Monday 22 January 2018

Time to muzzle the dogs of war

Madam – Waiting for Sinn Fein/IRA to apologise unilaterally for resorting to political violence could be a long wait ('Apology Long Overdue', Letters, Sunday Independent, April 13, 2014). No, what is urgently needed is for that majority of Irish opinion which was never at ease aboard the violence train to wake up and assert itself. The true split in Irish affairs, going back well before 1916, was that between those who were prepared to work along constitutional lines and those who weren't. And that remains the unacknowledged fault-line still.

In these times of ferment, leadership is needed which will finally put the cat amongst the 'ambivalence-to-violence' pigeons. A new, social-democratic, libertarian, political party which is totally dedicated to, not only an avowed adherence to constitutionalism, but is not afraid to distance itself from the violence of the past, is what Ireland needs. Sinn Fein has the other three parties over a barrel on the question of violence, as 2016 nears, all the others also having blood on their hands in one way or another. It is time to reconnect with that stream of Irish opinion which was forced underground a century ago, and has had to pay lip-service to gunmen, their excesses and their apologists ever since.

Such an initiative would push the dormant rump of armed strugglers – whether Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, or Sinn Fein – into the same camp, and leave the constitutional ground free for occupation by those who eschew violence and aren't tarred by the 'bloody legacy'. The armed doggie-in-the-manger has held sway for far too long. The creation of a non-violence party would force all parties to either reject violence or at least to clarify their positions. There is nothing un-Irish about believing in peaceful politics. Until it is free from violence, Ireland shall never be at peace.

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