Sunday, 3 April 2011

Republicans killing Catholics? Four Lions called it.

 This is a scene from the Chris Morris film Four Lions. In it Barry - the delusional, posturing wannabe of he group (if he can be singled out by such qualities) is making the video to accompany his master plan, outlined here. His logic: attacking the very people he claims to represent, to "radicalise the moderates" and trigger the apocalyptic war he's been waiting for.

 If you watch the second video, you'll notice that his co-conspirators don't think much of his plan. Even by their moral code (and it is one that embraces terrorism and attacks on innocent people) you don't bomb the very people you claim to represent and derive legitimacy from. But the first video highlights an even more important point: the moron was about to try to claim credit for an attack on the mosque in the name of his own jihadist terror outfit. Even his none-too-bright friends can see that that is sinking to a whole new level of counter-productive stupidity.

 That the murder of Ronan Kerr was a monstrous act doesn't need saying. ConHome and the Spectator both have articles condemning this atrocity, and I'm sure a casual search will find many more. What I want to comment on is the specific, repulsive perversion of a group that claims to fight for the Catholic, Nationalist (not that they will permit distinction) population of Northern Ireland murdering Catholics. The logic behind it is similar to Barry's up there: terrorise Catholics who try to participate in common institutions; feed on the resentment created by the supposed exclusion of Catholics from those institutions; trigger massive civil unrest; United Ireland. Well, I call it logic...

 Do the terrorists never stop to question the assumptions behind their actions? Not the fundamental assumptions, like nationalism being a good thing rather than a divisive and reactionary ideological relic of the Nineteenth Century. I mean the assumption that your average Northern Irish Catholic, having heard that a republican group has murdered a Catholic police officer, will react against Britain. It wasn't the British that murdered him. It wasn't a soldier, or bigoted policemen, or loyalist hit squad, or any other group that could conceivably be portrayed by republican propagandists as a tool of the British state. All the person who hears about this sees is an innocent Catholic man, murdered by republicans who are committed to overturning the peace process and plunging the province back into civil war.

 By turning inwards, and terrorising the very communities they claim as their own, dissident republicans will do more than any hearts and minds program Britain could launch to alienate moderate Catholics from terrorism and reconcile them to the status quo. These are the actions of a movement whose certainties have been shaken. The inevitability of reunion is in doubt: unionists withstood decades of civil war; the Republic has renounced her claim to the province; and former IRA commanders now sit around the table with Democratic Unionist politicians to participate in (some) British institutions.

 Polling shows between 20-30% of Catholics support the union, and the reform of the RUC into the PSNI has, in the Spectator's words, lent it "widespread legitimacy from across the two communities in the province", symbolic of a broader process of building a new, non-sectarian Northern Ireland that Catholics can call home. The consistent discrimination and oppressive institutions that once characterised Northern Ireland - and fuelled the Republican movement - are being dismantled. Soon, there will be nothing left to hate, and the only thing repressing the Catholic communities of the province will be these fanatical vigilantes, their self-appointed 'freedom fighters'.

 A Republican volunteer was once quoted as saying:
"Maybe you can't bomb a million Protestants into a united Ireland, but you could have good fun trying."
 With both the peace and the union proving more durable than many had dared to hope, it seems the 'Legion of the Rearguard', unsettled and desperate, is having its fun with Catholics too. The Spectator quotes a man who claims that as long as there is a British presence in Northern Ireland, there will be some form of IRA. There may be grains of sad truth in that belief - but that isn't what's important.

The important fact is that, even if a small core of murderers refuses to see it, the process of peace and reconciliation cannot and will not stop. Both sides have made enormous sacrifices to create a better Northern Ireland and bring an end to the killing. Republicans have been offered the chance to disarm and engage, and to their lasting credit many have chosen to do just that. The hardcore remnant need to get the message. A new Northern Ireland is being built around them, a province of shared institutions, widespread legitimacy, new-found prosperity and peace. It can be built with them, without them or in spite of them, but it will be built. . 

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