March 08, 2016

The Good Old Provisional IRA

In 1991, on the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916, Gerry Adams pointed to the Proclamation in the Sinn Fein Press centre, and declared to journalist Suzanne Breen: 
"Would any of the men who signed that document have signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Would Tom Clarke have extradited Dessie Ellis?
No way would those people be involved in talks about talks, rolling devolution, Atkins’ round-table conferences and the whole litany of Sunningdale-Darlington."

He also said:
"If you in any way try to justify 1916, then you can’t say it was okay in Dublin 75 years ago, it was okay for your grandad, but it’s not okay in Belfast or Derry or south Armagh today. If you say today that the IRA is wrong, then they were wrong then as well."
Dee Fennell, dissident republican spokesman, said in April 2015:
"The use of arms prior to 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms in Easter 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms after 1916 was totally legitimate. In the existing political context of partition, illegal occupation and the denial of national self-determination, armed struggle, in 2015, remains a legitimate act of resistance."
The thing about America is, it preaches liberty and freedom, while denying liberty and freedom. In so many ways American society is hugely illiberal. America rejoices in dissent and protest against overbearing government, yet America has cracked down on civil liberties and has serious law enforcement issues. As the red coats killed colonists in Boston so police officers gun down innocents to this day.

In America, it works like this: Domestic dissent bad, offshore dissent good. As Molly Crabapple wrote:
"America loves its dissidents foreign."
And so it is in Ireland; it loves its dissidents dead. As America is a country of immigrants who hates newer immigrants, so Ireland is a country of rebels who hates newer rebels.

James Connolly said Ireland's two traditions, parliamentary and physical force, can no more mix than oil and water. Michael Davitt wrote about how moral force and physical force agitation have worked in cycles - moral force follows physical force in cycles. Davitt also helped bring about the New Departure in the 1880s which saw advanced constitutionalists and moderate revolutionaries, the moral and physical forces, come together to strive for Irish independence.

Brian Feeney wrote in the Irish News:
"Martin McGuinness’s [2014] speech in Derry… Had an eerie sense of déjà vu about it. His appeal to republicans opposed to the peace process to give up violence and adopt the political approach was an echo of many speeches John Hume made in the 1970s and 1980s to the republican movement including Martin McGuinness."
Allison Morris wrote in the Irish News:
"Following the murder of two soldiers at Massereene by dissident republicans in 2009 and the shooting of police officer Stephen Carroll a few days later Martin McGuinness, himself a former IRA man, put himself in a precarious personal position calling those responsible ‘traitors to the island of Ireland.’ 
Given that some of his former comrades had been responsible for founding the Real IRA that claimed the Massereene attack this was a noteworthy political development and caused a massive rift in republicanism. Sinn Féin was heavily criticised from within their own strongholds. 
The party who refused to condemn violence throughout the period of the Troubles was making a massive statement about their commitment to peace with the deputy first minister drawing a clear line between what he saw as the old IRA and those who continued to endorse violence. 
Putting himself in the firing line is something he has continued to do since, meeting the Queen - again to republican criticism - it is McGuinness and not Adams who is chosen by the party to make the dramatic gestures. 
In recent weeks since the murder of Kevin McGuigan senior figures have been lining up to condemn those responsible and call them criminals, despite knowing full well that those responsible are members of the IRA that Sinn Fein once refused to condemn under any circumstances."
Conor Cruise O'Brien wrote that the government in Dublin continued to propagate the fantasy while punishing those who acted on it. 


In November 2014 Gerry Adams wrote on his blog Leargas about 'The Good Old IRA'
"One aspect of the current controversy around how the IRA handled sex abusers during the recent war years is the manner in which Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have rushed to condemn the IRA of that period, while commending the actions of those who fought in 1916 and in the subsequent Tan War."
Adams continued:
"Noonan and Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin hypocritically ignore the brutality and the violence the men and women of that generation of the IRA, led by Collins and others, used to prosecute the war against a numerically stronger, better equipped and professional British Army supported by the RIC, the Black and Tans and the Special Branch. They say it was the good old IRA. Different, they claim, from the IRA of the 70s, 80's and 90's."
And finished by writing:
"And if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and Labour speak of a mandate to wage that war? They should be reminded that no one voted for war in the 1918 election. As in the 70's republicans of that time didn't go to war. The war came to us."
Danny Morrison reminded us that the PIRA were carrying on from where militant republicans had stopped in 1927. Now Adams has adopted Collin's stepping stone strategy.


Michael Martin attacked Adams for his dark past, while Dee Fennel attacked the Uachtarán Sinn Fein for being insufficiently murderous. Meanwhile Adams denounces dissidents as "worse than" traitors.

Dee Fennell, dissident republican spokesman said:
"The use of arms prior to 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms in Easter 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms after 1916 was totally legitimate. In the existing political context of partition, illegal occupation and the denial of national self-determination, armed struggle, in 2015, remains a legitimate act of resistance."
To Michael Martin, "Provisional Sinn Fein" are felons masquerading as constitutional republicans.

To Sinn Fein, Michael Martin is Margaret Thatcher or John Bruton masquerading as a republican.

To Sinn Fein, dissidents are "criminals masquerading as republicans".

To dissidents, parliamentary Sinn Fein are politicians masquerading as republicans - "renegades" and "turncoats" and "traitors" and "former republicans."

On Sunday October 18 2015the leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin addressed the Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown. The Cork man set Fianna Fáil out as real and rigourous republicans, dismissing "provisional Sinn Fein" as unconnected to the men and women of 1916, a “mafia-like organisation” that “dishonoured the Republic.” He said:
"The party which today uses the name Sinn Fein has no right to claim that it represents the men and women of 1916. Founded less than 50 years ago, the Provisional movement waged a campaign in the face of the overwhelming and constantly reaffirmed opposition of the Irish people. It used methods which dishonoured the Republic and its first loyalty has always been to its own and not the Irish people. 
Gerry Adams’s statement last month that Provisional Sinn Fein is “the only republican movement in this island” shows how these people think. Theirs is not the ideology of 1798 and 1916 – it is a mafia-like organisation which is incapable of respecting anyone outside of its own ranks. 
How dare they claim to own Irish republicanism. No organisation which fails to expose child abusers, racketeers and murderers can call itself republican."
At his Arbour Hill address of April 2015 Martin said Sinn Fein are “not republican.”

Gerry Adams responded to the speech, comparing Micheál Martin to Margaret Thatcher. Adams also wrote in his blog on January 2016:
"As it tries to reinvent its image Fianna Fáil has directed part of its negative campaigning at Sinn Féin. Like Thatcher in her day Micheál Martin has resorted to the language of criminalization accusing the party of being like a ‘mafia’ and of failing to expose criminals."
He also said:
"There is undoubtedly concern among many Fianna Fáil people at Micheál Martin’s anti-Sinn Féin crusade. In this centenary year he sounds a lot like Thatcher or former Fine Gael leader John Bruton who believes the Rising was wrong."
Disagreement among believers of the faith is always the most vicious and violent. 

Michael D Higgins opened a bridge named after the Fenian TF Meagher, and said:
"Today, through the naming of the “Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge”, we are inscribing the Revolutionary nationalism of the Young Irelanders as a further layer in the local memorial landscape."
Michael D Higgins also opened a stature to commemorate colonel William Hall Walker, a antique from the now passed British-Ireland.

Ireland is a history of oppression. There was degradation and humiliation, injury and injustice in Northern Ireland against the catholic minority. Peter Hitchens wrote:
"Any sentient person must acknowledge that Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland were severely discriminated against during the rule of Stormont. In housing, employment, policing, justice and voting, the Roman Catholics were a deprived and unfairly treated minority."
But there was also degradation, humiliation, prejudice and injustice in the Free State and later republic, and how were these dissolved? By civil action; not by physical force, murder and bombing.

Oscar Wilde's mother approved of the Young Irelanders but disapproved of the Fenians. John Redmond said in 1908:
"I notice that it is always the scheme that is dead that is approved. You praise the prophets that your fathers stoned and you stone the prophets of to-day."

Anthony McIntyre wrote in 2009 in the Independent following the death of two British soldiers at Masareene Baracks by the Real and Continuity IRAs:
"For Martin McGuinness to denounce them as traitors for following the example he set for decades is to commit an act of treachery against truth."
McIntyre further wrote:
"Political in motivation and republican in ideology, the IRAs that picked up the baton dropped by the IRA which Martin McGuinness once led have no serious degree of republican political support. They constitute a much less robust militarily efficient organisation than the Provisional IRA. 
Their sense of having been sold out by people like Martin McGuinness goes some way towards explaining why they behave as they do. But they are also sustained by the republican tradition of physical force. And within that tradition there is an unshakable belief that so long as there is a British presence in any part of Ireland, republicans will always be justified in bearing arms to strike at Britain and its forces. 
Those of us who have "been there and done that" and who can bear testimony to the utter futility of militarism look on events with a mixture of angst and guilt. Angst because of the lives being destroyed; guilt because the logic we preached in the Provisional IRA is their logic. Treading in our footsteps they will secure the same defeat..."
McIntyre then wrote in 2011 following the murder of Catholic-PSNI officer, Ronan Kerr:
"Gerry Adams who for decades approved attacks like today’s was one of the first to condemn the Omagh incident. There should be a strategic lesson somewhere in there for any republican discerning enough to find it. 
Unfortunately, while a lesson that has been absorbed by many it will never be learned by all. There will always be some who without any chance of altering the future remain determined to repeat the past. 
Ineffectual and immoral, armed republican violence is a scourge that can only deliver blight in place of betterment."
Kerr's murder was a throwback to the tactics of The Troubles when the Provisional IRA regarded Catholic contractors dealing with state forces as “legitimate targets”. A message to Northern Ireland’s Catholic nationalist community not to participate in the institutions of the state – even the reformed ones ushered into being by 1998’s Good Friday Agreement. The same “up and under” Semtex bomb device that killed Ronan was used to kill Tory MP Airey Neave in 1979.

Dixie Elliott said:
"The hypocrisy of McGuinness condemning the bombing yesterday [March 4 2016] when 16 and 17 year olds died carrying bombs under his watch. 
Why didn’t McGuinness and Adams put the policies of SF before the electorate during the 1970s when this same challenge was repeatedly put to them by the SDLP."


Martin McGuinness, "the republican Adonis", said circa 1973:
"It doesn’t matter a fuck what John Hume says, we’ll go on fighting until we get a united Ireland."
Martin McGuinness slammed the taoiseach Garret FitzGerald who on April 30th 1985 shook hands with an RUC officer during a pre-election visit to Derry:
"The image of SDLP supporter Garret FitzGerald shaking hands with a loyalist gunman… should stick in the minds of Nationalists as they go to the polls on May 15th [for the North’s local government elections]."
In 1985, Martin McGuinness, now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, said of Sinn Fein’s electoral performance: 
"Ultimately it is not votes but the cutting edge of the IRA which will bring about freedom and justice in Ireland."
Churchill is well know for the following quote:
"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."
In an interview here, former IRA volunteer Eamonn O Buadhigh said of the Provisional IRA campaign of the 1970s and 80s:
"Terrible things happened in the 70s and 80s. Awful things happened that in no way could I condone, but I do understand. I personally couldn't have anything to do with them, or approve in any kind or way."
Fellow former IRA member Tony Meade said in the same video:
"Were things worthwhile since 1969? No. Too many people died. Too many people died needlessly. Too many innocent people killed in the whole struggle. It's very hard to justify it in terms of what has now been achieved."
The reason I quoted Churchill was because just as Eamonn O Buadhigh denounced the dissident republican insurgency of the 70s and 80s, now a more senior Martin McGuinness (leader of the IRA in the 70s and 80s) is now denouncing the most current generation of republican dissidents, who he called "traitors to the island of Ireland."
"These people are traitors to the island of Ireland, they have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island. They don’t deserve to be supported by anyone."
Martin Walton of Old IRA spoke to Robert Kee of the BBC about the Provisional IRA, he said:
"I’m not going to criticise men who are fighting…"
However, his Old IRA colleagues of the late 1970 part with on this point. Matt Flood of the Old IRA said
"I don’t agree with the tactics… I don’t agree with them. Too many innocent people getting knocked out."
R. McCorley said:
"I cannot stand it. I have no sympathy with it in any shape or form."
Vinny Byrne said:
"They should never have been allowed to call themselves IRA men at all…"
Sean MacEntree said:
"They are preventing the ultimate Union of the Irish people… Hearts and minds… We have two traditions and they must be welded…" 
BBC correspondent, Peter Taylor provided a fascinating analysis on the latest generation of extremists. He said of his interview with Assistant Chief Constable, Drew Harris:
"I wondered if there was intelligence that other groups were contemplating joining the 'New' IRA? "We would watch very carefully for that," he (Drew Harris) said."    
Peter Taylor also said:
"Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has not pulled his punches in confronting the so-called "dissidents". There is no doubt about his visceral loathing, having steered the Provisional IRA from "war" to peace and power-sharing at Stormont. To call the dissidents "traitors to Ireland" with the PSNI's then chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde, standing at his side, was about the most damning insult that he could pay them, many of whom are his former comrades in arms. Nor was he daunted recently when the PSNI warned him of a serious death threat and his house was daubed with paint."
Fintan O'Toole said of McGuinness and his peers in their youth in 1998 in the New York Review of Books:
"Most of the current leadership of Sinn Fein is made up of men who were, in the 1960s, angry young Catholics."
Tom Kelly setting Gerry Kelly's IRA narrative straight, wrote in the August 19 edition of The Irish News:
"Gerry kelly recently said young people like him in the early 1970s had no choice but to join the IRA but that is simply not true. Back then as now they had choices. The Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 was actually stronger in nationalist terms than either the Good Friday or Saint Andrews Agreement. The vast majority of young nationalists did not join the ranks of the IRA. Had they, the Maze would have been five times the size it is."


The ‘Real IRA’/Oglaigh na hEireann shot dead two soldiers at the Massereene Barracks in Antrim. Sappers Mark Quinsey, (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21), from Birmingham and London.

Less than 48 hours later,  a Continuity IRA sniper killed PSNI officer Stephen Carroll responding to a call in Craigavon.

McGuinness said in 2009 following the murder of two soldiers at Masareene Baracks that the “war is over” and described the attack as “totally and absolutely wrong”:
"I was a member of the IRA but that war is over now. The people responsible for last night’s incident are clearly signalling that they want to resume or restart that war. Well, I deny their right to do that."
McGuinness said in April 2011:
"They are involved in a useless war against peace… They are enemies of the peace, they are the enemies of the people of Ireland. 
The people who murdered Ronan Kerr need to consider all of that, consider how isolated they are, and they need to bring their activities to an immediate end."
Martin McGuinness said in 2012:
"People who think that a new Ireland can be built without unionist participation, involvement and leadership are deluded… [I don’t] want the children of Ireland to live through the pain, conflict and hurt that we lived through."
McGuinness said in 2014:
"In 1994, dialogue offered the only way out of perpetual conflict and Irish republicans entered that dialogue confidently…
Successive agreements supported by the vast majority of the Irish people have removed any rationale for armed struggle and have put in place peaceful and democratic alternatives."
He also said:
"I would urge dissident republicans still committed to armed actions to take that same step in 2014 into politics and away from conflict… There can be no return to the violence and repression that scarred this society for so long."
McGuinness said in May 2015 in a joint statement with Peter Robinson:
"This murder and these attacks and all other forms of violence are to be condemned. Attacks such as these are designed to take us back and they will fail. 
We must create a community where everyone feels safe and we will not be deterred by the bullet or the bomb and urge anyone with any information to bring it to the PSNI. 
Peace and democracy is the only way forward."
McGuinness called the Real IRA who were responsible for the Masereene murders and the killers of Stephen Carroll "traitors to the island of Ireland". He has also spoke of "so-called dissident republicans."

Adams denounced the 2009 killers, saying:
"They showed that recently [they have capacity] and three people are now dead, a number of people are injured. And the fact is that the rest of us, and that’s right across this island, have said we don’t want it.  
That’s why I make the point that they shouldn’t have any room to breathe, that no one should support them, give succour to them, join them or work with them.”
In a January 2013 interview with Tara Mills Gerry Adams spoke of "Those masquerading as republicans [who] killed the two British soldiers and the PSNI officer."

Martina Anderson said in April 2014 at Milltown cemetary:
"They are criminals masquerading as republicans no matter what names they attach to themselves. Their actions sully the name of Republicanism."
After a Sinn Fein party activist was hurt in a booby trap bomb in South Armagh, suspected by dissident republicans, The Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy said:
"Over recent months criminal gangs masquerading as republicans have threatened the family of the young man injured. Police recently visited the family and told them there was a threat from this group. 
Now these people have attempted to kill a member of the family with a device placed close to their home. 
In recent months death threats have also been made against a number of Sinn Féin activists, including myself. 
Let me be absolutely clear: this was the work of a gang of criminals and I unreservedly condemn this latest cowardly action. These thugs are opposed to the peace process and opposed to policing because of their involvement in organised crime."
Following the shooting of Ex-Continuity IRA (CIRA) figure Tommy Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex, Mairtin O'Muilleoir told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight:
"There are some micro groups of criminals masquerading under an assortment of republican labels. They have no support within the community. 
I wouldn't under any guise brand them 'professional' but they certainly are killers... They have nothing to offer to the people of Belfast. 
Sadly they clearly have access to guns and they have murderous intent and they are willing to kill those with whom they disagree."
He also said:
"They are dinosaurs trapped in the past and I urge everyone to work with the police to remove them from our streets."
Sinn Féin Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley said following killing of Kevin McGuigan:
"The public out there know there were two ceasefires. They also know the IRA decommissioned its weapons. They will also be aware that the IRA stood down. 
There may be some other groups out there masquerading as some kind of IRA or some other type of organisation, such as the Real IRA, so-called Real IRA or the Continuity IRA, or whatever they like to call themselves. 
But what I would say to those people, as an elected representative of Sinn Féin, is that they should disband, they should go away. They have no contribution they have to make to society."
In May 2014 Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has branded those responsible for a shooting, the issuing of death threats and the burning of a lorry in Ardoyne overnight as criminals masquerading as republicans. The North Belfast MLA said:
"This series of incidents which included a local man being shot and wounded, the issuing of several death threats and  a lorry being burned must be condemned outright. 
Those responsible are simply criminals masquerading as Ardoyne republicans. It's as simple as that and the people in the area know that. 
There is no place for such actions in Ardoyne or anywhere  else and I’m calling for the threats to be withdrawn. 
Most bizarrely, those responsible for burning the lorry have attempted to accuse the contractor of installing water meters. 
For these criminal elements to dress their activity up as an attempt to stop water charges flies in the face of the fact that water meters will not be installed because Sinn Féin secured a political agreement to block water charges."
Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann said following the killing of former Continuity IRA figure Tommy Crossan:
"It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends. 
This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away."
After the home of Daithí McKay in Rasharkin, North Antrim was attacked in April 2009, the Sinn Féin MLA said:
"Anti-social elements carried out a number of attacks on property in the village over the weekend. Local people are disgusted at these people coming into this village to start trouble and destroy property. 
This criminal group have aligned themselves with so called ‘dissident’ groups and some are clearly involved in drugs. Republicanism is nothing more than a flag of convenience for these people. 
Sinn Féin will not allow members of this community to be intimidated or held to ransom by hoods or criminal elements of any nature. We said that we will stand toe to toe with these people and that is exactly what we will do. It’s time they got off the back of this community."
Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey condemned those behind the bomb scares, which come after a prison guard was injured in a bomb attack in the east of the city on Friday March 4 2016:
"Devices were left close to two homes in west Belfast over the last 24 hours. 
I condemn unreservedly the people behind these attacks who have succeeded only in putting the lives of local people at risk and bringing disruption to the community. 
It's understood these attacks are linked to a despicable attempt at extortion by a criminal gang masquerading as Republicans. 
These people should end their criminality now and get off the backs of the community."
Even the CIRA denounces groups it sees as dissidents, writing in its communiqué against a breakaway faction south of the border:
"The good name of the republican movement, valid since 1986, is under attack again. Criminality masquerades as republicanism and confuses the Irish people. The name of Republican Sinn Féin and of the Continuity IRA have even been stolen by a minuscule local grouping in its reckless attempt to bewilder further those who stand for the full freedom of Ireland."


When Martin McGuinness appeared on the June 27 2013 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."


The Provos succeeded in entering the same Dáil as their earlier  opponents, giving in to pragmatism to advance in the name of republicanism. Gerry's northern deputy, McGuinness, is the caretaker and administrator of a state that he vowed to overthrow.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh said in his 2008 speech
"Republican Sinn Féin, standing in direct lineal succession to the United Irishmen of 1798, the Young Irelanders of 1848, the Fenians of 1867, the 1916 Rising and the First (All Ireland ) Dail, will not “just put up with” English rule here... 
The people’s struggle here in our time was never so close to ending British rule as it was in 1921. The English regime in Ireland never had as close a call as it had in the 1970s and ‘80’s. As in 1921 the resistance collapsed due to a failure of leadership."
Republican Sinn Fein advocates an All-Ireland Federal Democratic Socialist Republic. Darragh MacKintyre called Republican Sinn Fein "the political cheerleaders of the Continuity IRA". Deaglan De Breadun called Sinn Fein the "Provos brass band". 

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Presidential Address delivered by Republican Sinn Féin President, November 2008, said:
"Persons who themselves participated in resistance in the past, and who encouraged others to do so, have now gone so far as to turn their coats completely inside out. Irish history contains many examples of such renegades and today’s turncoats will in the future be remembered with Carey and the others who paid the price for their despicable actions."
Ruairi O'Bradaigh said to Henry McDonald in 2009:
"When I heard it, I thought immediately ‘Who is the traitor?’ Is it those who just behave as they always behaved and believe sincerely as they always believed in republican struggle? Or are they the people who turned their coats like McGuinness, accepted British rule, destroyed the arms, who said they would never accept a unionist veto and now have done so? In my view, McGuinness has abused words."
He also said:
 "The record stands. People were shot dead for doing that [informing] and, just as I would say the Provos should not be calling on people to join the British forces, I would also say that they should not call on people to give information to the British occupation regime in Ireland. Because that is treachery and they [the Provos] are the very ones who called it treachery and carried out certain consequences for those unfortunates who informed."
Republican Sinn Fein spokesman Richard Walsh responded to McGuinness's "traitors" statement: 
"I think he’d need to look closer to home for who are the traitors, frankly."
McGuinness was called "traitorous" for meeting with the Queen in 2012 by Linda Nash.

Eirigi did not comment on McGuinness’s statement, but spokesperson Breandan Mac Cionnaith said:
"The only threat we pose is to the British occupation of Ireland. While that British occupation continues there will always be people willing to resist."
Ruairi O Bradaigh said in his 1986 Ard Fheis Speech:
"Sitting in Leinster House is not a revolutionary activity."
In 1986 Ó Brádaigh said:
"The armed struggle and sitting in parliament are mutually exclusive."
Mr Mickey McGonigle, a former Sinn Fein councillor in Dungiven, Co Derry, said republican activists should not trust their leaders:
"Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness promised no return to Stormont, yet that is where they are going."
Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Fein said in the 2014 Presidential Address to the 110th Ard Fheis that Sinn Fein are "former republicans" who will collaborate with whoever is willing to facilitate them:
"A New Ireland will never emerge from either Leinster House or Stormont, it will only come about by the will of the Irish people sweeping away both partitionist states and breaking the grip of the new imperialism of the undemocratic EU Super State."
The Republican Sinn Fein POW Department said:
"Raymond McCartney’s call for tighter security in Maghaberry jail shows that the Provo poacher has fully turned British gamekeeper."
A unnamed dissident said at a Wexford rally, March 2009 at an annual ceremony commemorating the 1923 execution of three IRA men who resisted the partition of Ireland more than 80 years ago
"Let me send this message to Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. We are not the traitors. We stand fast to the 1916 proclamation democratically endorsed in 1918; it is you who are the traitors."
In 2009 O’Bradaigh denounced Martin McGuinness as a “turncoat” after the deputy first minister condemned the killers of two British soldiers as “traitors”.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh said in Presidential Address at the Republican Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis in 1998, following the signing of the Stormont Agreement:
"Republican Sinn Féin had stated when the Framework Documents were issued in 1995 that what Irish People were facing was a repeat of Sunningdale with the Provos on board this time. Indeed, the British Prime Minister Edward Heath at the time of the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 is reported as saying (Irish Times, October 20) that “the Good Friday Agreement was modelled on Sunningdale”. He continued: “We know the people who were working out the new agreement went back over the whole of Sunningdale and more or less copied it”. But the Stormont Deal was actually less than Sunningdale. The l973 Agreement provided for an evolving Council of Ireland while the1998 accord contains the possibility of merely cross-border bodies which would be responsible to the New Stormont and cannot grow and develop without the permission of that Unionist-dominated assembly. 
Further, the 26-County State has paid more for the Stormont Agreement than it did for Sunningdale. Articles 2 and 3 of the 1937 Constitution were not given away in 1973; in 1998 they were and the Nationalist people of the Six Occupied Counties were reduced – in the eyes of the 26-County State – to the level in rights of people with one Irish grandparent living as far away as Australia or New Zealand… 
The sacrifices endured between 1973 and 1998 cannot be validated by them on that basis. The Stormont Agreement was railroaded through nationalist Ireland; people were stampeded on the basis that the alternative was war, and the Agreement was not assessed on its merits or demerits."
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is often-quoted as saying:
"As long as British rule remains in Ireland, there will always be a section of the Irish people resisting this British rule."
Ruairi O'Bradaigh said:
"As long as the British remain in a part of Ireland, there will always be some kind of IRA to stand up to them."
Antaine Mac Dhomhnaill wrote:
"Republicans are outraged at the slandering campaigns being waged against opposition to Sinn Féin, and are truly appalled by the arrogance and sheer detachment that witnessed wealthy ageing men condemn the sacred dead as liars: but Republicans are denied a voice by the establishment and it will soon be hushed."
An "influential individual" from Republican West Belfast who was prominent in the development of the Provisional IRA in 1969 and who left for Republican Sin Fein and the CIRA after the 1986 split, said:
"They always have to find a term. I don't know what anyone else thinks but if he [Gerry Adams] calls me a dissident to me it's a badge of honour."
Olga Craig described in 2010 how republican youths hold parliamentary republicans in total contempt. In Ardoyne "a swaggering teenager in a hoodie, his face swathed in a Manchester United scarf to conceal his identity, stared straight back at Bobby Storey" and said:
"Shove off, old man. Sure, you sold out your community. Just so that the likes of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness could parade about in posh suits and sit up in Stormont. What do they care about the Ardoyne now? You lot don't speak for us any more. Why don't you just f––– off."
A rioter from Ardoyne told Olga Craig of the Telegraph in 2010:
"We need to be better organised next week. Adams and McGuinness can whine all they like. They're yesterday's men. They have no stomach left for the fight. Neither have our fathers. They are old, tired men, ground down by 30 years of war. We are just being blooded for the next 30."
Republican Sinn Fein said in a press release from December 2015:
"The 26 County Free State was set up in 1921 by the British Government with the aid of willing recreants under the threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’, it is not the inheritor state of the legacy of 1916 and what that rising represented. As such it is not in line with the sovereign first and second Dáil Éireann. 
This inherently imperialist, collaborative and corrupt state-let has had the brass neck to accuse Irish Republicans, who have no allegiance other than to the Republic Proclaimed in arms in 1916, of attempting to hijack the legacy of 1916. 
Let us consider the fact it was under an oath of allegiance to the British monarch that the Free Stater’s murdered and executed former comrades in the Republican Movement. That they hijacked the flag of the Irish Republic, the Tri-Colour. That they stole the national anthem and all the trappings and emblems of the Republican Movement to rewrite history and quell the revolutionary aspirations of true Irish Republicanism."
It continued:
"The revolution of 1916 remains unfinished business, and no amount of historical revisionism will deflect from the truth of the present situation and the truth of history. We call on the Irish people not to be ignorant of the real business of 1916, to aid ending the occupation in the Occupied Six Counties and to support Sinn Féin Poblachtach towards the goal of a United and Independent Irish nation."
Republican Sinn Fein said in February 2015 in a speech delivered in Beirut, Lebanon:
"The occupied 6 Counties still under British imperial rule, and the pro-EU, neo-liberal, capitalist and corrupt South, the Irish Freestate. Both governments in the North and the South are characterized by the Republican Movement as pro-imperialist and not representative of the will of the Irish people since they were installed under British occupation. Therefore, they are a direct product of the colonial rule in Ireland and bare their legacy."
The speech finished:
"We all here at this conference, the Irish Republican Movement as well as all my comrades in this panel and in this hall here today, we know that we are no terroristWe are progressive, revolutionary freedom fighters! This is the very reason why the imperialists and the political establishments label us “terrorists”. Well, to be sure, under those circumstances it is an honour to be called a “terrorist” by those imperialist forces imprisoning our comrades and torturing our people!"


Barry Flynn wrote in 'Soldiers of Folly - The IRA Border Campaign 1956-1962’:
"There was an old adage that used to adorn the gable walls in Belfast which said: "Out of the ashes of ‘69, Arose the Provisionals”. This may be true to an extent, but the roots of the Provisional movement are to be found primarily in the abject failure of the 1956-1962 border campaign.“
O Bradaigh was part of the planning group and second in command in the western attack. As IRA chief of staff he penned the ceasefire standing the organisation down and bringing a formal end to the border campaign. In 1968 when protestant gangs started attacking Catholic areas, only six guns could be found to defend burning homes. O Bradaigh with Sean MacStiofain and Seamus Twomey began recruiting a new IRA and seeking money and weapons.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh featured on TG4 and spoke about the long term success of the border campaign:
"But the strong guns and heavy equipment we needed didn’t come. It never arrived from America. The equipment never arrived. But what was worse was that the money from America failed to arrived. 
We knew at that time that we were history in the making. The army was together, the weapons were safe. We knew in our minds that better times were ahead. That conditions on the ground would be more favourable to put up a fight. And that’s what happened in the end."
Gerry Adams wrote on his blog:
"From the 1950s border campaign, to the civil rights in the 1960s, to providing safe houses for IRA volunteers and supporting the hunger strikers, many good and decent Fianna Fáil people supported the demand for freedom and."
As I wrote in a previous blog post, the Troubles is a title that should cover all violence, from 1916 to present.


A republican sympathiser told Carl Dinnen of Channel 4 News that the purpose of Ronan's murder was "To disrupt the normalisation of the six counties."

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Presidential Address delivered by Republican Sinn Féin President, November 2008, mentioned "normalisation" no less than 5 times. Firstly:
"In 1915 Pearse and his comrades inserted into the constitution of Conradh na Gaeilge that its objective was to promote a free and Gaelic community and that the wish of the people of Ireland for emancipation and freedom was the mainspring of the Conradh. At a special Ard-Fheis last April a new constitution was adopted which omitted these objectives. 
This move was another chapter in the “normalisation” which began formally with the perversion of a majority of the Republican Movement to constitutionalism in 1986."
Secondly he said:
"In particular, the Gaelic Athletic Association -- arguably the strongest community organisation in Ireland -- has been subjected to attempts to make it a vehicle for the normalisation of English rule here."
Thirdly he then said:
"When the GAA dropped Rule 21, which prohibited British forces from membership, in 2001 we warned that further demands would be made on the Association -- and so it has come to pass with the national fabric being stripped away before our very eyes and British occupation normalised."
Fourthly he also said:
"Yesterday morning a seminar was held to assess our preparedness to mount a credible and effective campaign. In the wake of the Lisbon Treaty, the worsening economic situation and the ongoing normalisation of British rule in Ireland, it is critical that a Republican, radical and progressive alternative is put before the people."
Fiftly, he also said:
"In keeping with their desire for modernisation and “normalisation”, so-called, these paramilitary police dislike being called “the RUC”. But we know them for what they are -- the direct agents and enforcers of British rule here."
Republican Sinn Fein said in April 2012:
"The state visit by the British monarch to the 26 Counties in the past year – the first such in 100 years – was intended to normalise British rule in Ireland and put the seal on the current sell-out of the Six Counties to England. Republican Sinn Féin's protests on that occasion delivered a clear message... Roger Casement got the English hangman's rope but those who use his name allow themselves to be exploited by Stormont just as others contribute to the city of Derry – historic Doire Cholm Cille – being the British 'City of Culture' in 2013. Those who pay the piper undoubtedly call the tune!"


Martin McGuiness in 1986 gave his famous abstentionism speech. Speaking at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Dublin, November 2 1986, McGuinness said:
"I can give a commitment on behalf of the leadership that we have absolutely no intention of going to Westminster or Stormont. As regards to my contributions in the run up to today’s debate, I have steadfastly refused to become involved in a public slanging match with those who oppose this motion, but issues have been raised by some of the defenders of abstentionism that need to be confronted and challenged. They argue that some TDs entering Leinster House will make it impossible to conduct armed struggle against British rule in the 6 counties. They tell you that it is inevitable certainty that the war against British rule will be run down. These suggestions deliberately infer that the present leadership of Sinn Fein and the leadership of the Irish Republican Army are intent on edging the republican movement on to a constitutional path. To bolster their arguments, they draw a comparison between a pre-1970s leadership of the republican movement which had surrendered before the war began, and the present leadership of this movement. 
Shame — Shame — Shame. 
Successful electoral strategy in the 6 counties is testament enough of that government’s inability to overcome the resistance of a new generation of IRA freedom fighters supported on equal terms by articulate and committed Sinn Fein freedom fighters. It will be a sad day for this movement that the record of the present generation of republican soldiers and Sinn Fein activists needed to be defended on this platform. Sadly the inference that the removal of abstentionism would lead to the demise of military opposition to British Rule has indeed called into question the commitment of the IRA to pursue the struggle to a successful conclusion... 
But we are not at war with the government of the 26 Counties — the reality of this fact must be recognised by us all. And, in accepting this reality, we must also accept that after 65 years of republican struggle, republican agitation, republican sacrifice, and republican rhetoric we have failed to convince a majority in the 26 counties that the republican movement has any relevance to them. By ignoring reality we remain alone and isolated on the high altar of abstentionism, divorced from the people of the 26 counties and easily dealt with by those who wish to defeat us. Such a situation cannot be allowed to continue and this leadership is charged with the responsibility to make our struggle more and more relevant to Irish people... 
If you allow yourself to be led out of this hall today, the only place you’re going - is home. You will be walking away from the struggle. Don’t go my friends. We will lead you to the republic."
Kevin Toolis gave some commentary on the 1986 speech:
"In his keynote speech McGuinness was repudiating what had been sacred republican doctrine. He was rejecting the civil war theology, the sacrifice of generations, and the ideology of denial which just years before had obliged both himself and Volunteers like Seamus Finucane to refuse to recognise courts. To refuse legal counsel, and voluntarily to consign themselves to decades of imprisonment."
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, was twice chief of staff of the IRA between 1958 and 1962, then President of Provisional Sinn Fein from 1970 to 1983, then later President of Republican Sinn Fein from 1987 to 2009

In 1969 the Official leadership in Dublin refused armed support to Catholic communities in the North as the “Troubles” erupted, O’Bradaigh led a walkout to form the Provisionals. The IRA’s Marxist leadership, based in Dublin, saw limited utility in “the armed struggle”.

In 1986, 17 years later, Gerry Adams’s readiness to join the peace process brought a vote by Sinn Fein to end “abstentionism” and take its seats in the Dail. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh led a further breakaway to form Republican Sinn Fein, opposing the peace process to the end.

Ed Moloney said:
"The Provos are different from any other republican organization, including the old IRA. They’re in the Defender tradition — full of people who joined just to defend their own streets, especially in Belfast. If they came from the Wolf Tone tradition, they’d have had problems ditching the ideological high ground. But they didn’t. They got stuck on guns — decommissioning — since guns were their raison d’etre, as defenders of Catholics."
Henry McDonald said:
"CIRA grew out of the split in 1986 and regards itself as the more ideologically pure, true inheritor of the republican tradition. Both organisations though have one thing in common. They believe that Sinn Féin's participation in a power-sharing devolved government still ultimately dependent on the UK amounts to a "sell-out" of republican principles." 
Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Féin said:
"At critical junctures in the history of the Republican Movement, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, along with his close friend and comrade, the late Dáithí Ó Conaill, manned the gap against the forces of reformism who sought to convert a revolutionary movement of national liberation into a mere constitutional political party, first in 1969/70 and once again in 1986."
An Easter Rising veteran was executed by De Valera. Martin McGuinness said on the RTE broadcast 'Ireland's Hated Hero - Eamon De Valera' (circa 1990s):
"Many people within republicanism are quite critical of Eamon de Valera because he was a person who typified the republican tradition, who was true to the cause, but who in the aftermath, particularly in the years in which he came to power in Ireland turned out to be probably even more vicious against republicanism than many of his predecessors."
The "Good Old IRA" Adams wrote about proscribed, prosecuted and executed post-1927 IRA members. De Valera went further than McGuinness, he hung IRA member and didn't give them a soldier's death. For some the Free Stater army were more brutal even than the Black and Tans. 

In 1986 when once again erstwhile Republicans took the road to respectability and the parliamentary woolsack and sold out true Republican principles. 

  1. 1969-70 The IRA divides into the Official and Provisional wings. The Provisionals oppose moves to recognise both parliaments on the island of Ireland and concentrate on political struggle. PIRA's emergence coincides with loyalist attacks on Catholic homes in Belfast. Ultimately it was the loyalist incursions of August 1969 that caused the fissure. What starts out as a Catholic defence organisation quickly transforms into the most dangerous violent insurgency in western Europe. As Niall Ó Donnghaile said: "The IRA needed people to become the most effective guerrilla movement in Europe."
  2. 1975 The increasingly political Officials split again and a faction that wants to return to violence, the Irish National Liberation Army is formed. Four years later, INLA kills Margaret Thatcher's close ally Airey Neave in the Houses of Parliament.
  3. 1986 A split within Sinn Féin over Gerry Adams's desire get the party to recognise the legitimacy of the Irish Dail produces another divide within PIRA. Those following Ruairi O'Bradaigh and the newly formed Republican Sinn Féin establish the Continuity IRA. It holds that the Irish Republic continues to exist and that the Continuity Irish Republican Army Council is its de jure government (see Irish republican legitimatism). At the centre of those who helped to re-organise as Republican Sinn Féin were key people who formed the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin, including Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Des Long, Joe O'Neill, Frank Glynn, and Dáithí Ó Conaill.
  4. 1997 Following an IRA conference, a minority faction opposed to Sinn Féin's deepening involvement in the peace process sets up the Real IRA. After the Good Friday Agreement peace accord is signed in 1998, the Real IRA carries out mortar attacks and, in the single biggest atrocity of the Troubles, a bomb at Omagh kills 29 men, women and children.

Henry McDonald said:
"It is also worth pointing out that the term ‘dissident republican’ was first used not to describe the modern Real or Continuity IRAs. 
In fact, it was coined in the mid-1970s when the Official IRA was engaged in a shooting war with the fledgling INLA. 
The INLA later evolved into a small, but murderous group which exploded bombs in the House of Commons car-park, killing Airey Neave - one of Margaret Thatcher’s closest aides. It also committed one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles - the 1982 Droppin’ Well massacre."
Liam O Ruairc wrote in March 2008:
"The so-called 'peace process' signalled a major shift for Provisional republicans. On 30 March 1912, eighty years before the Provisionals published Towards A Lasting Peace Padraig Pearse had already warned republicans about the dangers of 'peace': 
"However dangerous the fight or battle, the peace is much more dangerous. The Irish never lost anything in battle, only their lives. They often lost their good name, honour or reputation in the peace; i.e. they were often put to shame in peace." 
The shift from armed struggle to a 'peace process' represented essentially the strategic failure of provisional republicanism disguised as some ‘new phase of the struggle’. It is often claimed that in the late 1980s there was a position of "stalemate"."


"Paddy Devlin, like Adams, negotiated with the British in 1972, though he goes unmentioned in Adams’s memoir. An IRA internee in the 1940s, he was subsequently a socialist, trade unionist, local politician, organise of Catholic defence groups in the 1960, founder member of the SDLP, and consistent scourge of the provisional IRA - whose zero-sum game-plan he blamed for the parlous state of both politics and communal relations within the province. Devlin and his like came to place their faith not in the ruthless nostalgia of utopians, hugging the received imaged of their youth, but in local cultural initiatives, rebuilding local industry and encouraging integrated education: expecting change to follow slowly in a Northern Ireland already very different from the time-warped Slough of discrimination which it was in the early 1960s."
Anthony McIntyre explained, August 10 2013:
"In the wake of last night’s anti internment rally some Belfast Felons Club Officials have taken to complaining about the fact that one of the marching bands stopped outside the premises to give the politics of the people behind the club a bit of Stick. What the club Officials found irascible was the playing of a tune that has great emotive resonance in republican history and folklore, Take it Down from the Mast. It seems to have been as well received as an electric shock. 
There are few republican songs more potent than this for reminding those who have signed their names on the partition line that they can no longer lay claim to the mantle of republicanism. While it was initially used to goad the ‘Free State’, it was, post-1970, articulated into Provo tauntology and spat out in drinking clubs and marches as a means to rub it up the Official Republican Movement. Reworked, it ran:
Take it down form the mast Irish traitors
It is the flag we republicans claim
It shall never belong to the Stickies
They have brought on it nothing but shame
There is no doubt that on this occasion it was done purely to wind the Shinners up, to remind them that as they had, in a breach of Official copyright, taken on the Stickie crown, they could also take some of the Stick that goes with it. The late Dolours Price would have enjoyed the spectacle, appealing as she did on the Blanket, 'Take those down from the mast and save some of your dignity, Sinn Fein.' 
There appears to have been no pre-planning, instead being a response to a facetious shout made by a marcher, himself a former internee, to play it. A spontaneous one off most likely, perhaps not to have a chorus at future events, it sure conjured up a risible image of people being caught out and knowing it. 
Apparently some former internees were mortified that anybody could possibly treat them as they had once treated the Stickies. To make matters worse, they had their evening’s drinking disturbed by people who were wondering what any ex-internee would be doing boozing when there was an anti-internment march going by. At the very least those ex-internees among the drinkers might have been expected to come out and applaud the marchers. It is unlikely that any tune would have entered the repertoire had that happened. 
I don’t want to complain too much about people doing other things while marches are going on because I didn’t go to the march myself. But spare us the crap about ex-internees being in the bar who by virtue of their one time sojourn in the internment camps are a privileged crew who must be spared from the normal political jibes and ribbing that lesser beings must endure. Paddy Devlin was an ex-internee but it didn’t stop the Provos picketing his house, accusing him of not backing the hunger strike. 
While the thought of them standing there, Stick as a parrot, it was probably the most effective retort yet to Martin McGuinness’s traitors sleight which he hurled at republicans while he stood in the company of the leader of the British police in Ireland and the leader of British unionism in Ireland. 
In Dublin today at a funeral the view was expressed to me that the cement holding the march together was probably anti-Sinn Fein sentiment. My response: then there is a lot of anti-Sinn Fein sentiment. The size of the march alone is evidence that the centre of republican gravity has found a new home in which to anchor itself, something that had to have penetrated even the most unremarkable of brains. 
The offended boozers standing on the wrong side of the barricade can only stare and fume like their offended boozing forebearers who congregated in clubs such as Cyprus Street while republicans marched outside against injustice. What really Sticks in their craw is that one tune from the biggest republican march in years reminded them of what they had become."


Speaking with Henry McDonald in 2009 Ruairi O'Bradaigh gave a chilling warning to young Catholics who were thinking of joining the police, having been encouraged by Sinn Fein to do so, O'Bradaigh said:
"I think that's a very unwise thing to urge people to do because that's obviously going to put them in harm's way. Which is a very grave responsibility to undertake. My advice would be 'don't join up' and I think it's wrong to encourage young people to join the British forces."
Ann Travers said in 2016:
"Danny Morrison, the IRA and people like you discriminated against Catholics and families like mine, by telling us who we could work for and where we could socialise. 
"Miss Travers death was regrettable but understandable as her father is a member of the British judiciary.” Don’t preach about discrimination, you are shameful."
Tom Travers said in 1994:
"On the day my lovely daughter was murdered her killer tried to murder my darling wife (Joan) also. At that time Mary lay dying on her mum’s breast, her gentle heart pouring its pure blood on to a dusty Belfast street. The murderer’s gun, which was pointed at my wife’s head, misfired twice. Another gunman shot me six times. As he prepared to fire, I saw the look of hatred on his face, a face I will never forget."


Gerry Adams spoke at the centenary commemoration for O'Donovan Rossa. He drew a line of succession from Rossa to Pearse and right up to Bobby Sands, for whom he had much to say. Adams jibed and sarcastically congratulated the government, “The fools. The fools. The fools”, for endorsing O’Donovan Rossa’s methods, echoing his blog post on ‘The Good Old IRA‘ as he tries to crow bar the Provisional IRA campaign of homicide, bombing and assassination into the acceptable mainstream of republicanism. Something even the leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin stridently objects to. Adams bellowed:
"Today is a reminder, as the events of the Centenary of the Easter Rising in the coming months will be reminders, that the business of Pádraig Mac Piarais and James Connolly and Constance Markievicz and Bobby Sands and Máiréad Farrell is unfinished business. Some people in high places do not like to be reminded of that unfinished business."
Carla King, peerless in her expertise on Michael Davitt, highlighted that Davitt saw O’Donovan Rossa as a dangerous buffoon and that, given his devotion to terrorism,  wrote:
"[It is] deeply saddening that… the first act in our official commemoration of the 1916 events is to honour a man who dedicated his life to attempts to bomb his way to Irish independence."
Gerry Adams is working to merge different periods of Irish history into one neat commemorative parcel wrapped in a green Sinn Féin bow. Diarmaid Ferriter asked some questions:
"In relation to the 1916 centenary, political parties will craft their own narratives, some more selective than others and some for the purposes of a crude marrying of different eras of history. 
Gerry Adams, for example, after the recent state funeral for Thomas Kent, suggested other politicians should “hang their heads in shame” over an inconsistent approach to “Irish patriotism”. He maintained they eulogise the “good old IRA” of the war of independence period, “but then the hunger strikers of 1981 and other heroes of that period don’t deserve the same honour”. 
Conscious of the era we live in however, he did add “you do have to judge every event and everyone in their own time”. 
This is the kind of rhetorical balancing act common with contemporary Sinn Féin, but how serious is Adams about context, complications and contradictions in relation to the history of Irish republicanism during different eras? 
After all, in 1980, Adams wrote to Bobby Sands to tell him Sinn Féin was “tactically, strategically, physically and morally opposed to a hunger strike”. 
Will such inconvenient truths be overlooked in a desire to merge different periods of Irish history into one neat commemorative parcel wrapped in a green Sinn Féin bow? 
There is also the question of what constitutes the “national space”. Sinn Féin is determined to run a series of events commemorating 1916 in parallel or in opposition to state events, having declared the government’s plans are “shambolic” and inadequate. One Sinn Féin initiative, unveiled in its 2016 programme, is “The Rising 2016 son et lumiere”. The intention is to use “the portico of the GPO as a giant screen. The Rising 2016 will run nightly from 24 to 29 April 2016 and will depict through 3D video mapping projection the story of the 1916 Rising played out on the actual headquarters”. 
All very nice, I’m sure, but what right has any political party to claim ownership of the GPO, which is very much a “national space”? Such hijacking should be stoutly resisted."
Fintan O'Toole wrote:
"At a number of levels, Sinn Féin’s operation south of the Border has been hugely impressive… But the pre-democratic past hasn’t gone away, you know. The old leadership still seems obsessed with seeking a retrospective endorsement from the southern electorate for its morally catastrophic campaign of violence. The irredentist side of the party is still focused on using power on both sides of the Border to force through a referendum on a united Ireland that would achieve nothing except a possible reignition of sectarian conflict."

Read my previous post on Sinn Fein revisionism here. My previous post on general 1916 revisionism here.

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