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Ireland, however, we have ever seized upon mediocrities and made them
is No Justification Now for Republican Physical Force
AN OPEN LETTER TO PHYSICAL FORCE REPUBLICANISM
Irish News, 3 November 2001
In the immediate wake of Provisional IRA decommissioning the Continuity IRA launched a 1971 style bomb attack against a RUC base in West Belfast. On the same day a former loyalist prisoner was killed in front of his partner in Strabane. There have been suggestions that others from the physical force tradition were responsible for this. Alex Maskey and Pat Doherty of Sinn Fein quickly condemned both attacks. Perhaps those who carried them out will only take consolation from that condemnation feeling that such activity is one up the nose for Sinn Fein.
If so they need to think again. There are many republicans, not just in Sinn Fein, who view such actions as futile. What purpose do they serve? In whose name are they carried out? What possible freedom can they advance? Have people only the right to be free from British rule but not from the methods used by physical force republicanism to achieve such freedom? Is the courageous tradition from which you hail going to be perpetually remembered for what it kills rather than creates, for what it inflicts rather than endures?
The Good Friday Agreement and IRA decommissioning may be a bitter pill for many republicans to swallow. But if adherents of physical force republicanism think that support shall be forthcoming for strategies which can finish off people but not finish off British state policy then you inhabit a self-referential and precarious intellectual world. The Provisional IRA have decommissioned some of their weapons. In your anger are you going to overshadow that act by decommissioning people's lives and safety?
Why should physical force republicanism and the British state both subvert Irish democracy? Why should either impose their version of democracy on the rest of us? We repudiate the presence of Britain in this country. But we reject the notion that moral right is on the side of those who feel that without any reference to other Irish people it is their birthright to take up arms against the British as long as they remain here. However, we accept that we can never persuade you to cede such a fundamental tenet of the physical force tradition. But we urge most strongly that if you choose to persist in your belief then you must draw a distinction between the right to use such force and the intention to do so.
There is no possible justification, moral or strategic, for armed actions by republicans. Not only shall you take the lives of your victims but you also stand to see your own volunteers and innocent civilians needlessly killed in pursuit of an unattainable goal. Has it not been learned by now that the unrepresentative secret seven of army councils only ever deliver 'Bloody Fridays' or 'Good Fridays' and never 'The Republic'?
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