3/15/2009

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!

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