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No Essential Contradiction...

Eamonn McCann • Socialist Worker, September 18th 2004

It’s generally accepted the Provos and the Paisleyites don’t trust one another an inch. How could it be otherwise, given what they represent and after the last 30 years? Thus the splurge of articles explaining the need to “build trust” if any secure deal is to be done.

Strange that nobody makes much of the untrustworthy nature of another leading figure at the Leeds Castle talks---Blair personal envoy, Downing Street chief of staff Jonathan Powell.

Powell talking about the need for all sides to renounce violence is like Dr. Harold Shipman delivering a lecture on care of the elderly.

On September 19th 2002, as Blair fine-tuned the lies he was using to lure Britain into war with Iraq, Powell became alarmed that the intelligence information wasn’t helpful. He e-mailed intelligence chief John Scarlett: “I think the statement on page 19 that ‘Saddam is prepared to use chemical and biologocal weapons if he believes his regime is under threat’ is a bit of a problem. It backs up the argument that there is no CBW (chemical and biologoical weapons) threat and we will only create one if we attack him. I think you should redraft the para.” Which Scarlett duly did.

Powell was admitting that the truth was the opposite of the case Blair was making. So he wanted the reverse of the truth. This is a man plainly willing to lie to precipitate the misery and death that war inevitably brings.

What does it say about those gathered in the leafy luxury of Leeds Castle that not one is prepared to throw this fact back in Powell’s teeth? Or even to make reference to it in interviews or public statements on progress, if any, in the discussions?

What’s revealed here is that all the Northern parties accept that the conflict they are discussing is primarily between “the two communities.”

If a memo were unearthed quoting Peter Robinson suggesting that lies be told to persuade Unionist people of the case for violence, wouldn’t the Nationalist parties be shouting their anger on every news bulletin for a month? As Unionists would if Martin McGuinness were shown to have engaged in the same sort of manoeuvre.

But once it’s accepted that the British are, essentially, standing above and between “the two communities,” their involvement in violence elsewhere becomes irrelevant.

It’s a far cry from the days when Nationalists---“Republicans” most shrilly of all---would regularly insist that their conflict was decidedly not with the Unionists but with Britain. The violence and untrustworthy character of Britain in other eras and parts of the world would be cited. Once the perfidious British were ejected or persuaded to depart, ran the theory, Unionists and Nationalists could get down to doing a deal.

The relevance of the British to a deal with Irish Nationalism has now been turned on its head. Just a couple of days before the decampment to Kent, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin publicly suggested that if the talks come to nothing, Britain should form “an alliance” with Nationalists to reach a settlement above the Unionists’ heads.

No essential contradiction, then, between the British ruling class and the interests represented by Sinn Fein.

Just as socialists have been arguing for years.







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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

24 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Honour the Legacy
Dermot McClenaghan, Eamonn McCann, Johnnie White

Working for the Clampdown
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Peace Bomb
Anthony McIntyre

No Essential Contradiction
Eamonn McCann

P. Michael O'Sullivan, 1940-2004
Deirdre Fennessy

19 September 2004

Get On With It
Dolours Price

Who Pulled the Strings
Eamon McCann

Can of Worms
John Kennedy

British Terror in Ireland
Kevin Raftery

Big Snake Lake
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

'Ulster Britishism' or the Myth of Nationality
Liam O Comain

An Teanga Once Again?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Converting Waste into Value
Liam O Ruairc

Scargill Speaks In Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

NIPSA, the Most Important Workers Strike in Northern Ireland in 20 Years
Davy Carlin



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