Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

“Was it Worth 25 Years?” Some Ask. But the Struggle is Not Over.

Prepared and Distributed: Autumn 1994.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Those who ask, “Was it worth 25 years?” assume the struggle is over. It’s far from over. The force of revolutionary nationalism has still to play its hand; the Six counties remain, as does the aspiration and struggle to reunify Ireland. Without the armed resistance the British state would not be edging forwards to the inevitable negotiations. Republican sacrifice has underlined that there can be no internal settlement, no return to Stormont and all that it represented.

Since the 1988 discussion document “A Scenario for Peace”, the architect of the peace process has been the Republican movement. The British government has embarked upon a process which they will be unable to control. The ceasefire represents the beginning of another phase of struggle, and not the end of “The Troubles”. It is clear that the impetus for peace will not stumble because of Republican action. The responsibility to fail to grasp the opportunity created by the republican movement will lay squarely with either Dublin or London. Dublin’s role may be undermined by the fragility of its own ruling coalition. London can reject the process and retreat to the failed practices of the past that could not extinguish the most sustained insurgency in the industrialised world.

Today’s republicans have endured because of the support of the nationalist people – ’ordinary people acting under extraordinary circumstances’. 1969 began with demands for decent housing, an end to rigged voting and denial of catholic civil rights – the reaction of the sectarian Stormont was the B Specials and mobs on the street. Today no settlement would involve the return to unionist domination, misrule or abuse of democratic rights. Twenty-five years of resistance has ensured there can be no ’internal’ settlement. The status quo is not an option.

Major and Mayhew have constantly repeated that Britain had no ’selfish, strategic or economic interest’ in the Six Counties, identifying London as the honest broker. The Republican movement correctly identifies the British state’s involvement as the principal obstacle to Irish unity. Indeed, the insistence that the will of the North of Ireland majority would be decisive in the future (rather that the will of all the people or Ireland, or even the will of the British people) remains the substantive rock upon which the Republican peace initiative could break. On this Republicans are clear: the fundamental question of reconciling the two competing claims of sovereignty was impossible (Gerry Adams, The Guardian, Sept. 10, 1994). However, the loyalists can only be resolved by persuasion. What must be removed is the Westminster guarantee.

The ceasefire declaration has been accompanied by the explanations of the need to ’demilitarise’ the political situation, to use mass political struggle – not simply representative politicking – to continue the struggle towards a united Ireland. The Republican movement has a strong social base and international opinion on its side. Sinn Fein should be supported in its call for the British government to support the peace process. We should continue to campaign for the end to British involvement in Irish affairs.

It is Time For Peace! Time for Britain to go!