was a deeply flawed majoritarian state that needed radical reform
to make Catholics equal citizens.
But as every year goes by, it becomes clearer that
it was not worth the loss of a single human life.
Violence should be reserved for situations where there is simply no hope of progress through voting, argument
and democratic means.
This was simply not the case in
The oppression was modest,
and the violence, as every year goes by, looks more and more like the real oppression.
SF-IRA, to me, as a voter of the Republic of Ireland,
stand for the past.
They stand for a (Gaelic, Celtic, socialist)
Catholic tribal state.
They do not understand the South
if they think this is appealing.
We had a Catholic tribal state, and it took a long fight
to get rid of it and establish the current diverse, secular state.
We're not going back.
Was the real but modest oppression suffered by NI Catholics worth the loss of a single human life?
I think obviously no.
Northern Ireland was a flawed state,
a majoritarian democracy
which needed to be reformed into a liberal democracy.
But it does not seem to me that it was ever flawed enough
to justify an armed campaign against it.
In the end in 1998, the state was reformed
and is now based on liberal democratic principles.
Maybe the violence brought this about,
and it would never have happened otherwise.
Maybe it would have happened anyway,
and the violence delayed it by decades.
I don't know.
But even if the violence did bring this reform about,
it still wasn't justified.
The war inflicted immense
suffering (on all sides)
out of proportion to the (many) flaws of the
Northern Ireland state.
This holds for the Old IRA too.
Their violence helped reform the state in 1922,
and implemented the democratic will of the people,
which had been expressed in elections for decades but ignored.
was it worth it?
Was it worth all that suffering?
Was it worth the destruction of the
Public Record Office?
I personally would trade our independence from Britain
just to get the
Public Record Office back.
It is not illogical to believe
that an armed campaign is unjustified
and at the same time the
fundamental issue is the reform of the
There is a lesson
from Northern Ireland
for other internal conflicts
we need to distinguish between these cases:
conflicts where one side should simply be destroyed,
e.g. Baader-Meinhof, Aum Shinrikyo, Al-Qa'ida
conflicts where a new political settlement is needed
as well as (or instead of) militarily opposing
the armed group,
e.g. Northern Ireland, Israel
(of course the Israelis themselves accept this)
In Northern Ireland's case, the state did need reform,
and that is what solved the conflict.
the policy on Northern Ireland
was to treat it as a security problem only.
of the IRA and their apologists.
Refusing to negotiate with terrorists.
Banning them from speaking on radio or TV.
Treating them as
insane, as criminals with no political motive.
There was a moral high ground to it,
but pragmatically it did not serve the purpose
of shortening the war.
The policy of trying to
a liberal democracy was never tried.
These guys want to kill us anyway,
March 15, 2004,
on the difference between Islamist terrorism
and IRA or ETA terrorism.
He notes that (hopefully) the advent of
insane (kill all the infidels)
terrorism will finally be the death knell
of traditional cause-based, 1960s revolutionary terrorism:
"Despite Gerry Adams' attempts to
distinguish between "unacceptable" terrorism and the supposedly more beneficial
these days it's a club with only one level of membership.
That's why so
many formerly active terrorist groups have been so quiet the past couple of
years. In that sense, Bush is right: It is a "war on terror", and on many fronts it's
I link to republican sites
on this website,
and I believe they should be allowed to exist.
Section 31 of the 1960 Broadcasting Act
prohibited the broadcasting of any material seen as promoting or inciting crime.
This was used to ban Sinn Fein and other violent groups
from the airwaves from 1972 to 1994.
Oddly, their literature was never banned.
I was always opposed to Section 31. I think for two reasons:
I am far more in favour of jailing and deporting enemies of the state
than in censoring their speech. Censoring their speech seems like a restriction on
the rest of us
- in denying us the knowledge of what they really stand for and what they say.
I do not like being kept in ignorance and innocence by my government.
As another example, there have long been calls for a full public inquiry into the killing of
I am opposed to this,
unless there is going to be
a public inquiry into
Bloody Friday, Jean McConville,
the Birmingham bombs,
the La Mon bombing,
Hyde Park, Regents Park
and all IRA actions,
and all actions carried out by present day Sinn Fein members.
I presume nationalists would be in favour of that?
In a sense, I'm not opposed to a Finucane public inquiry at all.
I'm just opposed to selective inquiries.
If the choice is public inquiry into none
or public inquiry into all,
I choose public inquiry into all.
I want to know who killed Pat Finucane.
And I want to know what present day Sinn Fein members did,
and who they killed.
I think we have a right to know the truth.
The problem with setting up a
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
is that the violence is not over.
Sinn Fein / IRA is still killing people,
and does not want us to know who did it.
And Sinn Fein / IRA wants to reserve the right to kill more people in the future.
"Let's take the analogy of Fianna Fail again.
What if a group of Fianna Fail members had murdered a man following a Fianna Fail day out?
What if they had opened him up from his belly to his neck and left him to die on the side of the road?
And what if Bertie Ahern knew all about it but did nothing for three weeks? And what if when he did do something,
he merely suspended the guys from Fianna Fail? What if he refused to say people should go to the gardai.
And what if he stood by while local cumann members terrorised witnesses out of going to the gardai?
We'd be appalled. Bertie Ahern would have to resign, the Government would fall and anyone involved would be
drummed out of public life. But this is what Sinn Fein think they can get away with.
They even get self-righteous about it."
The crime and killing continues:
The IRA robbed the
in Dec 2004,
holding terrified innocent families hostage.
The majority of voters reject their arguments,
and have demonstrated this rejection again and again
Instead of accepting their election loss, though, SF-IRA want to override it.
As Amir Taheri
"Those who can never win elections, always take to the streets."
A Sinn Fein / IRA poster at my workplace said the following:
7000 Brit troops in IRAQ
14000 in IRELAND
GET THEM OUT
The answer is very simple.
Neither country is "occupied".
In both countries,
the majority want the troops to stay
(see opinion polls for
In both countries,
the people can freely vote
for parties that demand immediate withdrawal of the troops.
The people have chosen not to vote
for such parties
(see elections for
At any time they are free to change their mind, vote for withdrawal, and then the troops will
Until then, it would be absurd for the troops to withdraw just because some minority wants it.
If Sinn Fein can point to a single
in either country
where the majority demand immediate withdrawal,
then they can truthfully call these countries "occupied".
If you know of any,
tell me here.
In the absence of any such evidence, Sinn Fein should shut up.
These countries are not "occupied".
They are responding in the normal way to the democratically expressed wishes of the people.
Members of all four groups have been linked to the riots
in the press reports I've read.
In case anyone had forgotten, violence is what republicans do,
by Brendan O'Connor, sums up the Dublin riots of 2006:
"It is republicanism, the violent tradition of republicanism,
and indeed republicanism's reverence for violence,
that allowed what happened yesterday to happen.
They tore apart our town, they tried to kill our cops, they ripped our fire engines to bits.
They attacked the heart of this country and the very people we trust to protect that heart
and it is Irish republicanism's twisted morality that made this acceptable."
Bringing Northern violence to Dublin may appeal
to some of the south's criminals,
looters and general street scum,
but it has limited appeal to the quiet southern voter.
"Today's riots just show how out of touch so-called Irish nationalists are with the rest of us."
The attack on Asians on Westland Row
shows how close NI sectarianism is to
They can't stand our ancient Protestant community
now they can't stand newer immigrants either.
Three Asian shop assistants were dragged from the Centra store
and beaten up in the street by the bigots.
Everyone was worried that the Republican dissidents would carry on large-scale
violence after the ceasefire.
In reality, with the appalling exception of Omagh,
there was little difference
in the level of
"anti peace process" Republican dissident violence and "pro peace process" SF-IRA violence
since the ceasefire.
If we exclude Omagh, SF-IRA has killed more people since the ceasefire
than the Republican dissidents.
Sinn Fein introduced this way of behaving to UK and Irish politics.
Now the same weapon is being used against them.
Will Gerry Adams and
Mitchel McLaughlin feel guilty now
about what they did to their unionist political opponents?
The Omagh bombing.
This is all that the dissidents will be remembered for.
If nationalists are going to compromise, and stay in the UK for the forseeable future,
then the UK must welcome them as
(as it should have welcomed all the Irish in the past, but never did).
These trivial, symbolic changes would be so easy to make, and only good could flow out of them:
Repeal the offensive Act of Settlement of 1701.
Scrap the Oath of Allegiance.
Make it absolutely clear that every office in the state (including the prime minister and the monarch)
can be occupied by a Catholic (or indeed an atheist).
of course is dominated by a reference to the opposing tradition.
In Northern Ireland, play both anthems, or play a neutral anthem like
The real discrimination
and modest oppression ended years ago.
For many years now, the only "oppression" has been symbolic.
And fighting that is not worth the loss of a single human life.
Ireland, north and south, is full of placenames that have been anglicised from the old Irish name.
(For example, Dublin.)
Roadsigns in the south include the old Irish name, which is rather poetic.
Roadsigns in the north do not.
(Left) Road sign in the south
shows the old Irish names.
Google Street View.
(Right) When you go north of the border, however, the Irish vanishes.
Google Street View.
The Irish language now has some
official status in NI.
Including the old Irish name in road signs would be a nice, poetic, symbolic change.
And the symbolism is not that the north is going Irish.
The symbolism is that northern nationalists are staying in the UK.
Who I block:
I will debate almost anyone.
I love ideas.
I will not debate (and will block) people who do the following:
(a) Make threats.
(b) Accuse me of crimes.
(c) Comment on my appearance.
(d) Drag in stuff about me not related to the topic. (My professional career, my personal life.)
(e) Complain to my employer.
Yes, people do all these things.