The IRA must climb down and give ground on arms

Share

The IRA may be moderating the tone of its new year messages, but it still has a nerve in arguing that all the problems of the peace process, and by implication all the woes of Ireland, can be laid at the door of the British government. Once again, according to its traditional new year statement, the Brits are to blame; once again there is no hint of remorse about all those early graves filled with almost 2,000 IRA victims.

The IRA may be moderating the tone of its new year messages, but it still has a nerve in arguing that all the problems of the peace process, and by implication all the woes of Ireland, can be laid at the door of the British government. Once again, according to its traditional new year statement, the Brits are to blame; once again there is no hint of remorse about all those early graves filled with almost 2,000 IRA victims.

As usual, the IRA statement was terse and austere; as usual, it had that tone of lofty statesmanship associated with an organisation which still, technically at least, regards itself as the legitimate army of Ireland.

The good news is that no one now takes any of this too seriously. As the IRA reiterates, it retains the aspiration of achieving a united and independent Ireland; the difference is that nearly all republicans now accept that this is not going to come about as a result of IRA violence.

That haughty tone once had the most lethal implications, in that it was used to claim legitimacy for killing and bombing. IRA statements used to say, pitching their message in terms of a fact rather than a threat, in sorrow rather than in anger, that violence would go on as long as there was a British presence in Northern Ireland. In those days they regarded violence as a pure thing, while politics was a sordid mess to be avoided at all costs. That message has now gone, but the mock-statesmanlike tone remains.

The refreshing thing is that the old posture is now so obviously out of date as to be embarrassing to many republicans. Modern republicanism is still a balance between the IRA and its political representatives in Sinn Fein, but the latter has abandoned almost all of the old self-righteous stance. Now in the ascendancy, it is clearly in the business of wheeling and dealing, of making trade-offs and settling for compromises. If anything it has become almost too skilled in the art of the possible: many of those who do direct business with the republicans come away amazed at their negotiating skills.

This can be a problem, in that Sinn Fein has successfully brought almost all republicans with it on its long and tortuous journey, whereas the Ulster Unionists, though more numerous, are hopelessly fragmented and therefore weakened.

The unity of purpose of both republicanism and Unionism is about to be tested once again this month, when the peace process hits its next set of rapids. Successfully negotiating these will require give and take on all sides. Most of all, it will require the IRA to get down from that rhetorical high horse and pragmatically provide the movement on arms which will be essential to the survival of the peace process.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London