A view into the abyss

A few days have gone by and the political climate of the North of Ireland has changed exponentially.

The last few days have been a real challenge to my belief system and my, what can only be described as, "historical Republicanism".

I was brought up in a family, village, area and community where those who choose the political path at the time of a Republican split were viewed as traitors.

This is one part of the new political dispensation that I have always struggled with, a nagging doubt at the back of my mind if you will.

The IRA was founded 90 years ago during the Tan War. When Collins and others signed the treaty with the British the IRA condemned them as traitors and treated them as men who had sullied the proud tradition of Republicanism.

At the time of the split with the stickies in 1969, the Provisional’s arose out of the ashes of the Bogside and Belfast. They denounced those who wished to play politics while our people in Belfast faced a loyalist pogrom from Unionist death squads, the RUC and the B Specials.

What followed was merely a continuation of the armed struggle that had begun when the Republic was proclaimed in 1916.

Today we find ourselves in a different situation and I find myself on the wrong side according to traditional Republican orthodoxy.

According to Republican history as soon as the movement turns political it splits and the one which heads towards politics is replaced by a new group of volunteers ready to carry on the fight against the British.

I have often wondered how I would face this moment when it came, as I suspected it would.

Republicans loyal to the Republican movement and the leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness all face this challenge to our core beliefs.

This week witnessed an historic first when Martin McGuinness declared these dissidents as "traitors to the island of Ireland".

Many within the Republican community were unsettled by this statement from Martin; indeed the dissidents were enraged beyond belief.

To describe a man/woman as a traitor in Republican circles is the ultimate taboo. It denotes touts and collaborators, those who oppose the very essence of Irish Republicanism.

I happen to think that Martin was right to say what he said, indeed it needed to be said to stop any potential leakage of support to these dissidents.

Martin is a former leader of Oglaigh Na hÉireann, a man who has dedicated his life to achieving a United Ireland.

His words are all the more significant because of the fact that Martin said it. Martin, more than anyone in the Sinn Féin leadership is the one who resonates in the Republican heartlands.

He has been very open about his involvement in the armed campaign and as a result he has the respect and trust of the heartlands.

The Irish people declared in one clear voice, North and South, in 1998 that the only way to a United Ireland was through politics.

That hasn't changed.

Thus these dissidents are acting against the clear wishes of the Irish people and that I can not support.

My nagging doubt has gone, I have chosen my side in this struggle for independence and I will let history judge if it was the right decision.

I can only follow my conscience.

Republicans need to stand united and strong against this threat to peace, against this threat to progress.

We can do no other!


Pandora's box is smashed opened!

As if the weekend killing of two British soldiers was not enough of a strain upon the peace process I see that the dissidents have now killed a policeman in Craigavon.

It has just been confirmed on BBC

"A police officer has died following a shooting incident in Craigavon, County Armagh. The incident is understood to have happened near Lismore High School at Brownlow. Police came under attack while investigating suspicious activity near the school. "

It seems that the dissidents are intent on opening up the gates of hell for all Irish people.

I would just like to ask these people one simple question.

If, or perhaps more chillingly when, some Unionist Death Squad murder an innocent Catholic in retaliation for these killings are they going to accept that responsibility?

I'm starting to feel slightly angry at the moment and I never thought I would ever feel that reaction in relation to the death of a peeler.

I am convinced that we can gain a United Ireland through political means; I only wish I was as sure of heaven as I am of this.

I am also convinced that all these actions by the dissidents do is to undermine that political change.

Their actions will lead to only two consequences, more Irish sons and daughters in the grave and in jail.

These people have to be faced down, the Irish people need to decry in one clear and determined voice.

Not in my name!!!

It would be easy to sit back and say nothing, allow things to blow over and see what happens.

Republicans have never been shy about taking hard decisions; we have taken them at every turn.

We need to decide between what is right and what is easy.

These people can not succeed in allowing this country to slip back into chaos, they just can't!


The Rubicon has been crossed!

I have to be honest and say that I didn't even hear about the killing of British soldiers until late this morning.

I was in work and myself and a work colleague were heading over to Mass and he informed me about it.

I'm also going to be brutally honest and say that I have mixed feelings on this issue.

I supported the IRA's recent campaign against the British; I also supported their decision to enter the political process. None the less I supported the IRA carrying out similar actions to that which happened in Antrim at the weekend.

More over they were not even Police men, they were members of the British Army, a foreign army of occupation that has no place in Ireland.

While I regret any loss of life I can not stand by and be a hypocrite.

I also feel I should not just go with my gut reaction because that is not looking at the bigger picture.

Gerry Adams sort of sums it up for me. You can also tell by his statement that this is not an easy issue for Republicans

"Last night's attack was an attack on the peace process. It was wrong and counter productive. Those responsible have no support, no strategy to achieve a United Ireland. Their intention is to bring British soldiers back onto the streets. They want to destroy the progress of recent times and to plunge Ireland back into conflict. Irish republicans and democrats have a duty to oppose this and to defend the peace process. There should be an end to actions like the one in Antrim last night. Sinn Fein has a responsibility to be consistent. The logic of this is that we support the police in the apprehension of those involved in last night's attack"

When I do look at the bigger picture I see things quite clearly.

The people involved in this attack have no support; at least no more than one could fill in a phone box.

The Irish people, North and South have voted overwhelmingly for peace. They have voted to unite this country through the ballot box as opposed to the armalite.

The only reaction that these people will get from this attack is for the British army to once again be on our streets and lanes. That is totally unacceptable!

I would like to make it clear that I am not opposed to armed struggle as a general rule.

I will however oppose it when it stands no chance of achieving the objective and when it will only result in more of Ireland's son's and daughters going to jail and the grave.

This is a difficult issue for Republicans but we must face it with maturity and with both eyes set on the bigger picture.

Hearts will not win a political struggle, only the head will.


A return

Hi all, just a quick update for Balrog.

I'm just back from Prague after a very entertaining break.

It is a fantastic city with fine architecture and beauty to rival even Paris and Madrid. While the cuisine left a lot to be desired the drink, or more so the price of it, was a welcome.

It's a city that seems to be flourishing since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The people were friendly and accomodating and the craic was mighty.

It's a pity we have to come back at times.

Work is still mental, in fact it's going to get worse in the next couple of weeks.

I'll try and post more often than I have but it's all a matter of priorities at the moment.

That said with the European and Local Elections in the 26 counties coming up it is sure to be interesting, made more so with the seismic collapse of Fianna Fail.

While I would like to see Sinn Féin making more progress at this time of economic uncertainity I am content with the slow increase in first preferences.

For me it's more important that we attract preferences in greater numbers than before.