Criticize IRA bombings
The editorial in the February 26 Militant (All-party talks on Ireland peace now) correctly targets British imperialism as the prime obstacle to the aspirations of the Irish people based on justice, equality, and self determination. Within this framework, however, it offers no critique of the tactic of individual terrorism as a means to enhance the struggle against national oppression. The result of the bombing in London alienated many British and Irish working people from support and involvement in the struggle. It is a tactic which substitutes the actions of a few for a political struggle based on the involvement of the broad masses of working people.
Tens of thousands marched on February 25 in Dublin, Belfast, and other towns throughout Ireland, North and South, focusing their demand for an end to the violence not at the real perpetrator, the British government, but at the IRA. Perhaps a review of Trotsky's "Against Individual Terrorism" would be helpful to clarify the role of terrorism the struggle for liberation from the yoke of oppression in general.
The editorial correctly summarizes what is necessary to achieve a just peace based on an independent and free Ireland, defending Irish political prisoners, engaging in mass marches to demand British troops out of N. Ireland, and supporting the demand for all-party talks now.
John Major is to blame
I would like to give a little background to the breakdown of the peace process in occupied Ireland and the end of the IRA cease-fire. The 17-month IRA cease-fire was the result of a series of secret negotiations between representatives of the British government and the IRA. In return for a cease-fire the British government made a number of promises: a) release of political prisoners;. b) removal of British troops from the streets of Northern Ireland; c) dismantling of bases in Nationalist areas; d) the opening of 200 some border crossings between the occupied 6 counties and the 26 county Republic of Ireland; and e) the convening of all party peace talks to negotiate a political settlement to the conflict in Northern Ireland. (The verbatim text of the negotiations is available from: Friends of Sinn Fein 1350 Conn. Ave. NW, #307, Wash., DC 20036.)
The history of the last 17 months is in large measure a record of the various excuses that the British government deployed to avoid peace talks.
In this same period the oppressed workers and farmers in the six counties took advantage of the cease-fire and fought their way back into politics. The last 17 months have seen a revival of mass demonstrations by the oppressed community.
In the fall of 1995 the British government, headed by John Major, came under a great deal of diplomatic pressure from their imperialist rivals, especially from the U.S.A., and agreed to a peace plan for Northern Ireland.
On Nov. 28, 1995, all the antagonists in Northern Ireland agreed to submit to binding arbitration by an international panel headed by [former] Senator [George] Mitchell of Maine. The Mitchell panel urged the British to end their obstructionism and begin peace talks on February 28, as they had previously agreed.
For the umpteenth million time the British government broke their word. Instead of beginning peace talks February 28 as they had promised, the British government proposed the restoration of the pro-British, Protestant/sectarian police state that had ruled Northern Ireland for 70 years until it was broken by mass worker protests in the early 1970s.
This was the last straw for some of the Irish freedom fighters. On February 9 a bomb exploded in a car park on Canary Wharf in London. If we have to assign blame, then all the blame for the renewal of war must be laid at the door of #10 Downing St., the official residence of John Major. If the British had ever honored their word the conflict in Northern Ireland would have been solved long ago.
The British regime will try to demonize the Irish republicans with accusations of terrorism. It will be useful to recall the facts. Ireland is occupied by British imperialist troops, not the other way around. The current struggle in Ireland only exists because Britain refuses to make peace. If British imperialism withdrew from occupied Ireland peace would be on the order of the day.
As socialists we must base our actions on an understanding of what course will advance the cause of socialism. Will the cause of socialism and the unity of the world working class, especially unity of Irish and English workers, be advanced by the withdrawal of British troops and the reunification of Ireland, or by a continuation of the British occupation and a continuing struggle? It has been obvious since Marx's time that the victory of the Irish national democratic revolution is in the interest of both the Irish and English workers.
P.S. I personally think that the resumption of armed actions is going to set back the mass struggle in Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that it will be harder to build demonstrations now that bombs and automatic weapons are again part of politics. Some such consideration probably was a factor in Major's policy of provocation and obstructionism.
IRA not freedom fighters
I'm very disappointed to see what I perceive as the Militant's support of Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army. I do not feel that this is a socialist position as the IRA have proven themselves to be not freedom fighters, but terrorists.
In your Feb. 12, 1996, issue an advertisement for the Militant calls for "British troops out of Ireland" and "All- party peace talks now." Britain did pull many troops off the streets of N. Ireland/Ulster, peace talks were being held, and the door was wide open to all who wished to participate. However, the IRA did not wish to cooperate, as was demonstrated by the latest bomb attacks in London.
The fact of the matter is, most Irish Catholics do NOT support the IRA. Most people of Ireland and N. Ireland do NOT support the IRA. Most people in N. Ireland and the U.K. want to finally have a life free of terror and bombings. That was achieved for 17 months. Why couldn't it have been for 18, 19, 20, 300? The IRA has smashed the hopes of the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland, N. Ireland, and mainland Britain.
I call myself a socialist because my father and many others in my family were exploited and injured due to their jobs, and because this is happening all over the world. I do NOT call myself a socialist in order to support terrorism. I fail to see why the Militant is lending support to this group or giving support to the Quebec Nationalist party which perceived English- speaking citizens as a "problem."
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