I may be Irish (mostly) and Catholic (technically) and a republican (instinctively) but I’ve spent my whole life on the British mainland and most of it watching the men of the absurd, Lilliputian ‘Irish Republican Army’ acting out their lethal military fantasies. With their random brutality and their scary balaclavas and their shambolic graveside parades and, more recently, their playground nastiness and backstreet persecution of the communities they own and abuse, they’ve always debased the cause of Irish unity and, more importantly, of peaceful coexistence on the Island of Ireland.
So I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised by the provos’ preposterous encounter with the McCartney family and their pathetic and inhuman ‘offer’ to shoot McCartney’s alleged murderers. What must it have been like for the sisters to sit with those Ruritanian gangsters and listen, without laughing (or crying), to their gutless justifications? It looks like we have much to thank the McCartney sisters for. They may have finally upended the whole teetering Republican racket. The damage done to the men of violence and their apologists must, surely, be terminal.
I’d say that there probably was a justification for the IRA to re-emerge at the end of the sixties – just seeing Paisley’s triumphmungering recently is enough to make it clear that the Catholic population would not have been allowed anything without force. And, I am a supporter of reunification.
But you are right, how pathetic does it all end. A preemptive handing over of weapons and disbanding of the organisation would have played a perfect power masterstroke for Sinn Fein and propelled them into power. Now it looks a bit stupid all round.