Editorial from the October 1994 issue of the Socialist Standard
As we write, the shooting war in Northern Ireland would appear to be almost over. The relief in places like Belfast is almost palpable as people are freed from the fear of themselves or their loved ones becoming the victim of the assassin's bullet or the bomber's "mistake".
Three thousand two hundred people have died in the so-called "Long War", some 60,000 have been injured — some left limbless, some horribly disfigured, some vegetablised. The amount represented by damage to property would have provided a super home for every family in the province and vastly improved the social infrastructure — though, of course, outside of a war situation, governments would not regard spending on these essentials as being economically justified.
Who won? If winning can be defined in terms of making money, then lawyers, loss adjusters and that group of rapid-response builders who became known as the “hardboard millionaires" have had a good war. As far as the working class is concerned there were no gains whatsoever — whatever religious labels its individual members may wear.
Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein and consistent apologist for the IRA’s campaign of killing is euphoric in his ascension to the upper echelons of political chicanery. Writing in the Belfast Telegraph on 8 September, he assures us that he, and. presumably, his coalition Irish nationalists, plan a fair and democratic society for Ireland: "No privileges, no perks, no special relationships . . . (no) economic favouritism for any individual or organization".
If we thought that Adams knew what he was talking about, we would have to say he was simply telling lies. Is he seriously suggesting that he and his fellow Irish Nationalists want to create a society where there will not be a minority owning class exploiting the working class — including those workers who were foolish enough to support Sinn Fein? No privileges, perks or profits for the capitalists, the minority class who are the real owners of Ireland and who can be of any nationality or religion? Come to that, no minority class owning Ireland? Even the Unionists, who are past masters in conning working-class Protestants, wouldn’t dare to serve up that sort of rubbish.
We hope that peace, or what passes for peace in capitalist society, will reign in Ireland and that the hatreds and division which the republican and loyalist nationalists have rekindled amongst the working class will soon dissipate, and workers, wiser from their grim experiences, will lend themselves to the political struggle to end capitalism and its propensity to violence.
Still there are the dead, the maimed . . . and, surely, the heritage of crippled minds of men and women who carried out such awful atrocities for what they believed was a just cause and who are going to learn that their cause was just a squalid conflict about the distribution of capitalism's miseries. A small addition to the nearly one hundred million people who have died in capitalism's wars this century.
If nationalism was a recognised disease, its terrible toll of human life would excite the demand for a cure.