Gerry and P O'Neill (acting for the CoS, PIRA)
will have no doubt heard about the change of heart
in Fianna Fail as it views its support slipping
badly on the polls in the run-up to the expected
Southern Dail elections in less than 14 months.
With you Shinners expected to increase your tally
of TDs to between a dozen to 15, its clear Bertie's
Boys are taking you lot more seriously as potential
coalition partners rather than the rapidly ailing
But you're going to have to make some radical changes
to the republican movement if Sinn Fein is to be
viewed credibly as a true democratic political party,
rather than the Irish version of Hamas playing at
For a start you need to use this Easter's 90th anniversary
Rising commemorations to formally announce the Provos
have been disbanded, and like many English regiments
phased out - transform the IRA into an old comrades'
group know as the Irish Republican Association.
Each IRA volunteer who signs up to the Association
will give a written pledge never to adopt an illegal
armed struggle again. You say the Provos didn't
kill Denis Donaldson. Given the lack of trust in
unionist ranks over your statements, when you discover
the true identity of his killers - make the information
The Southern constitution cannot allow for two armies
- it recognises only one; the Irish Defence Forces.
How can republican TDs swear allegiance to the Irish
Republic and agree to support the forces of law
and order in the state when you have pledged an
oath to a secret terrorist army?
You are either a democrat or a revolutionary in
modern Ireland - not both. And if you're to be a
full partner in both Northern and Southern governments,
the name of Sinn Fein - Ourselves Alone - will have
to be changed.
Face reality, you Shinners, the title has served
its purpose. Let it rest in peace with founder Arthur
Griffiths. How can you be Ourselves Alone when a
truly democratic movement demands that you have
a moral imperative to work constructively with others?
You can't call yourselves the All Ireland Party
because Articles Two and Three of the Republic's
constitution claiming rights to the six Northern
counties are in history's dustbin.
Instead, launch yourself as the Irish Patriotic
Party because Sinn Fein drips with the blood of
the republican movement's bombs and bullets.
And there's two significant steps republicans can
take in the North. If you genuinely believe in effective
policing, for the sake of your communities, take
your places on the Policing Board.
But more importantly, formally take you seats at
Westminster. Follow the example of the Scottish
and Welsh nationalists, and anti-monarchists or
republicans within the British Labour movement.
They have taken oaths of allegiance without compromising
their essential principles. So why should Sinn Fein
MPs stick out like sore thumbs?
The big step you will have to take is to finally
purge yourselves of your criminal element, otherwise
the Provos will become nothing more than the INLA
- a front for robbery and drug dealing.
And if you want to become coalition partners in
the South, you're going to have to ensure as many
of your candidates as possible have not been convicted
Can you seriously see the decent people of the South
voting for a movement responsible for the horrific
killing of Garda Gerry McCabe?
And you can have a major role in the peace process
by persuading dissident republicans from the Continuity
and Real IRAs to disband and decommission.
Significantly, too, make sure you educate existing
republicans that armed struggle is no longer an
option and persuade them never to re-introduce the
republican gun into Irish politics.
As for the INLA - how about telling it to disband
as well. There is a role for republican socialism
in the new Ireland, but not as a nutcase party of
the Loonie Left.
Your big challenge is that with so many unionists
squabbling with each other in the North, could an
Irish Patriotic Party reach out to Protestantism
in the same way as the African National Congress
achieved with whites in South Africa?
Lots for you republicans to ponder this Easter.
I await a constructive response with anticipation.