Door to dialogue wide open – but will dissidents step inside?

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Just a few days ago on his twitter account Martin McGuinness posed the question: “I’m willing-are they?”

It was a response to the editor of this website Eamonn Mallie who had argued that if you want an end to violence, then there is no alternative to talking.

 

 

So, what McGuinness was doing was confirming once more that he is ready for such a dialogue with those in the republican community still involved in armed actions.

These are the groups described under the label of dissident – among them a new IRA coalition and other armed factions including Oglaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA.

The intervention by the Deputy First Minister came just days after police interrupted a planned mortar bomb attack in Derry, and after McGuinness had been advised of yet another threat to his life from within that fractured and fragmented dissident world.

Such threats have been made before and not just in relation to McGuinness, but Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly also.

Up to this point, those behind them have not crossed the line to do what has been threatened and if they did that would open up a very serious and dangerous situation within the republican community.

These things cannot be dismissed, and nor can the offer to talk.

McGuinness is not alone .The SDLP MP Mark Durkan has also made clear that his door is open.

So, there is an opportunity for those who dissent from the peace strategy and process to be heard, but it would also mean having to listen – to answer questions as well as ask them.

Will they explain the purpose of armed actions and what they think can be achieved?

Are their wars really with the British or are they with those in the republican community with whom they disagree?

Why did some of those now involved in the dissident groups travel so far with the Sinn Fein peace strategy before jumping ship?

What is their political alternative to that strategy?

Can they justify bringing young people into another war that cannot be won?

There are those in the wider political frame who will always be opposed to a talking initiative, and who consider this type of dialogue to be pointless and wrong; wrong because they see it as caving in to violence and threats, and pointless because they argue that those involved in armed actions won’t listen.

 

Fr Alec Reid

 

In the 1980s when the IRA armed by Libya was involved in another surge in its ‘long war’, there were those who took the risk of talking – people including Fr Alec Reid and the then SDLP leader John Hume.

Just recently, we were reminded of their efforts in the deeply emotional documentary 14 DAYS produced by DoubleBand Films for the BBC.

That talking did not deliver instant results. Indeed as it happened the dialogue was both damaged and undermined as the IRA launched what came to be known as the “Semtex War”.

This week’s documentary prompted me to read back on republican briefings in that period of 1988 as my journalist contacts with the IRA and other groups were developing.

Republicans were both speaking and practising war.

 

 

“Victory is not inevitable…victory has to be worked at,” I quoted a senior republican saying in March that year.

“Volunteers joining the IRA know their prospects are death or a long jail sentence.

“What the IRA is saying is we understand that, but we’ll still fight.

“We’ve buried a lot of people. We know what suffering is all about.”

I included those comments in a news report for the Irish News on March 1 1988 (above).

 

 

Just weeks later republicans emphasised that the SDLP/Sinn Fein talks of that period were not about an IRA ceasefire and as 1988 developed the briefings signalled the beginning of a concerted campaign linked to the 20th anniversary of the deployment of troops here.

As far as the IRA was concerned the political talks had not produced an alternative to “armed struggle”.

At that point, the easy option for Fr Reid, Hume and others would have been to walk away, but they persevered.

The talks moved off-stage. They were not seen and a long dialogue eventually produced an end to the long war.

It was achieved through talking, ceasefires, decommissioning and a formal end to the IRA armed campaign.

So, talking works and, however difficult and controversial, it should be tried with those called dissident.

Indeed I have argued that if they won’t come to the talks, then the talks should go to them.

Recently in An Phoblacht Sinn Fein National Chair Declan Kearney wrote: “Sinn Fein’s position is very clear.

“We want to engage with you, but there is no longer a political context justifying the use of any armed activity…

“We must do our best to open on-going discussions and contacts with other republican parties and groups who differ from or who are opposed to Sinn Fein,” he wrote.

 

General view of the scene in Derry/Londonderry on the 4th March where police officers are believed to have intercepted a van containing an explosive device.

 

It takes two to talk and, in the context of this type of dialogue, many more than two.

Have those behind the current armed actions heard McGuinness, Durkan and Kearney?

Are they willing to talk and are they prepared to consider an alternative to armed activity?

They can’t argue that they are being locked out of dialogue.

The door is wide open and the challenge for them is do they have the courage to step inside.

 

 


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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process and contributed chapters to 'Reporting the Troubles' and 'Brexit and Northern Ireland: Bordering on Confusion'.

13 Comments

  1. Brian,
    Some gems from an “army council” person from “Oglaigh na hEireann” interviewed by Allison Morris:
    “We would only be interested in taking part in talks if they were about negotiating withdrawal and ending British interference in Irish affairs and if they took place within a tight framework…Until Sinn Fein recognise that everyone who opposes their current path cannot be dismissed away with a wave of the hand and labelled ‘criminals’ and that there are those who believe physical force to be a viable tactic then there is no point.
    There has never been a mass appetite for violent insurrection in Ireland. The leaders of the 1916 rising were spat on by Dubliners.
    Until we have negotiations about a deal that addresses withdrawal, as far as we’re concerned Irish people will continue to fight against British occupation.
    Look we realise any guerilla army requires a degree of support, which would be seriously tainted if civilians were hurt or killed…We’re always just one more Omagh away from a forced ceasefire. That’s a situation no-one wants and that’s a road ONH will not be going down.”
    The full grandeur of this interview is at:-
    http://winnowinghistory.blogspot.ie/2010/08/we-say-stop-dissident-republicans.html though I note it was in the Irish News of 23 August 2010.

    Perhaps I’m wrong; but I infer that “Oglaigh na hEireann” are saying (as others have said before) that we, the Irish people, are entitled to our opinions, and to vote as we please – but they will ignore both, if it suits them. What would rule by people who think this way be like? I don’t really want to find out, nor would any sane person.
    Martin McGuinness – and others – offered dialogue with these people in the past, and were rebuffed. Has something changed? It would be good if it had. He followed a similar path, once, and something changed for him.
    Your question as to whether they have the courage to engage in dialogue won’t move them if they believe, as I think they may, that NOT engaging in dialogue is a more courageous path.

    • If dialogue is achieved it will be about talking and listening – and not just about what the dissidents have to say. Do they really believe continuing armed actions are going to force a British withdrawal? Do they they really believe that armed actions will force a re-negotiation of political agreements? Everyone knows the answers to those questions. So, what is their fight really about? They need to explain.There should be space in the republican community for a second or different opinion, but no space for armed actions.

      • Barney,
        Maybe they DO believe these things. In fact, these chaps seem pretty clear-eyed about what they want, I think: a “British withdrawal”.
        How are they to achieve it? “We intend to nick at the heels of the Brits to eventually force them into a situation were they open up negotiations on the issue of British interference in Irish affairs.” The interview makes it clear what “nicking at the heels of the Brits” means: tout court, bombing – avoiding another Omagh débacle to be sure; bad for the image, they say.
        They are seriously deluded, I believe. Their politics are fascistic; their tactics inhuman; their strategy (to paraphrase Dev) ill-conceived, ill-considered and futile for the achievement of the stated purpose; and their professed “republicanism” bogus, inasmuch as it demonstrably doesn’t, encompass any real concern for the welfare, safety, well-being, rights or opinions of their fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen.
        Asked whether they would consider speaking to either government in the future, their spokesman said: “Well it’s a situation that has not yet arose (sic) but we need to be pragmatic about these things. There has never been a war situation anywhere in the world that hasn’t been resolved without dialogue and talks” – but only about a “British withdrawal”.
        If these people are now in a place where they can see some benefit in any kind of dialogue – never mind of the constructive variety – it’s not at all apparent to me.
        I suggest that for them, their delusions are internally consistent. To whoever will sit down to talk with them – eventually – I sincerely say, good luck with that.

        I’ve gone on too long. Sorry.

        • I’m convinced they know their ‘wars’ are going nowhere. A lot of of what we hear from them is big talk, and the vast bulk of planned activity is interrupted because it has been compromised both internally and by the monitoring of the Security Service and police. There are people in the different armed factions who have been around long enough to know these are pointless wars. A dialogue with them would not be a negotiation along the lines of what can we give you to stop, but rather a reality check Yes they should be entitled to have a different opinion, but there can be no space for armed actions. The talking is a challenge for the broad Catholic, nationalist/republican community and the sooner it happens the better. It’s about trying to save lives.

          • John Loughran on

            Again Brian your recent posts have prompted me to share some observations and thoughts that hopefully offer something to the debate. I have however took a different track arguing that this dialogue is not for Martin McGuinness alone to lead but should be led by him and our First Minister jointly.

            That we are in a dangerous place is a basic statement of the obvious – our conflict cycle over 40 years has taught us that violence fills the void when people are not talking, not engaging or not involved. The upsurge in Republican dissident activity that has tragically claimed lives recently – while putting countless others at risk – alongside the street protests associated with the flag dispute create conditions that are ripe for exploitation by those elements opposed to the peace process as again highlighted in Glengormley last weekend.

            This reading of the situation has again prompted the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to pose the question: “I’m willing-are they?”

            This high level intervention is yet another effort calling for direct dialogue with anti-peace process Republicans. But it also raises the question as to why our First and deputy first Ministers are not making single calls for inclusive dialogue to engage dissident republicans when they both have the interest of the north of Ireland at heart?

            In 2013 it is simply not viable for senior politicians to talk solely to their own side when they are responsible to govern for all. This is an extension of the same argument that I made on this site recently critiquing the design fault at the core of the Unionist Forum for not engaging and talking to Nationalist and Republicans.

            Conversely it is not for Martin McGuinness alone to engage anti peace process republicans when he is part of a power sharing Executive. In essence if all our politicians stand on the side of the peace process then it should follow that any engagement with anti peace process elements must be driven jointly by those who hold a joint office.

            In essence the cycle of conflict will only be broken by a collective political leadership that is – Sinn Fein and the DUP – publicly committing to making the Assembly and the Executive work for all and engaging all forms of disaffection collectively within that political framework. In this case both Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson must seek to engage and dialogue with the violent strands of Republicanism and those Loyalist communities disaffected and disenfranchised by the peace process.

            Having listened to Sunday Sequence at the weekend and watched 14 Days it is clear that the peace process has delivered much to be protected and we have travelled a huge distance. No longer are we are on the cusp of civil war as we were in the dark days of November 1987 when so many lives were tragically destroyed in Enniskillen or in March 1988 after the many lives lost after the funerals of the deceased from the Gibraltar shoot to kill operation. The dialogue led by Fr Alex Reid demanded that others took risks to end teh conflict.

            What we now need is a symbolically significant societal dialogue led by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson that reminds each and everyone of us of the distance travelled from those dark days and of the importance of not taking the peace process for granted. We all now need to go back to basics and remind ourselves that it was dialogue, leadership and imagination that delivered the peace process which created the roadmap out of conflict.

            Equally there is now a real challenge before all sectors of northern Irish society. Simply if we value the peace then we must work at its protection – that is the business community, the churches, the sporting community, trade unions, residents groups and other stakeholders must seek to accentuate the benefits of dialogue and engagement.

            For those of us who are committed to the peace process we must collectively work at the local level and in our daily interactions create the conditions for dialogue and interaction with those disaffected by the peace process – this cannot solely be left to the politicians. Sustaining and growing a better and safer society must be a societal enterprise.

            The first steps in reaffirming this societies commitment to dialogue and engagement as the vehicles to address violent extremism must be taken by the First and deputy Minister together. As things stand we are playing with the hopes and aspirations of future generations – for the Assembly and the Executive to grow it must grow together. It is no longer appropriate to frame problems and affronts to the rule of law as ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ but ‘ours’.

            So when Martin McGuinness states “I’m willing-are they?” what he really needs to be saying is “We are ready, are they?”

            Indeed if he and Peter Robinson took the lead to address such fundamental challenges would signal the beginning of the end of sectarian dominated politics and evidence progress towards a shared future defined by commitment to the rule of law – which would be another step further away from the dark chapters of Enniskillen and Gibraltar.

          • John – I agree entirely that any dialogue with those described as dissidents cannot be left to Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein alone. I’ve written on this site and elsewhere about the need for a much wider involvement. I think there is work to be done on this issue within the broad Catholic/nationalist/republican community- trying to persuade the armed factions to stop, making clear that there is no space for or endorsement of violence, but also delivering the message that there is room for a second and a different opinion. Within the peace and political processes there is much unfinished business, and a need for joint leadership to be seen and heard.

          • We appear to have succeeded in creating a platform of peace via the GFA but there has been little in way of establishing harmony?

            No value has been placed on the process that leads people of all sides to reconciliation which enables society to evolve, equally, without suffering.

            How does one analyze why a person wants to harm another person for a political or religious ideal, here, now, in 2013 Ireland?

            I’m not stating people have to ‘love’ one another, I’m not even saying they have to like one another but someone in Political leadership needs to plan then implement how they work with dissidents (republican and loyalist) so they can unburden themselves of the weight of resentment or cut through the cycle of retribution or criminality that is otherwise keeping us all en-snarled in a bitter violent game of suffering.

            Reconciliation is a return to amicability which requires leadership to achieve the reestablishing of trust. No side to the conflict here can deny responsibility for it’s actions, or maintain that it did no wrong. If they do then there’s no way we can be reconciled because most have some element of contribution to the suffering here, past or present.

            To build trust, all have to show respect for differing political opinions, ideologies, culture, religion and accept a civil standard of what is and is not acceptable behavior guaranteeing restraint and complete non-violence in the future.

            It’s good to talk.

          • John Loughran on

            Brian Rowans piece entitled: ‘Door to dialogue wide open – but will dissidents step inside?’ has stimulated an interesting debate that in many ways posits this society at a crossroads. Indeed we are now at a crossroads between the prospect of future conflict and the need to protect and sustain the peace. In this context it is vital that those who use armed violence must be engaged – doing nothing is not a sustainable political response. As part of that discussion Glenn B has posed a key question asking: “How does one analyse why a person wants to harm another person for a political or religious ideal, here, now, in 2013 Ireland?”

            This thread and the questions asked have got me thinking about the potential dangers of not engaging with the current challenges. I have also framed my own question that seeks to asking the question as to what part of the peace process do dissident Republicans and other anti-peace process elements simply not get.

            In this response I have sought to argue that people who feel that they have a right to use violence fundamentally miss the point of the peace process over the last 25 years.

            The Anglo-Irish Agreement through to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) is the formative period of the peace process within which we had the Hume-Adams dialogue, The Downing Street Declaration, Cessations and breakdowns and the Heads of Agreement. This period is a key starting point that explains the nature and journey of our peace in 2013. This process that was developed in the midst of conflict and which engaged all actors – Irish and British governments, Loyalist, Unionists, Republicans, Nationalists and others.

            The lessons on how to engage dissidents are also to be found in this period. That we are having a similar discussion again essentially around the futility of violence in 2013 means that many have missed or have chose to ignore the political transformation in recent times. There are two key observations that should inform this debate and any engagement process:

            1. We need to start framing the Good Friday Agreement not as an event but a process that made the link of ending conflict and violence with a new political beginning that was endorsed in dual referendums;

            2. Furthermore we need to make sense of the GFA process and the stakes that were constructed and played with in the midst of war now in the relative peace of 2013 – which speaks to the progress that has been made and that the northern state of 2013 is not that of 1973.

            3. We all need to be aware of how dissident republicans justify their use of armed actions? Equally what is their vision for the future that can build on the peace process? Or what is their analysis of the northern state in 2013 – are they arguing that it is the same as 1973 or indeed 1923?

            So what does that mean and what part of the peace process do they not get?

            To engage with this question it is important to state what part of the peace process anti-peace process elements don’t embrace. As a starting point the AIA (1985) was a significant turning point in the beginning of the end Irish conflict for it acknowledged the validity of two respective political aspirations to the contested territory of the northern state. The Good Friday Agreement built on this and was undoubtedly informed by key concepts of – consent and an Irish dimension. The AIA was able to simultaneously ground and transcend the state.

            Arguably it was this fluid construction of the nation that lay the foundations that sought to develop a process that sought to resolve what was perceived to an intractable identity based conflict. In other words Northern Ireland as a state would only remain so as long as that was the expressed wish of the majority – hence a democratic avenue was now opened up. Equally it would remain part of the UK so long as that was the expressed majority wish.

            Thirteen years later the Good Friday Agreement acknowledged and accepted the legitimate aspirations of Unionist and Nationalists. It further recognised that consent alone would determine the future constitutional status of the northern state. This affirmation, of the consent principle, was given concrete expression in Annex A, Section 1, paragraphs 1: “It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Section 1.”

            The full import of the consent principle was that the future constitutional status rests with the people of Northern Ireland alone. Northern Ireland is thus no longer a permanent and stable state: it is a state in transition. The principle of consent effectively defines the northern Irish state and its territory as fluid and evolving. If a majority within the borders of the North of Ireland seek to become part of the Republic of Ireland then the British Secretary of State is obliged to give effect to that wish. The GFA was not designed to solve the conflict nor its causes – these unresolved issues are those now being exploited by anti-peace process elements.

            To engage with those who are intent on using conflict and starting a new downward cycle of conflict it is vital that all communities have a common understanding of what was agreed in past political Agreements dating back nearly 30 years (in their name by either the British and Irish governments or by local political parties).Equally it is vital that any political response is also framed in 2013 in the context of a power sharing Executive that is responsible for policing and justice matters.

            In reality that means that is vital that those who stand on the side of peace engage with those who are violently opposed to peace. In reality they must now begin to act as guarantors of our future peace – irrespective of the different starting points and the different journeys from war to peace – they must now seek to be protectors of the peace. It is academic now that the DUP were not signatories to the GFA as they have subsequently engaged in the GFA process through the St Andrews and Hillsborough Agreements.

            As the two lead guarantors of the political process – Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson – must engage with any faction of militant Republicanism or Unionism who are opposed to the expressed democratic wish of the majority. Not to do so merely reinforces the political and constitutional divisions that anti-peace process elements seek to violently exploit.

            Their mandate for collectively engaging dissidents – even accepting that the DUP were not signatories to the GFA – is the declaration in the GFA that: “The tragedies of the past have left a deep and profoundly regrettable legacy of suffering. We must never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. But we can best honour them through a fresh start, in which we firmly dedicate ourselves to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust, and to the protection and vindication of the human rights of all.”

            So as Glenn B has asked the question “How does one analyse why a person wants to harm another person for a political or religious ideal, here, now, in 2013 Ireland?” The response should derive from declaration in the GFA that acknowledges the tragedies of the past but which also details the pledges from all signatories to “firmly dedicate ourselves to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance, and mutual trust, and to the protection and vindication of the human rights of all.” It is this peace question that should still set the agenda for any political engagement with Republican dissidents or anti peace process elements in 2013.

            That we are now in 2013 with a different political configuration speaks to the need for any engagement to be a joint enterprise from the First and Deputy First Minister. The key question that they must seek an answer to in the name of the silent majority who support peace is: How do anti-peace process elements justify violence in the midst of an accessible democratic alternative?

            Such a joint approach and such questioning will reflect how far we have travelled in the journey from war to peace. It would also highlight their joint commitment as equal guarantors of the peace process – not to do so will only serve to leave a dangerous vacuum. It is this type of political leadership, imagination and risk-taking that is needed to build a shared and better future – that was the vision at the heart of the peace process after all!

          • John Loughran on

            I feel prompted to respond to your latest contribution in the hope that I can offer something to what is a very important debate. I want to take a different track and suggest however that this debate is something that cannot and should not be led by Martin McGuinness alone. We are now governed here by a power sharing Executive and it is for that body to lead and engage in debate those who challenge its legitimacy and direction.

            That we are in a dangerous place is a basic statement of the obvious – our conflict cycle over 40 years has taught us that violence fills the void when people are not talking, not engaging or not involved. The upsurge in Republican dissident activity that has tragically claimed lives recently – while putting countless others at risk – alongside the street protests associated with the flag dispute create conditions that are ripe for exploitation by those elements opposed to the peace process as again highlighted in Glengormley last weekend.

            This reading of the situation has again prompted the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to pose the question: “I’m willing-are they?”

            This high level intervention is yet another effort calling for direct dialogue with anti-peace process Republicans. But it also raises the question as to why our First and deputy first Ministers are not making single calls for inclusive dialogue to engage dissident republicans when they both have the interest of the north of Ireland at heart?

            In 2013 it is simply not viable for senior politicians to talk solely to their own side when they are responsible to govern for all. This is an extension of the same argument that I made on this site recently critiquing the design fault at the core of the Unionist Forum for not engaging and talking to Nationalist and Republicans.

            Conversely it is not for Martin McGuinness alone to engage anti peace process republicans when he is part of a power sharing Executive. In essence if all our politicians stand on the side of the peace process then it should follow that any engagement with anti peace process elements must be driven jointly by those who hold a joint office.

            In essence the cycle of conflict will only be broken by a collective political leadership that is – Sinn Fein and the DUP – publicly committing to making the Assembly and the Executive work for all and engaging all forms of disaffection collectively within that political framework. In this case both Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson must seek to engage and dialogue with the violent strands of Republicanism and those Loyalist communities disaffected and disenfranchised by the peace process.

            Having listened to Sunday Sequence at the weekend and watched 14 Days it is clear that the peace process has delivered much to be protected and we have travelled a huge distance. No longer are we are on the cusp of civil war as we were in the dark days of November 1987 when so many lives were tragically destroyed in Enniskillen or in March 1988 after the many lives lost after the funerals of the deceased from the Gibraltar shoot to kill operation. The dialogue led by Fr Alex Reid demanded that others took risks to end teh conflict.

            What we now need is a symbolically significant societal dialogue led by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson that reminds each and everyone of us of the distance travelled from those dark days and of the importance of not taking the peace process for granted. We all now need to go back to basics and remind ourselves that it was dialogue, leadership and imagination that delivered the peace process which created the roadmap out of conflict.

            Equally there is now a real challenge before all sectors of northern Irish society. Simply if we value the peace then we must work at its protection – that is the business community, the churches, the sporting community, trade unions, residents groups and other stakeholders must seek to accentuate the benefits of dialogue and engagement.

            For those of us who are committed to the peace process we must collectively work at the local level and in our daily interactions create the conditions for dialogue and interaction with those disaffected by the peace process – this cannot solely be left to the politicians. Sustaining and growing a better and safer society must be a societal enterprise.

            The first steps in reaffirming this societies commitment to dialogue and engagement as the vehicles to address violent extremism must be taken by the First and deputy Minister together. As things stand we are playing with the hopes and aspirations of future generations – for the Assembly and the Executive to grow it must grow together. It is no longer appropriate to frame problems and affronts to the rule of law as ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ but ‘ours’.

            So when Martin McGuinness states “I’m willing-are they?” what he really needs to be saying is “We are ready, are they?”

            Indeed if he and Peter Robinson took the lead to address such fundamental challenges would signal the beginning of the end of sectarian dominated politics and evidence progress towards a shared future defined by commitment to the rule of law – which would be another step further away from the dark chapters of Enniskillen and Gibraltar.

  2. Paul Gosling on

    I suggest that the politics cannot be divorced from the economics and the psychology – and this applies to divisions within loyalism, as well as the alienation of dissidents from mainstream republicanism.

    Alienation in both communities is surely associated with the anger felt by some that former comrades have now advanced in a material and political sense, leaving many in their community behind. Movements that espoused equality as part of a revolutionary struggle have evolved into movements that have accepted peaceful co-existence, but in which there is widespread poverty and unemployment. Objectively that is associated with a lack of skills and alienation from the education system that was present throughout the Troubles and remains true in many communities today. Psychologically, those left behind just feel sold out.

    Dissidents in both traditions see former associates turning into respected political leaders, having successful careers in the public and private sectors and in some cases becoming very wealthy, running their own large businesses. (In some instances this is a misguided analysis as those who went into property ownership have since lost what they gained.)

    This view suggests two things. One that the personal envy or alienation aspect of dissidents needs to be recognised as a motivating factor. Secondly, in both communities, it is difficult to see how a thorough and long lasting peace can be achieved without a substantial improvement in economic conditions. The UK Government has a moral and political obligation to intervene in NI in a much more committed way to improve the economy. More legal action needs to be taken against illegal business practices (fuel laundering is just one example). And we need to recognise that if dissidents believe that they can be more financially successful in an environment of conflict than in peace, then we are all in one hell of a mess.

    • Paul,

      I respectfully suggest you follow the link – repeated here – and read the interview: http://winnowinghistory.blogspot.ie/2010/08/we-say-stop-dissident-republicans.html

      As far as I can see, little or none of the issues you mention appear in it. If they were headline issues, no doubt they would have.

      These people are ideologists, some would say fanatics. They pursue a sort of “republican jihad” against “the Brits”; and anyone who gets hurt because they’re in the way – well, hard luck. Collateral damage is sad, but unavoidable in “war”, they think.

      True, a substantial improvement improvement in economic conditions is ameliorative in a communal strife scenario – because the public at large has more to lose from conflict, But financial success or economic progress won’t wean republican dissidents themselves off their deluded philosopy; their concepyion of “republicanism” and their dissidence are at its core and are its raison d’être.

      • Paul Gosling on

        I think you underestimate the element of anger about what they see as ‘sell outs’ to republicanism. No doubt the ideology is there and the sense of loyalty to older relatives, but there is also economic alienation and anger against those doing well under the new settlement. In some respects the situation today differs from that a few years ago.

  3. Brian why isn’t the first meeting with MI5 who run and control these criminals as they did with the loyalist death squads through 30 years of the troubles here!!??

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