Dystopia of violent politics is a daily reality for some
The real power lies in the hands of those who weren't afraid to keep the gun in Irish politics, writes Carol Hunt
Published 23/08/2015 | 02:30
What if? What if Irish politics never transitioned from the gun to solely the democratic use of the ballot box? What would our society be like if some of the people who founded our State, in blood, sacrifice and violence, held onto their weapons? Alternative histories are all the rage at the moment, so "what if" the Citizen Army who fought in the Rising of 1916, for instance, just hadn't gone away.
It's coming up to a general election and the country's political parties are coming out, all guns blazing. Some literally. Down in the bowels of North Dublin's Liberty Hall four high-ranking members of the Provisional Citizen Army (PCA) talk strategy about Labour Nua, the political wing of their military organisation.This is where the power of Labour Nua lies. For how on earth is a "political party" supposed to raise cash, fight the good fight, keep dissenters in line and punish the opposition, if they don't have a covert military wing calling the shots (see what I did there)? On the floor of the Irish parliament?
Sure, no-one takes a blind bit of notice what powerless politicians witter about in that souped up talking shop. Dail Eireann is a facade behind which the real power hides. Everyone knows that the real power still lies in the hands of the boys who weren't afraid to keep the gun in Irish politics. Labour Nua are currently in a power-sharing government with their opposition, but they plan on eventually taking over the entire government - by whatever means necessary.
And so the North Dublin branch of the Provisional Citizen Army are discussing the recent "execution" of a previous member who dared to question their power. In an organisation of their size and history, this is not a rare occurrence. Across the corridor, three men and a woman are interrogating a young member of Labour Nua, who is alleging that she was sexually abused by one of the Citizen Army's top brass.
She is ordered to keep silent about her ordeal in case news of it reaches the opposition and they use it as a propaganda weapon.
It's a regular problem that, when it crops up, is always dealt with internally.
Next door, the fundraising arm of the organisation is busy working on its extensive property portfolio and other - less orthodox - means of raising cash. That will then be funnelled into funds to recruit bright, new, shiny members for the upcoming election. They may not know it yet, but if they are elected they will do exactly as they are told.
In nearby housing estates, families are being interviewed by Citizen Army soldiers in relation to the killing of one of their members by a splinter group earlier that year.
The murder has been revenged but it's important to ensure that no-one talks to the Free State "official" police about the matter - although of course, few would dare as they know what the consequences would be.
Meanwhile, canvassing across the rest of the country is going well. And though much of the electorate suspect how Labour Nua is funded and who the real power behind the political party is, some will turn a blind eye and vote for them. There are even those for whom the whiff of gunpowder is an aphrodisiac; for whom violence is a turn-on. Meanwhile, those in this dystopian society who dare criticise Labour Nua are silenced.
It's so far-fetched it's practically unimaginable, isn't it? And what sort of an electorate would be expected to support them if they did?
It would be state-sponsored terrorism. None of us would accept that. And yet, the above is exactly the situation that our fellow Irish citizens find themselves in not two hours' drive from here.
For them, it's not an imagined alternative history, it's not a dystopian world. For them, it's daily life.