The main reason for the growth of republican groups is the increasingly obvious failure Sinn Fein to make any advances on even the most minimal nationalist demands never mind a republican agenda.
If republican groups have any form of strategy it is to provoke more a repressive response from the British state that they hope will boost their own support and further discredit Sinn Fein. It is a variation of the old guerrilla concept than repression will inevitably provoke revolt. However, in most cases this has proved to be an illusion. More repression has just meant more repression and defeat.
As Saul Alinsky once said about the Black Panthers, “it’s just idiocy for the Panthers to talk about all power growing from the barrel of a gun when the other side has all the guns.” Especially when your side has microscopic support.
I find it depressing that there are still armchair republicans who imagine that shooting a few squaddies and pizza delivery boys is somehow “real” politics, whilst mass demonstrations are not. The “armed struggle” in this context could only survive on the basis of increasing sectarian polarisation. That’s not something anyone on the left has an interest in, and not something those communities who always suffer the most from sectarian polarisation want either.
Of course the reality of the political situation described by Jon doesn’t help and this is why its not enough to talk up co-operation with the police or the peace process (despite the horror of most at the very idea of its disintegration). It’s neccessary to talk about things like “mass demonstrations” about trivial matters like jobs and housing.
In other words real politics. Not this mad sectarian crap.