There Is Nothing like It in the Western Political Universe. Shinners Don't Lunch with Journalists, Don't Chat, Don't Leak. (Profile Sinn Fein)

By Toolis, Kevin | New Statesman (1996), October 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

There Is Nothing like It in the Western Political Universe. Shinners Don't Lunch with Journalists, Don't Chat, Don't Leak. (Profile Sinn Fein)


Toolis, Kevin, New Statesman (1996)


To the unionists, it should be the final nail in the republican political coffin. The TV pictures, the Swatgeared policemen running up Stormont's marble corridors into the Sinn Fein/IRA "den of spies", are incontrovertible proof that Irish republicanism is intrinsically a terrorist crusade that can never be democratically house-trained.

Northern Ireland's anguished peace process is heading for the rocks. The Assembly, the cornerstone of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, is falling and cannot be assisted back to its shaky feet. And is Sinn Fein, caught with its political pants down, really a democratic party? Or is it just a terrorist mouthpiece for the IRA's army council? The true answer to both questions is -- not really.

To understand the answer, you have to understand the origins of the "Republican Movement". In essence the "bold Fenian men of 1916 saw themselves as gunmen first and politicians second. Their foundations lay not in class solidarity and trade unionism, but in getting guns to shoot British soldiers dead and thus remove the "alien" English presence from Irish soil. Padraig Pearse, the near-fascist romantic poet who led the 1916 Easter Rising, spent days designing the buttons and lapels on his make-believe general's uniform. He wanted to be taken seriously as a soldier.

Even after the IRA was defeated by fellow Irishmen in the 1921 civil war, this cult of militarism prevailed among the dwindling band of fanatics who kept the republican flame alight. IRA men were anti-politics, conspiratorial, and utterly contemptuous of the democratic will of the befuddled masses who settled down to live with partition for the next 60 years. Even in the 1980s, the IRA leadership was still claiming that the clandestine seven-man IRA army council was the de jure authority of the Irish people. Elections, all 70 years of them, didn't count. The only real issue facing the Irish people was partition.

Politically such claims were nonsense, but they were important in a movement, a faith, that saw itself fighting for a Holy Grail, the Mythic Republic of Pearse. Irish republicanism is a rigid, millenarian creed.

In 1969, the Troubles broke out again and a new generation of republican leaders emerged. Gerry Adams, born into an old republican family, won a reputation in Belfast as an organiser and strategist, and swiftly moved up the ranks. In Derry, Martin McGuinness, a former butcher's assistant, assumed power as a natural leader. Both men, still in their early twenties, were so important to the IRA, and the peace process, that they were flown by the RAF to London in 1972 for secret peace talks with Ted Heath's government.

On television today, Adams and McGuinness, in their polish and sophistry, may look like any other political figures. In reality, there are no creatures like them in the western political universe. Both men are survivors, not lust of fighting their internal political rivals, but also of their own military onslaught against the British state. Their political testing ground was not the "pot" debates of the National Union of Students but the bloody chaos of Ulster in the 1970s.

Both men aimed to overthrow British rule. Bombs, murders, failed assassination attempts were a daily occurrence. In Derry, more than 40 IRA volunteers have been killed violently; Martin McGuinness would have known all of them and was certainly on some of the operations where some of those IRA men died. The state, in the form of the British army, made many determined attempts to kill both Adams and McGuinness. Adams has claimed that he was physically tortured by British interrogators. For the past 30 years, both Adams and McGuinness have been leading players in the tiny, hermetic republican leadership that controls the IRA's war machine.

In theory, Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA. In reality, the leadership is one and the same. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

There Is Nothing like It in the Western Political Universe. Shinners Don't Lunch with Journalists, Don't Chat, Don't Leak. (Profile Sinn Fein)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.