The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Current Situation
Extracts from a speech delivered to an IRSP meeting in Belfast on Tuesday 28th October
Gerry Ruddy • 28.10.03

Comrades, I'd like to spend some time to review the peace process, look at why the events of the last week happened, i.e. decommissioning the calling of elections and the breakdown of the sequencing events and the position that the ERPS should take towards all of this.

There are many complex reasons why the Provisional Republican Movement (PRM) went down the peace process road. 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 are all possible reasons.

It does no one any credit if in our movement we question the sincerity or genuineness of the PRM. After all that movement waged a war against theBritish for approximately 25 years and forged the most effective guerrilla army certainly in Western Europe. It is clear that their leadership calculated that there was more to be gained by taking the political road rather than the military road.

Once having decided that there was a cold remorseless political logic that led to the major acts of decommissioning.

The engaging in the affairs of Ireland by the Clinton administration opened up the way for the Provos to take the political road. Furthermore the collapse of the old Soviet type communism now meant that Imperialism and capitalism were in the ascendancy and revolutionary movement had to face the new realities.

The victory over the Soviets gave capitalism a new lease of life and it now began a concerted attack on publicly owned resources. The introduction of public private finance initiatives is not just a local thing, it is worldwide. The drive for privatisation is fuelled by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international bodies.

This affects the politics of Ireland. The close relationship between the USA and the Free State Government clearly shows how closely interwoven are the policies of both countries. The Celtic Tiger economic miracle was announced on the same day as the first IRA ceasefire. The link between economics and politics is obvious.

The splendid isolation of Ireland from the real economic world took some time to penetrate into the Unionists. For years protected by the indifference of the Westminster Government the Unionists grew arrogant and dictatorial. They used sectarian fears to bolster their rule and openly advocated and practice discrimination against the Roman Catholic population.

When all this was blown apart by the rise of the civil rights movement and the extent of the resistance of the oppressed they were incapable of resisting change. Direct rule, not a British first option was instigated. The 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 disengagement.

For the PRM the advantages of this approach are obvious. The isolation from the media and the world stage that they suffered in the eighties was gone, they are now major players, they are within sight of overtaking the SDLP as the main nationalist party they have a growing influence in Southern politics and are attracting the support and votes of increasing numbers of young people. Further more they have still held onto their army despite three major acts of decommissioning. Growing disillusionment with the corrupt politics within the 26 county state means they will attract growing support and even more votes. They may hold the balance of power in the South which means they could be 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?

Trimble and Adams have both come out of this strengthened in one way. Trimble can say he got the IRA to decommission 3 times and that he withstood pressure from both Blair and Ahearn to cut a deal.

Adams can say he for filled his part of the bargain, can deliver, and that the unionists reneged on an agreed deal. Also part of the Sinn Fein strategy was to split unionism. It has now been never more divided.

There 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.

However while we may speculate and theorise the reality is that elections for a new Assembly are now on. The elections are about electing negotiating teams not a government. Immediately after the elections regardless of the result there has to be a review of the GFA. It is quite possible that in the event of all sections of Unionism refusing to share Government with Sinn Fein the British and Irish Governments could move towards making Joint Authority a viable option.

What should be our position in all this? First of all the immediate question is the one of elections. As I see it we have only limited options.

In al of these there are opportunities and difficulties. It is up to the membership to make their voice heard. But there is not enough political input to the movement by the membership. We tend to leave others to do the hard work. There is not enough effort to develop policies that have some relevance to the lives of working class people. I could go on and make a large number of criticisms of our faults, but that would be negative and we need to develop a culture in the Party of positive forward thinking as to what we can and should do. People in this room may have in the past put their lives on the line in the struggle for national liberation and socialism. Some of you may have been shot tortured or jailed.

To make sense of those sacrifices we need to begin now and march forward towards seriously getting involved in electoral politics. That should be our short-term goal, training our membership to be prepared to put our politics before the people in all parts of Ireland. While the assembly elections may not be the time to do it because I see this as the final working out of the GFA then after that we should come out with all guns blazing to use a metaphor and put the authentic voice and polices of Republican Socialism before the Irish working class. What should our vision of that Republican socialism be? The end goal as I see it is the creation of as democratic a society as possible, politically economically and socially where each individual has the opportunity to develop their potentiality to its fullest extent.


Gerry Ruddy is an IRSP Ard ­Comhairle member.






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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

4 December 2003


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No Surprise, No Change

Eamon Sweeney


The Global Justice Movement's Take on Sustainable Development
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Canvassing for the Socialists
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Address to PUP Conference
Davy Carlin


The Current Situation
Gerry Ruddy


30 November 2003


Anthony McIntyre


Special Election Coverage:


Ignore the Headlines

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Doing Well for Themselves Alone
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Our Day Has Come. . .
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Paying the Price
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Sinn Féin Advances Enhances Process
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'RSF satisfied with outcome - time to consider alternatives'

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Republican Sinn Féin


Poll Result Highlights Flawed Agreement
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Election Comment




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