would step forward and wish the bloody
sacrifices and heartache of the last thirty odd
years, onto their children and grandchildren or
anyone else's come to that, if there truly is another
democratic avenue of struggle open to Republicans?