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SF voters… and ‘violent nationalism’. June 11, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.
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Well now, there’s a most curious piece in the Irish Times written by Colm Keena on Gerry Adams. In it Keena – who wrote a biography of Gerry Adams. In the piece he has to admit that Adams and the leadership of the RM brought it away from armed conflict towards constitutional politics…. but… but…

What struck me while working on the book, and still seems to me to be a key observation, is the way the movement for civil rights in Northern Ireland, encouraged as it was by other such movements around the world targeting oppression, became so particularly violent.

Does he really find this such a mystery? The struggle – and it’s an appropriate word, struggle – for civil rights didn’t appear in a vacuum, was the result of a repressive state, a more broadly repressive society and political, social and economic marginalisation. Nor was it a case of that state or society passively standing back in the face of the civil rights struggle. Quite the opposite. As it gained force and influence we know the history of 1968 onwards.

Not that there’s not some truth to the following:

The reason for this, I decided, lay in the fact that Adams, and others like him steeped in the culture of Irish republicanism, were of the view from the start that the civil rights question in Northern Ireland would quickly become the national question. And he and other republican true believers were convinced that the national question could be resolved only through violence: the Brits would have to be driven out. Because they held this view, republicans saw the eruption of violence in the North (which they encouraged) as an opportunity. If the scale of the violence and killing could be increased and maintained, the British would tire and leave.

Of course Keena doesn’t mention Official Republicanism in this, or the nature of the RM pre-split, for to do so is to bring particularly dynamics front and centre – firstly that, yes, Republicanism saw an opportunity – though I think it can be argued that many Republicans, perhaps a majority, saw that opportunity as being a rupture with the then extant polity towards a leftist approach. However, that was, to a considerable degree, washed away as those Republicans underestimated both the nature of the response of the state (and that broader society) and the manner in which Nationalists responded to both the long term history of the socio-political entity they were in and the short term responses of that state.
Nor does Keena reference at all the broader international political context, and in particular the influence of student and other protests and the increasing militancy of those involved in same. That was an obvious dynamic feeding into the evolution of the civil rights movement. Again, none of this happened in a vacuum. Perhaps, given the inability of the Stormont state to reform itself, and the hesitancy and inability of the British to oversee such reform successfully, it is unfortunate that the conflict in the North appeared when it did, but it is unlikely that there would have been no conflict, no stand-off or more with the state.

And it’s worth noting that peaceful protest, of a sort one presumes Keena champions met a very strong and violent response from the state and state supported actors – which response itself ratcheted up more confrontational and increasingly combative protests, though well short of paramilitary or insurgent approaches.

Moreover, and this is another failing of Keena’s, both wings of Republicanism, as it were, whether those who remained wedded to armed struggle or those who subsequently (though notably not until three/four years later, and only in part) renounced it, saw as the outcome the replacement of the state as was in NI with an all-island unitary republic – albeit of differing types (though this modified for Official Republicanism in some respects subsequently). So the issue of violence is not necessarily the most important one at play in all this.

Nor was violence the preserve of one side in this. In the history of the conflict it was loyalism, perhaps – though the record is cloudy, though suggestive, in this regard – egged on by elements within broader political unionism, who (re)introduced political violence in the latter part of the 1960s.

And it’s also worth continuing. Violence and armed struggle continued in a pernicious cycle in no small part due to the response subsequently of the British state which was unable and unwilling to position itself as a guarantor of all rights – and instead made the arguably strategically sensible if morally bankrupt decision to pick a side (albeit unwillingly and incompletely).
But all this is lost in Keena’s analysis. All violence devolves to the responsibility of (Provisional) Republicanism.
Which is not to say that some of the attitudes that Keena attributes to that wing of Republicanism did not exist. But it is to rob agency of many other forces in this history.

He continues:

One of the real terrors in the room was this tradition that gave such a central role to, and so embraced, violence. Militant nationalism could be imagined as a virus that was passed from generation to generation, ready whenever the conditions were favourable to emerge from its slumbers and wreak more havoc.

I’ve always felt that this is such a parochial line, and an expedient one. Militant nationalism exists in all societies at one time or another and it can be both reactive and active.

It may well be that Adams came to the view that violent nationalism was a virus that needed to be isolated and killed before it infected coming generations, and that this in part explains his role in guiding the republican movement towards peaceful means while striving to prevent a catastrophic split.

Perhaps he did, though it would be an odd way of looking at it. It seems to me more likely that Keena’s following analysis is closer to the truth:

It may also be that he decided, long before the ceasefires, the IRA’s campaign should end because it was a hindrance, rather than a contribution, to its stated purpose.

But in a way it doesn’t matter, because eventually the broader political context, East West, North South and within the North changed to a degree that it was possible to reconsider and reshape a dispensation in which – however imperfectly, there appeared to be an alternative to the use of political violence.

But Adams’s principle political motivation remains his dream of a united Ireland. Personally I think that his stated allegiance to democratic politics is subservient to this dream, and that even if this view is wrong, to act on a belief to the contrary is to take a great risk.

What precisely is the risk? That SF will institute a coup d’etat? Does he think them that stupid, that detached from reality? Does he believe that this state is so fragile that citizens would accept or tolerate such an eventuality?

It seems, actually, that his fears are somewhat more prosaic:

Adams is a member of the Dáil, Sinn Féin is in power in Northern Ireland, the party is on the rise in the Republic, and it seems it will hold the position of Dublin Lord Mayor in Easter 2016. Indeed it is possible it will be in power, north and south of the Border, come the anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the event that did so much to feed the romantic view of political violence which has so blighted this island. It is not difficult to imagine Sinn Féin wanting to use the anniversary to influence popular views on the legitimacy of the Provisional IRA’s campaign, thereby justifying Adams’s career, and providing a boost to the republican tradition.

So what? Given the engagement by SF – and some will view that engagement in very jaundiced terms from a variety of viewpoints, with the British, the Royal Family, etc, etc, it is hard to believe that any particular boost would be a boost to – say – what most of us would understand Republican views in 1978, to pick a year at random, would be – at least in the context of support unequivocally armed struggle, the necessity for military means to deal with partition and so forth. The contexts are now utterly different, not least in the steadfast antagonism to dissident violence in the North (though there’s no question of SF or Adams throwing the IRA under the bus as it were in relation to its history all the while being critical of aspects of the struggle).

But if that’s not what we can expect to hear from SF – and simply providing a boost to the ‘republican tradition’ is pretty vague in any case, then what functional negative impact can it have. Does Keena align with the Conor Cruise O’Brien line that simply to talk about 1916 would in and of itself inflame the impressionable sensibilities of another generation of Irish youth? Would kick off a Troubles redux? I find it highly unlikely that he – or any sensible person – does.

If that is the case then what particular ‘dangers’ are there?

But to be honest it would appear that he will countenance near enough no expression at all of Republicanism, for how else to interpret his closing thoughts?

People who voted Sinn Féin need to pay serious heed to these dangers. At least part of the energy within Sinn Fйin comes from its militant nationalist tradition. That tradition is a menace. We should eradicate it.

Perhaps so, but another thought. If, as the heading on the piece suggests, ‘SF voters must pay heed to dangers of violent nationalism’ is correct then logically that heed might be such that they would come to the conclusion that increased political support for SF would be precisely the thing to keep pushing it away from ‘violent nationalism’ – after all, as it increased support this was seen as part legitimation for its moving away from armed struggle. And therein lies yet another contradiction at the heart of Keena’s approach, because what he seems unable to accept is that political formations can change in regard to their attitude to political violence and that SF (like other nationalist and Republican formations before them) has too.
Strange stuff.

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Comments»

1. Phil - June 11, 2014

20+ years ago I remember having horrible, bitter, friendship-ending arguments with friends on the Left about whether the PIRA’s campaign was legitimate, justifiable, something we should support, etc. In retrospect what I was pushing back against wasn’t so much the possibility that any of those questions could be answered affirmatively as the insistence that they should all be, & the debate ended right there (before we went back out in public and claimed we supported SF as a democratic political party representing a legitimate current of opinion… happy days).

Having said all of that, when I read your quotes from this Colm Keena piece I feel like I’m through the looking glass. As soon as you acknowledge that the choice of armed struggle can ever be justifiable – and that you can’t draw a bright line between Bad Violence (in a balaclava) and Good Violence (in a uniform) – all this stuff about decontaminating politics of the insidious virus of violent ideology just sort of falls apart.

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2. fergal - June 11, 2014

There is a fairly simple narrative that follows the Cruiser’s dire warnings of even talking of 1916. People like Fintan O T’oole often peddle this line. The huge celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Rising drove young people into the arms of armed republicanism and helped in a way to kick-start the conflict.
Eamonn McCann recounts how the 1967 Easter commemoration in Derry was attended by 37 people(?) , two of them from the RUC Special Branch….so much for the impact of 1966’s events.
I was fascinated to learn that the BBC series on World War One made for TV called The Great War was shown on RTE1 as part of the WW1 50th events in 1964. All 26 episodes….and it won a Jacob’s award. Lazy journalists like Fintan would have you believe that the 60s were just one big green flag waving decade.
I like Howard Zinn’s approach to how wars begin and end. The orthodoxy goes that ordinary people’s desire for war kick it off and eventually wise leaders bring the war to an end. Zinn says that it’s the other way round and i think it can be applied to the conflict up north. Leaders like Paisley, Bunting, Chi Chi, Faulkner et al stoked the flames of conflict……and it was only in the 90s when ordinary had had enough of it that it came to an end.

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shea - June 11, 2014

on how wars end, suppose it can be said about any war but find it interesting how alot of the jingoism of the first world war is regurgitated today when talking about that war but the opinions that came about at the conclusion of that war not so much.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2014

Been reading an interesting book about the development of fascism in Italy after that war and there unlike much of the rest of Europe there was a shift towards miltarism (not helped by the Futurists). And it was saying that so much of that was rhetorical and when later during WWII when Italian soldiers were thrown into battle on various fronts it was a rude awakening. It’s exactly as you say, that the actual attitudes that post-dated that war in say the UK or elsewhere seem to have been entirely forgotten and the jingoistic rationales for it (we’ve even heard some of the stuff about Germany being x y and z as against Britain at the time) are trotted out.

One thing that makes me smile, sort of, is that Redmond who is often held up as this great hero was implacably opposed to suffrage. Whereas for all that we’re told Republicans and advanced nationalists were backward looking they were at least formally in favour of it.

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shea - June 12, 2014

that should have read ‘the jingoism at the start of the first WW’

but you picked it up WBS, sounds interesting, giving them the benefit of the doubt iam sure when 1918 comes about they will read the corresponding chapter in the 100 years ago history book.

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3. BB - June 11, 2014

Adams came to the view that the traditional methods of republicanism would never unite Ireland. The armalite and the ballot box didn’t deliver a breakthrough. The guerilla campaign was becoming a sick joke. It ended up attacking “soft targets”. Quite simply, it didn’t work. The understandable war weariness of the nationalist community was a factor too. Twenty five years of heroic struggle exhausted the many who were killed, maimed, imprisoned or terrorised by the British.

In 1988 Adams tells us in his book ‘A Pathway to Peace’ the rationale for entry to the peace process. He explicitly accepted the principle of Unionist consent as a condition to the realisation of Irish self determination.

There were even hints that the “demographic time bomb” would deliver a Catholic majority in the North and presumably a united Ireland to follow via the ballot box.

Another factor, among the many, was the advent of the Clinton administration in the US. Under pressure from the Irish American lobby, he became a “persuader” for the British to work towards a settlement and one which withdrew some clout from the Unionists too.
All things considered, the Adams leadership led a long-maturing process. It took much time and determination to convince republicans that it would be possible to achieve unity by negotiation, without first forcing from the British a promise to withdraw. That was an enormous risk, potentially causing significant splits. It didn’t happen. Done and dusted now.

Sinn Fein rationalises these developments as a historic achievement of their struggle, despite the fact that they betrayed their stated commitment to national self-determination and their capitulation before the oppressor. They will crown it when Adams takes the display stand at the GPO in 2016. There is no going back, just forward with millimeter-left-of-centre politics.

O’Brien warns of the “dangers” that 2016 will boost the “romantic view of political violence which has so blighted this island. It will do the polar opposite, I suggest.

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Michael Carley - June 11, 2014

Was it Cathal Goulding said `we were right too early, Adams was right too late, and Ruairi O’Bradaigh will never be right’?

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BB - June 11, 2014

I don’t know. But this sounds like someone putting an ideological cast on the scenario. Perhaps an historian could clarify for us.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2014

Yes it was Goulding.

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PhilF - June 12, 2014

Unfortunately, Adams didn’t have a plan B. So now their idea is to reunify the country from above, using elite mechanisms.

Both leave the masses sidelined.

So there’s a link between the two.

As a socialist-republican, I not only prefer unity from below, but I think that’s the only realistic way to unity – it’s the path of an all-Ireland workers’ republic.

Phil

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Joe - June 12, 2014

“He explicitly accepted the principle of Unionist consent as a condition to the realisation of Irish self determination.”

Did Adams put it explicitly that way? That the Unionists need to consent? As opposed to a majority of people in Northern Ireland need to consent?
Is the logic of the GFA not that a vote for unity in a poll in Northern Ireland will trigger moves towards a United Ireland? So that’s where the demographic stuff comes in to play – if the Catholic population overtakes the Protestant population in NI, there’s your majority in favour of unity. And the unionists can like it or lump it.
So in such a scenario, is Adams saying that consent would still be needed from unionists?

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Séamus - June 13, 2014

I don’t think he said it was a condition, I think he couched it more in terms of it being ‘desirable’.

The GFA makes provision for a referendum on unity to be held in the Six Counties, and one in the Twenty-Six Counties too, but it’s entirely at the discretion of the British secretary of state. The ‘demographic timebomb’ hasn’t turned out as people thought (the Catholic population in the North is growing, just more slowly than many expected) but a lot of unionists and other commentators are now looking at the NI Life and Time Surveys, which suggest that support for a united Ireland is low even among Catholics, so even when the North does have a Catholic majority (and even when nationalist parties get the majority of the vote) the British SoS can still reject a border poll by saying it doesn’t necessarily reflect support for reunification.

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Joe - June 14, 2014

Thanks a Shéamuis.
It’s all speculation I suppose at this stage. We are looking into the medium and long term. But if the day ever comes when the nationalist population outnumbers the unionist population, and 50%+ vote to scrap the border, we will still have a problem, brothers and sisters. The problem will be that the unionist population is still British so how are they to be accomodated in the new dispensation?
Anyway all speculation and remember too that 50%+ nationalists in the north does not automatically imply a vote to scrap the border. Some of them might look south at mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries and bishops belting and all the rest and say… eh, no thanks.

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2014

Didn’t I link a while back to some of the thoughts floating around in SF as regards future dispensations, and wasn’t one idea something that wasn’t a republic?

Of course that last point you make works both ways, as you know! ;)

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4. que - June 11, 2014

I read it this morning and it had the tone of exhaustion about it it seemed. A bit like we’ve spent years warning you about that lot but now you still are saying 26% of you will vote them.

There was a lack of force about it that seemed strangely at odds with the previous tenor of warnings. Maybe the media have simply shot their load.

Clearly while an excessive attachment to militarism would be problematic it would seem that Sinn Fein dont have that issue. A contrast with the dissidents might support that.

I’d suspect that there is no level of execration heaped upon Irish men and women who fired weapons for Republican causes and matched by praise for RIC/ British soldiers in the name of reconciliation that could be sufficient to remove the ‘militarist tint’.

By the by I’d assume this means Keena is laying out his stall in opposition to the presence of any English royals in 2016. To be consistent like.

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WorldbyStorm - June 12, 2014

Heheh, he surely isn’t!

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5. Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 13, 2014

You are a little ungenerous towards Keena. In his general terms the Stickies lost and long ago gave up the form if not entirely the habits of democratic centralism.

Nowadays they’re a threat mostly to themselves.

Given Gerry took office by military coup and has been unchallenged ever since he will likely outlive Scargill President for life of SF. That’s not democratic power in any conventional sense.

Skipping over a multitude of human rights abuses and a murder campaign that would shame an old stickie, he lies. That’s it. And he lies because he knows if he tells the truth, then, game over.

Nearly ninety people from Ballymurphy died in the Troubles, the first an unfortunate IRA man travelling in the same car as Adams in late 1969.

Yet, he makes a liar of anyone who suggests he was ever in the Ra.

In fact he’s trimmed that tactic these days such that if we support him we are forced into a cynic truth trap. We know he’s lying, but we have to pretend he isn’t.

It’s not the historic (or even contemporary) violence – and it never has been – that is corrosive. It’s in his voracious demand for democratic legitimacy, he also asks us to fraud ourselves.

It’s an old trick. And we’ve fallen for it over and over again. The Church has done it, the bankers, the builders, the legions of gombeen men.

Just remember the first people Adams displaced in a democratic contest was Gerry Fitt, who was finally successfully burnt out of his family not long after.

That wasn’t someone else. That is the grey-bearded guy with the great deep Belfast-accented Irish in the Dail. At the end of the day, I personally don’t doubt the formation can change over time.

But I’ve nothing in the north that tells me he is in the least bit interested in reforming the state. He still wants over thrown, and he’s not fussy how it gets done.

There is NO policy which has left the floor of a SF AF which has EVER made it into government despite the party virtually owning education (with breaks) from 1999 onwards.

And I’m not even going near Martin’s threat to withdraw support from the PSNI when the ‘leader’ was arrested and removed for four days, or the question of that 22 year long betrayal of his niece.

I’m not saying they don’t give a damn about austerity politics, but if you are backing them, I’m hedging on them doing an Hollande. Austerity is not the point.

Nothing but the liberation of the island is. Whether the people ever vote for it or not!! ;-)

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WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2014

I would worry Mick that to focus on Adams as you and Keena do is to reduce very complex forces to a single individual or very small group of individuals. Provisional Republicanism wasn’t simply Adams and a few others, quite the opposite, we know there were distinct phases, different leaderships, different approaches, and even Adams himself has exemplified that latter dynamic.

And it’s existence in the first place was also partly in response to other forces beyond it.

Of course he lies, and in fairness to him his lack of acknowledgement as to IRA membership or not appears in the last month or two to have been sensible enough a precaution. But again, lying isn’t restricted to him as a politician.

If the scale of same or the nature is different in ways well so is the context within which he is embedded. And architect of his own fate or not, the egregious and all too often appalling acts of Provisional Republicanism are something that he has to face up to at least where he feels any personal responsibility himself.

But again, even if you are correct and the ultimate goal is a UI, which is hardly news given that is what he and SF have made their public goal however if may be achieved across decades now, what precisely is the manner in which that in and of itself is pernicious or can be sought or achieved outside parameters he and SF have signed up to? It’s simply implausible to see any scope for extra constitutional means.

Moreover I’m not convinced that simply by being in the Dail or the Irish body politic Adams presence corrupts or taints that that body politic. It is glib but true that Irish politics is littered with former paramilitaries turned politicians, and if there was a specific principle at work in the modern era then that went out the window when FG finally did the deal in 94 with another generation of pols with a past less bloody but functionally only in the, admittedly, considerably smaller scale rather than as regards the use of political violence up to and including murder – indeed only this week the name of Unionist Senator Barnhill was mentioned.

Again that too is reductionist, but it is also only tenable if one argues that nothing else either within of without SF has changed. Yet so much has changed. No PIRA, acceptance of the constitional status quo, power sharing however flawed in NI, tolerance of British state symbolism in the form of engagement with the Royals, etc, etc. Keena’s piece is particularly weak in that respect with dark mutterings about Adams motivations as if realistically they matter a damn in the context of a democratic polity in the south with strong legitimation for the processes of that polity from its citizens (if weak legitimation for traditional formations – though for all the harum scarum SF still unlikely to be in govt in 2016).

And in truth, Adams is not going to be around for ever, generational shifts await. Vastly more interesting than the obsession with him is the question as to what sort of SF we face in 2024 and after.

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Mick Fealty - June 13, 2014

I’ll admit that I am going very reductionist on this. That’s where I run into accusations like Roddy’s from those who think it’s some kind of a lunatic crusade against the man himself.

But it’s his presence as leader for nearly 30 years uninterrupted that gives me proper and rational leave to do so.

Now it is true that all of those 30 years Adams has been leading a positive development away from violence towards a democratic strategy. His leadership is absolutely crucial both to the definition of that journey and its execution in a way that’s unimaginable of almost any other political party or movement.

Focusing mainly on the party to the exclusion of its relationship with its leader is to consider it as a party just like any other. I don’t doubt the idealism all the commitment of those others involved but they simply aren’t central to the mission in the way that Adams has been and continues to be.

This, I think, is key to understanding Keena’s perfectly legitimate concerns about the anti-Democratic nature of the party. It’s reflex at the arrest of key activists Adams included, easy an expression of these core anti democratic values.

For my money most of those who are actively voting for Sinn Fein could not care less what the likes of Colm Keena or anyone else likely to make such an argument thinks. What’s been done to them has caused a rage which feeds a profoundly anti democratic ire.

I do not think that the damage arises from Adams’s presence in Dáil Éireann. It’s the structured and persistent nature of the lying that concerns me. How do we know when he is telling the truth, and when is he lying? I know we have traditionally not cared too much about this in our various previous incarnations of “the coming man”. But then again, how did that work out ?

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WorldbyStorm - June 13, 2014

To my mind it does not matter functionally if he is lying or not. It doesn’t matter if we know when he is or isn’t (not least because anyone with an ounce of sense is going to be sceptical about whatever any politician says and more so when the historical record is so problematic in so many ways and the left is particularly sceptical).

It’s not even that problematic that he’s been leader (though we both know that the leadership of the RM is a bit more complex than simply him alone) of SF for 30 years. Such things aren’t unknown (and it’s worth noting again the changes that took place during that period, changes he was one of a key group in forwarding and that again would explain longevity).

It is that – again – he, they, us, remain constrained by democratic politics.

Indeed waiting for the sellout on austerity (and let’s be clear, as a friend of mine who would be very very pro-SF and its UI goal said during the week, SF’s popularity in the south is not related in the main to its policy on a UI), merely proves how constrained they are, how the structures that you appear so concerned with are pinned down by the very process of participation in democratic politics.

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Michael Carley - June 13, 2014

“we both know that the leadership of the RM is a bit more complex than simply him alone” Adams’ immediate predecessor as president of SF was Ruairi O’Bradaigh, and his was Tomas MacGiolla. `Complex’ barely covers it.

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 14, 2014

I suspect you are right about the system wbs. I’ve always argued that in facing real competition in the south the party stands a great opportunity to drop some of its older anti democratic baggage.

But I disagree with you on one very key point. I believe that Adams longevity is important, particularly within the context of Keena’s argument.

In Chapter 4 of The Prince (http://goo.gl/5QC7j2) Machiavelli contrasts the Kingdoms of France and of ‘The Turk’, the first being almost impossible to hold,the second almost impossible to lose.

The difference being that France was a Baronate as well as a kingdom. Patronage moved upwards towards the monarch as well as down. In the Kingdom of the Turk he writes:

“The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses.”

This is pretty much the model Killian Ford describes in his private memo not long before he left (http://goo.gl/wZ4w0T), internally the real power lies in your route to adams, not in the official titles.

This underscores hardcorenerds’s citation of inscrutability problem we all will eventually have with their boss. For this reason alone (leaving his politics to one side) there are fair comparisons with Le Penn and Berlusconi to made.

For the record, the IRA rap is a good reason to evade the question, but if you plan to become a democrat it is a very bad idea to lie about it. Once you start lying it spreads and the consequences for others can be pretty dire (http://goo.gl/9B9Bd, http://goo.gl/NkqhML).

I am more confident than you might think that Irish democracy will win the tussle which is about to materialise. The result may be good for both the Irish state and SF (I’m not enough of an anti democrat to think otherwise).

I’m not suggesting he’s after creating his own caliphate, but he is head of his own internal one. How else would he have ingested the poison of the Liam Adams story and have not merely survived but thrived?

And the story of the new succession is just futuring (http://goo.gl/xhWP5v), until and unless it happens. Warts and all, Adams is it.

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 14, 2014

[got a feeling that the anti spam snaffled this because of the links I put in it, so here's a repost. Apologies if you've already seen it]

I suspect you are right about the system wbs. I’ve always argued that in facing real competition in the south the party stands a great opportunity to drop some of its older anti democratic baggage.

But I disagree with you on one very key point. I believe that Adams longevity is important, particularly within the context of Keena’s argument.

In Chapter 4 of The Prince Machiavelli contrasts the Kingdoms of France and of ‘The Turk’, the first being almost impossible to hold,the second almost impossible to lose.

The difference being that France was a Baronate as well as a kingdom. Patronage moved upwards towards the monarch as well as down. In the Kingdom of the Turk he writes:

“The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses.”

This is pretty much the model Killian Ford describes in his private memo not long before he left , internally the real power lies in your route to adams, not in the official titles.

This underscores hardcorenerds’s citation of inscrutability problem we all will eventually have with their boss.

I know what you are saying re the inscrutability of parties. They are all principalities to one degree or another. But I don’t agree with you on this. All the other parties have baronies which compete for internal power, this is what causes leakage and weakness over time.

That simply does not exist. This is one reason why the party routinely claims the parliamentary or council seat effectively belongs to them rather than the elected representative themselves (though I see bridges are being mended with Christie Burke).

For the record, the IRA membership rap is a good reason to evade the question, but if you plan to become a democrat it is a *very* bad idea to lie about it.

Once you start lying about it spreads and the consequences for others can be pretty dire. It makes SF singularly unaccountable if we give them a special pass that says ‘War Veteran, Please Give Up Your Sceptic’s Seat”.

I am more confident than perhaps you might think that Irish democracy will win the tussle which is about to materialise. The result may be good for both the Irish state and SF (I’m not enough of an anti democrat to think otherwise).

I’m not suggesting he’s after creating his own caliphate, but he is head of his own internal one. How else would he have ingested the poison of the Liam Adams story and have not merely survived but thrived?

The story of the new succession, I’m afraid to say, is just futuring, until and unless it actually happens. Until then, warts and all, Adams is it.

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2014

On way out door, so wll respond at greater length, but the problem is that if SF is focused so heavily on one individual then it’s screwed. If he’s the glue that holds them together, once he’s gone they’re toast.

One other problem with your argument is that it’s so vague. If SF isn’t a problem for Irish democracy who is it a problem for? Mostly itself it would seem to me.

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WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2014

I genuinely am not half as exercised by the longevity thing as you. We saw a not dissimilar dynamic with Mac Giolla and De Valera. Of course Adams is going to have enormous influence. Of course that has a centralising tendency – though that works genuinely effectively only in a small enough party. I wonder if SF is growing significantly and well beyond the point where that’s going to operate sufficiently well any longer.

And they wouldn’t be the only party to feel that way about seats – much the same calls go out from FG, FF or whoever when politicians defect to other parties. The SP made precisely the same point about Clare Daly a few years back. For all the good that tends to do.

I think the thing is that most people in the South, and I’ll speak about the South because the contexts are somewhat different, have integrated a belief that Adams and SF by bringing about, in significant part an end to the violence – which, of course, they were a part and parcel of, have to some degree made some (though far from total) recompense for that violence. That’s no great comfort to many, but it does seem to be the dynamic in operation. And for myself that lack of political violence is an enormous prize and one not to be discarded, or to be diminished.

The Liam Adams issue, and it’s one that’s been referenced a number of times here as well, particularly with reference to the remarkable evidence GA gave in court, has perhaps less traction that some might expect I suspect because the context of the conflict. But there’s the point that those such as the director One in Four and others expert in the area of such crimes have suggested that much of what Adams reports as being his response(s) etc was and I paraphrase far from abnormal in the context of family situations. Now if they’d gone the other way on the issue Adams would of course be toast.

You reference the response of SF when Adams was arrested and point to that as anti-democratic, but for someone like me who would hardly be unsceptical about such matters, or the claims of the protagonists, it seems absurd to argue that the Northern polity, or the broader East West context is anywhere near normal, and that playing around with it in the way that the Adams arrest seemed to represent was sensible. I don’t see that rhetoric as anti-democratic, it was an over-reaction, but when positioned against what was a provocative and rather pointless and – as was proven – counter productive arrest it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, if over-heated, and notably it was withdrawn almost immediately.

I’m puzzled why planning on being a democrat (or being a democrat) means that one would willingly give oneself up to a potential prison sentence? Is there some state whereby democrats don’t lie? That’s untenable in the context of even the most cursory examination of ‘democratic’ politicians and politics.

I’m conscious that what I present can appear like an apologia – which is not the intention, but I can’t quite see what your anxieties are rooted in, and I’m sceptical of the ‘SF sweeping all before it’ line from some – it will work plenty good in many ways, it is a ferociously disciplined party no doubt about it, but far from unique in that, and is more than likely entering a period where various internal and external stresses and strains will impact more obviously upon it. As noted above, it’s the economy that will make or break it in the South – though I think it is that rarest of rare political beasts, a party that has grown significantly and now is possibly positioned to become 2/3rd in the Irish political system (and that’s a whole different area for analysis).

I guess most of all is that I’m curious about what you would envisage as the optimum situation? Or to put it another way, what do you want, how much of what you want do you think is realistic and what do you actually expect to happen?

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 17, 2014

wbs,

It’s probably true that all politicians lie, at some point. It’s a not-quite-true human role in which elect them them to be authentically ‘human’, to stand for something immutable and principled and, like Keynes change their mind when the facts change.

But as with Martin’s effortlessly misleading story about his ‘heroism’ in the ‘undisappearing’ of Patrick Duffy SF take the lying part to a new level. In yesterday’s retraction of the lie he seamlessly tol Marian last week, he neglects to mention that at the time, he attacked priests for the IRA’s act of disappearing Mr Duffy’s body.

This is why for me, the political violence is not the problem. I grew up with all of this as background noise. At the time, Jean McConville was at most a one night headline on the BelTel front page.

By Duffy’s killing in 1973 most of us were far too worried about getting ‘done’ by loyalists to care too much about a little internal housekeeping by the Provos in Derry. No one remembers these details but the families affected, old disaffected Provos and the Shinners who were there at the time. In this case the dFM.

This is why longevity of internal power matters: to sustain themselves in the new dispensation old lags like Martin feel they must lie about their own past actions. For context, in the north there’s a full blown propaganda war in play where the justice institutions of Northern Ireland are being tested to breaking point to demonstrate the Brits were to blame for everything.

This, of course, is politics rather than democracy. War by other means. All fine with me, but only up to a point. It’s taking place under the pretence that we have a settlement endorsed by all the people north and south, which gives the northern minority a senior voice at the top table to both initiate change and prevent abuse of democratic power by the majority.

Yet what’s actually happening is that a low level cold war is being maintained, with SF MLAs are playacting an opposition (and a government), sometimes against decisions taken (or more often not taken) by their own ministers. Again, also fine by me, given what’s fair in love and war and all that.

But this is exactly the anti democratic spirit that Keena’s warning about in action. What is said by a party rep at any one time is not intended to add up towards a bankable product. It is the process of unravelling the status quo that matters.

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WorldbyStorm - June 17, 2014

Mick, now I feel we’re getting to somewhere, in relation to the manner in which the structures are used. I’ve heard directly precisely the complaint from others that you raise about SF in the structures though not so much as an opposition as a lack of genuine engagement with the DUP (something that is of course reciprocated).

However, a couple of caveats enter the picture. Is the DUP, or political unionism more generally, using the North South aspect of the structures wholeheartedly and positively? Is the DUP engaging in a constructive manner on policing or identity issues? This isn’t just whataboutery – it does need asking in the overall context.

Another obvious caveat is that they are perfectly at liberty to seek a united Ireland as a political goal just as the DUP could seek to strengthen the union.

I think though that much of the above comes from a basic issue that those involved in shaping the dispensation didn’t quite foresee, that simply developing any level of trust in the context of power-sharing, was a massive task, given the brutality of the conflict that preceded it. Anyone seriously thinking in terms of less than decades in relation to a real softening of hearts and minds (and I don’t in any sense mean that in respect to progressing the political projects of those on either side) is probably deluding themselves. It may in fact be a generational thing where this generation of politicians has to move on, and perhaps the next.

As to party reps not being ‘a bankable product’. Surely that is true of any political party in almost any given context? I genuinely don’t think there are huge illusions this side of the border about where SF may go next.

Me too re the political violence issue, I’m just on 50 now so it was a constant in my life as well albeit at a remove, though I was in and out of Belfast regularly enough in the 1980s, but again your complaint runs smack bang into the reality that to acknowledge everything that happens might place GA, MM, et al in problematic positions re the legal system. Of course that leads to circumlocution and worse. But it is – at the least – understandable.

I still would argue that it comes down to the political, and in this instance the specific political, that being politics in the South where SF has to work within very clear constraints.

Again, I’m wondering what you would regard as an optimal, or even semi-optimal situation. Or let’s flip that around. What is the worst possible scenario you envisage?

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 19, 2014

“…developing any level of trust in the context of power-sharing, was a massive task, given the brutality of the conflict that preceded it.”

I’d trim that very slightly by saying that the problem is developing trust between two former protagonists (neither of whom were primarily responsible for drawing up the GFA) has proven deeply problematic for the development of good government and allowing the population to move on.

The reason the past has become the chosen point of conflict is because neither has a serious appetite or even a credible vision for what might/could come next. Each has prospered in the division of northern society, and neither has capacity to lead any sort of national reconciliation that doesn’t involve zero sum.

“What you would regard as an optimal, or even semi-optimal situation. Or let’s flip that around. What is the worst possible scenario you envisage?”

In the north, some proper competition within nationalism would be good. That might just wake up SF and perhaps incentivise them to do what they are paid to do in the north, and pour water on the growing cynicism around them and around the institutions.

In the south, I’ve more confidence the system is open though you have to wonder at just how open when the party has sufficient resources: a) to employ full time candidates; b) libel people it considers awkward whistleblowers on its own ministers (the Gormley case cost half the party’s declared income for 2012).

This may not be the worst possible scenario (which I guess is the licensing of a long term cold war in the north), but its a long way short of even semi optimal. Further transparency and regulation of party funding might help rebalance some of these matters.

As a footnote, I don’t begrudge anyone their proper scepticism on the state’s action against Adams, but consider that in terms of Garda reform SF is pushing the entire northern settlement one day and then telling the world it is utterly corrupt the next. What gets said at any one point is what serves the party.

They really cannot have it both ways…

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yourcousin - June 19, 2014

Mick,
Sorry to intervene, but could I ask you a question or two?

Surely it is a little ungenerous to suggest that SF had did not have a major role in crafting the GFA? I mean it really was Adams and Hume who did the heavy lifting and all Trimble had to do was lift his hand with Bono and go out and collect his Nobel.

I would also point out that no party seems to have a credible vision for what comes next in Northern Ireland. And if one looks at the history never has, beyond making sure that the problems from there did not spill over into the ROI or the mainland.

And finally the desired competition between SF and the SDLP really falls on the SDLP to carry out. I mean SF didn’t outflank the Humeites on the wearing of the green it simply stopped allowing them to coast by on the being the respectable party of nonviolent nationalism. It speaks volumes that every party in the republic would canvas for them solely on that basis. When it came time to deliver the services of the state which they were heralded to lead they got outplayed by SF which had been honing its local governmental skills and services for sometime.

I don’t fault your cynicism, but I think you draw your bead a little too narrowly.

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yourcousin - June 19, 2014

Oh and as for having it both ways,WBS and the other fine folks here do a great job on documenting how the orthodoxy does just that on a daily basis.

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 19, 2014

Your cousin,

Let me back up a little and explain. I completely agree with you on two things: one, rustling up an opposition is not SF’s responsibility (in trying to answer a very specific query from wbs, I may have mislead you into thinking I was); two *no* northern party has a vision for the way forward.

This second is the one reason SF and the DUP rose to the top. Both are perceived as a tough and uncompromising by their own communities, and neither have fallen during the various crises we’ve seen thus far. Indeed we may come to see this as a primary virtue of this period in future.

As for the heavy lifting of Trimble and Mallon at the GFA, I think that’s beyond dispute. True the DUP openly campaigned against the GFA in a way that SF did not, but the bulk of northern political capital to bring about that compromise was spent by the SDLP and the UUP. So we really should not be too surprised if the OFMdFM parties are struggling with that legacy of compromise.

I’ve heard the whole agreement attributed to Father Alex Reid before, but the truth is that with some minor if critical differences in the architecture the pro Faulkner unionists were there 25 years before SF at Sunningdale. Much is claimed for Hume Adams without much public accounting for what happened and what was agreed therein.

Not much is happening at Stormont on the nationalist side of the house now because there are absolutely no rivals to power for SF in the way there is for the DUP. Thus the DUP works at its ministerial posts, whilst most of the money and resources from its government posts are redistributed to SF’s big push in the south.

I mean, nice work if you can get it, but whatever it is, it ain’t democracy.

SF has a default austerity outlook in the north because it is content to let the DUP drive the fiscal bus. On the policing stuff NI is a real warning from the future. None of of our complex accounting institutions can work without the will to make it work.

What actually happens is that NI Parties appoint the CC and then abandon him to get on with things almost entirely on his own and then grandstand when it all inevitably goes tits up.

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WorldbyStorm - June 19, 2014

But that’s the thing Mick (and this is in response to your first comment of the latest ones). Of course they can have it both ways on policing because the two aren’t anywhere near as contradictory as you seem to think. One can argue that the levels of oversight in the North are better than those in the South without saying that there are no problems in the North or that it isn’t politicised to some degree. Or to put it another way that the systems of justice are better with greater oversight and responsibility but that those systems are still prey to negative impacts.

I find it hard to believe SF weren’t deeply involved in the GFA given what we know of how that process evolved and the records from those involved in it. The DUP? Well, obviously much less so, but it’s a real stretch to put them on a sort of level of parity in terms of non engagement with it.

Of course they’ve prospered in the division, but that’s because the society itself is divided. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a clear left/right delineation, but that’s not going to happen any time soon (even if there are submerged left/right aspects to both the DUP and SF’s vote). In other words the political expressions aren’t primarily a cause but an effect of that division.

That’s why I find it unlikely that your optimal situation of competition strikes mea s highly unlikely to happen anytime because there’s a centralising tendency in the context of national identity conflicts/interfaces where dominant voices become… well… dominant voices. The SDLP was such up to SF’s embrace of constitutional politics, but once SF did so its more hardline stance, plus other aspects were perhaps inevitably going to give it an edge.

Re Gormley, that was a mess and entirely avoidable had SF been more clever (though it surely undermines some of their supposed reputation for omniscience), but it’s hard to see that as being the basic MO, and I’m unsure why it relates to the south – not least because they lost! As to full time candidates, perhaps further transparency is no harm at all, but that might not necessarily deliver the outcome you seem to think it will.

BTW, I would love to see SF work the institutions more fully, improve dialogue with the DUP and other unionists, etc. But it reminds me of the old Israeli right line, is there a partner there? If not then it really doesn’t much matter what SF does, or doesn’t do. And it’s worth looking at the rhetoric from Robinson which indicates just how far matters have yet to go.

I actually think that a long term cold war is probably the best that can be expected.

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WorldbyStorm - June 19, 2014

As for the heavy lifting of Trimble and Mallon at the GFA, I think that’s beyond dispute. True the DUP openly campaigned against the GFA in a way that SF did not, but the bulk of northern political capital to bring about that compromise was spent by the SDLP and the UUP. So we really should not be too surprised if the OFMdFM parties are struggling with that legacy of compromise.
I’ve heard the whole agreement attributed to Father Alex Reid before, but the truth is that with some minor if critical differences in the architecture the pro Faulkner unionists were there 25 years before SF at Sunningdale. Much is claimed for Hume Adams without much public accounting for what happened and what was agreed therein.

I’m unconvinced by the above. To place the DUP and SF on a sort of parity – ‘in a way that SF did not’ when SF was pretty conclusively supportive of the GFA/BA seems curious. The DUP was against the GFA/BA, SF was for it, and it is clear that the latter also had a process of heavy lifting. It’s simply untenable to argue that the SDLP had as much work to do as SF, or indeed in fairness the UUP (and if the analysis is that in bringing about the agreement it expended its political capital subsequently, well, that’s quite a different matter – not least in that it was unexpected and largely unpredictable consequence of the agreement, though I’m presuming that no one would argue that the SDLP would have resiled from that agreement had it known the future, or the UUP too, are they?). Bringing a paramilitary group to a constitutional settlement was always a bigger ask – otherwise how to account for many of the problems of the following decade re decommissioning, policing etc.
None of this detracts from Hume and Mallon or the SDLP – in particular in terms of enabling the overall agreement and their interactions with unionism but to argue that SF is out of that central shared role with UUP and SDLP feels like a rewriting of the actual history.
It’s also a bit of a straw man to throw in Alec Reid or Hume/Adams which no one here is or has argued.
But I think it’s also deeply problematic to make the comparison with Sunningdale and the GFA/BA to the detriment of SF. The pro-Sunningdale unionists were a minority and an embattled one within unionism then (and after pretty much vanished to all intents and purposes as a functional element caught between devolutionists agin power-sharing and those in favour of full direct rule). Republicanism of all stripes wasn’t at the party in 1973, both Officials and Provisionals were deeply antagonistic to Sunningdale. But they were essentially a marginal force at that point in relation to the political sway they could bring to bear on the agreement. And it wasn’t them who collapsed it but anti-Sunningdale unionism who went on to dominate unionism and preclude power-sharing −even and importantly with the SDLP – for the best part of the next two decades. Indeed the ‘slow learners’ comment by Mallon can be directed at many involved in the overall processes.

Not much is happening at Stormont on the nationalist side of the house now because there are absolutely no rivals to power for SF in the way there is for the DUP. Thus the DUP works at its ministerial posts, whilst most of the money and resources from its government posts are redistributed to SF’s big push in the south.
I mean, nice work if you can get it, but whatever it is, it ain’t democracy.

It’s hard to see how it would be more democratic if SF and SDLP had a greater degree of competition. Is the situation on the unionist side of the house all the better for intra-unionist rivalry? Difficult to argue that it is, or that it was in the past. Of course democracy isn’t quite the issue here, or not exactly at least not in the context of power sharing. It’s about representation, that those willing to be involved are represented in power. And that’s built into the dispensation.
Frankly I think one could make a very very strong case that it is the rise of the DUP which has in some respects been most problematic because their adherence to the basic tenets of the GFA/BA of all the four largest parties was the most minimal, and that their role has been by far the most blocking of all of them. That doesn’t mean that I’d want to see them ejected from the current structures, but it does bring at least some context to this discussion.

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que - June 13, 2014

If Adams says he was in the IRA then he is going to jail.

Simple as.

Its hard to see why a political leader would be so stupid as to play a game that would see him jailed full stop.

The electorate arent looking at this about Adams lying or no its accepting that Adams couldnt say if he was in the IRA and I read that from the way the results and the polls are going.

If on the flip side people who never liked Adams no matter what continue to see this as a problem then thats separate to how the electorate seems to be viewing him.

People dont care about Keena and the bee in his bonnet and look they dont care if Adams was in the Army or not.
Cause they have factored it in and moved on.

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hardcorefornerds - June 14, 2014

The argument put forward by Brendan Hughes, in Voices from the Grave, is that Adams is actively denying ever being in the IRA, rather than being noncommittal or evasive or other means towards avoiding self-incrimination.

Even if the majority of people disbelieve him, it probably serves a certain function in limiting the discussion, by keeping a seed of doubt and making the issue about what he says or doesn’t, rather than subsequent implications.

The general inscrutability of SF is surely an issue, even if Keena’s critique is flawed.

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shea - June 14, 2014

People who vote for SF more than likely don’t care about adams being in the ra, people who don’t may. Substitute green scare red scare or islamic scare in Chomsky’s propaganda model and it makes sense, local version. May ware off if the shinners get in to government or adams would want to watch out for a smack of a car in his living room.

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shea - June 14, 2014

apologise, that should read substitute green scare for red scare.

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WorldbyStorm - June 14, 2014

Again, harcorefornerds, like que, can’t say I blame Adams in respect of actively denying membership particularly given recent events. There may be a dispensation but as we’ve seen it’s not exactly fixed.

I wonder though are SF quite as inscrutable as people make out? Or put it another way, we like to think we know about FF, or FG or the LP, but I’d bet most people have little idea of the strucutres of those parties – or another example, over the last year there have been discussions aplenty over the internal structures of the SP which many would have been unaware of. And yet most of us would have voted for them perfectly happily, and why not? Exactly the same was true of the WP back in the day.

Tbh, I think a lot of all this is a media construct, there’s both more and less than meets the eye. I think SF is on the way to having to make some serious decisions in relation to what sort of party it is and what it represents, at least in the South. I don’t know if it can bridge the gaps. Perhaps, perhaps not.

+1 shea re people who vote for them not caring, though that might indicate a limit to their potential support.

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shea - June 14, 2014

every group has a limit, FG ain’t getting my vote and the PD’s never got it but some how their personnel or crazy economic policies are not put forward as a problem for them.

Crazy idea but just to throw it out there, adams appeals to different people for different reasons, for some he is a peace maker shinners play on that alot, their opponents highlight he is a war maker to damage him, maybe that appeals to some people as well, a trouble maker. in these troubled times maybe some see value in an advocate who waged war for over two decades against a g8 country than say an ex teacher or solicitor who feels your pain.

On the lies, there is a wider hypocrisy that goes back decades, british and irish governments don’t talk to ‘terrorists’ or so they tell the public, but an ambiguity is allowed where by if someone gets votes and an american president well sort off. We have got to where we are somehow with the provisional IRA still being an illegal organisation and sort of though not officially engageing in a peace process. Ex IRA vols in the present exist in that ambiguity.

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ejh - June 14, 2014

But I’ve nothing in the north that tells me he is in the least bit interested in reforming the state. He still wants over thrown, and he’s not fussy how it gets done….Nothing but the liberation of the island is. Whether the people ever vote for it or not!!

This is barmy stuff. What’s the suggestion for how Adams is going to “liberate” the island “whether the people ever vote for it or not”? How practically is he intending to do this?

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6. roddy - June 13, 2014

I see Fealty is now exporting his anti Adams obsession from the anti SF hatefest that is “slugger otoole” where he has spent the last two days defending that obnoxious bastard Fitt.

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7. roddy - June 13, 2014

Both Keena and Fealty have been snubbed by Adams and are acting accordingly.Adams wouldn’t play ball when Keena was writing his book and when a journalist confronted Adams with some pearl of wisdom from Fealty,Gerry retorted that he had never heard of him or his website.Two self important posers with nothing to be self important about.

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workers republic - June 14, 2014

Most political parties have become more centrist in recent years .
At this stage G.Adams has really no choice but to continue to deny Army membership.; otherwise he’d be asked more questions, which wouldn’nt help.
When Ruairi O’Braidaig diedcracks began to appear in RSF .
Whilst I can’t see the same happening immediately if G.A. retired, as there are others of his generation and history still there .Doherty and Mary Lou are milky-watery Social Democrats at best, very ambitions and at the minute Adams is a stabilizing force in PSF .
I’s a mistake to think PSF’s voters are all all the same.

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8. roddy - June 14, 2014

ejh, this is indeed “barmy stuff” but is just par for the course for a man whose website can have up to six anti Adams threads running at any one time.

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que - June 14, 2014

There can be a healthy focus on Gerry alright.

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Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) - June 15, 2014

Yes, but rarely on a weekend…

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9. que - June 15, 2014

Mick, to be fair you want sinn fein to be different to other parties. I can’t Imagine any party that would be pleased to have its leader held for 5 days to be asked about when he was a kid and photos in the public domain for decades. Yet when Bobbie storey gets pissed about it then that’s a sign to you they are different. It would be a story if they didn’t. If Petter Robinson gets busted for clontibret before the UK elections then let’s see how the dup react.

If sinn vfen dont want Adams held to the same standard as other parties then it’s not alone are they.

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10. “What kind of party will Sinn Féin be as it becomes a leading player?” « Slugger O'Toole - June 17, 2014

[…] I’ve been saying over on Cedar Lounge Revolution, I have my doubts that what gets said now is intended as any kind of guarantee of future […]

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11. Not fooled - June 18, 2014

The usual history rewriting exercise in place here.

The reason things kicked off during the “civil rights” era was because the subversive Marcusian subversion tactics of the new left as fashionable at that time were combined with Marxist-Leninist tactics from Republicans. FFS the NICRA was formed by IRA men very intentionally for that purpose.

The state knew very well what was going on and used standard necessary standard counter-subversion/coubter-insurrection tactics. The reason it escalated was because so many “liberal” useful idiots fell for the very deliberate subversive escalation tactics and distortions hook, line and sinker.

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CMK - June 18, 2014

It would appear you are fooled. Easily.

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Ed - June 18, 2014

It was especially dastardly of them to use the subversive Marcusian subversion tactics instead of the normal ones. And who could possibly reproach the state for using not merely the necessary standard counter-subversion tactics, but the standard necessary standard ones? I would go further than you, and suggest that the liberal useful idiots fell for the Marcusian-Leninist tricks hook, hook, line, line and sinker, sinker.

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ejh - June 18, 2014

What’s a sinker, anyway? (I ask as somebody who’s been fishing precisely twice, with the net take of no fish caught and one bout of seasickness.)

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Joe - June 18, 2014

It’s a lead weight. Attached to the line to make it sink. When I was fishing we used the word “weight” rather than sinker. I think sinker is an American term.

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yourcousin - June 18, 2014

It’s normally a piece of lead that you put above the hook so that is sinks lower in the water. Here in CO we would put it about ten inches up above the hook.

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yourcousin - June 18, 2014

Looks like Joe beat me to it while I was typing. Excuse the redundancy.

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ejh - June 18, 2014

Not at all. Thanks to both.

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Joe - June 18, 2014

Sea fishing from piers and rocks and beaches was my thing. So the weight was usually at the bottom, below the hooks. A length of line with a weight at the bottom and two hooks about 6 inches apart was known as a trace. This would be cast into the sea, with lugworm on the hooks. The weight would sink to the bottom with hooks and bait floating above it. And then the fish might come…
Now, using a float off the pier or off rocks, the weights would be smaller (“shot”) and would be above the hook alright.
And ejh, the catch was important but the joy was just the meditation of waves on rock, sea smells and sounds, and companionship.
A beautiful sunny day like today in Dublin would yield few fish. An overcast day on the rocks in Balscadden, that’s what you’d want.

On Not Fooled’s post: I wonder what is meant by “standard counter-subversion/coubter-insurrection tactics”? Because the tactics employed didn’t seem to counter anything much but instead added fuel to the fire and recruited for the “insurrection”.

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WorldbyStorm - June 18, 2014

+1 Ed!

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