Main article- 'It Never Happened - Again' by Anthony McIntyre, foreword by James Quigley
Sinn Fein are riding high (depending on what poll you read), in the run up to the Irish general election on February 26, 2016. They are fluctuating from 19% to 21%, putting them in second place behind FG at 29% see digplanet polls. However, they know that at the end of 2014, at the height of the water/austerity demonstrations, they were the most popular party, see rte.ie article
Sinn Fein's slick, well honed party machine is now in full swing in the run up to the general elections. They will be trying to attain the heights of 2014 and it looks like they are zoning in on the massive anti water charge and austerity vote. Sinn Fein's dedicated and controlled party members have been trying to persuade the Irish public for years that they are a 'responsible' and 'believable' party with well costed policies.
Well maybe not so well costed as this RTE Radio 1 programme, 'This Week', an interview with Gerry Adams, Feb 14, might indicate.
When a politician starts saying 'Let me be clear' and talking about a mandate, that is like a rag to a bull and when the same politician makes election promises, you just have to say, 'pull the other one'.
Yea just like all the broken promises we have heard from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour Party and the Greens, in fact since the foundation of the state. So will Sinn Fein's promises be any different?
Yea, sure we can trust them. Just like Sinn Fein's record in Northern Ireland where they administer British rule and austerity measures. Gerry Adams has refers to their record in Northern Ireland quite a lot. It is probably to give the impression that Sinn Fein is a responsible, law abiding party who can be relied on to take the reigns of power.
However, there are quite a number of Republicans, socialists and public in general in Northern Ireland who would questions Mr Adams assumptions about their record there.
Another assumption, as mentioned by Gerry Adams in RTE's This Week, that they are a party of the working class or a party for 'ordinary people', dedicated to liberty, equality and fraternity would raise a few eyebrows. Again a debatable point and one an awful lot of people would have contention with.
Could Mr Adams spell out, how Sinn Fein's record in Northern Ireland has championed the working class? And as for an 'United Ireland', could he tell us how this is going to be achieved especially in the light of the Good Friday Agreement?
And again but not least, how is he going to attain the goals of sovereignty and freedom as part of the EU especially with the IMF and ECB banking vultures looking over his shoulder? Will it be something like the Greek SYRIZA capitulation, where they promised one thing but done the complete opposite.
Sinn Fein track record should be scrutinised
It is the track record of the Sinn Fein party and Provisional IRAthat should be highlighted and scrutinised. It is the emphasise that the party puts on control and party growth by any means that should be questioned. Especially now in the run up to the general election.
Some would say that Sinn Fein was cementing party control by any means and that they were on this parliamentary trajectory even as far back as the 1981 Hunger Strike. For sure they have been on the parliamentary road ever since the Provisional IRA ceasefire in 1997 (some would say 'defeat') or the Good Friday Agreement 1998 (some might say 'sell out').
Buncrana Together has written extensively on Sinn Fein's record locally in the Irish Water Campaign, the way they treated locals and it's influence or control in the national Right2Water movement, see our article A Critique. Donegal A Microcosm of the Malaise affecting Right2Change Ireland. It's a long article so suffice to say that their involvement was one geared towards the party, to power and control and nothing would get in their way.
However, we will leave it to Anthony McIntyre to give what we think a great and eloquent depiction of Sinn Fein's modus operandi set in the context of Provisional IRA decommissioning weapons . A modus operandi that has to be written about and investigated, not least because truth must be upheld at all costs but also because of inherent dangers in the power of a party which has 'control' as it's centre core. It could be argued a little bit like National Socialism.
Anthony McIntyre's article 'It Never Happened – Again' first appeared in The Blanket and was recently part of a collection of stories in his book 'Good Friday, The Death of Irish Republicanism', Ausubo Press, 2008.
If you want a book that hold's truth and honesty dear, if you want a book that gives an insider's, alternative account of Irish Republicanism, if you want a book that you can not put down then read his book. If you want a taste of his brilliant writing then read on.
It Never Happend -Again
Anthony McIntyre, 9/4/2002
What would never happen has happened again. The strategy of 'never but will' trundles on oblivious to the silent well of sensitivity and layers of sacrifice abandoned as mere backwash in its wake. The IRA has opted for another for a further round of decommissioning and has effusively praised itself for having done so. According to Republican tradition that such an action has occurred but like many other 'truths' on republicanism a mythological virus has crept into the account and it has nudged into the shade the evidence presented by County Inspector Gelston of the Clare Royal Irish constabulary who, when giving his evidence to the Royal commission of Inquiry investigating the events of Easter Week 1916, informed it that 'in one case a parish priest addressed the Sinn Feiners and asked them to give up their rifles to us. That was the only case in which rifles were given up to any extent'.
There will be those in the Republican leadership who will in the days ahead troop around the Republican family meetings in West Belfast and elsewhere to perform a little pirouette of prevarication.
They will tell anyone who will listen that nothing was decommissioned, that De Chastelain – who yesterday in a Freudian slip described how he wished to 'recapitulate' again – made it all up; London, Dublin and Washington went along with it to keep the peace process alive. There are even some who will swear to having been there when decommissioning didn't happen – again. 'Honest, that's the second time I saw it not being done'.
A common thread running through the queries of observers, somewhat perplexed at the incredible ease with which the bulk of Republicans accept what would only recently have occurred over their 'dead bodies', is whether there really is anybody other than the 'terminally stupid' within the Republican base who believe such nonsense. But this is to come at it in the wrong way. No one should be so arrogant as to presume that the entire Republican grassroots are gullible fools. Yes, as elsewhere, there are those, a la Sean O'Faolain, who labour without 'a spare sixpence of an idea to fumble for'. And their numbers are indeed reinforced by fawning acolytes who know better than to believe any of it but who, wanting to maintain what power they have by dint of being apparatchiks, seek to emulate Lord Coppers's sycophantic gofer in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop who remained incurably anxious never to contradict his boss. Yet there are others who are disgruntled but 'pragmatically acquiesce' out of a sense of impotence, concluding that the leadership have it all sown up and that open opposition will only bring the green shirts to their door.
Even in the middle level bureaucracies – a comfortable home in every organisation for the flunkeys and sycophants who disproportionate populate the functionary niches – there are to be found some who steadfastly refuse to celebrate what only the week before they condemned; who are not to be seen tearing through the dictionary in search of new ways to say 'courageous and imaginative'; who make no pretence that patriotism is a synonym for surrender; and who will run a million miles from humiliating Mexican waves aimed at pleasing U.S presidents who have just signed the latest cheque for the child-murdering Israeli government. But even if they never read him nor heard of his name they are instinctively alert to the perception of Alexis de Tocqueville that people are more afraid of being marginalised than of being wrong. Experience has left its mark. Those who wish to think differently learn quickly that critical questioning can lead to social suicide. Ostracism is a powerful tool carefully honed to exert maximum pressure upon those who decline to conform. For the place seeker with ambition, leading the mob of social banishers may help improve the political career CV. There is no shortage of would-be councillors to be found when it comes to waging campaigns of intimidation against those who speak out. And to add sinister muscle the 'Kray Twins', Mug & Thug – the leadership's thought police – are all too will to visit homes and ominously wag the trigger finger.
So, at best the stupid thesis remains unproven, at worst demeaning. It is more credible to contend that the grassroots have been subjected to a prolonged campaign of attrition strategically designed to intellectually cauterise them by managing and filtering information. Advised not to listen to or, worse, speak with the 'enemy press', the bulk of their take was formed by what the leadership – who have no qualms about speaking to the 'anti-Republican media' – tell them.
That Leadership, inebriated on the arrogance of power, rarely managed to conceal a rabid hatred of anyone disagreeing with it. Committed to zero tolerance of alternative viewpoints it ensured the Republican movement would be a cold house for other voices. Even in supposedly democratic Sinn Fein, the hidden centre of power in republicanism – the prosperous men of the Army Council – sought to rule the party with the ethos of the army. Under its domination, dissent - initially promoted by it for its own sectional ends against O'Bradaigh/O'Conaill axis – was viewed as a contagious disease. Those who displayed the symptoms were quarantined by being either marginalised out of the movement entirely or banished to some remote corner within it. Heads raised above the parapet would immediately draw the attention and surveillance of thought traffic control and the fire of the verbal snipers, their weapons loaded with vitriol, eager to impose silence and prevent republicanism from becoming more democratic.
For long enough most could be expected to acquiesce in this, given that there was a war to be prosecuted that helped generate an imperative to protect the struggle from anything that could be presented as divisive. There was an acceptance that the civilian values of democratic rights and equality had no place in an army. Hierarchy was what was needed – and plenty of it. Those at the top sought to dangerously totalise intellectual life. And that fierce self-serving ambition of leaders to empower themselves while dis-empowering followers was best served by suppressing any sign of independent thinking, which might lead to a rupturing of the banks of conformity and an irrigation of that barren terrain where previously little in the way of new ideas sprang to life.
Yet when the war wound down matters did not improve. With no obvious need to consent to leadership demands for quiet, the institutional imperative for self-preservation kicked in and leaders coerced silence. Consequently, dissenting views were ignored or explained away through the illogic articulated by the hounding hacks. Those who believed that the leadership would sign up to a partitionist arrangement, no different from Sunningdale describe strategic failures as new phases of struggle, invent idiotic phrases like ' a transition to a transition', sit in Stormont, join centre-right coalition governments north or south, administer British rule, accept the consent principle, settle for no abolition of the RUC, endorse a new status as an establishment party, criminalise the armed struggle of other physical force groups, murder members of alternative Republican organisation and decommission weapons, were dismissed as mentally ill, alcoholics, whores, self-publicists, and egotists. If a party member opposed to the leadership strategy drank three nights a week they were automatically consigned to the doghouse. Strangely, though, if on the other hand, your tipple ran to thirty-one days a month but you supported the strategy, you could cruise comfortably at leadership level, even arriving to speak at commemorative events blocked.
A regime of truth was being constructed. It didn't matter if it was all false – just that people believed it to be true, or at least, said as much. And yet the pervasive culture of conformity has failed to subdue everyone. There are still Republicans both inside the movement and without who reject and resist the repressive concept of Section 31 regardless of who wields it; who remain determined that a sanitised and revisionist account shall not monopolise the historical record; who feel they have every right to ask the difficult question. Why should we have to rely on the probing of Seamus McKee, Noel Thompson, or Mike Nesbitt to elicit answers that make the leadership look foolish and fumbling, seeking the cover of the nearest stone from under which to complain 'but that is not helpful to the peace process'? We invested considerably more in this struggle than any media interviewer so why should we not be able to publicly confront these leadership figures in a bid to satisfy ourselves that we have not been defrauded of a rightful return on that investment?
The leadership of course would not agree. They want only Stalinist clones with an ability to reiterate someone else's cloned phrases. The type who when told, metaphorically, that everybody needs shoes, thinks size sevens all round is the solution – and off to the social gulag with anybody possessing the ungrateful temerity to complain that their feet hurt.
The Republican struggle is over. The energies expended in it and the structures moulded through it are now being used for a different project entirely. Republicans without republicanism are little different from constitutional nationalists. The blood spilt was a costly fuel with which to power the ambitions of self-proclaimed establishment politicians. The ends have corrupted the means. Genuinely taking the gun out of Irish politics would be a step forward. Taking the dignity and defiance out of Irish republicanism is a step too far.