JUST minutes after the IRA issued a statement that it was giving up its historic armed struggle, the British army began demolishing a watch tower on the border with the Irish Republic in South Armagh, emphasising how desperate the British government is to encourage the IRA to implement its declaration.
The IRA statement said: ‘All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.
‘All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means.
‘Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever. . .’
This statement was greeted by Prime Minister Blair with a certain reservation. He said: ‘This may be the day when finally, after all the false dawns and dashed hopes, peace replaces war, politics replaces terror on the island of Ireland.’
He added: ‘The Unionist community in particular, and all of us throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom, will want to see this clear statement of principle kept to in practice.
‘The instruction in the IRA statement, that volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever, will be taken as a forthright denunciation of any activity, paramilitary or criminal. . .
‘Unionism will want to know that these circumstances are permanent and verified.
‘But if in time they are, then proper devolved democratic government should be restored in Northern Ireland.’
Blair’s qualifications were just for the record. In practice the army began demolishing its outposts, minutes after the IRA declaration came into effect, on 4pm on Thursday.
The Army is now dismantling a number of security posts and bases in south Armagh, and is keen to dismantle more.
The Army’s general officer commanding, Lieutenant General Sir Reddy Watt, said: ‘In light of yesterday’s developments, the chief constable and I have decided that a further reduction in security profile is possible.’
Clearly, the IRA has abandoned its revolutionary nationalist position in favour of the parliamentary cretinism of the SDLP constitutional nationalists.
To get to the Good Friday Agreement the IRA campaigned to amend the constitution of the Irish Republic, deleting the right of the Irish people as a whole to unite Ireland, in favour of Irish unity only if a majority of the people in the north were prepared to vote for it.
This amendment prepared the way for the Good Friday Agreement.
This attack on the Irish people’s right of self determination was just as much a monumental step of betrayal as was the IRA declaration of last Thursday.
Now, Sinn Fein will seek to play second fiddle to Paisley’s DUP in a local government of the UK that will be under the financial and political control of Westminster.
The politics of this ‘unity administration’ will be bourgeois, principally cuts and privatisations.
If Sinn Fein can help to keep the province quiet, the army has made it crystal clear that there will be demilitarisation. In fact, the British government is looking to Sinn Fein to play this role, so that British troops can be moved back to the UK, and a number of them onto Afghanistan and Iraq.
There is to be ‘demilitarisation in the north, with the shoot-to-kill regime, and the no jury courts moved to Britain!
Whether it likes it or not, Sinn Fein and the IRA are playing a crucial role in this process.
The future of the working class in Britain and Ireland depends on the building up of the WRP in Britain and a section of the Trotskyist movement in Ireland to lead the British and Irish socialist revolutions. This is the only way forward to both socialism and Irish unity.