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The refreshing thing is that the old posture is now so obviously out of date as to be embarrassing to many republicans.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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

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

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world