Correspondence: Lickspittle defence of Good Friday meets opposition
14 January 2009
I would like to make use of the site to comment on a recent debate in the columns of the northern press between spin-doctor Martin Mansergh and republican activists. The debate indicates a growing disquiet arising from Sinn Fein’s assimilation into the local state structures, amplified by their failure to hold the British and the DUP to any of their St. Andrews commitments. Criticism is growing and Mansergh stepped in to shore up the Sinn Fein position.
What is striking is the extreme weakness of the Dublin support position. The Mansergh argument seems to boil down to the proposition that the majority are happy with the status quo and this equates to democracy. From this perspective any past period of defeat or lull in the republican struggle could be taken as a demonstration that British occupation of the whole island of Ireland was a democratic outcome!
By comparison the republican arguments are quite lucid, resting either on a legal argument or an appeal to logic. Unfortunately they are also quite misplaced.
The legal argument can be ignored. The slaughter in Gaza will tell anyone all they want to know about the lack of importance that attaches to international law when imperialist interests are involved. It defies belief that anyone outside the ranks of republicanism will ever take up questions about the first and second Dail.
The logical argument is much stronger – pointing out the clauses in the Good Friday agreement that copper fasten partition and therefore deny Irish democracy. Their weakness lies the idea that supporters of the deal believe that it is democratic and must be disabused of this belief. Many Sinn Fein supporters understand that the settlement is not democratic, but believe that it will slowly evolve into a democratic settlement or that it doesn’t matter – people’s everyday needs will be met within the current arrangement.
A critique of the settlement should focus on its actual workings and failures and indicate how a denial of democracy on a national scale evolves into the repression of individuals, communities and classes. The dubious promises of the Good Friday Agreement have gradually metamorphosed into a DUP platform realised in the St. Andrews replacement. Has everyone slept through the latest evolution of the deal, where the minor concessions to Sinn Fein in St. Andrews were effectively nullified, the Sinn Fein boycott of the government collapsed and only a nationalist presence as junior partners in Stormont seems to remain?
The agreement has failed politically. It is lacking in any economic content other than subsidising the rich and providing largesse to large body of freeloaders. The policy of the administration is to hope that handouts from Britain, Europe and the US will continue to arrive. The main social effect is a capitulation to loyalism, elevated into every corner of civic life, and a growing silent sectarian polarisation similar to the quiet desperation of life under the old Stormont before the troubles.
The idea that a revamped nationalism will lead the way forward seems utterly implausible. The one area where Martin Mansergh speaks with conviction is when he implies that the great and the good are all on board. Fianna Fail were once the republican party. Sinn Fein were once the republican party. It’s seems to be as clear as day that future nationalist movement will only follow a well-worn path to failure and capitulation.
I share with SD the belief that a future movement will target the fat cats of Irish capital and mobilise the working class to establish the workers republic.