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Ireland’s Realpolitik

The Official IRA discusses “itegrated” education policy with the BBC, 1975. And not a well-known newspaper columnist or two in sight.
The Official IRA discusses “itegrated” education policy with the BBC, 1975. And not a well-known newspaper columnist or two in sight.

From the Irish Independent newspaper an example of how the establishment in Ireland, political, media, business and judicial, differentiates between the revolutionaries it approves of or co-opts (the good “terrorists”) while rejecting as anathema the revolutionaries its disapproves of (the bad “terrorists”):

“OFFICIAL IRA members went on a top-secret training mission to North Korea, where they were taught assassination techniques and bomb-making skills by the totalitarian regime’s military. Former members of the republican paramilitary group have disclosed details of their 1988 terror trip to Pyongyang in a new book.

North Korea Undercover by BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney, reveals how the Official IRA men delivered a gift to President Kim Il Sung to thank the dictator for his support. It was a beautiful piece of Belleek porcelain, over 100 years old, which they had deliberately stolen in Belfast for their visit.

The military training mission took place at a time when the Workers’ Party, formerly the political wing of the Official IRA, had four TDs in the Dáil.”

Of those four elected Workers Party members of Dáil Éireann in 1988 two later joined the Labour Party (Proinsias De Rossa TD and MEP, and Joe Sherlock TD), one was appointed by a joint Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government as a circuit court judge (Pat McCartan) and one remained with the WP until his death (Tomás Mac Giolla). Several other members of the Workers Party from that era now serve as members of the current Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government including Eamon Gilmore (leader of Labour, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Pat Rabbitte (Minister of State for Commerce, Science and Technology).

Welcome to fíorpholaitíocht as we know it in Ireland.

3 comments on “Ireland’s Realpolitik

  1. It would be interesting to see the 4 amigos get the Adams treatment – when did you join – when did you leave – what do you know.

    But I think we have to recognise there is difference between the Official and Provisional movements in terms of the extent and longevity of their campaigns and what the relationship of the 4 individual above to violence at the point at which they entered public life.

    I’m pretty certain that the OIRA have gone away (you know) but I wouldnt bet quite so much that PIRA have gone away (although accepting they are largely dormant)

    Would you?


    • There have been occasional forays at the Workers Party windmills (Democratic Left-Labour splitters included), notably by Jason Walsh, but most journalists and newspaper and TV editors have shied away from too close an examination. No doubt because of the light that might be reflected back on their own political histories. We all remember the days of “RTÉ-OIRA” to borrow a phrase. How many hacks in the Indo group were once upon a time card-carrying members of OSF and WP?

      I’m pretty certain that the OIRA has not gone away. Though whether four or five individuals and some hangers on constitute an “army” is debatable. Admittedly their concerns are more about in-house discipline and creative accounting.

      As for PIRA, pikes in the thatch. But the basic structure is still relatively intact, c.f. IRA 1962-69. Its all about a network of contacts rather than organisation.


  2. The OIRA have not gone away.


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