Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Will NI head back to conflict?

The headline on today's Sindo certainly seems to suggest it's a possibility. The notion that the Provos have been recently recruiting suggests that the northern bank job was intended to actually raise capital for a new campaign, not to pay the IRA Godfathers to wind up their criminal enterprises.

Fionnuala O'Connor, in Friday's Irish Times, suggested that any notion that the IRA could be "wound up" constituted a fundamental misunderstanding of the Republican movement. She points out that the "Army" has always been the essential part, with the political wing being subsidiary. "How can you wind up your core?" she asks.

How indeed?

Will there be the kind of support for a return to the kind of sectarian violence of the past? Can the Republican movement really mobilise the same kind of sympathy which sustained them through the 70's and 80's?

Personally, I doubt it. Conservatives used to talk about "the Socialist Rachet". The idea was that once you gave people any Government benefit, such as free health care, you could never take it back off them. We can see this with the current administration's failed attempt to re-introduce fees for Third Level education.

It's the same with peace. Call it the Peace Rachet. Once you call a ceasefire and reap a whole series of political benfits for "bringing peace", you can't recommence conflict. People from both sides of the divide are benfitting too much.

The Sindo piece suggests that "bombing are off the agenda for the moment". One suspects that they are off the agenda permanently. I very much doubt whether the Nationalist community in the North has the stomach for the kind of carnage which the IRA would unleash after such a long interlude of peace, and the Provisional movement would struggle to justify such a move.

Good headline though. Wonder how Gerry and Martin will react.



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