Physical-force Republicansn and history: Ireland's slowest learners?

diy01

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On more than one occasion, the late Ruairí Ó Brádaigh stated that although any "loss of life is regrettable" history had taught us that as long as there was a British presence anywhere in Ireland, armed resistance to it would always exist. That was his view and it remained so throughout his life, as well as his resolute attachment to the principle of abstentionism. The result was utter marginalisation of his brand of 'purist' republican separatism and that of his party, Republican Sinn Féin, which was always small, but has been torn apart by splits, expulsions and resignations in recent years. When Ó Brádaigh died in 2013, the prospects of a united Ireland were even further away than when he joined Sinn Féin and then the IRA in 1950-51.

Surely, history also teaches us that republican physical force/violence in Ireland always ends in failure.

Why did it take the bulk of the republican movement so long to grasp this?

Why are there still hundreds of active, armed 'dissident'/anti-GFA republicans spread across multiple organisations?


Republicans must be the slowest learners in Irish history...

1798, United Irishmen rebellion
1803, Emmet's 'rebellion' [skirmish]
1848, Young Ireland skirmish
1867, Fenian Rising
1866 - 1871, Fenian raids in North America
1881 - 1885, Clan na Gael 'Dynamite Campaign' in England
1916, Easter Rising
1919 - 1921, Irish War of Independence,
1922 - 1923, Irish Civil War,
1939 - 1940, IRA 'Sabotage Campaign' in England
1942 - 1944, IRA 'Northern Campaign'
1956 - 1962, IRA Border Campaign
1969 - 1972 (and beyond?) - Official IRA campaign
1969 - 1997 [2005?], Provisional IRA campaign
1974 - 2009, INLA campaign
1986 - 1992, IPLO campaign
1998 - 2012, Real IRA campaign

1994 - Present, Continuity IRA campaign
2009 - Present, Óglaigh na hÉireann campaign
2010 - Present, Northern-based CIRA splinter group (?)
2012 - Present, 'New IRA'/a.k.a. Óglaigh na hÉireann campaign

A long list of futility!
 


GDPR

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I dont think its correct to throw in the United Irishmen, the Tan War and the Ulster Troubles in with the rest of them.
 

Truth.ie

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You could also argue, as National Sovereignty has not been achieved and using your own logic, that constitutional Nationalism has also failed to achieve anything of substance.
I could make a list from O Connell to Parnell to Hume and similarly point to failure.
And that the only success story in Irish history was the WOI (physical force Republicanism)
 

Cruimh

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At the end of the day this is a ridiculous premise -

as long as there was a British presence anywhere in Ireland, armed resistance to it would always exist.
We are British. In the same way as we are all European by virtue of being part of the Continent of Europe.

Follow Ruairí Ó Brádaigh's thinking and you'll end up aping Pol pot and the Khmer rouge ....
 

GDPR

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You could also argue, as National Sovereignty has not been achieved and using your own logic, that constitutional Nationalism has also failed to achieve anything of substance.
I could make a list from O Connell to Parnell to Hume and similarly point to failure.
And that the only success story in Irish history was the WOI (physical force Republicanism)
O'Connell was not a Separatist. I think things would have gone a lot better for the Republicans if the IRA had not started the Tan War without the blessing of the First Dail. The Republicans lost the Tan War and only ended up with what they were going to get anyway plus having to pay London's costs and ending up butchering their own. It was De Valera's diplomacy that basically got the ROI its sovereignty.
 

GDPR

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I think during the last years of their campaign, maybe even since the people at Loughall who may well have been set up by doves within the PIRA itself got killed, the Provies were about "Armed Reformism" rather than revolution as such. I dont believe that Martin Mc Guinness was ever an ideological Irish Republican the way O'Bradaigh was.
 

Cruimh

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For the historian J.A. Froude, a nation meant a people capable of defending itself; and since Ireland had been conquered, it was by definition not a nation. In an ingenious neo-scholastic sleight of hand, no act of colonization can violate another's nationhood, since the fact that it can occur at all means that there was no nationhood there to be violated. 86

86. James Anthony Froude, The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, vol. I (London 1872), Preliminary.
From Terry Eagleton.pdf, Ch 6, p 255
Heathcliffe and the Great Hunger, Eagleton, Terry, pp.226-256. Verso, 1995.
 

diy01

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Because you are talking in those cases of large scale insurgencies as opposed to the acts of isolated adventurists.
Wasn't the goal for each act or campaign a large scale insurgency eventually leading to the withdrawal of British forces in Ireland? The Tan War/WOI and the Provo campaign were simply longer and more active than the others.
 

diy01

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You could also argue, as National Sovereignty has not been achieved and using your own logic, that constitutional Nationalism has also failed to achieve anything of substance.
I could make a list from O Connell to Parnell to Hume and similarly point to failure.
And that the only success story in Irish history was the WOI (physical force Republicanism)
Better to fail using vocal argument and politics than fail using arms, in the process killing people, being killed yourself, being maimed, destroying families, leaving children without parents, spending years locked up, etc...
 

GDPR

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Wasn't the goal for each act or campaign a large scale insurgency eventually leading to the withdrawal of British forces in Ireland? The Tan War/WOI and the Provo campaign were simply longer and more active than the others.
I dont think Robert Emmet (I find it strange that it is much more acceptable in the South to admire him than it is to admire Provies- to me he was just a psycho) and people who carried out the murders of the two soldiers at the end of the noughties believed that what they were doing would gain mass support no mind actual political success. I think with them its more of a personal psychological thing of not submitting or whatever.
 
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GDPR

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Remember also if it had not been for the Orange Order acting the psycho there would neither have been the WOI or the Troubles; now there are mechanisms to restrain them and there connections to the English Ruling Elite grow less with every year. Whatever you may feel about the Provies militarily they were a very effective fighting force; the Dissos on the other hand have shown themselves to be terrible at fighting.
 

diy01

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Remember also if it had not been for the Orange Order acting the psycho there would neither have been the WOI or the Troubles; now there are mechanisms to restrain them and there connections to the English Ruling Elite grow less with every year. Whatever you may feel about the Provies militarily they were a very effective fighting force; the Dissos on the other hand have shown themselves to be terrible at fighting.
The Provos killed more people than any group during the Troubles, killed more civilians than any group, killed more Protestants than any group, killed more Catholics than any group, more of its own members were killed than any other paramilitary group; it was riddled with informers and agents and never came close to achieving its primary objective. Its political associates in Sinn Féin now help administer British rule in Northern Ireland and its leader in the Northern Assembly is on friendly terms with the British Monarch. Such success!

The IRA was only effective at ending lives and destroying families. Ireland's slowest learners...
 
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Catalpast

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The fight for Independence was both Constitutional and Violent - sometimes in tandem - sometimes not.

We pretty well gained our Independence from Britain (North apart)

- but have unfortunately surrendered so much to the EU now

- that we are no longer an Independent Nation State

And yes the resort to arms was very effective in making Britain give concessions

- if violence had not been resorted to

- or at least the Shadow of the Gunman (and before him Captain Moonlight)

- then we would be somewhere like Scotland is today

- and what they have there is only of very recent origin

It may be noted to that in the current Debates about going for all out Independence

no one supporting the Union has threatened to or resorted to violence to usurp a result

- that would be contrary to that Union....

Think about that one!
 

RodShaft

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On more than one occasion, the late Ruairí Ó Brádaigh stated that although any "loss of life is regrettable" history had taught us that as long as there was a British presence anywhere in Ireland, armed resistance to it would always exist. That was his view and it remained so throughout his life, as well as his resolute attachment to the principle of abstentionism. The result was utter marginalisation of his brand of 'purist' republican separatism and that of his party, Republican Sinn Féin, which was always small, but has been torn apart by splits, expulsions and resignations in recent years. When Ó Brádaigh died in 2013, the prospects of a united Ireland were even further away than when he joined Sinn Féin and then the IRA in 1950-51.

Surely, history also teaches us that republican physical force/violence in Ireland always ends in failure.

Why did it take the bulk of the republican movement so long to grasp this?

Why are there still hundreds of active, armed 'dissident'/anti-GFA republicans spread across multiple organisations?


Republicans must be the slowest learners in Irish history...

1798, United Irishmen rebellion
1803, Emmet's 'rebellion' [skirmish]
1848, Young Ireland skirmish
1867, Fenian Rising
1866 - 1871, Fenian raids in North America
1881 - 1885, Clan na Gael 'Dynamite Campaign' in England
1916, Easter Rising
1919 - 1921, Irish War of Independence,
1922 - 1923, Irish Civil War,
1939 - 1940, IRA 'Sabotage Campaign' in England
1942 - 1944, IRA 'Northern Campaign'
1956 - 1962, IRA Border Campaign
1969 - 1972 (and beyond?) - Official IRA campaign
1969 - 1997 [2005?], Provisional IRA campaign
1974 - 2009, INLA campaign
1986 - 1992, IPLO campaign
1998 - 2012, Real IRA campaign

1994 - Present, Continuity IRA campaign
2009 - Present, Óglaigh na hÉireann campaign
2010 - Present, Northern-based CIRA splinter group (?)
2012 - Present, 'New IRA'/a.k.a. Óglaigh na hÉireann campaign

A long list of futility!

What progress towards a United Ireland has ever been achieved without physical force?


Home Rule (less power than the Welsh Assembley, basically super county council)? Don't make me laugh.

Certainly the current ROI state was achieved through violence, and without violence, we'd be like Wales now, or possibly Scotland.

The reason that a United Ireland is further away is because there is currently no effective bombing campaign.

The next one, which will take place against a background of a Unionist bloc having little or no power, will probably succeed.

And no, I'm neither advocating it, nor having any notion of who will do it, or when it will happen. Things things just spring up.
 

Fr. Hank Tree

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Surely, history also teaches us that republican physical force/violence in Ireland always ends in failure?
Um...no :? The Easter Rising - War of Independence secured a level of freedom that simply couldn't be achieved constitutionally. The measure of independence we had in 1922 was a world away from what was on the table with home rule.

And a generation previously, the Fenian threat was important factor in the Land War.

The PIRA campaign in the north brought about constitutional changes in the north which would not have been available by purely constitutional means. The flakey borderline-pathetic state of contemporary unionism is a testament to the success of this.

Like Catalpa, I don't see the violent and constitutional routes as two completely separate strands, but rather as alternating strategies of a singular movement. Good cop bad cop. The likes of O'Connell and Parnell were incredibly important too.
 
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diy01

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Um...no :? The Easter Rising - War of Independence secured a level of freedom that simply couldn't be achieved constitutionally. The measure of independence we had in 1922 was a world away from what was on the table with home rule.

And a generation previously, the Fenian threat was important factor in the Land War.

The PIRA campaign in the north brought about constitutional changes in the north which would not have been available by purely constitutional means. The flakey borderline-pathetic state of contemporary unionism is a testament to the success of this.

Like Catalpa, I don't see the violent and constitutional routes as two completely separate strands, but rather as alternating strategies of a singular movement. Good cop bad cop. The likes of O'Connell and Parnell were incredibly important too.
Did you know that five of NICRA's six main demands were met before the end of 1971? Universal adult suffrage in local elections, the abolition of the B-Specials (USC), a boundary commission for councils, reforms in housing and employment. The Special Powers Act was repealed later, in 1973.

Now of course those were reformist demands, rather than the demands of republican separatism, but much had been achieved without widespread violence before 1972. I'm arguing that physical force has been largely counterproductive for Irish nationalism and republicanism.
 

RodShaft

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Did you know that five of NICRA's six main demands were met before the end of 1971? Universal adult suffrage in local elections, the abolition of the B-Specials (USC), a boundary commission for councils, reforms in housing and employment. The Special Powers Act was repealed later, in 1973.

Now of course those were reformist demands, rather than the demands of republican separatism, but much had been achieved without widespread violence before 1972. I'm arguing that physical force has been largely counterproductive for Irish nationalism and republicanism.
I know what you are arguing, but it is propaganda.

To argue that much of anything has been achieved without violence or the threat of violence is ludicrous.
 

diy01

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The Easter Rising - War of Independence secured a level of freedom that simply couldn't be achieved constitutionally. The measure of independence we had in 1922 was a world away from what was on the table with home rule.
We can only speculate. Considering the Statute of Westminster of 1931, who knows what would have been achieved if the WOI hadn't occurred. I believe it made partition a certainty. Hardly a grand achievement from the republican viewpoint.

I'd also suggest that most Irish people would have been content with their own parliament within the British Empire, if only Ireland had been treated as an equal partner within the UK. Many Irish people wanted a slice of the imperial pie. A fair share. This never happened, of course, and successive British governments deserve a lot of blame.
 


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