A Century of Lost Opportunities

in the struggle for a sovereign 32 county Irish Republic

1900's -- Defiance and Confrontation

In 1900, after eight hundred of subjugation and struggle, Ireland still remained under British control. It was a treated as an integral part of the British Empire, was subject to Queen Victoria and was  ruled from the British Parliament in London.  To all intent and purposes Ireland was a subject nation that could not exercise any degree of political or economic self determination.

 In spite of all of that, as well as the savagery endured at the hands of the oppressor, Irish men and women remained defiant and continued to struggle for freedom and independence.

In 1902, Arthur Griffith, Editor of the United Irishman, presented to the third annual convention of Cumann na nGaedheal the most revolutionary political idea since the fall of Parnell; it was that the elected Irish Members of Parliament should refuse to sit in Westminster, demand reinstitution of the Irish Parliament of 1782, and pledge allegiance only to a king of Ireland, not to the King of England. While the Liberator, Daniel O'Connell, had once considered such unilateral action, he had not forced the issue. Griffith provided a strategy of passive resistance by turning an assembly of Irish MPs into a de facto constitutional convention. Modeled on Frank Deak's policy, which resulted in the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867, Griffith serialized his abstentionist program in the United Irishman as the Resurrection of Hungary, and then published it as a pamphlet and distributed it widely in 1904. The direct result of this idea was the formation of Sinn Féin on 28th November 1905, as an abstentionist political party, with internal self-reliance as its principal plank, pledging never to recognize or use the services or forces of the enemy.

The founders of Sinn Féin were Arthur Griffith, Seán T. O'Kelly, Bulmer Hobson, Countess Markiewicz and Seán Mac Diarmada. In addition to contesting a Parliamentary election in North Leitrim in 1907, Sinn Féin was also active locally, electing a number of men to county councils and other local bodies. (see contributing article)

The Ulster Unionist Council, currently the governing body of the Ulster Unionist Party,  was founded on March 3, 1905 by Edward James Saunderson as an all-Ireland Unionist party. The Council consisted of delegates from the nine Ulster counties and members of the Orange Order, the largest Protestant organization in Ireland. Its main objective was to counter the ongoing campaign for Home Rule and to preserve the union between Ireland and Great Britain.

The stage was set for another century of strife.

1910's --Rebellion and War

The English General Election of 1910 produced a hung parliament in Westminster. The Liberals needed the support of the Irish Nationalist Party to stay in power.  The Irish Nationalist Party agreed, providing that the Liberal Prime Minister, Henry Asquith,   introduced a Home Rule Bill for Ireland.  The Bill was passed in 1912. In accordance with provisions of the Parliament Act of 1911 The House of Lords could not obstruct the bill but only delay its ratification by two years after which it became law. In the meantime, descendants of the earlier Ulster Plantation settlers and elements of the British army conspired to scuttle the deal. Bowing to pressure and using the onset of the First World War as an excuse, Asquith capitulated by making unspecified special arrangements for Ulster.

As a result of this treachery , Eoin McNeil raised an  Irish Volunteer army of thousands. During this same period the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) re-emerged. Originally formed in 1857 they were dedicated to ending the British occupation of Ireland.  Members were called Fenians and had deep Irish-American roots.

The Easter Rising of 1916 was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against British rule in Ireland. The uprising occurred on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and centered mainly in Dublin. The aim of the uprising was to achieve political freedom in a 32-county Irish Republic. 

The uprising began when about 2000 men led by Padraic Pearse seized control of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin and other strategic targets throughout the city. Shortly after the initial deployments, at four minutes past noon,  Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from the steps of the GPO  and announced the establishment of a provisional government of the Irish Republic.

Throughout the night of April 24, additional positions were occupied by the rebels and by the morning of April 25 they controlled a considerable part of city.

The British counteroffensive began on Tuesday with the arrival of reinforcements. Martial law was proclaimed throughout Ireland. Bitter street fighting took place throughout the city during which time the strengthened British forces dislodged the Irish from their positions. By the morning of April 29, the post office building, site of the rebel headquarters, was under violent attack. Recognizing the futility of further resistance, Pearse surrendered  in the afternoon of April 29.

'All changed, changed utterly, A terrible beauty was born.'

The Irish general election of 1918 was part of the 1918 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, general election. It is regarded as a defining moment in modern Irish history as it was the only time the Irish people in all 32 counties voted as an entity. The election saw the defeat of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), of Redmond that dominated Irish politics since the 1880's. It also saw a landslide victory for Sinn Féin whose Election Manifesto was to break free from the scourge of British imperialism and march out into the full sunlight of freedom.

Of the 105 candidates elected to the Irish Parliament, 73 were Republicans and 26 were Unionists. Redmond's IRP party gained only six seats. Sinn Fein garnered 70% of the popular vote. Twenty-four of Ireland's thirty-two counties returned only Republican members. The Unionists gained a majority in only four of Ulster's nine counties: Antrim, Derry, Down and Armagh.

The first Dail Eireann of 1919 was formed from the Sinn Féin candidates returned in the general election of 1918. At its first meeting on January 21, 1919  the Dáil issued a Declaration of Independence and proclaimed itself the parliament of the Irish Republic.

The prerogatives assumed by the Dail included the creation of a viable defense force and the establishment of  Irish missions abroad. On August 11, 1919 the Irish Volunteers took an oath of allegiance to the Dáil and the organisation changed its name to the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

During the War of Independence the Dail established republican "Arbitration Courts" and the IRA acted as a police force in many parts of the country where British law ceased to operate.

The Fist Dáil existed until the second Dail convened on August 16, 1921 when the second Dail came into existence after the elections of 1921.

The War of Independence started on January 21, 1919, as the  fist Dail Eireann met.  Nine members of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Volunteers ambushed a convoy transporting explosives  near Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary. In the ensuing gunfight two members of  the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), were killed. This engagement is widely regarded as the beginning of the War of Independence. Martial law was declared by the British  in South Tipperary three days later. Having demobilized its army after the end of the war, the British responded quickly by raising a military force of irregulars and mercenaries for service in Ireland. Most were recruited from prisons in exchange for a commuted sentence. 

Throughout 1919 and 1920, the Irish Volunteers, renamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in August 1919, attacked RIC barracks in rural areas in order to obtain arms. The RIC retreated back to the larger towns leaving parts of the country under Sinn Fein/IRA control.  

In 1920 the IRA, decided to intensify the war as the ongoing level of activity was not having the desired effect. On 21 November 1920, the IRA shot dead (11)  British agents known as the Cairo gang. Later on that day, the Black and Tans opened fire on a crowd of  spectators watching a football match in Croke Park in Dublin. Twelve (12) spectators  were killed and the day became known as the 'first' Bloody Sunday. Ten days later the IRA retaliated by killing (17) British soldiers in County Cork.

 The war ended in a Truce on July 11, 1921 after Lloyd George issued an appeal for talks with  Éamonn de Valera the president of Dail Eireann

In the first 18 months of the war it is estimated that British forces staged 38,720 raids on private homes, arrest 4,982 suspects, committed 1,604 armed assaults, 102 sackings and shoot-ups in towns and 77 murders. The RIC became the principal target of the rebels. RIC losses were 165 killed and 251 wounded.

1920's -- Capitulation and Sedition

The Government of Ireland Act of December 20,1920 was enacted by the British Parliament at the height of the Irish War of Independence. The Act partitioned Ireland into two sectarian states, namely the (26) counties of southern Ireland and the (6) counties of northeastern Ireland and establishing separate parliaments for each. The Act also repealed the Home Rule Bill enacted in 1912,  gutted in 1914 and suspended at the onset of the World War I.

Elections were held throughout Ireland in May 1921 to elect members to the new parliaments. Sinn Féin participated but refused to recognize the new home rule parliaments. Instead the party treated the elections in both parts of Ireland as elections to the Second Dáil.  

The Act was implemented in Northern Ireland in June 1921. It was not implemented in the 26 counties as the Sinn Fein members refused to attend the opening of the Southern Ireland Parliament. However, in order to comply with British demands, the Act was implemented in the 26 counties in January 1922, to ratify the Anglo–Irish Treaty of 1921 and to put in place a Provisional Government.  Michael Collins was installed as head of the Provincial Government by Britain's Lord Lieutenant in Ireland.

The second Dail Eireann of August 1921 consisted of members returned in the elections of 1921 which, were  intended to elect members to the parliaments of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland  established by the British enacted Government of Ireland Act of 1920.  Sinn Féin participated in these elections but refused to recognize the new home rule parliaments. They treated the elections  as elections to the Second Dáil Eireann. 

The second Dail  convened in August 1921 and functioned until June 1922. One of its most important acts was to bring an end to the War of Independence by approving the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64 to 57 votes. After the pro-treaty vote Sinn Fein members who opposed the treaty left the Dail.

In March 1922 ,Irish Republican Army officers at their Army Convention repudiated the authority of the Dail to accept the Treaty. The anti-treaty IRA formed their own Army Executive which they recognized as the legitimate government of Ireland

 1921 -- Anglo-Irish Treaty -- after numerous attempts to hold a peace conference, with preconditions, with a delegation from the first Dail Eireann of 1918,  Lloyd George, the British prime minister  finally settled for a conference free of conditions to be held in London in October 1921. The president of Dail Eireann, Eamonn De Valera, accepted the invitation and sent Michael Collins to head a plenipotentiary delegation to London with several draft treaties and secret instructions from the cabinet

After six week of negotiations  with representatives of the British Cabinet the Irish delegation signed a compromise treaty on behalf of Ireland. The Cabinet was not consulted prior to  the compromise treaty being signed. Terms of the compromise treaty split the Dail  between those members in favor and those who held out for an Irish Republic as proclaimed by Pearse on Easter Monday 1916.

On January 7th 1922, (64) Dail members voted in favor of the treaty and (57) members voted against.

After the vote, pro-treaty members led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins left Sinn Fein and formed a new Free State party known as Cumann na nGaedhael.  De Valera stayed on as leader of Sinn Fein.

On January 10, 1921 Arthur Griffith was elected President of Dail Eireann . Two days later, as head of the Delegation to London that signed the Treaty, he called into existence the rival Parliament of Southern Ireland, created by the British Government of Ireland Act 1920, to ratify the Treaty and set-up a Provincial Government. In recognizing the Southern Ireland parliament  as the legitimate authority to ratify the Treaty, Griffith ignored the fact that the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was rejected  by the deputies elected to Dail Eireann in May 1921. 

The Civil War started on April 1922, when 200 anti-treaty IRA volunteers led by Rory O'Connor, occupied the Four Courts in Dublin in an attempt to arrest the subversion of the Irish Republic.  A tense stand off ensued until the Free State under pressure from the British government bombarded the Four Courts with artillery supplied by the British.

The bombardment of  the Four Courts provoking a week of street fighting in Dublin City that left 315 dead, 250 of them civilians. When the fighting ended Dublin was in Free State hands and the IRA retreated to their rural heartlands where they engaged in a campaign of guerilla warfare.

Around 3,500 combatants, mostly from the IRA, had lost their lives, along with an unknown number of civilian casualties, a greater number than in the War of Independence. The Free State executed (77) volunteers and many others were executed after been captured by Free State forces. The most notorious example of this carnage occurred at Ballyseedy, Co Kerry where (9) Republican prisoners were tied to a landmine, which was exploded   and the survivors were then machine-gunned. One prisoner, who was blown  over a wall by the explosion, escaped to tell the tale.

The Civil War ended on May 24, 1923 when Frank Aiken ordered the volunteers to cease fighting and dump arms rather than surrender them to the Free State.

 British artillery and the support of the Catholic Church carried the day for pro-Treaty Free State forces.

Fianna Fail was established in 1926 De Valera's motion after a motion he introduced at the 1926 Sinn Fein Ard-Fheis was defeated. The motion he introduced stated  'that the only Republican objection to the Free State was the oath to the English King and that it was removed they would enter Leinster House'.

Opponents led by Father Michael O’Flanagan, defeated his motion by a vote of 223 to 218. De Valera subsequently resigned as Sinn Féin president to form Fianna Fáil. a new Free State party.

 Having a political party that he controlled, De Valera had no problem in his next proposal that his party enter Leinster House, taking the oath to do so, in order to be able to abolish the oath once inside. Fianna Fail members took the oath of allegiance to the King and entered the Dáil of the Irish Free State in 1927.

1930's thru 40's -- Resistance, Emergency Powers and IRA Executions

Throughout the 30's and 40's, the Free State parties including Fine Gael (originally known as Cumann na nGaedhael) and Fianna Fail continued to accede to British demands to clamp down on republicans who continued the campaign against their continuing presence in Ireland.  Ironically, former IRA veterans who succumbed to the lure of power and privilege led the campaign against their former comrades who remained faithful to the Irish Republic or Pearce and Connelly and the other martyrs of 1916.

!n 1938, the Executive Council of the second Dail Eireann delegated its authority to the Army Council. This delegation of authority  was in  accordance with a resolution adapted at the first All-Ireland Dail meeting in march 1921. The resolution stated  that when enemy action has reduced the House to five Deputies "'that it should resolve itself into a Provincial Government" and that "Government should be left to the Volunteers as the Military Body" which was usual in the case of countries invaded.

In  December 1939,  members of the IRA stole most of the ammunition stored in the Irish Army Magazine storage depot in Dublin's Phoenix Park in what became known as the "Christmas Raid". The purported reason for the raid was to replenish the IRA's ammunition supply.

Within a week of the raid, Gerald Boland, the Free State Minister for Justice,  introduced the Emergency Powers bill in the Dail to reinstate internment, Military Tribunal, and executions for IRA members. The very next day  the Emergency Powers Act came into effect

The Fianna Fail government led by de Valera  executed (6) IRA members  in the Free State. Amongst those  executed was Charlie Kerins, the IRA's Chief of Staff. Tom Williams was executed in the occupied six northern counties. 

On Easter Monday 1949, the Free State government, proclaim Eire a Republic, formally breaking the last link to the Commonwealth of Great Britain. The IRA refused to recognize this Republic, still professing its allegiance to the Republic declared in 1916.

1950's  -- The Border Campaign

In September1948, Tony Magan was appointed IRA Chief of Staff by the IRA Army Executive at its convention.  Along with Michael Traynor, Pádraig MacLógáin and Tomás MacCurtáin he immediately set out to reorganizse the political and military wings of the Republican Movement.  At one point or another all of these men had been imprisoned, been on hungerstrike or, as in the case of MacCurtain, sentenced to death. 

Since the early 1930's the IRA and Sinn Fein operated as separate entities with different agendas.  Under the influence of the IRA leadership  Sinn Fein, once again, became the political wing of the Republican movement. 

On 13 August 1955, Ruairi Ó Brádaigh led a ten-member IRA group in an arms raid on Hazebrouck Barracks, near Arborfield, Berkshire. The raid was the biggest in Britain netting a large quantity of  ammunition together with  a number  guns,  rifles and a pistol. Most of the items were later recovered in a garage in north London.

In the 1950s the IRA, under Magan's  leadership, started planning for a renewed armed campaign, In 1956  Seán Cronin, who had considerable military experience, drew up a plan codenamed Operation Harvest. The campaign utilized  flying columns operating from within the Free State attacking military and infrastructure targets in Northern Ireland. In addition, another 20 organizers were sent to various locations within the North to train new units, gather intelligence and report back to the leadership in Dublin.

On New Year's Eve,  January 1, 1957, a unit of twelve IRA Volunteers crossed the border into County Fermanagh to launch an  attack on an RUC/B Specials barracks in Brookeborough. During the ensuing gun battle, a number of Volunteers were injured including Daithi O Conaill, Fergal O'Hanlon and Sean South.  South and O Hanlon later died of their wounds as the unit made its escape. It is estimated that 50,000 attended Sean South's funeral in his native Limerick.

After a raid on an RUC barracks in South Fermanagh in December 1956 some members of the attacking IRA column were captured in Co. Cavan by the Free State police.  Amongst them was Ruairi O Bradaigh, who together with his comrades were tried and imprisoned for six months in the Free State.  While in prison, O Bradaigh was one of four Sinn Fein candidates who were elected Teachtai Dala on an abstentionist ballot. 

In the meantime internment without trial, introduced first in the north and then in the south Upon his release, O'Bradaigh was rearrested and interned in the Curragh Military Prison  with other republicans.

In October 1957, Ó Brádaigh became IRA's Chief of Staff, a position he held until the following year, when he was arrested and jailed under the Offences Against the State Act in Mountjoy. From 1961 to 1962, he was IRA Chief of Staff for a second time.

Internment curtailed military operations.  In February of 1962, the IRA announced that Operation Harvest, its border campaign, was over.

Eighteen people in total were killed during the campaign, of whom seven were members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and eight were members of the IRA. In the Autumn of 1962  Cathal Goulding took over as Chief of Staff of the IRA.

1960's -- Republicans Principles Violated, Occupied Counties Erupt

In the 1960’s the Republican movement came under the influence of Desmond Greaves and other socialists thinkers associated with the Connolly organization in London. In 1962 Cathal Goulding was appointed Chief of Staff  of the IRA. Under his leadership the republican movement lifted the ban on taking seats in Stormont, the six county parliament and in Leinster House, the twenty-six county parliament.  His  acceptance of  the Stormont and Leinster House parliaments caused a split within the Republican Movement into the Official and Provincial wings.  The Official wing embraced socialism  and the Provisional, wing, at that time, continued to embrace traditional republican values.

The Provisional wing of the IRA (PIRA) elected Sean McStiofáin as its Chief-of-Staff at its convention in 1970 and reiterated its rejection of the partitionist parliaments of Stormont and Leinster House and reaffirmed its commitment to waging an armed struggle against British rule in Ireland. Goulding remained as the 'Officials' Chief of Staff.  In 1972 the Official IRA declared an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire.  

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed in January 1967 as a response to decades of Unionist discrimination against  Nationalists in the occupied counties. Inspired by the civil rights movement in the U.S they took to the streets demanding equality in employment, housing, voting rights, police, and civil rights. These demonstrations were met with violent opposition from the authorities. They were attacked and beaten by Unionists mobs led by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and B Specials (militia). Their homes and communities were burned to the ground, many were killed and thousands were forced to flee across the border to the Irish Free State.

During the marching season of 1969,  clashes erupted as the Apprentice Boys marched past the Bogside, a nationalist district in Derry. Protestant mobs assisted by the RUC and B Specials charged the nationalists forcing them into William Street. Within hours rioting had escalated into what became  known as the "Battle of the Bogside".  Members of PIRA joined the Derry Citizens Defense Association (DCDA) in defending the Bogside and its residents against the RUC and the Unionists mobs. The British government sent in reinforcements, supposedly, to protect the  nationalist population,

1970's -- Insurrection and Retribution

By 1971 PIRA had intensified its campaign throughout the six occupied counties to the extent that the British government felt compelled to take action to regain control of the situation.  Operation Demetrius, or Internment without trial as it is more commonly known started on February 9, 1971 and continued until December 1975.

Thousand were interned in the initial phases of the operation. By the end of 1971 approximately 1,000 people, mostly Nationalists, were interned. At the same time that internment was introduced, a six-month ban on public demonstrations was imposed under emergency legislation in force at the time. Instead of quelling the IRA as  the British intended, the opposite was true. The  IRA drew valuable sympathy and support from internment.

The Eire Nua Program  co authored by Ruairi Ó Brádaıgh and Daithi Ó Conaıll was launched in 1972.   The program contained proposals to reunite the British occupied six north-eastern counties with  the 26 southern counties in an all-Ireland federation comprised of the four historic provinces of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. The comprehensive and far-reaching program, which is still on the table, is a constructive proposal for achieving an enduring peace in Ireland in contrast to the failed British schemes such as the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, Sunningdale, Hillsborough and the Good Friday Agreement. All of these schemes were formulated, not necessarily to achieve peace, but rather to copper-fasten and legitimize British control over the occupied six counties.

On Sunday January 30 1972, British soldiers from the 1st Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilian  in the Bogside, Derry. Thirteen demonstrators, six of whom were minors, were killed on the spot and 17 others wounded, one of whom died later in hospital. What has gone down in history as “Bloody Sunday” is a key event in the latest phase of the struggle for Irish freedom and reunification.  The massacre of innocent civilians blew apart British claims that the military were in the province to defend the Catholic minority.

The Sunningdale Agreement of December 9, 1973  was their first attempt by the British to preempt the IRA campaign to force their withdrawal  from the occupied counties and reunite Ireland.  The Agreement included among its provisions, an elected assembly,  a power-sharing executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland. As the result of a failed motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly to condemn power-sharing,  the loyalist Ulster Workers' Council called a general strike for 15 May 1972. On May 28, after two weeks of shortages, rioting and intimidation, Brian Faulkner resigned as Chief Executive causing the Agreement to collapse 

"Ulsterisation - Normalization - Criminalization" was introduced  by the British in 1976 to process political prisoners.  Non-jury courts, the centerpiece of this policy, were constituted to render the same results as the existing policy of internment without trial. This new approach would, in their opinion, mute international criticism and show the world how judicious the British were in handling Irish malcontents.

The new policy utilized a conveyor-belt type system of injustice. After being arrested, IRA volunteers were interrogated and tortured  and then forced to sign self-incriminating statements. Next, they were processed through the no acquittal non-jury courts ending up in the Long Kesh prison camp as before.  This time around they were to be treated as common criminals.

The British felt that this new approach to handling their so-called Irish malcontents was adequate to stifle any future criticism of their political and judicial processes; after all they were dealing with the Irish. 

In September 1976 the late Keiran Nugent became the first volunteer to be subjected to the new policy. He would not accept criminal status and in protest began the ‘blanket protest’. Other prisoners of war (POW’s) soon joined the protest. Over time the blanket protest escalated in the ‘dirty protest’.

1980's -- Collusion and Dishonor

 In 1980 after four years of protest the POW’s decided to stage a hunger strike in an attempt to regain political status. The strike ended after the renegade faction within PIRA’s Northern Command made a deal with the British. The details of the deal, if indeed a deal was made, were shrouded in secrecy. Either way the British ignored it and as a result, the hunger strike ended in failure.

The second hunger strike in 1981 was a different story. Ten young republican volunteers died for their beliefs. The widespread empathy generated by the sufferings and sacrifices of the hunger strikes resulted in substantial gains at the polls in both the occupied counties and the 26-county Free State.  While on hunger strike, Bobby Sands was elected to the British parliament. Paddy Agnew and Kieran Doherty were elected to the 26-county parliament.

The second hunger strike ended with the return of political status for the POW’s.

In 1983 the Northern faction of Provisional Sinn Fein, led by Adams and McGuinness wrestled control of the organization from Ruairi O'Bradaigh by claiming that it was their right to lead the struggle, because the war was fought in the north. Also in 1983, unknown to the Army Council, Adams had engaged in indirect talks with the London and Dublin government's  through Father Alex Reid, a Redemptorist priest from West Belfast.

In 1984,  as the Army Council was planning for a major escalation of the war,  Adams was engaged in talks with the Dublin government regarding a possible IRA ceasefire.  During that period he was also requesting the assistance of the Dublin government to create a "pan-nationalist initiative".

Hillsborough Agreement of 1985 was signed by the London and Dublin governments at Hillsborough, Co. Down on 15 November 1985.  Both Governments agreed that there would be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the Unionist majority, the infamous built-in Unionist veto. Despite the Agreement, the situation in the occupied counties continued to deteriorate.  The unionists, unwilling to accept any Dublin  government's role  in the affairs of the occupied counties withdrew from implementation talks with the British Government  in the summer of 1993.

At the 1986 Sinn Féin Árd-Fheis Adams and McGuinnesss, through a series of dubious maneuvers involving delegates representing 'paper units’,  managed to deep-six the Eire Nua policy document authored by Ó Brádaigh and Ó Connail in 1972, ‘as a sop to the unionists’. They and their cronies also managed to set aside the ban on taking seats in Leinster House thus accepting the legitimacy of the 26-county Free State.

As a result of these dubious tactics that violated the Sinn Féin constitution a substantial number of delegates walked out of the Ard-Fheis led by Ó Brádaigh and Ó Connail. At a subsequent meeting they rejected the renegades tactics as a betrayal of true republican principles and declared that “they a minority had expelled a majority to protect the core principles of Sinn Féin.”

Responding to rumblings within PIRA/PSF following the rejection of the Éire Nua policy document Adams and McGuinness  published a new document in May of 1987 entitled ‘A Scenario for Peace”. What was telling about this document was that it replaced the traditional republican demand for a British withdrawal with an ambiguous demand for "national self-determination". This should have been a wake-up call for those who continued to believe in Adams/McGuinness’s commitment to a 32-county Irish Republic. 

1990's -- Betrayals and Deceit

As a result of ongoing negotiations throughout 1990 with MI6 representatives, Martin McGuinness called for  a formal PIRA Christmas cease-fire. The cease-fire conveyed McGuinness and Adams desire to abandon the revolutionary path in favour of a purely political approach; an approach  more in tune with their own political ambitions

In 1992,  the Provisional movement  introduced a new policy document dubbed  "Towards A Lasting Peace" at its annual Ard-Fheis. This document stated  that the republican struggle could not achieve national liberation and that the creation of a "pan-nationalist alliance" was essential if they were to achieve their objective. What this meant was that  the Provisionals would join with other established political parties who accepted British occupation and the unionists veto as non-negotiable conditions with respect to any political deal regarding the future status of the occupied counties.  The message was clear for anyone listening that the Provisionals would accept a  settlement that would leave the  constitutional status of the six-county enclave unaltered. The publication of that document portended  the most insidious political betrayal in Irish republican history

In early 1995, the Provisionals  stated that they would accept the return of Stormont providing that it was treated as a  "transitional measure". The term 'transitional' would be used by the Provisional leadership throughout the nineties as the rationale for accepting  other agreements that further copper-fastened British control of the six occupied Irish counties and advanced the Provisionals  agenda. While all these agreements were being accepted by the Provisionals they never again mentioned or pursued  any transitional mechanism that would lead to national liberation, their purported objective.

 In June 1997 British negotiators issued an aide memoire (reminder) to the Provisionals of the terms for their entry into all-party talks. The terms  included (1) a declaration of an IRA cease-fire,  (2) a commitment to the Mitchell principles. (3) an acceptance of May 1998 as the deadline for all-party talks. (4) an acceptance of Mitchell's proposals on decommissioning. (5) the initiation of confidence building measures on all sides.

The aide memoire made no  mention of a British withdrawal.

By an overwhelming vote PIRA leaders rejected a new cease-fire thus defeating the five British terms for participation in the all-party talks.  In spite of the PIRA's overwhelming rejection, the Army Council declared a cease-fire on July 2, 1997 without the knowledge or consent of Army Executive or GHQ. At a subsequent meeting between the Army Council and the Executive to discuss the cease-fire, Adams asked the Executive to pass a motion of confidence in the Army Council. The motion was defeated as no one came forward to propose or second the motion.

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was unveiled by the London and Dublin governments on April 10th 1998.  The Agreement, to all intent and purposes, is  a restatement of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and the subsequent Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The GFA did not revoke the partition of Ireland, the prime cause of decades of conflict  and strife. One significant outcome of the Agreement was that the Dublin government relinquished all  territorial claims to the six occupied counties by deleting articles 2 & 3 of the Irish constitution,  thus leaving British sovereignty over the occupied counties unchallenged.

The Provisionals latched on to the agreement, including the deletion of articles 2 & 3 from the Irish constitution, without a question or whimper regarding its 'transitional' credentials. They also agreed to take their seats in Stormont,  a British institution they once vowed to destroy. Taking seats in Stormont,  the nemesis of Irish republicanism, was the most insidious and revolting betrayal in Irish republican history as it discarded to the junkyard of history the premise upon which the Provisionals came into existence in the first place. The decision also gave credence to the British occupiers that the 30 year war was for naught and that the sacrifices and loss of life was unnecessary.

In a rush to surrender all vestiges of resistance to the British the Provos proceeded to destroy stockpiles of arms and explosives. They  agreed to the reform and not the disbandment of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and accepted, as a right, the unionists veto over Irish reunification. Their latest  step in the surrender process was  to join the RUC  from whence they will  try to destroy any remaining resistance to the British occupation.

The reason it is taking Gerry & Co. so long to deliver the goods is not because they are unwilling, rather, it has to do with the quality of goods they are required to deliver. The British want more than stockpiles of explosives and arms they want Gerry & Co. to deliver the ashes of the Republican movement.  After centuries of trying to destroy Irish recalcitrance, the British want it over with once and for all. Gerry & Co. is their best hope. 

After a century of struggle, the British are still controlling six of Ireland's 32 counties. This outcome would not be possible without the readily available Irish touts, collaborators and assassins recruited by and operating on behest of the British. The Provo leadership and their willing followers are the latest crop to grace the British court.

 

The Way Forward

Any political program that does not include the reunification of the Irish nation as a prerequisite is meaningless and doomed to failure from the start.

The Eire Nua program authored by the late Daithi O'Conaill, Ruairi O'Bradaigh and others is visionary in concept and far reaching in that it includes all of Ireland. It offers a solution that guarantees equality and the maximum distribution of authority at provincial and subsidiary levels in a unitary federal system comprising the four provinces of Ireland.  It sets forth specific conditions to start the process of reconciliation and unity including;

A British declaration of intent to withdraw from Ireland,

The convening of a constitutional convention to draft a new all-Ireland constitution

The unconditional release of all political prisoners,

A British withdrawal.

The proposed all-Ireland constitution would embody the following fundamental principles,

A Charter of Rights that would clearly define the rights and privileges to be accorded to each and every individual.

New Governments Structures that would embody a system of power sharing administered at the national, provincial, county/district levels.

The Separation of Church and State would guarantee the various religious denominations the freedom to attend to the spiritual needs of their adherents. By the same token, the government would not be in the business of legislating morality.

An Independent Judiciary that would ensure that the nations' Supreme Court, as guardian of the constitution, would have equal status to the legislative and executive branches of government. The judicial power of the nation would be vested in the Supreme Court.

The National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC) consider the Eire Nua program to be innovative and far-reaching and believes it to be a positive approach that recognizes the rights of all Irish people, irrespective of their ancestry or religious affiliations. For this reason the NIFC has adopted and will promote Eire Nua as the most logical choice to achieve a lasting peace for Ireland.  We believe that this program is based on sound and honorable principles incorporating fair and realistic plans to achieve national unity within the framework of a 32-county Irish Republic.

Contributor - Tomás Ó Coisdealba

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