This is not 1884 nor is it 1974. So what on earth is the military or revolutionary rationale for sending letter-bombs to local recruitment offices of the British Army in towns and cities across Britain? How does that in any way shape or form represent an act of military resistance to the continued British Occupation of the northern-eastern part of our island nation? What strategic goal is achieved by such tactics? What political or media gain is accrued from the use of force that is little different from the wild – and ultimately pointless – acts of would-be anarchist revolutionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries?
The prosecution of a war using the militant methods of long dead radicals reveals minds that are frozen in time, in ideology and in vision. It lowers the public perception of the Irish Republican cause to the same level as the nihilist objectives pursued by the Red Brigades in Italy or the Red Army Faction in Germany during the turbulent 1970s. It makes a mockery of the very real and very genuine justifications for previous actions in previous decades and centuries. Actions born out of desperation, violence born out of the infliction of violence. Colonial occupation and exploitation, sectarianism and racism, famine and exile gave birth to the Fenian movements of the mid-to-late 1800s. The young men (and women) who filled their ranks were the children of serfdom, poverty and hunger. They were the ones who saw their prematurely aged parents buried in mass graves, their siblings dying with bellies swollen and limbs shrunken through malnutrition and disease. They were the off-spring of the “coffin ships”. The children of the Irish holocaust.
What excuse, what justification, can there be in the 21st century for the tactics of the 19th? The British continue to claim colonial sovereignty over part of our nation and our people but the modern British are not the imperialist ogres of yesteryear. Yes, in historical terms they have hands dyed red with the blood of our race both in times near and times past. But at some point we Irish must take responsibility for our own bloodletting. I do not agree with military resistance to the British occupation at this time. I do not believe that the end to Ireland’s British troubles can come about through force given the circumstances that currently pertain. However I can, at least, understand the rationale of those who do believe so and wish to prosecute a war to finish what was begun in 1916 (or 1169). To finish the unfinished business.
Yet even those on the armed revolutionary wing of modern Irish Republicanism must see that the sending of letter bombs to locations in Britain simply reduces their struggle to that of the most base form of terrorism and erodes whatever support they hope to sustain or gain. By all means resist the medieval anachronism of British rule in modern Ireland. Resist it politically, linguistically, culturally and socially. Work day and night to extinguish the Northern Pale, to dispatch into the pages of history the last administrative remnants of the British colony on our island nation. But this ongoing campaign, in this form? That is revolutionary madness.
Update: G Ó Cáthasaigh presents another view on the efficacy of armed struggle in early 21st century Ireland over at the Pensive Quill [with thanks to Mary for the link].
i read this with interest. History has moved on. So has the North. The nationalist community are now the majority community, (By a smal margin). At thrr next elections, i expect to See logic and numbers on votes elect a republican head of devolved administration, with a unionist deputy. unimaginable in 1968. so where does that leave Us/ it leaves us with a clear path of politics that inexorably moves towards being able to campaign for a referendum on Reunification of the North. it leads to a realistic expectation of winning that vote, if prepared for properly.it transforms Irish politics, North and South. The problem remains though, that the unionist community, having survived an attempt to bomb them out of the UK and into a united Ireland, is still there.But inexorable events are happening in Scotland, that will leave the North cut off and an anomaly, in a fractured UK. There is also the danger of a Scottish good example. the facts are, simply, that a military campaign is pointless and could not succeed. it could only once again deeply divide the North and lead to much bloodshed. But a massive campaign after the next election for a referendum would have big international impact.. it would also dominate the Moral high ground. internationally and in the UK and Ireland. . Not perhaps as exciting as old style republican romanticism, or repeating history, but much more practical, and inevitably, eventually, successful. Choose one.
A lot of moving on has occurred without any glorious revolution. The vast majority of people within a British 6 county Northern Ireland have experienced 30 years of troubles which still continue for many forgotten ,ignored and used victims. Many were influenced or indoctrinated by similar revolutionary crap . Where were these Patriot Revelutionaries during the troubles as theres plenty now going t save the world. Anti imperialist Class warriors liberating prisoners of Capitalisnm . Oh what a gallant force of Comrades marching to victory.Your revolutionary nonsense is an insult to those still suffering ,forgotten ignored and deceived . Talking this rubbish is not helping any who do not want to go back to hell. This saving the world talk ,armed struggle ,creates a very negative effect on many wounded people. Time would be better spent helping the real comrades than discussing irrelevant class revolutionary salvation Iv watched various blogs here for a while and see creative talented writings on history etc but this other crap serves no purpose as times have moved on . A united Ireland will not be decided by a majority vote as Britain’s owns ,controls the free State`s financial institutions and much more .The Imperliast capitalist thinking majority of comrades within the Free State`s working classes may not want unification. Moreover Europe will decide as it already instructs the Free state Government on running an Ireland owned by foreign powers . I seen somewhere else Are the right questions been asked regarding Republican direction …. Its very possible an old saying applies here . A wise man learns from a fools question but a fool cannot understand a wise answer
The Ireland of 1922 has little bearing to 2014. There`s quite a % of Nationalists weary of what Germany etc may impose on a new United Ireland. This is reality .
Not a failure of vision just the wrong targets. Working class unemployed who join the army are not the enemy. Bomb Garnerville, Tullyallen, the Judiciary.
Excellent article – again – Seamas. Thank you. The GFA has removed all the roadblocks and there wil be a Nationalist electoral majority by mid-2020’s – this is the way forward to the inevitable Re-unification of our country.
So stupid that you would expect Black Ops.
However, it is no doubt the actions of foolish Irishmen. Reminds me of this:
Those driving along the road who continually look in the rear view mirror don’t see the dangers of the present or plan what they may do in the near future.
I would wager that most never lived through the war. They just wished they did. They are on the wrong side of history.
@Ceannaire, I tend to agree. Even in strictly military terms the era of the “letter bomber” is over unless one wishes to be branded a terrorist. Their awareness of modern politics and culture, the importance of PR and propaganda, of public perception, seems to be minimal. We live in a consumerist age. Even revolutions need to sold to the general public.
Corrrect me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there a power-sharing Executive in 1973-74, I distinctely recall participating in it as a first- time voter, the present set-up being largely a tweaking of it–to put it bluntly no need for pointless violence then, no need for it now.
@Ginger, apologies the late reply, extremely busy in my off-line job this weather.
The present arrangement is a considerable tweaking of the 1973-74 Sunningdale Agreement. Arguably Sunningdale was a better deal in some respects for Nationalists than the 1998 Belfast Agreement. However it was primarily Unionists who brought down Sunningdale. It was certainly a missed opportunity on all sides.