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Ulster's future - War or Peace?

TOGETHER WITH ELEMENTS of the media, John Hume and the Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin wings of the pan-Irish national chauvinist front have sought to exculpate the IRA of responsibility for its return to 'armed struggle'. In the

interval between the resumption of the IRA's military campaign in England and the scheduled date for 'all-party talks' on the future of Ulster these parties have leaked letters which purport to show that John Major 'tried to sink Irish peace' [Independent 24/4/96]. However, the research published by David McKittrick and Eamon Mallie in their new book The Fight for Peace shows that there was more than one strand to the so-called peace process. Unknown to the Dublin regime, the British government had opened up talks with the IRA in 1990 under Peter Brooke. Dublin was very upset when word of this leaked in November 1993. All that the documents do show is that Mr Major was sceptical that the prolonged Hume-Adams talks would be able to bring about an IRA ceasefire. To be fair to Major - which these elements are not prepared to be - many observers and commentators felt the same in 1993 when Ulster seemed to be on the brink of the abyss in the wake of the Shankill bombing and the Greysteel massacre.

It must be remembered that the text of the Hume-Adams Agreement of 1993 has never been made public. However, the text of the Downing Street Declaration of December 1993 over which Sinn Féin felt the need to take over seven months of 'clarification', was first drafted by John Hume in 1991. Amendments were made to this draft by Albert Reynolds the then Taoiseach. Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and the Army Council of the IRA before it was given by Mr Reynolds to Mr Major in June 1993. This it will be recalled is the document in which the British government declared that it had 'no selfish strategic or economic interest' in Ulster. It also declared that it would allow for legislation for a 'sovereign united Ireland' but denied any right of self-determination for Ulster.

Fianna Fail are clearly leaking all these documents for their own purposes - to advance their pan-Irish nationalist agenda in the run-up to the 'all-party' talks in June. This is intended to put pressure on the British and Dublin governments to roll over to Sinn Féin's demands. The other form of pressure is coming from the IRA's renewed military campaign in England. The IRA leadership have not forgotten that the British government began to take them seriously when they hit the Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate in the City of London.

It must be stressed that the IRA are not a bunch of mindless criminal blood-junkies. They entered into a ceasefire because they believed that they could gain many concessions through the 'Total Unarmed Struggle'. As the concessions through 'TUAS' When this was written in May 1996,TUAS was thought to mean Total Unarmed Struggle.  It later came out that it actually meant Tactical Use of Armed Struggle. did not come hard enough or quickly enough they returned to war. "We in Oglaigh na h'Éireann will continue to assert Irish national rights in the face of British denial for as long as is necessary." This decoded means that they will continue to set off bombs and kill people. The major flaw in the IRA's argument is that they do not look at self-determination for the Ulster people. They seek to pressurise the British government to force the loyalists, unionists and Ulster patriots into lying down and accepting whatever crumbs come their way.

In an interview in the Sinn Féin newspaper, An Phoblacht, [7/3/96] an Army Council spokesperson claimed patronisingly that, "The IRA have no desire to engage loyalists in any military sense. The basic flaw w on loyalist ideology is that their sole objective has been to maintain an elite British and unionist upper-class establishment. It is a massive contradiction for organisations made up of working-class people. Let us hope that such contradictions have been resolved." The IRA's own basic contradiction is that it will rely on this same establishment to destroy loyalist resistance and on elements in the unionist parties to 'do a DeKlerk' and cave in to their pan-Irish national chauvinist political demands.

The Army Council interview suggests that the IRA are not yet ready to resume the armed struggle in Ulster. If they do it appears likely that they will face fierce resistance from loyalist terrorists. A loyalist source told the Belfast

Telegraph that, "It will be a very different war. We hope it doesn't come to it. But if the IRA pushes us back into the arena there will be a heavy price to pay... There is still some confusion about what they arc up to - are these latest attacks a signal that we are back to all-out war or a negotiating tactic? ... An attack in Northern Ireland would clearly signal that we are back in war. In the present circumstances an attack by the IRA here could not be interpreted in any other way." CLMC source BT 8/3/96. The CLMC has pledged that "We are poised and ready to strike to effect lie will give blow for blow. As in the past, whatever the cost, we will gladly pay it. Now is the time to drawback from the brink!" ,

"We all have hard decisions to make in the cause of peace The IRA and Sinn Féin must now choose and choose well." CLMC 12/3/96. In the meantime we must organise for the only real alternative to the sterile politics of unionism and republicanism - an independent and free Ulster nation.

David Kerr

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