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Written after the collapse of the IRA ceasefire in February 1996.
Why are the IRA bombing London? 

Third Way and Ulster Nation, have both been sceptical of the so-called 'peace process' since it was launched by John Hume and Gerry Adams a number of years ago. Right from the outset we exposed how it was aimed at building a strong pan-Irish nationalist consensus which would isolate the unionists, loyalists and Ulster patriots to such a degree that they would be 'persuaded' to accept so-called 'Irish unity'. Under massive pressure from 'nationalist Ireland' and the US government, the British establishment were to coerce the unwilling majority into meekly accepting their fate. 

We are astonished at the initial refusal of the British media and political establishment to believe that the Isle of Dogs bomb was really the IRA's work. There was much talk of splinter groups and factions but it is obvious that this action was the work of the IRA's Army Council. 

Any other view expressed was either wishful thinking or disinformation. The Provos' ceasefire was a tactical move from the start. It was originally intended to clear the way for the British to deal with loyalist paramilitary violence which it was assumed would continue. This came unstuck when the Combined Loyalist Military Command declared a ceasefire. The CLMC organisations did not even oblige by responding to last summer's Sinn Féin orchestrated street provocations or the widespread campaign of arson. This must have frustrated the IRA leadership who like to claim that they are responding to inevitable sectarian and British repression. Some of the other factors which caused the Provos' patience to fail are examined in another article  which was written a week before the ceasefire's abrupt and bloody end. 

We have always argued that the Provos were in the game of blackmail - 'give us what we want or we'll kill you but it will be your fault for resisting our demands'. Ulsterfolk have refused to bow the knee to Provo aggression since 1969 and will continue to do so. Perhaps this is why the first attacks of the IRA's renewed campaign have been in London, the soft underbelly of the British State. We well recall that the British only started negotiations with IRA/Sinn Fein after the last bombs in Bishopsgate and the Baltic Exchange. This is suggested in an article published in the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht, which quotes the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, boasting that London carries out foreign exchange deals worth US$450 billion a day, more than the US and Japan put together. London is also the Eurobond dealing capital of the world and in 1994 over half of the international equity trading was carried out there. The same article also quotes the Daily Telegraph City Comment as saying, "The City of London remains the powerhouse of the British economy and if capital could somehow be induce to flee, then the country would be sorely damaged." The implications here are plain. 'Do what we want or we will wreck your economy'. 

Sir Hugh Annesley, the Chief Constable of the RUC was right when he said in the aftermath of the Isle of Dogs outrage that every IRA bomb in London is worth many more in Belfast or Londonderry in terms of publicity and destructive effect. However it may also be the case that the IRA will begin to target prominent political opponents in both mainland Britain and Ulster in an attempt to remove able opponents from the scene and to provoke retaliation from the UFF or UVF. In the latter case they will once again pose as the defenders of their community rather than the aggressors they actually are. It is still too early to say. All we can urge in the meantime is for possible targets to be vigilant. 

There is no political excuse for the latest spate of bombs in London. In their communiqué announcing the end of their ceasefire, the IRA claimed, "The blame for the failure thus far of the Irish peace process lies squarely with John Major and his government. "This Provo claim that the 'Brits made us do it' lacks any credibility. They have sole responsibility for bringing the gun and the bomb back into Ulster politics.

Despite their seemingly reasonable desire to bring about all-party talks wherein fact the combined Pan-Irish nationalist front backed by the US would gang up on the unionists in the hope of breaking their resistance, the IRA brook no compromise. During the 18 months of ceasefire they conceded nothing. There were numerous British government and unionist concessions. Indeed, on the very night of the Isle of Dogs bomb, BBC Northern Ireland was scheduled to screen the first ever face to face debate between a leading Sinn Féiner and Unionist MP. The IRA were not interested in small breakthroughs over time - it wanted all its own way and has proven it cannot be trusted. Now we know that it would use its weapons to force its way if all party talks came to nothing and that a 'complete' cessation is not the same as a 'permanent' cessation of military activities. 

In an interview in An Phoblacht an IRA GHQ staff member makes it dear that the Isle of Dogs bombing is not a one-off action. "We in Oglaigb na hÉireann will continue to assert Irish national rights in the face of British denial for as long as is necessary." 

The flaw in the Republican argument is that it does not recognise the right of self-determination for the Ulster people. No 'peace process' can truly succeed without such an acknowledgement. It cannot be wished away. The past 25 years show that it has not been bombed away. It is also true that even if the British establishment sought to hand Ulster to the pan-Irish nationalist front on a silver platter, they will face determined resistance. 

If the IRA launch sectarian attacks on loyalist areas in Ulster it is likely that the CLMC will resume their own counter terrorist campaign and the whole bloody cycle will resume. There are already said to be rumbles of discontent in the mid-Ulster UVF.

David Kerr

This article first appeared in Third Way magazine issue 25, Spring 1996.

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