In his recent "A Subtle But Brilliant Use Of The IRA," Anthony McIntyre makes various factual assertions and evaluations which are at least arguably true and correct. Among them are the following:
There is little that would support the notion that the Adams leadership is fearful of dissolving the IRA in case there is some recalcitrant body of republicans waiting on the opportunity to challenge the leadership.
Given that the Sinn Fein leadership has managed on occasion, to cite Jim Gibney, to turn the IRA upside down, Adams faces no internal obstacles to sleight of hand disbandment.
Moreover, the ability to use the IRA in the North for leverage has dissipated as a result of republicans being blamed for the prolonged hiatus afflicting the political institutions. Pressure for concessions from Sinn Fein rather than concessions to it is going to mount as both governments seek to find the appropriate stabiliser with which to entice unionism, in its new form, into the power sharing saddle once again.Based largely on those points, Anthony asserts and asks: "In sum the IRA prohibits Sinn Fein from acquiring institutional power, and in the absence of internal opposition why not put it out to graze?" His answer:
By holding onto the IRA and depicting it as part of a wider problem, Adams holds out the possibility that he more than anyone else has the potential to be the problem solver. A subtle but brilliant use of the IRA, made all the more dazzling by the inability of Dublin to see it.
analysis may here indeed be quite accurate.
just as I feel that various Sinn Féin supporters do
not adequately understand Anthony's own political
philosophies and personal motivations, I wonder whether
the reverse might also be the case, at least to a
these lines, my immediate interest regarding Northern
Ireland's Republican movement is grounded rather little
in trying to discern definitively where its members
are correctly pegged on a "sinners-to-saints" scale.
especially in light of the failure of the Good Friday
Agreement, which failure even some of the less intelligent
observers of that scene predicted some years ago—my
interest lies particularly in why Sinn Féin and the
IRA are dragging their feet so conspicuously on the
disarmament issue, and my difficulties with Anthony's
analysis thereon are two.
with no "internal" opposition to disarmament, and
with Sinn Féin's ostensible (and, perhaps accurate)
thirst for conventional political power, it seems
somewhat unlikely that the Republican movement would
have strung out the disarmament issue quite as many
years as it has. Had indeed "[Gerry] Adams [wanted
to hold] out the possibility that he more than anyone
else has the potential to be the problem solver,"
it seems more likely that he would have elected to
demonstrate this power some time ago; by playing that
card earlier, Sinn Féin could have done as well or
better in the second GFA election and might thereby
have retained the UUP as a rather more predictable
and accommodating Executive partner than Sinn Féin
may ultimately find with the DUP. While Anthony asserts
that "republicans[ are] being blamed for the prolonged
hiatus afflicting the political institutions," it
seems to me that that condition might be the high
price that the Republican movement has—for some reason—elected
to pay for its years-long and continuing "decommissioning"
stance rather than a situation which Republicans have
intentionally attempted to cultivate and encourage.
Anthony asks: "And what dynamic would the peace process
have if the IRA ceased to exist? The North would have
attained post-peace process status." Of course, that
post-peace process status would also arise were Gerry
Adams now—in somewhat less favorable post-election
conditions, vis-à-vis the Unionist representation
at Stormont—to proclaim, as in the Mighty Mouse cartoon
of old, "Here I come to save the day!" Thus, this
consideration does not seem to offer much support,
if any, for Anthony's overall thoughts in this regard.
ago, a doctor told me of a certain teaching hospital
in the U.S. renown for its eminent professional staff,
but he also suggested that, when they heard hoof beats,
physicians there were apt to think of zebras rather
something similar is now happening regarding analyses
of Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA: simple suggestions
for why they tenaciously hold onto their weapons are
disregarded in favor of complex theories which assume
minds of Machiavelli's caliber as well as the subtle
and brilliant strategies of chess grandmasters.
simple suggestion for why "Sinn Féin/IRA" holds onto
these weapons? Because they may think that—in
the present circumstances and ever after—they and
Northern Catholics generally would be at too high
of a risk of getting screwed "constitutionally" by
London if Republicans' illegal paramilitary capacity
of the few venues for uncensored discourse on Northern
Ireland—Anthony McIntyre's own The Blanket—has
published a few articles along those simple lines,
including most recently "Trust
Without Honesty In The Peace Process?," whose
text included the following:
[T]he notion that those militants' real yet unspeakable reason for sticking to their guns might indeed have an understandable basis, in light of the United Kingdom's inherent constitutional deficiencies, has not been at all well discussed by, inter alia, the Northern Ireland punditry.Perhaps, though, some pundit will yet persuade me that Northern Ireland's Republicans regard as no political impediment whatever the changeless malleability of Britain’s "constitutional" law:
Really, Fitzsimmons, Northern Republicans are now quite happy to rely entirely on Westminster's tender constitutional mercies. Who needs durable and enforceable constitutional protections, after all, when such broad and warmhearted trust of the British government exists?
and when I'm persuaded on that point, I may start
thinking a lot harder about how subtle and brilliant
the Republican leadership is.
then, however, the simpler explanation for this persistent
disarmament difficulty seems not only adequate but
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