jump to navigation

As if we don’t have enough problems… dissidents shoot dead two soldiers in the North. March 8, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Northern Ireland, The North.
trackback

No one has claimed responsibility, but it’s fairly obvious who is responsible for this attack. Beyond the human tragedy for two individuals and their families the sheer self-indulgent self-regard of those who carried this out is hard to underestimate.

There is no path from these acts that can credibly lead to the outcomes they desire. If anything it can only prevent further progress on those outcomes. They know that. We know that. And yet they continue.

That it happened and that it was taken to this level when previously dissidents have always drawn back from that last fatal action is disturbing. It is not that their project commands any greater support than it did six months ago, or indeed six years ago. It is that they feel comfortable at this point with carrying out fatal actions. It is strongly worth considering why they feel that to be so and what that presages for the future.

Still, the redundancy and futility of these acts in the context of the growing socio-economic impacts on working men and women on this island perhaps demonstrates their entirely reactionary and diversionary nature. There is no point in fighting a war when there is no prospect of winning it on the terms it is fought on. There is less point again when it is entirely the wrong war and wrong sort of war.

Comments»

1. Gubu World - March 8, 2009

Very eloquently said,

First things first. I don’t know why British soldiers were brought in to tackle dissident republicans. This should be the job of the PSNI as the Good Friday Agreement states. But in the name of all thats good and holy what could these men possibly think they can achieve by shooting six people. Double digit unemployment, British soldiers dying in the North, has my time machine worked.

Ted

Like

2. Crocodile - March 8, 2009

I hope this isn’t too crass a comparison, and I intend no stupid moral equivalence between murder and minor thuggery, but this news reminded me of your recent post about young males and their threatening behavior in Foley St.
In each case the ‘pointlessness’ of the act is beside the point. Nothing can be achieved by these acts – except the raising of the status of those who take part, among a peer group that is impressed by violence.
So ignore people who condemn young men for ‘pointless’ violence: the violence is the point.

Like

3. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2009

I entirely agree Gubu World about the use of troops in that context, and add to that the ridiculous messing around by the Tories in the north, something guaranteed to cause a rise in tensions…

That’s a very sound thought Crocodile. How to deal with it is crucial.

Like

4. Graham - March 8, 2009

WbS, why not simply condemn it as murder? The futility/redundancy of the act relative to the political objectives of those who carried it out is hardly required.

“There is no point in fighting a war when there is no prospect of winning it on the terms it is fought on.”

Sort of sounds like a winnable war could be a good idea…?

Like

5. smiffy - March 8, 2009

Graham,

While WbS can certainly speak for himself, I think you may be making a mistake in quoting and commenting on that particular sentence, while ignoring the one which immediately follows it (which actually answers your point).

Like

6. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

Ted,

These were soldiers based at that barracks normally (part of the 5000 or so permanently in NI), not the SRR (and btw, as was pointed out in the Irish News, anyone who thought these people had ever left was being naive), so I don’t really see that your point bears on this attack. The troops were targets regardless of this announcement. Unfortunately, if the people who carried this out have their way, NI will not be a normal, peaceful society. And once again, we see the attitude of terrorists to ordinary workers going about their business.

WBS,

The idea that the Tories linking with the UUP is guaranteed to raise tensions is, in my view, unsustainable. The Tories have been here since the early 1990s (indeed there was an attempt made to kill their leader at that time), so I don’t see how their alliance with the UUP makes any difference to communal or any other type of tension.

Like

7. Graham - March 8, 2009

Smiffy,

the next quote is

“There is less point again when it is entirely the wrong war and wrong sort of war.”

I would have the same question to this. Makes it seem like if the right sort of winnable war comes along, we could be well up for it.

I mean, this is a post about a case of a couple of people being attacked while they were trying to have a pizza delivered. Even if one is in favour of war under certain conditions, why bother saying that this is “the wrong sort of war”, and that it’s not winnable? For the sake of clarity, one could just say that it’s murder and leave it at that.

Like

8. smiffy - March 8, 2009

Again, WbS can answer for himself, but I think that unless if a pacificist, and its opposed to war under any circumstances (in which case you could just call any use of violence ‘murder’, regardless of the context), then there’s nothing contentious in what is implied in the post (i.e. that violence can only ever be justified in circumstances where it’s a last resort and can realistically contribute to achieving the goals for which it’s employed).

I think simply describing acts of violence like yesterday’s ‘murder’ and leaving it at that, as you suggest, is – with respect – a little naive. When perpetrators of violence wrap themselves in the garb of political ideology, then a political response to them is required. They would, no doubt, claim to be acting on behalf of, for example, the Irish Nation, the nationalists of the six-counties, anti-imperialism etc. Laughable claims, to be sure, and utterly self-indulgent, as WbS points out. However, in condemning the attacks it’s as important to challenge the justifications invoked for the violence as it is to condemn the act itself.

Like

9. Mark P - March 8, 2009

Graham:

You could indeed just leave it at that, but only if you are more interested in displaying your own moral rectitude than in analysing the event.

Leaving that aside, does anyone yet have any idea which dissident faction carried this out? I have to admit that I’ve sort of lost track of their doings in recent years. The dissident groups have been so inept and hapless for so long, functioning chiefly as a conveyor belt for alienated young men directly to prison, that there hasn’t seemed to be much point in paying attention to their antics.

Last time I noticed, there were two chief dissident groups engaging in their futile low level campaigns: The Real IRA, linked to the 32 CSM, and the Continuity IRA, linked to RSF. Then there was the IRSP, with an armed wing on ceasefire apart from the odd dispute with drug dealers, and Eirigi, which at least at that point didn’t seem to have an armed wing.

Turning to the Irish News, and braving its near unreadability for once, I see that a spree of recent non-fatal shootings have been claimed by a groups called Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH)”. Now this doesn’t on the face of it tell us very much, given that most Republican paramilitary groups are notorious for their lack of imagination when it comes to names and have an obsession with legitimacy and continuity that would put a French Monarchist to shame.

Does anyone know if this just represents the Irish News getting confused about one of the existing “Oglaigh na hEireann” outfits, or if there is a third group waging a campaign? And if the latter, do they have links to a “legit” political group? And are they a splinter from a splinter, a split directly from the Provos, or what?

Like

10. ejh - March 8, 2009

For the sake of clarity, one could just say that it’s murder and leave it at that.

For the sake of clarity, Graham, we could say that you’re deliberately trying to make somebody say something they haven’t said and that this is an ethically repugnant way of proceeding.

Like

11. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

Mark,

This group that calls itself Oglaigh has no political wing. The Provos did a briefing with the Andytown News recently going into a lot of this. Basically, there have been splits within the Real and Continuity people, and new groups have been mushrooming. So there are more than three groups claiming to be involved in, or preparing for, a campaign. This apparently (if you believe the Andytown News) includes a new group calling itself Saor Uladh, and there are others. The IMC reports also have details.

Like

12. Graham - March 8, 2009

But is a political response really required? Anyone with half a brain, including you, me and WbS, knows that whatever justifications they have are rubbish. Is there someone on the margin whose acceptance of these acts will be challenged by this post? Someone who will say to themself “I thought this was a good idea, but after reading what WbS has said, I now realise that this killing these people was a futile attempt to bring about a United Ireland. Besides, this is the wrong sort of war I need to be supporting. There is another, more winnable one for me to focus my attention on.”

Anybody on the margin who would be affected by the political refutation of this attack needs to learn about much more than the effectiveness of alternative Republican terror tactics.

Makes me gladder and gladder to have long disengaged from “politics” (about which another comment is imminent).

Like

13. ejh - March 8, 2009

<i<Is there someone on the margin whose acceptance of these acts will be challenged by this post?

Is there anyone in a similar position whose acceptance of these acts would be challenged by anything you’ve posted? Or by a different sort of post to the original?

Like

14. yourcousin - March 8, 2009

Graham,
If you want clear cut condemnation without a pretext of analysis I can point you the way to Turgon’s post on Slugger which essentially starts and ends with, “we must row in behind the security services and not ask questions of them”. He also takes a jab at Fermanagh, but I’m not sure if that counts as analysis. To call it “murder and leave it at that” deprives the act of the very essence we need to properly understand it.

WBS,
I think that just like the shotgun attack in Derry we would do well to remember that while these micro-group’s rationality is weak the religious element or at least in terms of ideology as something to have “faith” in should be accounted for. Fringe groupings of Republicans are nothing new and we would do well to remember that that’s how they viewed themselves, as keepers of the flame so to speak. So that there’s little to no real support is not something that’s going to seep through to the perpetrators of these acts.

And on a general note. Henry94 noted that one cannot be for the Agreement and for the dissidents. This is true, but one can be extremely ambivalent about both. Adam’s statement on Friday? about Ordre risking the support of the republican community is an example of this. No one really believes that any large section of the republican community supports the PSNI. They’ve just stopped being openly obstructionist and hostile. Being able to say that anyone with information should go to the PSNI is hardly substanative support (especially if its done with a wink and a nod).

Also, has anyone noticed the juxtaposition of the retreat from militarism by the provos has been matched by the advance of the dissidents?

Like

15. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

Yourcousin,

Agree with a lot of what you say, especially about the absence of support. I was also just thinking that the space for the dissidents has opened up now they have no-one sitting on them to keep them in check.

On relationships with the PSNI, I think this is a more complicated question than you allow. There is certainly a great deal of disillusionment with policing, but with its ineffectiveness rather than it as such. In other words, people would like to see the PSNI catch more criminals making people’s lives miseries, and would be delighted if it did so. But I think you’re right that there might well still be a lot of reluctance to give information on this type of thing.

While we’re talking about other sites, the discussion on p.ie has been very depressing. Whatever about the usual dissident mouthpieces expressing their delight, to see people who should have more sense suggest that this was done by the Brits shows the extent to which conspiracay theories have a grip on the imagination of lots of those who hang about on political discussion sites. Not sure what that says about us

Like

16. smiffy - March 8, 2009

‘Someone who will say to themself “I thought this was a good idea, but after reading what WbS has said, I now realise that this killing these people was a futile attempt to bring about a United Ireland. ‘

As opposed to calling it murder and leaving it at that? The beam in your own eye, etc.

‘Besides, this is the wrong sort of war I need to be supporting. There is another, more winnable one for me to focus my attention on.”’

I think that’s a rather grotesque distortion of the point made in the initial post.

Like

17. Leveller on the Liffey - March 8, 2009

I’m not a pacifist but I do wish people would stop calling them “dissidents”, a term previously and still used respectfully for non-violent political oppositionists around the globe.

“Micro groups” might be clumsy but it sums up their isolationism.

Like

18. yourcousin - March 8, 2009

Garibaldy,
I will be the first to admit that the policing question is far more complex and complicated than my four sentences allowed. I think you hit the nail on the head about the contradictions of support for police, ie which comes first, competent policing? or community support?

As sort of a caveat to my statement about “little to no support”, I suppose we must acknowledge that there is enough support to carry out these attacks. Be it the shotgun attack in Derry, the multiple bombing attempts etc. It is easy to say that these people have no support among the law abiding peoples of both communities and the people will not tolerate the criminal elements in their midst etc. etc. But apparently they do because the attacks keep happening and to simply repeat that line ad nauseum (which some people did for the duration of the Troubles) doesn’t really help us come to an answer.

Like

19. CL - March 8, 2009

“While arguing that terrorism cannot be defeated, Richardson believes passionately that it can be contained. The first step is to understand its appeal to those who practise it, and on the basis of this understanding to devise effective counter-terrorist policies.”
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d1b83d06-0863-11de-8a33-0000779fd2ac.html

Like

20. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

Yourcousin,

That’s a fair point about enough support to keep sporadic attacks going. The question about how much support they have I suppose will be resolved if they can continue to carry out attacks on a more regular basis, enough to constitute a campaign as opposed to a series of irregular incidents, which they’ve shown no capacity for so far. I think there is a difference with the Troubles in that widespread support for the political institutions of the state added to the small amount of support they enjoy means that a policing response can be effective in a way not possible before.

Like

21. yourcousin - March 8, 2009

Garibaldy,
I would agree. I just wanted to throw that in there because it was tickling the back of my head while I was writing the first post so I wanted to cover my bases so to speak.

Like

22. Mick Hall - March 8, 2009

“Henry94 noted that one cannot be for the Agreement and for the dissidents. This is true, but one can be extremely ambivalent about both.”

Exactly, indeed I would go further, you can oppose the ‘agreement’ and refuse to accept the writ of the PSNI; and be against the continuation of the armed struggle. This demand that you are with us or against is very dangerous and displays the major fault line in the Stormont setup. It is a fault line I might add, which the UK State has used to its advantage on a number of occasions

Many people are increasingly becoming disillusion with Stormont etc, because it is an all or nothing set up. There is a desperate need for a solid opposition within Stormont. As there is still no sign of it emerging, we can hardly act surprised when people look elsewhere, now can we?

The UK State and its gofers in Ireland like Orde, have hardly helped the matter, for him not to have informed the police committees, let alone the deputy ‘first minister’ that UK special forces were yet again being activated in Ireland, displays contempt for these local bodies.

History teaches that whilst the national revolution is incomplete, there will always be Irishmen and women who will take up arms, I’m not being facetious when I say, for the last 300 years or so it has been national tradition. If anyone believes it will help to brand these folk as murderers, they must have been sleeping during the long war.

Like

23. Burke & Hare - March 8, 2009

If you were to look up Magill magazine from 1983 you would find an interview with newly elected MP Gerry Adams, who is asked if Sinn Fein’s vote gives the IRA a mandate for its campaign. His answer was that (paraphrasing) the IRA did not need an electoral mandate, it drew its mandate from the British presence. There are 5,000 British troops in Northern Ireland. The police are armed. It is not a normal society. There will be some form of republican grouping who will try to kill these soldiers for as long as they are there. Those groups may have tiny memberships and miniscule support but they have a context that is unlikely to be upset by WBS calling them murderers.
What those on the left might usefully ask is why do groups like RSF, whose politics are often bananas, still have the ability to recruit numbers of usually working class youth, both north and south, that the far left usually cannot connect with?

Like

24. Gubu World - March 8, 2009

Garibaldy

Your correction of my point was valid. At the time of writing I was under the impression that the soldiers targeted may have been a special unit. However in a broader context I stand by my point that it should be left exclusively to the PSNI to hunt down these rats.

Ted

Like

25. Burke & Hare - March 8, 2009

Note: John Hume used to argue that if the IRA wanted the Brits off the streets then they should stop trying to kill them. Gerry Adams has now stated that the dissidents want the Brits back on the streets hence the attacks. The provos were always mocking the RIRA and CIRA for not being able to emulate them; now the dissdents have killed British soldiers; no mistake this creates difficulties for Sinn Fein.

Like

26. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

Burke and Hare raises a very fair and important point. For myself, I think the answer lies in offering not just the excitement of paramilitarism, but also a connection (however tenuous) to an important tradition in Irish history, a feeling of standing up for yourself and/or your area or community, or country, comradeship etc. Nevermind the less positive aspects, such as power within your area, protection if you are involved in criminal enterprises, and an expression of sectarianism. The far left offers none of this glamour. B&H’s comment brings to mind the people involved in the incident where a Provo MLA was punched by a dissident young lad.

Ted,

Certainly this is a police problem.

Like

27. Eamonn - March 8, 2009

“There are 5,000 British troops in Northern Ireland. The police are armed. It is not a normal society. ”

Armed police and, erm, armed army in part of national territory where not all are best pleased with existing constitutional arrangements. That really sets NI apart, no question about it

Like

28. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2009

Graham, I have no pretensions that anything I write is going to change the views of people who carried out these acts. But I’m not going to apologise for having a view on this informed by a lifetime on the Republic socialist left of which some dissidents say they belong to.

Nor am I going to stop pointing out that the war they’re fighting is an irrelevance in the broader context of actual struggles happening everywhere on this island, that even on the terms they seek to paint it in it is unwinnable (and I think it is important to raise that as a basic element of a critique of their acts even if one disagrees with those terms) and that for those reasons alone they should stop. As for condemning them or calling it murder. Sure, I could do that, but I think that would materially be of less point than the approach I’m taking.

As for armed force in the context of the North, and I think you’re really misinterpreting my point about ‘war’, I tend to think that justifications for its offensive use began to run out early enough and those for defensive use lagged some time after that, but that’s not to ignore the fact that it was a highly militarised environment set on top of profound societal division set on top of the political botch-job of partition.

I’m guessing though if you *think* you don’t *do* politics (which begs the question of why you bother reading the stuff I and others put out here) then these matters are of little consequence to you. Oddly enough though they remain of considerable importance to many many people on this island and still shape and colour their opinions and reactions. And even were that a shared delusion which those who are beyond politics can discard at will, it has to be dealt with as something that has traction within the overall environment.\

Burke and Hare, interesting question you ask. I’d go half way towards an answer by suggesting that nationalism can mobilise people a lot more easily than socialism. Benedict Anderson had something to say on that back in the day.

Like

29. Mick Hall - March 8, 2009

B&H

I think the main problem is the far left have few if any roots within these working class communities. Whereas there has always been working class republicans, true they were at times small in number, but when the grievances of the youth broke to the surface as it did in the early 1970s and has in smaller numbers today, there was/is always a Republican to whisper into the ear of those youngsters, who have had it up to here.

The problem with Irish republicanism is far to often they put down their defeats to the problem of bad leadership alone. Thus you get what is happening today, the organization is rebuilt under a new leadership, or part of the remnants of the old/name, and staffed by an intake of youth, etc and it becomes, one more heave will do the job.

Sadly since the end of the civil war, militarism has become the curse of Irish republicanism, as it has almost become a fetish. Today the Republican military organizations seem to have no long term strategy beyond keeping their organizations ticking over, or if they do they have not bothered to tell their core communities.

Like

30. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2009

Very true Mick, particularly your last paragraph.

Like

31. Garibaldy - March 8, 2009

The Real IRA has claimed responsibility

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7930995.stm

I think then we can rest assured that an advanced political programme is far from the top of the agenda of those who carried this out.

Like

32. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2009

Indeed these groups don’t want political programmes. That smells too much of the SF route… and indeed the OSF route before it…

Like

33. EWI - March 8, 2009

Turning to the Irish News, and braving its near unreadability for once, I see that a spree of recent non-fatal shootings have been claimed by a groups called Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH)”. Now this doesn’t on the face of it tell us very much, given that most Republican paramilitary groups are notorious for their lack of imagination when it comes to names and have an obsession with legitimacy and continuity that would put a French Monarchist to shame.

It tells me that we can rule any Gaeilgeoirí out as suspects. I have always understood that the (cheeky) reasoning behind the naming of the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women/Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann Teoranta – which shortens to the official acronym O.N.E. – was that it called to mind the Irish title of the Defence Forces.

Like

34. Hugh Green - March 8, 2009

EWI, I believe, but could be mistaken, that the ONH acronym originates from the International Monitoring Commission’s report on the activity of the same.

Like

35. Niall - March 8, 2009

If you think you’re at war and you see enemy soldiers, you’re going to shoot them if you think you can get away with it.

Like

36. WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2009

Yet they didn’t do so for, how many years now? Why is a very interesting question…

Like

37. Burke & Hare - March 8, 2009

‘Armed police and, erm, armed army in part of national territory where not all are best pleased with existing constitutional arrangements. That really sets NI apart, no question about it.’
It does, if a) like large numbers of Irish people you have a problem with the British Army being in ireland in the first place and b) if the police forces in both the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the UK are still largely unarmed and the PSNI has a history that puts itself at odds with a large minority of people in the state. This is not that same as two British soldiers being shot dead in Manchester. There are people who will automatically associate this with a long tradition in Irish history and who will see it as a success and use it to recruit more members.

Like

38. Joe - March 9, 2009

“There is no path from these acts that can credibly lead to the outcomes they desire. If anything it can only prevent further progress on those outcomes. They know that. We know that. And yet they continue.”

I would agree that we know that WBS. But I would say that they don’t. They honestly believe that these acts can lead eventually to the outcomes they desire (although I would be interested in hearing them express and then tease out what those outcomes are).
We need of course to try to disabuse them of that notion. First put them in jail obviously. And more importantly have as many people as possible in their community telling them that they are wrong. Those people in their communities need to help us to put them in jail too if they can.
I see ICTU has called on workers to show their horror at these murders. Good on them.

Like

39. alastair - March 9, 2009

– although I would be interested in hearing them express and then tease out what those outcomes are

Not a chance. Absolute political ambiguity is their protection against the dreaded split. The 32 CSM platform is laughable in it’s evasion of anything but lowest-common-denominator seperatism.

Like

40. John O'Farrell - March 9, 2009

Here is the text of adverts appearing tomorrow in the Irish News, Belfast Newsletter and the NI edition of the Mirror:

Organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions

OUR PEACE – OUR FUTURE

Join a silent protest at the Massereene murders

Trade Unions stand together with all citizens in solidarity to prevent any derailment of the peace process.

The callous attack last Saturday night was an assault on every citizen who supports peace.

All workers and their families are invited to express their abhorrence at these murders and the direct threat to the peace process

Please attend our silent protests on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 1pm:

Belfast City Hall

L’Derry Guildhall Square

Newry Town Hall

By your presence show your support for peace and your rejection of those seeking to destroy that peace

Please bring trade union banners only

Like

41. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

Great job by the ICTU. Important to allow people a chance to mobilise.

Like

42. WorldbyStorm - March 9, 2009

Thanks John. Nice one Garibaldy for posting it up…

Like

43. Eamonn - March 9, 2009

Perhaps if ICTU attempted to address the real reason for the presence of dissidents within the communities of the 6 counties which is the continued presence of british rule and the sectarian division that it maintains, we would not have to deal with the return of armed actions. While all socialist republicans acknowledge that the reals etc.., are not going to achieve anything meaningful through armed struggle at this point of time but will continue to attract young activists with their whiff of cordite politics, we still owe it to ourselves to address the continued partition of our country in order to prevent any more people going to jail. As for ICTU’s call for demos, its another failure of the union leadership to tackle the real causes of injustice.

Like

44. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

What do you suggest the ICTU does in relation to what you outline?

The real causes of injustice go far deeper than whether NI is ruled from London or Dublin. We should remember what the trade union movement is. A reformist movement, always will be. Nevertheless, it has played a very important role in opposing sectarianism and the murder of workers. Unlike the futile and perverted apolitics offered by the RIRA and the other dissidents.

Like

45. Mick Hall - March 9, 2009

It is up to you guys, but I personally would not go any where near that march/pray meeting/whatever. Nor would I overlook that these men were on there way to Afghanistan. One cannot separate the deaths of these men from the partition of Ireland, when something like this happens a knee jerk reaction is the last thing people need.
I’m with Eamon on this.

Like

46. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

Mick,

So what of the pizza delivery workers? They illustrate exactly why these protests are necessary. Whatever about the intentions behind violent acts, the reality is that ordinary working people suffer the consequences. And the fact that these protests fit within a decades-old pattern demonstrates that this is far from a kneejerk reaction. Putting the interests of working people first means that this violence must be opposed. In addition, the people of NI clearly support the political institutions that are in place. This attack is aimed at undermining and ultimately destroying those institutions, flawed though they are. That too needs to be resisted.

On the Afghanistan argument. I can see why you are saying what you are saying. However, I guess I am reminded of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Blowing up and shooting US soldiers during Vietnam was perhaps theoretically justified, but it had the effect of discrediting progressive politics.

Like

47. alastair - March 9, 2009

– the real reason for the presence of dissidents within the communities of the 6 counties which is the continued presence of british rule and the sectarian division that it maintains

And there’s me thinking that we’d resolved, by referedum, to constitutional change by a democratic majority in N.I.

British rule and sectarian division my arse!

Like

48. Eamonn - March 9, 2009

The attack was a futile attempt to garner support for a military cause that cannot suceed. The provos were beaten by the brits and that lesson needs to sink in to whoever proposes to take up their mantle. However, the underline cause of the Republican struggle remains. It is the role of socialist republicans to politically oppose the partition of Ireland. The majority may have voted for the pro-british GFA but equally, for example, the majority of Israelis support the crushing of Palestinian rights or the majority of people dislike travellers. It still does not make it right. The 6 counties are as divided now as they were 20 years ago. More “peace” walls have been erected and the stormont administration is nothing more than a clearing house for funding to each community through their respective parties. Worse still, these parties are all centre right orientated and survive on sectarian stances and access to british funding for their political benefit.
Socialist Republicans need to take the lead. Nobody really believes that armed attacks will succeed but until a viable political alternative is put into place, the field is open to militarist groups. As for the comment about attacks on workers, its good to be reminded of the trots and sticks calls for no attacks on “workers in uniform” as they perceived the brits to be. Also, I think it ironic that many will shed crocodile tears for these soldiers yet their deaths, if in Afghanistan or Iraq would bring calls from the same tear sodden commentators for British withdrawal and self determination for the poor citizens of those states. Hypocracy is alive and well.

Like

49. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

Nicely dodged Eamonn in terms of any suggestions as to what the trade union movement might do, and the attacks on the pizza workers. The deliberate targeting of them I presume doesn’t mean an attack on workers by your last comment.

Your criticisms of the Stormont regime are well made, although the comparison with Palestine I would say is off-target. Not least because the Irish people as a whole supports the GFA, and it is the Palenstinians in your comparison. As for Afghanistan and Iraq. Like I said to Mick, the application of violence depends on the right circumstances. And circumstances are different in different countries.

Like

50. Eamonn - March 9, 2009

Yeah Garibaldy …someone elses country?

Like

51. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

Eamonn,

Whether we like it or not, the British Army is in Ireland with the acceptance of the vast majority of Irish people. And it won’t be leaving until we solve the division of our people that keeps the country divided, not the British Army. Shooting soldiers has been shown to increase that division, and put the cause of unity back. So it is politically wrong to do it. Never mind the issue of killing workers going about their jobs.

I would imagine the overwhelming majority of those who read this blog are opposed to partition, and the politically active here oppose partition. That opposition to the division of our people is at the bottom of my opposition to the activities of terrorists.

Like

52. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

A policeman seems to have been shot in Craigavon.

Like

53. WorldbyStorm - March 9, 2009

Not good.

Like

54. Garibaldy - March 9, 2009

Certainly isn’t. The last time the RIRA was shooting people, they tried a series of attacks in a short space of time. Looks like they are trying this again, unfortunately with some success.

Like

55. Garibaldy - March 10, 2009

Sky News is reporting that the police officer is dead.

Like

56. Leveller on the Liffey - March 10, 2009

BBC says same.

Like

57. Garibaldy - March 10, 2009

I think then that we can assume that a police officer has been killed unfortunately. There has been a lot of trouble down that neck of the woods from dissidents. And clearly it reflects the deprivation and social problems in those areas. None of which absolves the people responsible.

So, so pointless.

Like

58. WorldbyStorm - March 10, 2009

The worst thing is that it proves nothing except that someone with a gun or an automatic weapon can kill someone else. It doesn’t validate any sort of struggle, it doesn’t progress things one step further. There is no political content, I’d take slight issue with alastair as regards political ambiguity. These guys don’t want politics. They don’t do it. Politics is compromise and messy and allows all the issues and complexities of the real world in.

Like

59. Eamonn - March 10, 2009

As I have already said, the opinion of the majority is not always acceptable to others. Its called taking a revolutionary stance. The “Majority” in many countries have taken a reactionary stance to the detriment of the minority. As for the division of Ireland, our society is already divided irrespective of partition. An economic and power division. History shows that Partition may only appear to help maintain the division in the 6 counties but in fact has caused difficulties throughout Ireland. Recent British state papers showed that Gareth Fitzgeralds government lobbied against British Withdrawal because they feared for the economic consequences for the 26 counties. Not for the consequences of the workers I can assure you but for the profits of the bosses which Fitzgerald represented. The majority voted for Fitzgerald but he represented the few. Republican ideology has never sought the support of the majority. In fact, in my opinion, it has never sought support outside of its limit sphere.That has been its downfall. An elitist position. However, this does not make its aims wrong. Armed struggle is not wrong but the timing, the ability to achieve meaningful results, the politics to follow on from struggle, the acceptance of the primacy of politics over arms are all part of the limited use of armed struggle. The provos were defeated. Defeated full stop. Therefore, after 30 years of combat it is perfectly obvious that armed struggle at this stage is futile. However, while the provos were defeated, the consept of a united Ireland remains. Not as an abstract ideal but as a realistic aim with the specific aim of not replacing one flag with another but with the aim of replacing one system with another. As long as there is partition, there is no hope of ending the sectarian divide. Without the crutch of British investment, unionism would face a new reality. Today the 6 counties are as divided as ever. The is no more croppy lie down because there is no more need to keep the croppy down. Both political parties running Stormont are well funded and are the funding agents for millions more. Is it any wonder that those outside the established parties are still feeling alienated, are still feeling cheated, are still questioning why? Are still bearing arms. The majority voted for the GFA. Therefore the GFA is correct. The majority actually, in my opinion, voted for peace without knowing ( or possibly caring ) what the GFA stood for. Now that many republicans and socialists have realised what that the politics of the GFA has led to, they are unhappy. The majority of these have walked away, retired to grumble at the bar or in the clubhouse. A few have remained, a smaller few have remained with guns and with a audience of young wannabees…the same wannabees that we probably were when we took up politics. We owe it to these young activists to say the war is over but the fight continues. Marching behind the banners of discredited trade union leaders will not stop any young person from engaging in armed struggle but marching in
support of regime change may. Tut Tuting from the sidelines is never the answer. Its the lazy option. Unfortunately, it has been the option of the left for too many years.

Like

60. Garibaldy - March 10, 2009

Eamonn,

I agree with a lot of what you say. But republicanism has not always been an elitist tradition. It has certainly had that strain. But when it has been most successful it has married social and economic with political concerns – the United Irishmen, the Land War, even the Sinn Féin courts during the Tan War. I’d have thought that the force of circumstances has forced several generations of those who consider themselves republicans to engage with politics – be it the 1930s, the 1960s, or the 1980s. Republicanism (broadly defined) has been at its weakest when it has been a military movement only.

The GFA may be incorrect, especially in its potential to entrench sectarianism, but it has been more progressive than the violence, and it has overwhelming support. We cannot ignore that either.

Like

61. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

If those of us are on the left worried about being in tune with the majority, we would have given up politics years ago, critism of groups like CIRA for not having mass support is daft bourgeois nonsense.

True in our public statements it is imperative we should not get to far ahead of the masses, but that is it.

WBS

I am unclear about what you meant when you wrote, “These guys do not do politics”. The RIRA is as political as the next bunch of politicos, I am sure I have no need to quote Clausewitz back at you, but war is an extension of politics by other means. Like it or not, the RIRA is engaged in a war, an unwinnable and very small war maybe, but war all the same. Those who seek to criminalize this organizations volunteers have either learned nothing over the last 35 years, or have far to much baggage in their own locker to face the truth.

Garibaldy,

You write the GFA has been more progressive than the violence, perhaps you would expand on that as I have difficulty in seeing anything progressive about it. It is simply the means to manage the status quo.

Like

62. Garibaldy - March 10, 2009

Mick,

I don’t think criticising people for carry out killings that will achieve nothing due to a lack of support is daft bourgeois nonsense in the slightest. It is identifying the difference between a meaningless terroristic campaign like we are seeing now, and a true war of national liberation, like Vietnam. As I’ve said, whether the application of violence is justified depends on the circumstances. So the absence of mass support is directly relevant.

As for the GFA being more progressive than the violence. Apart from the obvious issue of around 1,500 fewer deaths than might have been expected since 1994 had the Troubles continued at the same tempo (and possibly more given that the loyalists were becoming increasingly vicious), the lifestyle enjoyed by the people of NI has improved dramatically, in simple things like travelling into town. The army is off the streets, the repressive policing has ended, the fear and paranoia a memory. There is more local democracy, however imperfect it is, and the absence of violence makes it more likely progressive politics can gain support, though not inevitable. I don’t think there is one person in the north who would argue that life is not better now than it was.

Like

63. alastair - March 10, 2009

– I am unclear about what you meant when you wrote, “These guys do not do politics”. The RIRA is as political as the next bunch of politicos, I am sure I have no need to quote Clausewitz back at you, but war is an extension of politics by other means.

1. There is no ‘war’. There’s a clique of idiots who aren’t prepared to listen to what society has determined as a solution to a prior conflict.

2. The RIRA/32CSM fall over themselves to make clear that they’re not a political grouping – why not take them at their word?

As to Afghanistan – spare me. Unless you think it’s justifiable to shoot dead any soldier anywhere in the UK, or Germany, or Holland, etc – on the basis that they might do a tour in Afghanistan? Wise up.

Like

64. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

Alastair

History has been here before you or I, the 1916 rebels were branded as criminals, as to were the Provos. You are of course entitled to your opinion but as far as the RIRA are concerned it carries no water. They believe they are engaged in a war and have three dead bodies to prove it. And for you to cry “a crime is a crime is a crime,” or what ever that nasty woman said is neither here nor there. It might make you feel better but it will not change a thing.

Pick up a history book and tell me when the British recognized ‘publicly’ that Irish rebels were engaged in a war? Then get back to me.

Garibaldy
Comrade, I never said criticizing these groups for engaging in armed struggle was bourgeois nonsense, as on this I believe your your judgement is correct and have said on a number of occasions there is no viable future in republicans engaging in armed struggle.

What I wrote was it is bourgeois nonsense to condemn them for not having mass support, as if that is some badge of being correct politically. Which is something completely different?

Like

65. Garibaldy - March 10, 2009

Fair enough Mick, I missed that subtlety. I agree with what you are saying about numbers not meaning being right.

Like

66. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

Alastair

I find your comments on Afghanistan very provocative, for were I to answer in the affirmative, I would risk a prison sentence for supporting terrorism.

Out of politeness and as you have raised the subject, I will say this as the actor in the comedy show might “very carefully.”

What makes it OK for a British solder to travel thousands of miles to Afghanistan to kill a Taliban, a country that he/she, nor his/her country has any links, treaties or obligations to, (or come to that to kill a guest at a wedding) and wrong for a Taliban solder to travel thousands of miles to Europe to kill a British solder. Tell me as you clearly feel you are all wised up, what makes the act of one OK, and the act of the other a crime.

Like

67. alastair - March 10, 2009

– They believe they are engaged in a war and have three dead bodies to prove it.

And the useful idiots to paint a bit of trendy ‘war’ rationalistion in their behalf too it would seem. Killing people does not a ‘war’ make.

– Pick up a history book and tell me when the British recognized ‘publicly’ that Irish rebels were engaged in a war? Then get back to me.

Well – pick up whatever variety of document you fancy and let me know when the British last called the shots in N.I. It’s the people in NI – not the British or southeners who determine who’s engaged in war or criminality. No amount of moral contortions remove from that fact. ‘Rebels’!? – wise up!

Like

68. ejh - March 10, 2009

What I wrote was it is bourgeois nonsense to condemn them for not having mass support, as if that is some badge of being correct politically

It’s not that having mass support for something makes you right, but it’s hard to see what possible good can come of shooting people when you don’t even have any mass support for it.

I mean what do they think is going to happen next? An uprising of the nationalist people fo the Six Counties? Some sort of shoot-out with the British Army like the end of Butch Cassidy or something? Or a very short wait until a very short trial and a very long time in a prison cell?

Like

69. alastair - March 10, 2009

– I find your comments on Afghanistan very provocative

And I find your comments idiotic in the extreme. Armchair generals like yourself generally don’t both too much with the facts of life – it’s not big, and it’s not clever.

The Taliban opened themselves up to military intervention when they decided to harbour Bin Laden after 9/11. That’s when the moral ambiguities disappeared. There’s a democratically elected goverment there now – sanctioned by the UN, and they get to decide whether UK troops should, or shouldn’t be on the ground there now – not you, not I, and not some relf-regarding tosser with an AK47 in Antrim.

Like

70. ejh - March 10, 2009

That’s when the moral ambiguities disappeared.

Moral ambiguities rarely disappear entirely, though it often pleases us to claim otherwise.

Like

71. alastair - March 10, 2009

Thanks for that insight.
Is there a pedantry-fest notice I missed?

Like

72. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

Alastair

Are, we are finally getting somewhere, so for you it would have been OK in the past for the British army to invade the RoI, because members of the PIRA had taken refuge and planned some of their attacks there, Yes?

The whole problem with Stormont is it is little more than a talking shop. Tell me who decided to reactivate on the ground special forces, who decided to build the new MI5 building, who decides how much the Assembly gets to distribute, or collects the income taxes.

The people of the North have no, or very little say in any of this.

Like all chief constables in the UK, the police PSNI chief answers to London,police committees are mere window dressing. As Orde clearly demonstrated when he failed to tell the police committee about the recent deployment of special forces.

What you have is a mockney democracy that no one in the rest of Europe would tolerate, OK, there was an argument for it as a stop gap to end the violence, but as recent events have proved, it is now a hinderance to forward movement, not a help. It benefits those like you who support the status quo.

Like

73. ejh - March 10, 2009

Do you mean “mock”? Mockey is Jamie Oliver, innit.

Like

74. alastair - March 10, 2009

– would have been OK in the past for the British army to invade the RoI, because members of the PIRA had taken refuge and planned some of their attacks there, Yes?

If the state had invited in a paramilitary organistion, that organistation had bombed and killed thousands in a UK city, and then the Irish State had refused to expell that paramilitary group for trial – then yes – it would be a de-facto declaration of war.

Clear enough?

– What you have is a mockney democracy that no one in the rest of Europe would tolerate.

Bullshit. And society in NI makes this very clear. That’s the akward ‘status quo’ you’re choosing to ignore – the right of the people of NI to determine their own arrangements.

Like

75. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

Alistair

I asked you a few simply questions, you failed to answer even one, instead offering only bluster and bullshit. I will leave you in your cosy cocoon, in which you can pretend to yourself the people of the North have the right to determine their own political arrangements and Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp never existed as all its inmates were getting a fair trial.

If it makes you happy who am I to upset your sweet slumbers.

Have a nice day.

Like

76. alastair - March 10, 2009

– I asked you a few simply questions, you failed to answer even one

Open your eyes friend.

And no-one mentioned gitmo – except your good self.

Like

77. ejh - March 10, 2009

<i<then the Irish State had refused to expell that paramilitary group for trial

Not sure this can actually be used in a valid comparison

Like

78. Mick Hall - March 10, 2009

And no-one mentioned gitmo – except your good self.

“Refused to expell that paramilitary group for trial”

sweet dreams 😉

Like

79. alastair - March 10, 2009

– Not sure this can actually be used in a valid comparison

It’s the one that was asked of me – I make no claim as to it’s validity (quite the opposite).

Like

80. alastair - March 10, 2009

– “Refused to expell that paramilitary group for trial”

That’s some time machine you’ve rigged up there. Does the fact that gitmo camp didn’t exist when the Taliban were asked to expell the Bin Laden gang, and that you’ve no idea how they would have been tried matter to you?

Nope.

Like

81. ejh - March 10, 2009

I make no claim as to its validity

The point being that that isn’t exactly what did happen, if my memory serves.

Like

82. alastair - March 10, 2009

Memory doesn’t serve you well then. That’s exactly what happened.

Like

83. ejh - March 10, 2009

Really? The Taliban refused absolutely to hand people over for trial? Not exactly, I think you’ll find.

Like

84. alastair - March 10, 2009

Nope that’s exactly what did happen. Sorry about that.

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/10/07/ret.us.taliban/

Like

85. ejh - March 10, 2009

As I say: “not exactly”. There was an offer to try him and a subsequent offer to hand him over to a third country. Anybody’s entitled to say that that was inadequate: but unquestionably they did not “refuse absolutely to hand people over for trial” and therefore that was not “exactly what did happen”.

Sorry about that.

Like

86. alastair - March 10, 2009

again with the pedantry.

The Taliban had been engaging in exactly the sort of dissembling that you display here for three years prior to this – they refused to extradite Bin Laden to the US, or to a third country of the US’s choosing, they got slapped with UN sanctions for refusing to extradite Bin Laden two years earlier. None of this is newe – they refused to expell Bin Laden for trial – and kept up this position for years, despite the sanctions, and despite the threat of military intervention.

There was no ‘subsequent offer to hand him over to a third country’ by the way – there had been an ‘earlier’ suggestion of involving Pakistan, but a Taliban elders meeting just commited to asking Bin Laden to leaving in his own time and free will.

So – absolute refusal to hand him over for trial? Anyone without blinkers would have to say so.

Like

87. ejh - March 10, 2009

No, only anyone who wished to use terms like “absolute” and “exact” without caring what they mean.

Talking of offers, and meaning…

or to a third country of the US’s choosing

I’m not sure what you have in mind here. Would you be good enough to explain?

Like

88. alastair - March 10, 2009

le’s break it down for the pedants:

1. Absolute refusal – Had they had been required to extradite Bin Laden for trial for literally years? – Yes. Did they do so? – No. Did the UN place them under sactions on the basis of that refusal? – Yes. Did the Taliban ever hand Bin Laden over for trial? – No. That’s an absolute refusal to do so in my book (and anyone elses’s – assuming they’re willing to actually check).

2. Exact – Is the refusal of the Taliban to expell Bin Laden measurable by the facts? – Yes. It’s an exact and demonstrable reality.

– Would you be good enough to explain?

The Taliban, years beforehand had offered to send Bin Laden to trial before an international court of sharia scholars within Afghanistan. That was met by a counter-offer from the US of extradition to a trial in a third party nation. That was rejected by the Taliban.

Like

89. ejh - March 10, 2009

That was met by a counter-offer from the US of extradition to a trial in a third party nation

That’s interesting information. What’s your source?

That’s an absolute refusal to do so in my book

But not in the book of anybody who’s not in the habit of claiming absolutes where absolutes aren’t present. There were offers to have BIn Laden tried – and ultimately tried elsewhere. They were not unconditional offers, nor were they taken up, nor can they necessarily be seen to have been satisfactory, but they certainly seem to have existed and that makes the use of absolutes inappropriate.

Which absolutes usually are, of course. It’s that habit I don’t like because in my experience, people who claim absolutes, outside the realm of science, pretty swiftly have to start not seeing things they don’t want to see (and insisting that other people do the same) in order to maintain their absolutism. They also tend to let their absolutism leak into the ethical sphere, and simplicities in that field usually end in worse than tears.

Like

90. alastair - March 10, 2009

-There were offers to have BIn Laden tried

I’d hazard that ‘tried’ is absolutely distinct from ‘extradited/expelled’, wouldn’t you?

– and ultimately tried elsewhere.
A suggestion mooted and then rejected by the suggestor is not an offer.

Any more apples for the orange basket?

Like

91. alastair - March 10, 2009
92. ejh - March 10, 2009

That’s interesting but you’re aware the second of your sources is not wholly helpful to your account?

Like

93. alastair - March 10, 2009

How so?
They (Taliban) subsequently had their meeting and decided not to hand him over. It’s all a matter of record.

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: