“McGuinness condemns ‘enemies of peace’”, RTÉ News, 4 April 2011 : <http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0404/kerrr.html> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
This is the phrase that was used by Séan Lemass, second-in-command of the newly formed Fianna Fáil party, in 1929, after it broke away from Sinn Féin three years previously on the question of whether to declare an oath to the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, and to the King of England.
The seven-member Army Council was the decision-making body of the IRA.
The Republican movement split in 1969-1970 was largely the result of fundamental disagreements within its ranks on the role that Sinn Féin and the IRA should play in the Civil Rights Movement. The leadership, which would subsequently be called the Officials, used a Marxist discourse rooted in the class analysis, whereby the priority was given to the unification of the working classes. Anything that could contribute to its continued division – and the armed campaigns of the IRA were identified as a major factor—had to be sidelined. Therefore, Official Sinn Féin advocated reforming the system in the short term and the dropping of abstentionism. The Provisionals, as the dissidents called themselves, accused the leadership of betraying age-old principles, and suspected the leaders, mainly based in the South, of having lost touch with the realities of Northern Ireland. The split that ensued was amongst the most bitter of Republican history, as it left two factions – the Officials and the Provisionals – competing for the same loyalties within the same communities. After some feuding in the early 1970s and some internal dissentions, the Official IRA called an indefinite ceasefire in 1972.
Abstentionism was originally suggested by the founder of Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith, who in 1902 published a pamphlet in which he analysed the tactic used by the Hungarian nationalists to unravel the connection of their country with Austria. Using the electoral strategy to return their own candidates, they set up their own parliament, therefore sending a clear message to the Empire that the legitimacy of the nationalist aspiration was profound. Griffith sought to use the same tactic in Ireland, encouraging elected representatives not to sit in Westminster but instead to form their own assembly. This eventually happened in 1918 when a majority of Sinn Féin representatives were elected and formed their own parliament, Dáil Éireann, thus setting in motion what would become the war of independence.
Ten Republican prisoners died during the episode which lasted from March to October 1981. In April, Bobby Sands had been elected MP to Westminster, which greatly enhanced his national and international profile and that of his struggle, although this failed to save his life. The lessons that Republicans learned from this episode were many, one of which was the necessity to get involved in electoral policy if they wanted to progress on the political front.
It was Danny Morrison, Sinn Féin Head of Publicity in the early 1980s, who coined this phrase at his party’s annual congress in 1981, whereby he advocated a strategy where armed actions and electoral campaigns would go hand in hand.
The following table illustrates the rise in the Sinn Féin vote in the Westminster General Elections :
198319871992199720012005201013.4 %11.4 %10.0 %16.1 %21.7 %24.3 %26.9 %
The SDLP was formed in 1970 in the midst of the civil rights movement, seeking to reunify Ireland by peaceful means. It was led by Gerry Fitt until 1979 when he resigned and was replaced by John Hume. The SDLP was one of the strongest critics of the IRA, and was the dominating political force among the nationalist community until 2007. In 1998, John Hume was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with David Trimble for his enormous contribution to the peace process.
“Test for Sinn Féin’s Electoral Strategy”, The Irish Times, 22 March 1983.
Sinn Féin, Assembly Election Manifesto, Belfast, 1982. Sinn Féin’s position was shared by 73 % of its supporters who, according to a subsequent opinion poll, stated they did not want the Assembly’s survival: “North’s Poll shows sharply divided views on Forum”, The Irish Times, 17 December 1983.
In the Republic of Ireland, Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act (1960) came into effect in 1971. It prevented spokespersons for the IRA or Sinn Féin to be interviewed on TV or radio stations. The British introduced a broadcasting ban in October 1988, which targeted a total of eleven organisations. This meant that the British media could no longer interview Sinn Féin leaders, and had to use actors to dub their voices if they appeared on any news programmes.
This is a word that was frequent in Sinn Féin parlance until the end of last century, and is still to be found in the columns of their newspaper An Phoblacht. It designates all those who, in the party’s view, are in a position of power, be it the media, the authorities, the political parties, etc. There is a distinct class-based connotation in that word, as it is often used in opposition to the working-class which Sinn Féin claims to represent.
Interview with author, 1998.
For a detailed study of Sinn Féin’s media strategy throughout the peace process, see Graham Spencer, “Sinn Fein and the Media in Northern Ireland : The New Terrain of Policy Articulation”, Irish Political Studies, vol. 21, n°3, 2005, 355-382.
Dawn Doyle, SF Press officer, interview with author, Dublin, 2004.
On 8 November 1987, eleven people were killed by an IRA bomb while attending a Remembrance Day ceremony. The IRA tried to explain that the security forces had not evacuated the site quickly enough after having been warned, but the event, known as “Poppy Day Massacre”, generated a wave of condemnations, including from some members of the movement. Sinn Féin subsequently lost four of its eight local seats in 1989. On the tenth anniversary of the event, Gerry Adams apologised, saying on the BBC : “I am deeply sorry about what happened in Enniskillen.” (<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/25480.stm>, retrieved on 5 September 2011).
John Hume/Gerry Adams Statement, 23 April 1993, available at <http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/15217> (retrieved on 12 March 2012).
Peter Shirlow & Mark McGovern, “Language, Discourse and Dialogue: Sinn Féin and the Irish Peace Process”, Political Geography, vol. 17, N°2, 1998, 182.
This expression has been frequently used since the late 1990s to signify the profound changes that Sinn Féin had undergone over the decade. See for instance Rosie Cowan, “New Sinn Féin: from Armalite to Armani”, The Guardian, 20 November 2003 (<http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/nov/20/uk.northernireland>), or Harry McGee, “More Armani than Armalite as Ferris Turns on the Charm”, The Irish Times, 5 May 2009 (<http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0526/1224247403843.html>).
Quoted in Graham Spencer, “The Impact of Television News on the Northern Ireland Peace Negotiations”, Media, Culture and Society, vol. 26, n°5, 2004, 612.
The complete text of the Downing Street Declaration is available at <http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/dsd151293.htm> (retrieved on 12 March 2012).
<http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/ira31894.htm> (retrieved on 12 March 2012).
Frank Millar, “Major Insists IRA must clarify issue of permanence”, The Irish Times, 1 September 1994.
Tony Blair appointed Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam to the post of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. She immediately indicated that if the IRA restored the ceasefire that it had broken in February 1996 by planting a bomb in the Canary Wharf area of London, killing two people, Sinn Féin would be included in the negotiations. The IRA therefore ended its operations on 20 July 1997. It never broke it again, although the organisation was suspected of carrying out attacks on individuals.
Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations, Belfast: HMSO, 10 April 1998, available at : <http://www.nio.gov.uk/agreement.pdf> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
For a detailed analysis of the role of decommissioning within the overall formation of the Northern Ireland Executive, see Jonathan Tonge, “The Formation of the Northern Ireland Executive”, Irish Political Studies, vol. 15, n°1, 2000, 153-161.
Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997, section 7-1.
Agreement reached in the multi-party negotiations, op. cit., 22.
Christopher P. Cunningham, “Northern Ireland and the ‘War on Terror’ : Political Perceptions”, Irish Political Studies, vol. 24, n°3, 2009, 289.
IRA Statement on Decommissioning, 30 April 1998. All IRA statements are available on the Sinn Féin website at : <http://www.sinnfein.ie/ira-statements >.
This phrase was used for the first time by Taoiseach John Costello in 1949, in the aftermath of the official proclamation of the Irish Republic. It has been used on many occasions, and by various politicians throughout the Peace Process, such as Taoiseach Albert Reynolds after the Downing Street Declaration (See The Irish Times, 16 Dec. 1993). It became one of the hallmarks of Sinn Féin’s rhetoric. A search on the Irish Times archives returned 33 hits for that particular phrase when linked with Adams for the period 1994-2010.
This process was gradual, the British withdrawing troops and dismantling installations over the years. The military operation in Northern Ireland came to an end on 27 July 2007. At the height of the Troubles, the total number of troops stationed in the province reached 27,000. Nowadays, there is a garrison of 5,000 troops who no longer patrol the streets but remain in the region for training and possible foreign assignments.
Rosie Cowan, “No guns – no government, Trimble tells IRA”, The Independent on Sunday, 26 November 1999 : <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/no-guns--no-government-trimble-tells-ira-739880.html > (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
Ian Paisley Jr., Northern Ireland Forum Debates, 4 July 1997.
Northern Ireland Assembly Debates, “Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Private Member’s Bill”, 3 November 2009. <http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2009-11-03.6.1&s=bill+of+rights+2009-11-02..2009-11-05+section%3Ani+speaker%3A13907+speaker%3A13908+speaker%3A10679#g6.89 > (retrieved in March 2012).
A poll carried out a week before the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland showed that the main reason quoted by those who intended to vote “no” was the early release of prisoners (45 %), much ahead of the beginning of a move towards a United Ireland, which was only quoted by 18 % of voters as their main reason for voting “no”. Deaglan de Breadun, “Unionist support for Agreement drops sharply”, The Irish Times, 15 May 1998.
The British started to apply pressure on all paramilitary organisations, but particularly on the IRA, to decommission their weapons as early as 1995. The final act of decommissioning from the IRA took place in 2005. Over the following years, the paramilitary organisations gradually winded down their operations: the UVF and Red Hand Commando (RHC) announced the end of their campaign in May 2007, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in November that year ; the LVF announced it was standing down in October 2005 ; between June 2009 and February 2010 the UVF/RHC, some elements of the UDA, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Official IRA all decommissioned their weapons, but the loyalist paramilitary organisations took longer to decommission, as they only started this process in June 2009.
Christopher P. Cunningham, “Northern Ireland and the ‘War on Terror’ : Political Perceptions”, op. cit., 285.
The FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) were, at the turn of the century, among the top terrorist organisations listed by the American State Department, being part of the “List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (as of October 5, 2001). Interestingly, the IRA was not listed.
Mark Brennock, “Is the Party Over ?”, The Irish Times, 19 February 2005.
The then Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, voiced his concern to the US Embassy in Dublin about the fact that both Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, as members of the IRA, had previous knowledge of the robbery. This came out into the open with the publication of US cables by Wikileaks in December 2010. See : Nicholas Watt, “WikiLeaks cables : Sinn Féin leaders ‘were aware of’ Northern Bank heist plans”, The Guardian, 12 December 2010 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/dec/12/wikileaks-sinn-fein-northern-bank> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
The establishment of the IMC was decided at the talks in St Andrews in April 2003, which led to the joined Declaration of April 2003 and the subsequent International Agreement in November 2003. It was formally brought into force in January 2004.
Gerry Adams, “An Address to the IRA”, Sinn Féin press release, 6 April 2005, available on the Sinn Féin website (retrieved on 12 March 2012).
From the start of the conflict, the IRA intervened within the community to exact justice onto those who had broken the law in one way or another. The type of punishments varied according to the gravity of the crime. Petty crime, drug dealing, domestic violence, or any other crime termed “anti-social behaviour” were punished by beating, exiling, and sometimes “kneecapping” (shooting in the kneecap), which became the trademark of the IRA. Crimes considered more serious, such as informing, were sometimes punished by death. Obviously, the IRA had no mandate of any kind to carry out such activities, but in order to impose itself as the self-proclaimed vigilantes of its community, it relied both on the suspicion that nationalists felt towards the security forces, and on its powers of intimidation.
The PSNI has been publishing yearly statistics on “paramilitary-style attacks”, which include beatings and shootings, since 1973. These peaked at 326 in 1996 and although they have considerably declined since 2006, they still numbered 54 in 2010. PSNI, Casualties as a Result of Paramilitary-Style Attacks 1973-31 July 2010 : <http://www.psni.police.uk/>.
Independent Monitoring Commission, Eighth Report, January 2006, 6.
Independent Monitoring Commission, Ninth Report, 8 March 2006.
Independent Monitoring Commission, Twenty-Fifth and Final report of the Independent Monitoring Commission, 2004-2011 : Changes, Impact and Lessons, March 2011, 14. These reports were published, on average, quarterly, until December 2010, when the Irish and British Governments announced the end of the Commission.
Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, A New Beginning : Policing in Northern Ireland, September 1999, 128 p. The full text of this report is available at : <http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/police/patten/patten99.pdf> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
This recruitment policy has been met with success. If the 50 % ratio of Catholics had not been reached in 2011, considerable progress has been made. The number of Catholic officers has risen from 8 % in 2001 to 30 % ten years later. The figures are available on the PSNI website, at <http://www.psni.police.uk/index/updates/updates_statistics/updates_workforce_composition_figures.htm> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
Mark Hennessy, Gerry Moriarty, & Dan Keenan, “Sinn Féin endorses PSNI by overwhelming majority”, The Irish Times, 29 January 2007.
Jocelyn Evans, & Jonathan Tonge, “Social Class and Party Choice in Northern Ireland’s Ethnic Blocs”, West European Politics, vol. 32, n 5, 2009, 1020.
Timothy J. White, “Civil Society and Peace in Northern Ireland”, Peace Review, vol. 19, n°3, Jul-Sep 2007, 448.
Roger MacGinty, Orla T. Muldoon & Neil Ferguson, “No War, No Peace : Northern Ireland after the Agreement”, Political Psychology, vol. 28, n°1, 2007, 8.
Neil Jarman, “Security and Segregation : Interface Barriers in Belfast”, Shared Space, n°6, Belfast : Community Relations Council, June 2008, 23.
For a discussion on the effects of segregation in an urban context, see Frederick Boal, “From Undivided Cities to Undivided Cities : Assimilation to Ethnic Cleansing”, Housing Studies, vol. 14, n 5, 1999, 585-600.
The DUP had previously pledged never to have anything to do with Sinn Féin, which is viewed by them as a mere extension of the IRA. They therefore instructed their spokespersons and leaders not to speak directly with members of Sinn Féin, and not even to look at them in the eyes when interviewed on the same panel.
Both Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have been accused by the media and politicians alike to have been in command of the IRA at some stage of their political career, which spans, for both men, over forty years. However, these allegations have never been proven and neither has ever been formally convicted of having been in such a position. The Irish Minister of Justice went as far as to state that both men had not only been chiefs-of-staff in the late 1970s- early 1980s, but had since been part of the seven-member Army Council. Both men have systematically denied such claims, McGuinness only admitted, in the Saville inquiry that was investigating the events of Bloody Sunday in 1972, that he was the IRA’s second in command in Derry at the time of the events. Both men deny any involvement with the IRA, although some journalists, such as Ed Moloney, author of a book on the IRA, have indicated that Adams was in charge between 1977 and 1978, and following his arrest, that McGuinness took over until 1982. Ed Moloney, A Secret Story of the IRA, London : Penguin, 2003.
The distribution of ministerial portfolios is done through the complex D’Hondt system, which means that parties choose, in turn, the ministries they wish to hold. The party with most votes gets first choice, and so on, and at the end of the first round, the process starts again. Sinn Féin had Education, Regional Development, and Agriculture and Rural Development in 2007. The only change in 2011 was from Regional Development to Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Rick Wilford, “Northern Ireland : The Politics of Constraint”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 63, n°1, Jan. 2010, 147.
Vanessa Houlder, “Tax reform ‘would boost N. Ireland growth’”, The Financial Times, 21 August 2011 : <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4aea71b8-c981-11e0-9eb8-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1VrVZevQo> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
The overall UK rate, at 26 %, is expected to fall by 50 % by 2015, whereas the rate in the Irish Republic is 12.5 %. This debate came at a time when France and Germany were lobbying within the EU to put an end to the Irish exception and to harmonise all corporation taxes by 2013.
Following his retirement in 2008, Ian Paisley was replaced as First Minister by Peter Robinson. However, he had to step down for six weeks following a scandal involving his wife.
“McLaughlin concern at DUP confused thinking on corporation tax”, Sinn Féin Press Release, 11 May 2010.
Sinn Féin, “Assembly Election 2011 : Job Creation Strategy”, 3 : <http://www.sinnfein.ie/files/Job_Creation_2011.pdf> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
Henry McDonald & Owen Bowcott, “Northern Ireland Parties Reach Devolution Agreement”, The Guardian, 18 November 2008.
Laura McAtackney, “The Negotiation of Identities at Shared Sites : Long Kesh/Maze Prison Site, Northern Ireland”, paper presented at the Unesco University and Heritage Forum, Newcastle, July 2006, available online at : <http://ucdie.academia.edu/LauraMcAtackney/Papers/446717/The_Negotiation_of_Identity_at_Shared_Sites_Long_Kesh_Maze_Prison_Site_Northern_Ireland> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
This Panel, constituted in 2000, was formed of representatives from the four main political parties as well as from the key governmental departments. Its purpose was to invite proposals for developing the 360-acre former prison and Long Kesh security site. See “Public views sought over Maze”, BBC online, 5 December, 2003 : <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/3291931.stm> (retrieved on 12 March 2012).
Maze/Long Kesh Masterplan and Implementation Strategy, Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, May 2006 : <http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/masterplansummary.pdf>.
The DUP vote slightly decreased, going from 30.1 % to 30 %, but increased its number of seats from 36 to 38. Sinn Féin’s share of the vote went up from 26.2 % to 26.9 %, gaining one seat with a total of 29. For full results see : <http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
James Tilley & Geoffrey Evans, “Political Generations in Northern Ireland”, European Journal of Political Research, vol. 50, n°50, 2011, 584.
See for instance Paul Mitchell, Brendan O’Leary & Geoffrey Evans, “Northern Ireland : Flanking Extremists Bite the Moderates and Emerge in their Clothes”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 54, n°4, 2001, 725-742.
All Sinn Féin candidates are profiled on the party’s website, at the following address : <http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/20484>.
Gerry Adams resigned his Westminster seat, or at least tried to, in January 2011, in order to contest the general elections in the Republic of Ireland in March 2011. This is technically not possible, as the reasons for a resignation are particularly strict. According to The Guardian: “under parliamentary rules dating back to 1624, an MP who wishes to quit has to apply for one of a number of obscure, paid crown posts : Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham or Steward of the Manor of Northstead.” Owen Bowcott, “Gerry Adams ‘not allowed’ to quit as MP”, The Guardian, 25 January 2011 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/25/gerry-adams-mp-parliament-rules> (retrieved on 5 September 2011). Gerry Adams was elected all the same to the Dáil for the Louth constituency, with a comfortable majority, as he topped the poll in his constituency.
Jonathan Tonge & Jocelyn Evans, “Northern Ireland : Unionism Loses More Leaders”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 63, n°4, 2010, 746.
Ian McAllister, “‘The Armalite and the Ballot Box’ : Sinn Fein’s Electoral Strategy in Northern Ireland’, Electoral Studies, vol. 23, n°1, 2004, 136.
For a detailed table of voting patterns according to ethnic blocs, see Jonathan Tonge & Jocelyn Evans, “Northern Ireland: Unionism Loses More Leaders”, op. cit., 749.
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13283126> (retrieved on 5 September 2011).
Jonathan Tonge & Jocelyn Evans, “Northern Ireland : Unionism Loses More Leaders”, op. cit., 751.
Graham Spencer, “Managing a Peace Process: An Interview with Jonathan Powell”, Irish Political Studies, vol. 25, n°3, 2010, 446.Haut de page