Today was another day to mark on the messy, scrawled-over timeline that is the history of Ireland. In a statement released to the media this morning, the Irish Republican Army has “formally ordered an end to the armed campaign” in Northern Ireland, vowing to decommission their arms and channel their efforts into the democratic political process.
Like most, I’m taking it all with a pinch of salt. Forgive me for being cynical, but it’s probably not a coincidence that this is coming not long after the terrorist attacks on London. (After all, compared to fanatical fundamentalist Muslims the ‘Ra are positively in good graces.) However today’s events are undoubtedly a welcome development, even in spite of the telling clauses in the Provos’ statement, such as:
> Notwithstanding these difficulties our decisions have been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives, including our goal of a united Ireland. We believe there is now an alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country.
And not forgetting:
> We reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely legitimate.
They wouldn’t be the IRA if they didn’t sneak those in, would they?
Similar sentiments were professed by Gerry Adams at a Sinn Féin press conference this afternoon here in Dublin, to mark the start of the decommissioning process. Elsewhere, political leaders across the spectrum have been quick to issue their own statements, while the public are also having their say.
For more details, Slugger O’Toole is the best place to go for the latest information, keeping track of media reaction both here and in the UK, and presenting views from both sides of the polico-cultural divide.
Will this really be the end? It’s hardly an end to the conflict (that’ll take years, if it ever happens) but it might just be and end to the cycle of violence — if Ian Paisley and the Unionists can get over themselves, and the Republicans can keep their promises.
Now, if only the Loyalist paramilitaries would decommission their weapons…