Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, under intense U.S. and domestic pressure, repeatedly said in the United States this week he believes the Irish Republican Army may eventually wither away or disband. But he stressed that it must happen gradually to prevent the danger of a new and far more deadly IRA springing up in its place.
Splinter and breakaway IRA groups have already renounced Adams as a sellout. The McCartney sisters, heroic as they are, may inadvertently set in process chains of events with nasty consequences. Martin McGuiness’s threat to them to back off may prove to be prescient. Stay out of the political realm, you are setting loose forces you don’t comprehend.
However, the long, and even the most recent history of the militant Irish republican movement provides abundant evidence that Adams’ concern about a splintering of it that could unleash a new wave of violence worse than any seen in Northern Ireland for well over 20 years is a justified one.
Yes, Adams and McGuinness want to stay in control. But so far the world media has barely mentioned equally repulsive murders of innocents by unionists, so the current huge media focus is more than a bit one-sided. Bad IRA, with everyone else being blameless.
As respected Canadian analyst Gwynne Dyer noted in the Toronto Globe and Mail earlier this week, the Irish republican movement has split five times in the past century, and on three of those occasions, the split has led to widespread violence, even on occasion civil war.
This is not idle speculation. The IRA invented urban terrorism, blowing up cars and offices in a last gasp attempt to drive out the Brits in the early 1900’s. It worked, as shown in the movie “Michael Collins.” Though their numbers were tiny, the bombings were so disruptive and thus successful that the Brits assumed there must be thousands of them and backed off. And, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, one day there were thousands. If your grandfather, father, and you were IRA, and you saw generations of struggle about to be for naught, well, you might go back underground too.
My wife Sue says:
It has to stop. Everyone has to stop. Violence begets violence, and war benefits no one … particularly harming women and children, but nobody recovers from war. Violence and war are a man’s head trip, for the purpose of economic domination and personal selfishness. I say this as a thinking person, a person with a heart, soul, and experience of the effects of war. It has to stop.
Murder victim’s sisters return to more hostile climate in Belfast
The Belfast to which the sisters and fiancee of Robert McCartney are returning this weekend is a more hostile place than the one they left.
The fight the family faces has got tougher. Republican gloves have come off. Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have publicly suggested that a political machine is manipulating the sisters to damage Sinn Féin.
Mr McGuinness claimed the sisters were being secretly advised by a Svengali figure who was against the Good Friday agreement – Anthony McIntyre, an ex-IRA prisoner and a prominent republican critic of Sinn Féin.
Mr McIntyre, who served 18 years in the Maze, contributes to the Blanket, one of the most read political websites in Northern Ireland.
McIntyre’s recent L.A. Times Op-ed attacked the IRA for devolving into a criminal gang devoid of any genuine political purpose, much less the unification of Ireland.
Since then, things have only gotten worse. Under the leadership of Adams, the IRA has lost its way and is now bereft of legitimate purpose. Without any strategic framework for securing the withdrawal of the British state from Ireland, the IRA is now little more than a fundraiser and enforcer for its political wing, Sinn Fein.
With the IRA no longer involved in a war to expel the British, a checklist of its activities suggests it is more like a national crime syndicate than a national liberation army: extortion, robberies, mutilations, intimidation and the occasional murder of members of its own community.