‘Nationalist family’ assemble for one last roundup
The Independent monitoring committee is a creature of the British government. It has no independent investigation structures but simply takes government intelligence and presents it in a way most useful to the government. Its report concluded: "The mechanism which they (the army council) have chosen to bring the armed conflict to a complete end has been the standing down of the structures which engaged in the armed campaign and the conscious decision to allow the army council to fall into disuse. By taking these steps PIRA has completely relinquished the leadership and other structures appropriate to a time of armed conflict."
This is a very carefully worded statement. It does not say that there is no army council or no IRA, but essentially argues that they no longer exist in the context of any threat to British structures and that the IRA have done everything that the DUP can expect that equates to surrender and enough to allow Peter Robinson to sign up to the transfer of policing powers
Gordon Brown made this clear when he declared “It is now time for all the political parties to work together to complete the final stages of the peace process - to complete the devolution of policing and justice” Secretary of state Shaun Woodward argued that “This ground-breaking report by the IMC makes clear that the Army Council is now redundant”. Dermot Aherne, Fianna Fail Justice Minister, said that “I hope that the political parties in the north can now complete the process of devolution by assuming responsibility for policing and justice powers.” Paula Dobrainsky, US special envoy declared; “This report underscores the transformation that has taken place in today's Northern Ireland, and signals that all parties should move forward to create a fully-functioning political environment.”
From a distance it all looks very reassuring. All the components of a ‘Nationalist family’ a virtual body imagined by Gerry Adams, comprising Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and the SDLP and stretching out to encompass the Bush White house and even the British – all the forces that were to face down unionist reaction and bring modernity to Ireland – they are all together again to defend Sinn Fein and face down the DUP.
As in the days of yore, Sinn Fein has support. But it is worth looking more closely. The support, as in the past, is designed to allow capitulation. The problem with republicanism is that it offered an armed resistance to imperialism. The solution is that they embrace their oppressors. In the process the problem is defined. The problem is not the bigotry of the unionists, nor the British endorsement of unionist reaction. The problem is the IRA. There is not the slightest hint that, if the DUP refuse to play ball, the British will apply sanctions to them. If the republicans have not done enough today then they must do more in the coming days.
A few questions are in order.
Peter Robinson has already said that 95% disbandment is not enough. Surely the simplest solution would be 100% disbandment?
If the maximum humiliation of Sinn Fein is demanded now will that be the end of humiliation or will it be a routine, unending part of administration in the North?
Will the Shinners get all the elements they were supposed to have already as part of the St. Andrews deal or is the reward of disbandment only a limited, truncated version?
With another victory under their belt, will the DUP then turn the other cheek and aim to tone down the drive for sectarian domination?
To ask these questions is to answer them. Nationalists can have a minor and subordinate role in a sectarian society while supporting a government of some of the most reactionary political forces in Europe. Their role will be to endlessly capitulate to sectarian reaction and in the process lend stability to a process fundamentally unstable. The endemic crises and collapses of the peace process are not minor glitches but fundamental flaws in an imperialist settlement doomed to eventual collapse