asking this question I am conscious that the probable
response to the same question by Sinn Fein (P) would
be that the GFA was the Republican response to the
continuing military stalemate. The leadership of the
Provisional Republican Movement had waged a guerrilla
war and forged the most effective guerrilla army certainly
in Western Europe for 25 years with no discernable
advancement. Their leadership calculated that there
was more to be gained by taking the political road
rather than the military road. There are probably
many complex reasons why they came to this conclusion
and this could include some or all of the following:
the collapse of Soviet style communism leaving the
USA as the only superpower, the peace processes in
South Africa and the Middle East, war wariness, the
steady loss of volunteers, particularly in Tyrone,
the recognition of the futility of violence, a better
understanding of the position of the unionist population,
the higher body count of the loyalists coming into
the nineties, personal ambition, disquiet at the increase
in sectarianism, and the increasing effectiveness
of British intelligence operations.
does little good to question the sincerity or genuineness
of the PRM. That leadership decided to enter into
negotiations to see if they could advance their cause
by purely political means. Once having decided that
there was a cold remorseless political logic that
led to the major acts of decommissioning.
GFA was all about creating the conditions for the
shared Government of NI between Unionists and Nationalists,
which with increasingly stronger cross border links
would satisfy nationalist aspirations while not encouraging
unionist fears. It was also a way by which Britain
could begin a process of political disengagement.
the PRM the advantages of their fundamentally new
departure from their previously held almost sacred
positions are obvious. They may hold the balance of
power in the South which means they could be in Government
both North and South within the next three years.
That is what drives them; the pursuit of power because
it is actually within their reach. Is that not something
worthwhile from their perspective?
is no doubt that the war is over, that the PRM have
settled for a democratic settlement within the six
county state with a view to continuing their struggle
by constitutional means.
the Good Friday Agreement was signed the IRSP predicted
it would fail. We also said that given the decision
of the vast majority of the Irish people who voted
for the agreement we would do nothing to hinder the
implementation of the GFA. Following the suspension
four times of the Assembly, the postponement of elections
on the whim of the British Prime Minister and the
failure of the Unionists to be satisfied with three
major acts of decommissioning by the Provisional IRA
we are now coming to the end of that phase of the
are always alternatives to agreements. The negotiations
that took place leading to the GFA involved a series
of compromises by all parties. The issue for many
republicans was were the concessions by the Sinn Fein
negotiators a bridge too far? Many of us have said
yes it was but we have yet not come up with alternatives.
Indeed the failure of socialists and republicans to
negotiate some sort of principled platform to oppose
the sectarian policies and reactionary economic polices
of the main parties for the November 26th elections
meant that there was no clear opposition to the prevailing
political consensus. This is a major blow for progressiverepublicans.
in the past put their lives on the line in the struggle
for either the Republic or National Liberation and
Socialism. Many were shot tortured or jailed. Many
of those Republican fighters are now disillusioned
and questioning their past. Is our answer to their
dilemma to do nothing? Is that what we tell all those
who endure the struggle only to see it end in failure?
is not enough for Anti Good Friday Agreement Republicans
(AGFAR) and Socialists to curse the dark. People need
a positive message, something tangible and relevant
to their lives. We need to develop a culture of positive
forward thinking as to what we can and should do.
There is not enough effort to develop policies that
have some relevance to the lives of working class
people. A leading member of the INLA, Ta Power said
before his assassination that the people were not
fools and could tell who were the chancers and timewasters.
Before the mass of the people one has always to be
open and honest.
so let me be open and honest. Unless those of us critical
of the PSF strategy enter the election field and put
our positions before the people and argue cogent,
coherent polices that resonate with the lives of the
people we are doomed to curse the dark. Why should
the Irish people listen to us? What relevance do we
have to their lives? We could not even develop a unified
front for the prisoners in Maghaberry so how could
we even aspire to alternatives to the Good Friday
Agreement. The failure of AGFARs to even sit in the
same room and hammer out a common approach to the
political prisoner issue aped the parallel talks that
took place at Stormont and Hillsborough Castle.
IRSP called for the establishment of a Republican
Forum to bring together those critical of the peace
process as far back as 1996. We repeat that call now.
Our position is that there could be the basis for
some Broad Front work around three main areas:
to an internal Stormont settlement that blocks the
road to the Republic
to sectarianism and for working class unity.
to the neo-liberal economic agenda that the two
states, north and south implement
IRSP will be encouraging debate and dialogue amongst
all those who can agree with any of the above three
points. If we can get agreement with others or even
if we can't we believe that there is the basis over
a period of time of developing the alternatives not
simply to the GFA but to Imperialism and Capitalism
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