August 23, 2013

Northern Ireland - The Generational Cycle of Extremism and Pacifism


Churchill is well know for the following quote:
"If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."
In a video here, former IRA volunteer Eamonn O Buadhigh said of the Provisional IRA campaign of the 1970s and 80s:
"Terrible things happened in the 70s and 80s. Awful things happened that in no way could I condone, but I do understand. I personally couldn't have anything to do with them, or approve in any kind or way."
Fellow former IRA member Tony Meade said in the same video:
"Were things worthwhile since 1969? No. Too many people died. Too many people died needlessly. Too many innocent people killed in the whole struggle. It's very hard to justify it in terms of what has now been achieved."
The reason I quoted Churchill was because just as Eamonn O Buadhigh denounced the dissident republican insurgency f the 70s and 80s, now a more senior Martin McGuinness (leader of the IRA in the 70s and 80s) is now denouncing the most current generation of republican dissidents, who he called "traitors to the island of Ireland." 
"These people are traitors to the island of Ireland, they have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island. They don’t deserve to be supported by anyone.”
BBC correspondent, Peter Taylor provided a fascinating analysis on the latest generation of extremists. He said of his interview with Assistant Chief Constable, Drew Harris:
"I wondered if there was intelligence that other groups were contemplating joining the 'New' IRA? "We would watch very carefully for that," he (Drew Harris) said."    
On 'Radicalisation' it was said:  
"All these groups say to themselves that they are in this for the long run." His other concern is that a new generation of young people is being attracted to the dissidents and he described the process with words that I have come to associate more with Islamist extremists than Irish republicans. "Radicalisation is happening," he said. "Young men, even in their very early 20s, are being charged with serious terrorist offences who must have only been very small children at the time of the Good Friday Agreement.  
"They don't have any buy-in to the [peace] process and almost a nihilist response in terms of what a united Ireland would be like. That's worrying." Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has not pulled his punches in confronting the so-called "dissidents". There is no doubt about his visceral loathing, having steered the Provisional IRA from "war" to peace and power-sharing at Stormont. To call the dissidents "traitors to Ireland" with the PSNI's then chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde, standing at his side, was about the most damning insult that he could pay them, many of whom are his former comrades in arms.  
Nor was he daunted recently when the PSNI warned him of a serious death threat and his house was daubed with paint."

Peter Taylor feature in full, here. Here's what Fintan O'Toole said of McGuinness and his peers in their youth in 1998 in the New York Review of Books:

"Most of the current leadership of Sinn Fein is made up of men who were, in the 1960s, angry young Catholics."


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