Today I met with some young people here in Mayo and we discussed the current political situation here in Ireland and in particular the position of Sinn Fein and the IRA campaign in the north and were it now stands in regard to the involvement of IRA in the political process of 2015.
This form of questioning came about following all of the comments being made by various Irish anti Sinn Fein politicians here in the south plus of course the usual suspects of the British and the unionists helped along with a hostile media
I tried to explain to them how the trouble in the north started plus the cause and effect of partition, and the various events that took place in the north from 1922 up to 1994 and how it was necessary for the nationalist/republican people who were when protesting for basic civil rights were beaten and terrorised off the streets had their homes burned to the ground were 3000 families had to seek shelter in the south, and as the southern government who promised much but delivered little by way of protection stood by as we were being murdered on the streets of Belfast there was no other alternative, we had to stand up to the unionist/ orange state hence the regeneration of the IRA and a war that was not of my generations making but a war that we had to fight for the prospects of a better future for our children and grandchildren and a better future for Ireland, to breakdown the divisions in our country between those who have and those who have little or nothing a country based on the 1916 proclamation of social and economic justice, but mind you in the north it was a battle for survival and I am afraid for those on the ground a political settlement and a united Ireland was far from their minds !!!! while at the same time there were those in the republican movement who worked tirelessly to create a momentum for a political settlement we all knew that this was never going to be achieved by war or a combination of war and peace but the first move was to achieve a peace deal in the north and this was the very thing that the republican movement were working towards since 1974 and the efforts made by the late Harold Wilson and the IRA TO GET A SETTLEMENT which was undermined by the Labour /Fine Gael government of that time who tumbled on in their belief that they could defeat the IRA reach and agreement with the British without the republican movement this strategy was also followed by Fianna Fail A strategy which ultimately failed.
as all of this manoeuvring was continuing the war was still in full swing and people where dying but a very important event took place in 1981 with the election of Bobby Sands and the sacrifice of the hunger strikers a new dawn was on the horizon as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in 1985 took control of Sinn Fein and removed the old guard with a new vision and a new direction and as time progressed they were able to convince others of that vision including the leaders of the IRA but before that they had to convince the British and the Free State that they could deliver a proper peace deal . It was with the arrival of Albert Reynolds as leader of Fianna Fail that that prospect became live, with the downing street declaration of 1994, which was to become the foundation stone of the good friday agreement which has created the situation were the use of violence or the need for a IRA is no longer required as our political objectives can now with the help of the many 1000s of young educated people north and south who have joined the Sinn Fein party and who have stood up for the good friday agreement and the peace process while others including our current government and Fianna Fail have used it as a political football for their own purposes as they continently attack Sinn Fein and our creditably for government, so I wonder why ? is it that they see how we stand up to the British austerity policies in the north ? is it that we are holding them to account and exposing with others the corruption and the side deals with banks and NAMA ? is it that we are asking the real questions re health/ education and social protection? is it that we want the big money guys to pay their share in taxes not more than they should pay but what they should pay ? that these big multi national corporations pay their full share if its 12.5% then they pay 12.5% not 5/6 % they currently pay, is it that we want to protect the natural resources of our country for our country and people and not big oil or gas companies, is it the 500,000 people who voted Sinn Fein in the local and European elections in 2014, is it that now a party who will hold them to account as they still try and do their dirty deals with their friends at the expense of the people (Dennis O’Brien is a case in point)with his 600 million euro debt write down !!!!
Its been a hard and long journey for old time republicans like me who has been exposed to the armed struggle sine 1955 when only 7 yrs old that is 60 yrs,!! many times in the past 20yrs I have had to swallow hard at some of the decisions that were made by the leadership of the movement were they right were they wrong the answer to that question came in 2014 as I sat in front of this computer and watched the results come in from the elections and I cried with joy as I watched what was being achieved, we had completed that journey from war to peace no more will our children die or go to jail for Ireland, but will work for that holy grail of a republic without the need of violence, and those of us who did witness the bloody streets and fields can rest in the knowledge that the future of our country is in the very safe hands of the upcoming generation and my work now is to support their efforts to ensure that the journey from war to peace is completed safely