week's Provisional IRA declaration that it was to
call a halt to its military campaign took few by
surprise. If any were gob smacked, it was that ever
decreasing number within the IRA who still believed
that the organisation stood poised to go back to
war. That hardly hindered political leaders in London
and Dublin - but significantly not in Washington
- from digging deep into their dictionaries to find
new ways of describing old hat. Dr Spin, a master
of 'routinely resorting to deception', remains a
significant political player in the North's political
landscape. Large media blocs and swathes of the
political class sang 'historic' in unison. The absence
of cavalcades notwithstanding, people were even
seen celebrating the length and breadth of the Falls
Road by observers, of whom it is said, have not
been on the Falls Road in years. Those, like Ed
Moloney and John Kelly, who pitched a discordant
tone were viewed as party poopers.
was hard for me to get worked up about any of it.
Much the same as it was to feel any great emotion
on so many other occasions when what would certainly
never happen most assuredly did. Just as there will
be nothing - apart from contempt - when Sinn Fein
give full backing to the PSNI and clamour behind
the British police force to fill Maghaberry prison
with those still naïve enough to think that
there is any future in a military campaign. These
things have been so clearly charted out for years
that the average punter on the street knows what
is going to happen. It begs the question why so
many in the Provisional IRA or Sinn Fein failed
to see it.
again, cult type bodies either see what is not there
or do not see what is there depending on what their
cult leaders tell them. There was once a term crafted
for such behaviour - 'cultic idiocy.' Denis Tourish
put it succinctly in a recent Irish Times article:
'What seems mad to an outsider becomes the conventional
wisdom of the group.'
to Seanna Walsh read the IRA statement, my one pang
of emotion came when I thought back to the origins
of my fall out with Sinn Fein. There was no swift
break. The Good Friday Agreement was the end point
in a long process of not sharing the stated leadership
position of where the republican struggle would
end up. There was no original thought on my part.
So many others had seen the trend play itself out
in the Official Republican Movement, or Sticks as
they were known. There was general agreement that
if certain steps were initiated, then our movement
too would go Stick. When those steps were taken
by our movement people suddenly began to find ways
of denying to themselves what they knew to be true.
misfortune, if I deem to term it such, was not to
slip into the same self-denial but to argue my case.
For stating that the movement would end up more
or less where it arrived at Thursday last, I was
told I was incredibly naïve; that to make such
a suggestion was tantamount to accusing the leadership
of selling out and treachery; that I had no foresight
or understanding of political processes or dynamics.
Censorship, not persuasion, became the chosen method
of dealing with different ideas.
was not part of any oppositional current, but merely
pressing for clarity. Many of those at middle management
level pushing the leadership position were clueless
when asked what the next step would be. Their task
was not to formulate policy, solely to explain it
as best they could. It was a 'have faith' stance.
With others more senior, I smelt dishonesty. Those
responsible for lying then are generally the same
people whom today show unremitting hostility to
my unfettered expression of opinion. They don't
want people to see that they have become everything
they once condemned; that they are now the very
Sticks they so hated.
have never looked back on my decision to leave the
Provisionals. It was better to go and by doing so
authenticate the years spent in a campaign of resistance,
rather than render them futile by staying on, endorsing
everything I had opposed. Better to walk and salvage
something than stay and reinforce invalidation.
the asking price of remaining was silence. I had
no right to stand mute when so many comrades had
died screaming truth at power, some of them so weak
on prison hospital beds, that their defiant voices
were barely audible as they breathed their last.
Silence is a traitor that stands in admiration of
itself while republican assets, bought through the
currency of sacrifice and suffering, are sold off
by a leadership in exchange for political careers
as establishment politicians.
Jim Gibney acknowledged that IRA volunteers were
the 'the people who made Sinn Féin the party
they are today.' An acknowledgement at least that
Sinn Fein are not where they are as a result of
their electoral mandate. Unfortunately, the party
never reciprocated that input, defrauding IRA volunteers
of a just return on their not inconsiderable investment.