me begin with I don't belong to any Republican group
and I don't speak for any either. I write of my own
accord and just to express my own views and opinions.
me 1998 was a mixed up year. I had my GCSE's to contend
with and we had the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
am going to give you an insight into the mind of some
teenagers when the Good Friday Agreement was signed
and the mind of one of those 21 year olds now (myself),
in the current view of the situation that Provisional
Sinn Fein has brought about.
up in Andersonstown at the heart of the republican
community I come from stanch republican family
the goal was to end the illegal partition. Let's bear
in mind, "accept partition or face all out war".
This was hardly democratic. It was hardly democratic
drawing a border where one group of people would be
in a majority; this was not fair for the people who
had to suffer those injustices, those discriminations.
back to my teenage years, all through the 90's we,
when I say we I am referring to my friends and I,
as teenagers we had always a feeling that there was
a war, a guerrilla war with the British, those people
who had brought this terror to our land. We were at
war with the British Army, not the people from the
other community. We did acknowledge that there were
loyalist paramilitaries and we did however understand
that it was not all of the people within those communities.
Our war was with the occupying army and the illegal
state that discriminated heavily on one section of
we were in our teens, we did not take any direction
from any paramilitary organisation. We, although young,
were not blind to the fact that there were times when
the whole community was needed, times when army incursion
into our communities was high. A brief example was
when Lee Clegg shot a teenage girl on the outskirts
of Lenadoon, she had been travelling in a stolen car
that broke a check point. It was the youth, without
any direction from anyone. It was they who participated
in the lockdown of our community, it was they who
helped barricade ourselves in. It was we who felt,
"thats it - are they going to come in and
shoot us all?"
of course, when we are in the middle of anarchy, protesting
our outrage and anger at the state, and the politicians!!
Along come elements within the Provisional Republican
Movement to quell the disruption!!
lads, wind it down, move on, let's go." They
struck fear into anyone who dared speak back, for
those who speak back to the Provisional Republican
Movement could well find themselves on the receiving
end of a baseball bat or a 9mil to the kneecap.
lads, let's go, no more," was said as we left
with a slight clip to the ear. We knew that there
were ceasefires on and that there were negotiations
taking place; we all suspected that there was something
that Sinn Fein and the Provisional Republican Movement
had if negotiations failed and we went back to a war
can honestly say growing up as a teenager we all thought
if the war continues we would one day probably have
to go to the aid of our communities. We knew that
if we done nothing we could risk getting shot or blown
up and likewise if we had of joined a political organisation
or a paramilitry organisation we could well have been
shot. It was a no win situation.
was a general feeling that one day we may be shot
and killed as a result of the situation in the 6 counties.
This was an everyday realistic feeling.
the Docklands bomb went off, I remember, so clear,
"News Flash," a bomb has just tore through
the London docklands. There was a feeling that the
negoiations had failed and that was us back to war.
There was a surge of patriotism within the community
to see that the republican movement had still not
given up fighting the enemy. People reading this who
are not from Belfast or the north of Ireland, for
your benefit, we still had British Army walking our
streets, MI5, SAS, and other British Military Intelligence
operating in the 6 counties.
was then I started taking an interest in the political
side of Republicanism. We had interpreted it as best
we could when we were 16, 17, 18. I remember the Agreement
coming through the door. I called my friend, "Did
you get one of these Agreement things?"
do you think?" I asked.
said, "Personally, I think we are being sold
come? At least it gives us hope," I said.
man, you're not that stupid. You're going to do A
levels. Glance through it and get back to me."
began reading the Good Friday Agreement. I noticed
that this GFA involved Sinn Fein taking part in a
devolved British assembly at Stormont.
there and then I said, hold on a minute, I thought
we were negoiating the end of a war and I believed
along with a lot of others that would result in the
British leaving the north of Ireland. I didn't think
that this would have involved Sinn Fein taking part
in a devolved assembly! A British or "Northern
thought Sinn Fein was looking out for our interests.
I often hear those dedicated to Provisional Sinn Fein
saying the GFA is about equality and we should back
it. We hear a lot about failed policiess; try a new
way. The abstentionist policy may have failed in the
past but I believe that Eire Nua has a place ahead
of the full implementation of the GFA, if it ever
me just say, we should have equality and police reform
as a pre-requisite before any sort of negotiation.
the day came, the signing of the GFA. The sorrow and
the sombre mood was so thick you could have sliced
right through it. We heard the car horns beeping,
people hung from the cars with tricolours claiming
we won!! We Won!! I turned to my friend. "We
Won What!!!" "Is that it, the brits are
going home?" My friend, who is a year older,
said, "No, mate, they're going for this fucking
Good Friday Agreement."
wasn't the word, it was like, what are these people
doing? People could not understand why people like
Bobby Sands and Joe Mc Donnell and all those others
make the ultimate sacrifice for us, to accept a devolved
British assembly for "our" Politicians to
get assimilated right into the system that had discriminated
against our people, this illegal partioned state?
At least it will be our own people working on our
behalf rather than some minister in London.
am from the community that Gerry Adams is from. I
honestly believe that he is doing the best for our
community and his party as whole.
we were talking amongst ourselves, one of my friends
said we should have listened to RSF in 1986. I looked
at him. "What are you on about, we have been
supporting Sinn Fein."
said, "I take it you are not familiar with the
abstenionist policy and Republican Sinn Fein."
course I am, thats why I am raging about these
Sinn Fein members wanting to take part in a British
said, "Do you know what happened in '86 the split?"
I got the educated, streetwise, about Sinn Fein voting
whether to go into or stay out of constitutional politics.
It was like, can this situation get anymore worse?
Next you will be telling me they are joining the cops!
Another guy laughed, "You know, there is part
in this assembly for devolved policing." It was
here I first heard about Republican Sinn Fein.
think there and then each of us decided that Provisional
Sinn Fein had changed its path from what it had set
out to do after the split in 69'.
are expecting us young men and women on the verge
of becoming an adult, the Irish youth, to endorse
this, to accept this as the way in which our country
should be run; maybe it is the way. I think there
had been a lot of people, not just old republican
veterans, but a lot of young people who felt that
this was going to cause a division within the republican
community. I as a young adult just couldn't get enough
information as to how are we going to achieve our
aim of a 32 county republic in this way. Being realistic
I don't think a majority wants a return to war.
a contradiction I as a 17 year old could see? How
can you tell the unionists that their union is secure
and turn around and say to the Republicans & Nationalists
that this is your stepping stone to a united Ireland?
More clarification is needed on this point.
do agree a lot has come out of the GFA and Sinn Fein's
path into northern politics. I do honestly believe
that progress is being made slowly and through a lot
of sacrifices. There is still that fear that the British
may turn on republicans when they are totally defenceless
and do a way with all the progress that is being made
,bringing us back to a sectarian state, and war.
me say no matter how many republicans deviate from
the principles of 1905, there is always going to be
people who are dedicated to the Republican principles
of 1905 Sinn Fein. It is these people who are still
excluded from politics in the country. Yes, by choice,
but if genuine political negotiations were taking
place which were putting into affect all Ireland political
structures to unify the country politically and the
intention of the British to disengage from the north,
I believe these people would be at the forefront of
negotiations. Should another 30 years go by and another
lot deviate from 1905 principles to the constitutional
path so be it. There will still be that flame burning
within Irish people that their country is still not
free. Lets get a reality check here!!
be continued next issue.
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