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The 'Peace Process' assessed, (January 1995).
'It was rather a cessation or war than the beginning of peace'- Cicero

AS WE GO TO PRESS in early January we can say that things have not gone as badly as they might have done since the IRA ceasefire came into effect at the beginning of September. In some ways the Adams-Hume strategy has come unstuck. We believe that it was initially intended to provoke the loyalist paramilitary groups into a violent response against the Catholic population. This would have been the excuse to unleash a massive British state attack which would have destroyed all armed resistance and repressed all political opposition to the new agenda. In the event the Combined Loyalist Military Command called its own ceasefire and avoided the trap which had been prepared for it. However, the attempt to isolate and weaken any resistance to the aims of the fraudulent `peace process' has not abated.

It is time for a proper assessment of the current state of the `peace process' as it stands at the beginning of 1995. When the news of the secret contacts between the British government and the IRA first broke in Autumn 1993, John Major and Patrick Mayhew assured parliament that they had been contacted by the IRA to say that as far as they (the Provos) were concerned the conflict was over and they wanted advice from the British government on how to stop it. Of course Major and Mayhew's credibility was somewhat dented by their previous claims that speculation about any such contacts with the Provos was the fantasy of cheap spy fiction rather than real life, (Mayhew) and that the very idea of such talks would turn Major's stomach. However, being caught out at lying (or at best in duplicity) doesn't seem to have put off them off it .

So here is the image as put about by Major and Mayhew. The war weary Provos realise that they can't win so they turn political in an attempt to salvage something to save face. John Hume, Dublin and Washington have cleverly outwitted Sinn Fein by locking them into the democratic process and preventing any return to the armed struggle. The British government would have us believe that its secret contacts with Sinn Fein/IRA have ended and that no secret deals, understandings, nods or winks were exchanged with the Provos. Indeed there is nothing to worry about, any suspicions to the contrary should be put out of our minds and we can all rest easy, sure that the British government would never sell us down the river to Dublin. Perish the thought Sure aren't we going to get a referendum?

This line seems to have convinced The Spectator's 1994 'Parliamentarian of the Year', Jim Molyneaux, whose party propped up the Tories in votes which would have thrown them out of office had they failed. Strangely enough the same line also appears to have been accepted by the political wings of the loyalist paramilitary groups who have announced that 'the Union is safe' in the hands of Mayhew and Major.

Of course the big flaw in that argument is in accepting anything at face value that these two lying, hypocritical, sleazy reprobates say. In the Sunday Telegraph Christopher Booker recently wrote, "A common charge against this government is that it has almost lost the capacity to tell the truth. But this is by no means just a matter of telling obvious lies. The real problem is how much of what is said can no longer be taken at face value, and how one must continually look behind the words to see what is being hidden." (December 18th.1994).

Mr Booker complained that this was particularly the case in almost anything to do with Britain's relations with the European Community but it is even more the case in relation to Ulster. In 1993 the release of two separate versions of the dialogue between Martin McGuinness and the British government proved that he had more credibility than Patrick Mayhew.

A media smokescreen has sought to give plaudits to John Hume, Albert Reynolds, Dick Spring, the US government (and in some cases even John Major) for persuading the IRA to turn away from violence. They have done no such thing. As early as 1988, Sinn Féin published two pamphlets, Towards A Lasting Peace and A Scenario for Peace. These documents were the basis for the first bilateral talks between Adams and Hume, the construction of the pan-Irish nationalist strategy and what became known as the 'Hume-Adams peace process'. This is made clear from Conor Foley's pro-IRA book, Legion of the Rearguard (Pluto Press 1992) which outlines republican strategy in the wake of John Hume's greatest political triumph so far- the 1985 Hillsborough Pact. "The republican response has been to call for the creation of a movement for National Democracy (sic) involving all parties, north and south of the border, in favour of Irish reunification. Some progress towards this was seen during a series of discussions between Sinn Fein and the SDLP in 1988. The political gap between the two sides was described as not unduly removed by the SDLP , which stressed that it regarded the IRA's campaign as the principle obstacle to further co-operation." The establishment of the Orwellian 'Forum for Peace and Reconciliation' in Dublin indicates that this pan-Irish nationalist strategy is now operational. It is clear that since August 31st [1994 - date of first Provo ceasefire] we have all been dancing to a Provo tune.

Martin McGuinness - who, let's face it, knows better than most people - has said that "the republican movement has entered this process in a position of strength; not a position of weakness ". So, we don't see an IRA cowed into giving up the armed struggle because of war-weariness, inability to continue, the prospect of imminent defeat or a decline in public support within its host Catholic population. Major and Mayhew are lying again. The IRA is still as strong and vigorous as ever it was and it is still calling the shots. The present period of pseudo-peace is now an instrument of blackmail in the hands of the IRA/Sinn Féin leadership. The hope is that the people will love the 'peace' so much that they will give up everything in order to hold on to it.

The thing is - people like peace. No-one under thirty can really remember a time when the conflict here was not a part of their everyday life. Most people in our small country have been touched in some way by the conflict over the past 25 years. We all know of someone - a friend, perhaps, or a relative - who has been killed or maimed. We have all had our lives distorted or disrupted in some way so the possibility that it may all at last be over is very welcome. For the first time many Ulsterfolk are sampling the delights of going about their daily lives without the constant threat of becoming another grim statistic.

This means that some political leaders and commentators are very sensitive to any criticism of the drift of the so-called 'peace process'. One critic in particular, Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien, has been singled out for some of the most vicious abuse for his honest appraisals of the 'peace process' and his predictions of problems ahead. He has been described in a new book as 'probably the most hated man in Ireland'. The truth is that the bulk of the media opinion-formers don't want to know. Some may be just starry-eyed and intoxicated with thoughts of peace and reconciliation around the corner. Others, however, have their own pan-Irish nationalist political agenda to advance. Sinn Féin and their hangers-on in the Irish and British media have mounted a sustained propaganda campaign to consolidate all their political gains since the IRA's cessation of military operations. We used to be threatened by the chance of ending up on the IRA's list of 'legitimate targets'. Now we are intimidated by the threat of a resumption of the IRA's campaign - or as they put it so delicately, 'this could endanger the peace process'- if things don't go to their liking. The future of the 'peace process' lies in a constant stream of concessions to pan-Irish nationalist demands culminating in the British agreeing to become 'persuaders' in favour of Irish unity. In effect the Provos are holding a gun to all our heads saying, 'Hand over the loot or we'll blow your brains out'. This is political mugging rather than genuine negotiation.

It is generally accepted that the IRA's Army Council only agreed by a very narrow margin to call its current ceasefire. The underlying tensions in that organisation will be unlikely to keep it united unless Adams and McGuinness can deliver up Ulster on a plate. We are living in a virtual replay of the original 'Anglo-Irish Truce' which ran from July - December 1921. That truce also led to negotiations with the republican leadership, an Anglo-Irish Treaty and the formation of the Irish Free State. It also caused a bloody civil war when the IRA and Sinn Fein split over the terms of the settlement. Neither Adams nor McGuinness are likely to want to suffer the fate of Michael Collins - murder at the hands of former comrades - so if things don't go all their way they will just pocket all the concessions anyway, claim British or loyalist bad faith with the help of their friends in the media and then `reluctantly' resume the war.

We advise Ulster patriots not to let down your guard. Accept no bland assurances from the British government; no 'everything is going to be all right in the end' self-delusion from bought unionist politicians and no patronising 'we'll treat you like long lost brothers and sisters in a new Ireland once you've had the holy crap beaten out of you by the Brits' from Leinster House politicians.

David Kerr

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