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Pragmatic Approach

Labhras Mich Eill • 3 June 2003


Your article of the 2nd of May is, as you indicate, far from original, revisiting as it does Connolly’s (and others) analysis of the elements within Republicanism of nationalism, internationalism and socialism. It is nonetheless accurate in its historical analysis. It is not however as accurate in its analysis of the current position of the Provisional movement. Whilst accepting that the GFA and the institutions that it brings into being are sectarian in nature, it is however true that the sectarianism in these institutions is less abhorrent than the previous position which almost entirely excluded a section of the community on sectarian grounds. The principles behind the GFA are uniting in nature in that they are intended to form a single entity from disparate elements. It is therefore inclusive sectarianism rather than exclusive. In this it is preferable. As you are aware Sinn Féin has never espoused the GFA as the final solution but rather as a stepping stone to a Republican solution. Your assertion that Sinn Féin in common with other parties supports PFI is also extremely misleading. In fact the most recent Ard Fheis carried a motion which reiterated the opposition to PFI on the grounds that it is a capitalist policy. Doubtless you can point to recent initiatives where Sinn Féin has participated in PFI as members of the northern assembly. These occasions however were forced upon the incumbent ministers by virtue of the participation in the governance of the 6 counties by the people of the six counties, within what is undeniably a capitalist model.

It is here that the fundamental question of political tactics arises, and whether it is acceptable to adoopt a pragmatic approach to attempt to change the system working from within, and therefore to some degree empowered, or whether it is essential to work from outside all political institutions from a position of political impotence. Your assertion that only the unification of the working class can bring about the crushing of sectarianism is undeniable. Sinn Féin are striving to achieve this as exemplified by Alex Maskey during his tenure as Mayor of Ireland’s second city.

It is well documented that there are major disagreements between sections of Republicanism in terms of what is seen as the best approach to realising the secession of the six counties from British imperialism. It is however disingenuous and damagingly divisive to attempt to deny the Republican credentials of those who have, at this time, chosen the pragmatic political route, and creates a division that serves only those imperialists that you claim to detest.


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