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The Long March pp 102-132 | Cite as

Confronting Unionism, Negotiation and Agreement, 1997–2001

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Abstract

The ‘restoration’ of the IRA ceasefire in July 1997 was predicated on an understanding that Sinn Féin would quickly be invited into peace talks. Once there, the Adams–McGuinness leadership imagined that the party would stand alongside the other forces of Irish nationalism (specifically, the SDLP and Fianna Fáil) to confront the British and their Unionist allies. Such was the alternative designed by the republican leadership to an IRA campaign that was demonstrably failing. It would be a mistake, however, to believe that, even in July 1997, Adams and McGuinness had completely ruled out a return to armed struggle. On the contrary, it was really only in the wake of the ‘Real’ IRA’s disastrous bombing of the town of Omagh in 1998 that any resumption of the IRA’s campaign became inconceivable in their minds; a point then further underlined by the al-Qaeda attacks on America (and the fallout from them), of 11 September 2001. The effect of the latter, in the words of Gerry MacLochlainn, a former member of Sinn Féin’s International Department, was such as to ‘make it almost impossible for groups to consider a particular form of struggle that would have been acceptable a few years ago’.2 Yet, prior to those events, it seems likely that the republican leadership felt that some sort of renewed campaign might have been possible in the event of further political failure. After all, therein lay the essence of the ‘tactical use of armed struggle’ strategy upon which the ceasefire was based: that the war could be switched on or off, according to the needs of the movement.

Keywords

British Government Peace Process Irish Government Irish Unity Party News 
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Notes

  1. 10.
    For further detail on the split that led to the creation of the ‘Real’ IRA/32 County Sovereignty Movement faction, see Moloney, A Secret History of the IRA, pp. 473–9; J. Mooney and M. O’Toole, Black Operations: The Secret War Against the Real IRA (Ashbourne, 2003), pp. 21–42.Google Scholar
  2. 15.
    J. Ruane and J. Todd, ‘The Belfast Agreement: Context, Content, Consequences’, in J. Ruane and J. Todd, After the Good Friday Agreement: Analysing Political Change in Northern Ireland (Dublin, 1999), p. 11.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    P. Bew, Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789–2006 (Oxford, 2007), p. 549.Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    M. McLaughlin, ‘The Irish Republican Ideal’, in N. Porter (ed.), The Republican Ideal: Current Perspectives (Belfast, 1998), pp. 78–9.Google Scholar
  5. 25.
    An example of the new language of ‘outreach’ to Unionists was provided by Alex Maskey, who became the first Sinn Féin mayor of Belfast in 2002. See, for example, Sinn Féin, The Memory of the Dead: Seeking Common Ground! Speech by Alex Maskey, Mayor of Belfast, 26 June 2002 (2002) (LLPC).Google Scholar
  6. 33.
    Sinn Féin, Speech by Pat Doherty, Sinn Féin Vice-President, for 80th Anniversary of 1916 Rising, Belfast, 7 April 1996 (1996) (LLPC). See also, ‘“No return to Stormont” — IRA: Easter Message from Óglaigh na hÉireann’, AP/RN, front page, 4 April 1996; G. Kelly, ‘There can be no return to Stormont’, AP/RN, 16 May 1996.Google Scholar
  7. 52.
    Sinn Féin, Annual Bodenstown Speech 1998, Address by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, 21 June 1998 (1998), available at <http://www.sinnFéin.ie/pdf/Speech_Bodenstown98.pdf >, last accessed 2 November 2006.Google Scholar
  8. 54.
    Collins, cited in T. P. Coogan, Michael Collins: A Biography (London, 1990), p. 301; B. Campbell, ‘Not a solution, but the potential for a solution’, AP/RN, 9 April 1998.Google Scholar
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    Cited in A. Guelke, ‘Ireland and South Africa: A Very Special Relationship’, Irish Studies in International Affairs, 11 (2000), p. 139.Google Scholar
  10. 100.
    Mao, for instance, argued that the maintenance of discipline within a revolutionary party required that ‘(1) the individual is subordinate to the organization’ and ‘(2) the minority is subordinate to the majority’. See M. Tse-Tung, ‘The role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War’, in M. Tse-Tung, Selected Works, vol. II (1983), pp. 203–4.Google Scholar
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    Sinn Féin, Ard Fheis Clar agus Ruin 2004 (Dublin, 2004) (LLPC), Motions 130–1, p. 12. Motion 130 calling for the party to attend the World Social Forum was passed. Motion 129, which called for a boycott of the World Economic Forum, was also passed and an attempted amendment to it from the party ard chomhairle was defeated. See also ‘An alternative globalisation is possible’, AP/RN, 4 March 2004.Google Scholar
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    Godson, Himself Alone, pp. 371–803; F. Millar, David Trimble: The Price of Peace (Dublin, 2004), pp. 65–81, 156–8.Google Scholar
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    McLaughlin, cited in P. Shirlow and M. McGovern, ‘Language, discourse and dialogue: Sinn Féin and the Irish peace process’, Political Geography, 17(2) (February 1998), p. 180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 140.
    For full details on the background to, and progression of, the Orange Order parades disputes in this period, see R. Dudley Edwards, The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions (London, 2000), pp. 350–544.Google Scholar
  17. 142.
    For more on the Orange Order and Unionism more generally, see H. Patterson and E. Kaufmann, Unionism and Orangeism in Northern Ireland since 1945: The Decline of the Loyal Family (Manchester, 2007);Google Scholar
  18. E. Kaufmann, The Orange Order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History (Oxford, 2007);Google Scholar
  19. D. Bryan, Orange Parades: The Politics of Ritual, Tradition and Control (London, 2000);Google Scholar
  20. J. Bew, ‘Introduction’, in D. W. Miller, Queen’s Rebels: Ulster Loyalism in Historical Perspective, 2nd edn (Dublin, 2007).Google Scholar
  21. 163.
    Sinn Féin, Ard Fheis Clar agus Ruin 2005 (Dublin, 2005) (LLPC), Motions 317 and 318, p. 55.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martyn Frampton 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PeterhouseUniversity of CambridgeUK

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