Here are some statistics I noticed on the eirigi website that haven’t got much play outside of small republican circles: “the PSNI stopped and searched 28,420 people under so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation in 2009. The figure for 2004 was just over 14,000…24,541 of those detained last year were stopped under Section 44 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’…Between July and September 2009…over 12,000 people were stopped and searched by the PSNI under Britain’s Terrorism Act and Justice and Security Act…of this figure, only 49 led to arrests.”
Huh? I thought peace had descended on that blighted land to the sound of trumpets and the flap of angel’s wings on Good Friday over a decade ago. What gives? Even by the estimation of the British government the so-called dissidents have a membership roll that runs in the dozens, and these spread across three or four groups. If you stop twelve thousand people on suspicion of terrorism and make only 49 arrests (not necessarily for “terrorist” offensives either) then I would say that your intel is profoundly deficient…or you are terrorizing a community yourself.
Are the Brits genuinely worried about the potential of unreconstructed republican militarists to disrupt the state, or are they worried about the potential of an undemocratic, neo-liberal and sectarian “settlement” to reconstruct a militant opposition? My guess is they are hedging their bets and with an utterly acquiescent nationalism, a cul-de-sac republicanism and a toothless and confused left offering the potential “opposition” the game is more than a little rigged.
There are all kinds of peace. The peace of the grave and the peace of a well-run prison are two. We live in a world where war criminals routinely receive prizes for peace. More often than not by “peace” is meant not the absence of conflict, but the absence of resistance. In a world dominated by imperialism injustice and “peace” are complimentary. That most of us genuinely desire to live without conflict in our lives is testimony to how unnatural a society governed by the rule of capital, a rule defined by conflict, is.
Of course the Brits see any attack on the St. Andrews penitentiary as an attack on peace, no matter the form of opposition. Imperialism can brook no resistance, it is essential that they be the only game in town. It was precisely in accepting a framework also agreeable to imperialism that made the Provos acceptable themselves. There Is No Alternative and all that.
The Brits (and the Provos) want to conflate all opposition to the settlement with a futile and unpopular return to war. To prove the point the Brits make war on any opposition. With a few, very few, salutary exceptions the left in Ireland and Britain have largely ignored the ongoing assault on nationalist working class communities in the North. While there have been many demonstrations against repressive legislation in Britain, very few of these reference Ireland, where much of the repression is. Perhaps the thought is that by opposing continued repression in Ireland the left will be associated with the supposed object of that repression, republican militarists, and therefore greatly discredited. But isn’t it obvious given the numbers quoted above that the real target is the nationalist working class?
With the Provos now signed up to a Policing and Justice deal I predict a lot more policing and very little justice are in store.