Provos settle for a role in the kind of government they could have had decades ago

NOW that the Provos have voted to recognise a British police force in the North, it raises some questions about what will happen in the future.

The PSNI is an anomaly as it is the only permanently armed police force in either Ireland or Britain. Why do they still need to be fully and permanently armed?

Why not have special armed units like the gardaí or police on the British mainland? This question was never raised during the debate about accepting a British police force in Ireland.

As the Provos have disarmed, will they now ask the PSNI to follow suit? Will they fully support the police to help find the murderers of Robert MacCartney?

Will they help the police oppose the oil and livestock smugglers around the border, even though they may be Provo supporters or members?

Now that the Provos have accepted all elements of British rule in Ireland — the Stormont Assembly, offices in Westminster, the British police — is it right still to call them republicans?

Perhaps it is now time to call them dissident republicans as they have moved from the traditional republican position over the past 20 years or so.

There is no historic parallel for this in Irish history as the Young Irelanders rejected the British-controlled police in the 1840s, the IRB rejected the RIC from the 1860s and Sinn Féin rejected the RIC and RUC since the early part of the last century.

Perhaps they cannot be called republicans any more.

Will they still so describe themselves if in the future they issue a ministerial order to arrest republicans who resist British rule? Now that they have removed the last blockage to forming a government in the North, it is obvious they chose a lousy way to enter it.

The Provos fought a war for the best part of 40 years so they could enter a government not too much different from what was available in 1921 or 1974.

If they could have been part of a government in the 1920s or 1970s, why bother to fight a war?

When they have entered government in this lousy way, what next? The Belfast Agreement does not guarantee to reunite Ireland.

The Provos will be part of a permanent government with no option of forming an opposition.

Is the aim of entering Stormont to be a permanent government? That is a far cry from forming a 32-county republic.

Unionists have said this is what they were looking for and the struggle for a united Ireland is now effectively over.

Seanán Ó Coistín

Portglóráin

Cill Choca

Co Chill Dara

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