July 25, 2013

Martin McGuinness' Doublethink

When Martin McGuinness appeared on the June 27 episode of BBC Northern Ireland's 'The View', Mark Caruthers and the deputy First Minister discussed a range of topics that centered on Derry/Londonderry and its year as the UK City of Culture. 

As the conversation progressed, Mark asked the deputy First Minister about recent and ongoing dissident activity and the high level threat. McGuinness responded by saying that those involved were a "tiny unrepresentative minority."

The esteemed BBC journalist Peter Taylor reported on recent dissident activity and quoted Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, here:
"His [Drew Harris] other concern is that a new generation of young people is being attracted to the dissidents and he described the process with words that I have come to associate more with Islamist extremists than Irish republicans. 
"Radicalisation is happening," he [Drew Harris] said. 
"Young men, even in their very early 20s, are being charged with serious terrorist offences who must have only been very small children at the time of the Good Friday Agreement. 
"They don't have any buy-in to the [peace] process and almost a nihilist response in terms of what a united Ireland would be like. That's worrying."
Peter Taylor then reported that McGuinness called these radicals as "traitors to Ireland".

Peter Taylor then cited Gerry Kelly MLA who he spoke with about dissidents and his former 'comrades':
"I think they are wrong." 
"I don't think they have an analysis. I don't think they have a strategy. 
But you have to deal with fact, that there are some young people in it. 
They get caught up in the ideology. I can understand where they are coming from. 
What I'm more critical of are the ones who - some of them my former comrades - are almost trying to plot a revolution after it has taken place."
Peter Taylor than discussed what he called the "naivity" of the new generation of radicals. However, most interestingly, he said the same "naivity" was applicable to Adams and McGuinness when they were at their radical prime.

"The problem with the dissidents is that they appear to have no coherent and cohesive political programme. 
When all is stripped away, it is "Brits Out" and self determination for the Irish people. 
They do not accept that the cross-border referendum, in which there was an almost unanimous vote in favour of the peace agreement, was tantamount to self-determination. 
Talking to dissidents today reminded me of talking to the Provisional IRA way back in 1972 when the IRA leadership, that included Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, met the Northern Ireland Secretary, William Whitelaw, for negotiations in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk. 
The IRA effectively told Mr Whitelaw that if the British wanted peace, they had to withdraw the constitutional guarantee to the unionist majority and leave by 1 January 1975. The British were appalled at the IRA's naivety. 
Perhaps the light then gradually dawned on Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness, realising that a simplistic "Brits Out" strategy was going nowhere. 
It was three years after Cheyne Walk, that Mr Adams and his comrades in the "cages" of the Long Kesh internment camp began to map out the IRA's long-term strategy that, over two decades later, led to their controversial acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA's acquiescence led to the split in 1997 from which the Real IRA emerged. The following year, they bombed Omagh. 
The Real IRA then split into yet more armed dissident groups that are now bombing and killing to try to destabilise the peace process and carry on from where the Provisional IRA left off.
Peter Taylor continued and explained the salient concerns:
"Leading dissident Londonderry republican, Gary Donnelly, places the 'New' IRA in a longer timeframe. 
"The Provisional movement didn't appear overnight," he told me. 
"It would probably take them (the 'New' IRA) a lot of effort and a lot of time to get up to full steam. 
"But the reality is that (as long as) there's a British presence in Ireland, there will always be a respectable minority who will challenge it and who will use force of arms." 
However, despite his concerns, ACC Harris does not believe there is any danger of a return to the dark days of the past. 
"There's not actually the broad base of support to mount a sustained campaign," he said.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly is even more emphatic. 
"It is not gaining momentum because the people do not want it," he added.
"It's as straightforward as that.""
Here's an example of Martin McGuinness' deep hypocrisy: at a recent North-South ministerial counsel, Martin McGuinness said here:
"[The] good working relationship [between the forces had led to the thwarting of] countless attempts to drag us back to the past."
Read Peter Taylor in full here. The Peter Taylor BBC Radio 4 broadcast, 'The New Dissidents' here.

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