Massareene and all that


by Dr. Zoltan Neufeld

The reaction to the shooting of four British soldiers at Massereene barracks has been an unparalleled exercise in hypocrisy. Establishment stalwarts such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail came out with the usual tripe but the reactions from other groups have been little better.


Sinn Fein, desperately eager to please their Stormont paymasters, wheeled out Martin ‘Melancholy’ McGuinness who labelled the volunteers “traitors”. I like many was left wondering whether this was the same man who once declared “I am an IRA volunteer and am very very proud of it”. It would seem that following Provisional Sinn Fein’s capitulation to the British establishment history is to be rewritten. The Provos, it would seem, were democrats who fought with the consent of the majority of the population. However republicans have come to expect this position from PSF as we would from any party that sits in Stormont.


The organized leftist groups in Ireland were little better. Rather than admit that attacks were inevitable given the position of the British government, they queued up to issue their shrill condemnations. These same groups will quite rightly protest the occupation of Gaza yet will blithely ignore the plight of their own countrymen two hours up the road. I can only assume that these “trendy lefties” find the Irish struggle to be unfashionable and SOOOO 1970’s. The very fact that the soldiers killed were on their way to another imperialist occupation in Afghanistan seems to have escaped them. Supporting anti-imperialism would appear to be acceptable unless one is forced to do so in ones own country.


The attacks themselves do not necessarily have to be supported in merit. Plenty of republican stalwarts including Anthony McIntyre and Tommy McKearney voiced the opinion that they were an exercise in futility. From a short term strategic point of view both the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA received a boost in numbers and notoriety.


However without establishing a sound political alternative first these attacks cannot achieve any real success. However whilst we do not necessarily have to support the actions it is not acceptable to condemn them out of hand. The struggle against British imperialism in Ireland has continuously been ignored by the organized left in Ireland. Workers Power, a British based group, were amongst the few groups to declare the attacks legitimate. They did not support the actions but they at least were consistent in their approach.


The republican struggle must not be isolated or abandoned. The attacks have effectively drawn a line in the sand and it is time for people to get off the fence and take a stand. In 1969 it was left to the republican working class to defend the Bogside. In 2009 we see this repeated as the republican youth of Lurgan and Kilwikee took a stand for their communities.


Some may not agree with the aims of republican militants or the political position they espouse, but solidarity is a necessity rather than an option. We must not and should not ignore the internment of republicans, the harassment of communities by the PSNI and the continued suppression of the anti-GFA groups.


The left in Ireland has inspired little hope in republicans. Groups such as the IRSP have taken the correct stance for decades, whilst the SDLP and their cohorts stood by doing nothing. If there is any hope of a viable political solution then we must see the emergence of a coalition of both the left and the anti-agreement republicans; we must stand by the POW’s and the internees; and we must articulate our position to the British government.


The answer is simple: End the violence. End the occupation.


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