Monday, April 4, 2011

Murder in Omagh, again !

I really can't think of any group that I detest more than the dissident Republicans in the Real and Continuity IRA. It was such men who murdered 25 year old Police Man Ronan Kerr in Omagh last Saturday. The motive apparently being that he was a Catholic who had betrayed his people by joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland. But Ronan Kerr had not betrayed his people. Quite the opposite in fact. A police force that is respected and trusted by both sides of the community is one of the most essential elements of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Since police reforms were introduced in 2001 catholic recruitment has increased from 5% to 30%. It takes brave men like Ronan Kerr to step forward to try to make it work rather than those who wish to sit on the side lines and commentate.

Why does this still happen? My view, as someone who believes I understand republican thought, is as follows. The late Irish diplomat Connor Cruise O'Brien used to argue the case for a United Ireland, not because he wanted to see it,(he didn't) but because he believed it was ultimately the only way to discontinue the IRA. Not many will admit it, but there are people on all sides who have sympathy with this argument. I believe that a United Ireland is closer to happening than most people realise. The Irish Republic and Northern Ireland have evolved in recent decades to becoming much more similar entities than ever before. This is true economically, culturally and politically. What is needed for it to happen is some sort of final push. Dissident Republicans believe that they are fulfilling that role. Not in a military sense, they know they are not going to beat the British out, take on the PSNI in a full scale war or achieve a United Ireland by force. But they are still committing these murders to remind everybody of what Patrick Pearse said at the funeral of the famous Fenian, O'Donavan Rossa way back in 1915, that "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".

This is why Sinn Fein have not yet used their influence to crush the dissidents, because they believe the RIRA's actions are providing this argument. I believe Sinn Fein want to see dissident violence continue at a low level that can be contained. This may even be true of some of the more republican minded members of the Irish parliament. As someone who wants to see a United Ireland this concerns me greatly. Constitutional republicans should not allow themselves into thinking that even whilst fighting republicans, a low level of violence is tolerable in order to achieve a wider aim. This would be morally wrong. Because it is wrong to gamble with human life. What if there was another Omagh bomb, deliberate or not, what if the patience of the loyalist paramilitaries runs out? What it the troubles were to restart. No, the dissidents should be crushed, and this can only happen when Sinn Fein get proactive.