Hard line old school brigade still has an iron grip on SF party
Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams's strings are being pulled by diehard republicans with an inherent hatred for the South, who are stuck in a '32 county' mindset, writes Jim Cusack
'Traitors and Collaborationists' in the Republic should beware; if the Provisional IRA's Northern Command, via its political off-shoot Sinn Fein, assumes power in Leinster House, there may well be a reckoning.
Let us be clear on the reality of Sinn Fein and the hard line republicans who still hold sway. The Northern command is still very much in control, still has an iron grip on the party.
No one is more aware of this than Gerry Adams, whose kowtowing to the boys of the old brigade is not just expediency, but a core value.
Time has moved on for the rest of us, but for Adams and the SF Northern cadre, there is still the same mindset that existed in Long Kesh back in the 70s. Their utter disdain, nay contempt, for the organs of State in the Republic is still part of their creed.
Brian Keenan, the Provos' one-time chief of staff, put the organisation's view of the government and security forces of the '26 Counties' succinctly in an Easter oration in Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast in 2000 when he referred to "those bastards in power in the Free State".
Like their Protestant neighbours, 'Fenians' in the North generally don't like the Republic much. (The Prods weirdly continue to refer to it as 'Eire' in what they feel is a derisory term). What the two sides share is a general ignorance of life in the 'South'. It's okay for holidays, the odd match in Croke Park, or now with the Sterling-Euro disparity, shopping, but generally speaking, Northerners hold the Republic in low esteem.
It's not difficult to understand why. They have free health, free education and excellent public authority services. Should this and subsequent governments seek to really tackle the issue of public authority housing, they need to look no further than the Housing Executive, a model for a public housing authority that stands in comparison with the best in the world, despite its local detractors.
The much-despised Maggie Thatcher introduced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) provision to provide free cars for those deemed disabled. And the North, particularly its working-class Catholic areas, isthe most avid subscribers to this scheme.
Despite the furore in the North over recent Tory social welfare cuts, the fact is that almost everyone on welfare or unemployment has every single service they need to survive provided free.
"Why work?" is still a common refrain. The old unionist adage about Catholic nationalists - 'loyal to the half crown' - could still be said to apply.
If you want to see the Sinn Fein economic and social model for Irish society, go to west Belfast or south Armagh - but don't drink the water in the latter. The northern Provos, of a certain age, harbour a deep sense of resentment, or like Brian Keenan, a hatred of the Republic. The South was supposed to support their campaign to drive the Protestants out and achieve a united Ireland, but after a year or two of truly horrific sectarian slaughter, the majority in the Republic began to react with repugnance to what their co-religionists were doing.
The last time the northern contingent travelled south en masse was in July 1981 when about 8,000 were brought to Dublin to burn down the British Embassy in Ballsbridge. It was during the hunger strike in Long Kesh. Together with a similar number of southern supporters, they descended on 500 gardai across the road outside the RDS and began showering them with bricks and other missiles.
The gardai withstood the barrage for 25 minutes before an injured Chief Superintendent John S Robinson, gave the order to draw batons. The 400 gardai still standing forced the northerners across the Liffey with an energy and vigour that is probably still recalled by some old DMR men and must lurk in the minds of the many less fleet-footed of the Provos.
When the Provos started cutting up rough with the Garda, they began to experience the type of robust response that the Republic deployed in previous periods of IRA insurgency.
When the Republic re-opened the Curragh detention camp in the early 1970s and the Provos began protesting, they did not find the same kind of acquiescent attitude they experienced in the North. They were sprayed with slurry when they tried to mount protests like they allowed to do in Long Kesh.
The proper Oglaigh na hEireann had better watch out should the IRA/Sinn Fein plan to achieve power in the Republic succeeds. The Permanent Defence Forces are definitely in the collaborationist/traitor bracket and will need reform, possibly starting with a new chief of staff brought down from west Belfast to set things right.
The gardai, especially those retired members of the Special Branch and the Special Task Force set up in the 1970s to counter the threat to the State from the Provos, could find themselves hauled before tribunals of inquiry. The Department of Justice's files will be raked through to find evidence of anti-Republican treason.
The Labour Party, with its sizeable intake of the Provos' most-hated enemies of the former 'Official' republican movement, would be well up the queue for the firing squad.
RTE should be fine but those other elements of the Irish media who failed to make the grade in their support for the 'Struggle' and 'Peace Process' will need re-education.
This all sounds like utter nonsense but when you read closely the approved material still being published in An Phoblacht and, particularly the ramblings ascribed to Gerry Adams in his weekly column in the west Belfast-based Andersonstown News, you could be forgiven for having the impression that there is a hard core of Northern ex-IRA prisoners and Provo stalwarts who still believe these scenarios.
The IRA mindset has not as the linguistically challenged west Belfast boss, Bobby Storey put it: "...become a butterfly, it's flew away". It remains petrified in the 'revolutionary council' mode of the Long Kesh detention camp of the early 1970s where Gerry Adams spent a few years surrounded by like-minded pals, none of them from the South.
Their vision of a '32-country socialist republic' has withstood the fall of the Berlin Wall, the free world's revulsion of totalitariamism. The Provisional IRA's best foreign friends were Muammar Gadaffi, Hezbollah, Cuba and the Colombian FARC.
Yet, in the insulated, centrally controlled world of Provisionalism, there is no mutter of dissent or sense of contradiction when Gerry rubs shoulders with Wall Street in his frequent trans-Atlantic jaunts.
The shiny new breed of Free State shinners stand by their Northern bosses no matter what. That is the sign of totalitarianism. It broaches no dissent and punishes its enemies.
Adams has laid down his line on the Republic. The first thing to go is the Special Criminal Court.