Gorman has recently written about the historical
rehabilitation of Michael Collins by Sinn Féin,
with the party now apparently displaying the Cork
mans picture on the wall of their offices at
Collins-Adams comparison has become a cliché.
Both were Republican leaders who brought wars to an
end and negotiated settlements which fell far short
of the objectives for which the rank and file had
sacrificed so much.
it is not the similarities, but the stark differences
between the two men which are the most illuminating.
for example, was an extremely effective military leader
and a genius at intelligence work.
enunciated a coherent strategy which lay behind the
decision to reluctantly accept the treaty. Whatever
one thinks of his decision, the notion that the treaty
brought the freedom to achieve freedom,
that it was a stepping stone to the Republic
and that the institutions and armed forces of the
nascent Free State could be used to achieve the full
freedom to which Collins aspired, represented a logical
by contrast, has never advanced anything that could
be dignified by being described as a coherent strategy.
There is, in fact, no strategy whatsoever, nor has
there ever been. What passes for strategic Republicanism
is in reality nothing other than the unprincipled
pursuit of institutional power by and for Sinn Féin.
It also serves as a handy term aimed at bamboozling
the rank and file into thinking that an ongoing series
of self-evident defeats are actually advances when
viewed as parts of an alleged leadership master plan.
Collins leadership was characterised by intense
debate with his opponents, as he argued his case in
Dáil Éireann and at countless highly
charged public meetings the length and breadth of
the country, Adams leadership has been concerned
instead with the stultification of debate.
is allowed (!) only on the unspoken but
very real condition that it is utterly politically
ineffectual, changes nothing, challenges nobody.
a virtue of anti-intellectualism, Adams has sought
to smother debate by hiding behind empty slogans such
as trusting the leadership (because, as
we all know, there are no armchair generals
in this leadership), making politics work,
moving the situation forward etc
result has been that rational debate has been replaced
by a quasi-religious leap of faith in the powers of
an allegedly charismatic leadership. In Germany between
1933 and 1945 this concept of leadership was known
as the fuhrerprinzip.
we have been treated to the unedifying spectacle of
a Provisional grass roots which is seemingly content
to be marched in any direction its allegedly omniscient
leadership chooses to take it and to believe anything
it is told.
Mitchell Principles. Acceptance of partition. Endorsement
of Unionist veto. Return to Stormont. SF administration
of British rule. Decommissioning. And, coming soon
to a barracks near you, support for the PSNI, as a
disarmed IRA is casually tossed onto the negotiating
table like a trussed up chicken.
the next act of decommissioning takes place and De
Chastelain publishes an inventory of the weapons destroyed,
I await with interest the reaction of the incorrigibly
faithful who repeatedly assured those of us too thick
to see that decommissioning would never happen
within a thousand years and who, when it did,
advanced with straight faces the party line that De
Chastelain had been hoodwinked.
the shortcomings of the treaty, and there clearly
were many, a fact which was painfully obvious to Collins
himself, when one examines the overall balance sheet
of Collins leadership it is hard to argue against
the notion that he took the struggle forward and that
he was at least prepared to argue his case and engage
with his Republican opponents.
by contrast, has consistently refused to offer any
meaningful vision of how Republican objectives are
to be achieved or entertain any debate of this alleged
strategy. His achievement consists of
leading the Provisional movement into support for
a settlement less Republican in content than the Sunningdale
Agreement which was scornfully dismissed a quarter
of a century earlier and which amounts to little more
than the political codification of Republicans
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