The IRA didn’t win the war Sinn Fein did

Posted By: September 30, 2014

 Kevin Raftery .The Sentinel.( Stoke  on Trent, England). September  29, 2014

The fancy interior of the Grand Hotel in Brighton today: One wonders whether or not Maggie Thatcher was tinkling on that old grand piano on the eve of October 12th 1984. More seriously, in this very hotel IRA volunteer Patrick Magee had the temerity to book a room and plant a device that would bring mayhem to the established elite attending a Tory party conference. Over three weeks before the event Magee had checked into the hotel under the fictitious name of Roy Walsh to prime a 20-30lb bomb hidden in a bathroom wallIt seems an odd statement to make, in that IRA violence worked.  In spite of this James Prior (now Baron Prior) the Northern Ireland secretary who served under Margaret Thatcher has said just that in a new BBC documentary ‘Who Won The War’. 
By contrast, could we ask the same question: as in did British violence in Ireland over the years work?
Apparently violence perpetrated by the British to settle the Irish Questions have for centuries been indicative of their bullyboy warring mind-set.  From Cromwell putting two thousand to the sword in Drogheda in 1649, the Oath of Supremacy blackmail, the Black and Tans persecution of the Irish populace after 1920, there was Bloody Sunday of 1972, it has been never ending.   
Then there were those subtle massacres like that of the potato famine of 1848 (otherwise known as Britain’s Holocaust).  
Getting back to the question; the answer is yes, British sponsored violence in Eire (both north and south) has worked since time immemorial.
However, with regard to the bold statement of who won the war in relation to the ceasefires of 1994 and 1996 one could argue that British Unionism won, bearing in mind the ‘UK’ status quo remains.
On the other hand, this does not take into account the massive gains Sinn Fein has made in the 26 counties (known as the Republic of Ireland) where it now holds 15 % of the vote (and growing) and has secured a record number of local councillors.  This is in contrast of course to that of the 1990’s when the Irish Nationalist party barely held 1 % of the vote.
This is coupled with the fact that Sinn Fein are currently not just in government but are the largest party in Northern Ireland (the expropriated 6 counties).
Others might argue that the key to unlocking both a geographical and political change (a United Ireland) lies in Sinn Fein forming a government in Southern Ireland whereas all-Ireland institutions can begin to facilitate that independence.
Unlike their British counterparts (who during the recent troubles of 1969-1996 subjugated and coerced dissenting Catholics in the North by threat and terror) it is believed that Nationalists are to use the power of persuasion in relation to the Protestant minority on the island.  This could be initiated by affecting compelling cross border institutions (like health and employment) whereby both Catholics and Protestants can be inclusive (most Catholics in the Northern Ireland already hold Irish passports). 
Turning back to the issue of who won the war.   There are no victors in war, only losers. Is it not the ordinary people of Ireland and Britain who have won out now that sectarian brutality (like the Shankill Butchery) and civilian atrocities like Enniskillen and Birmingham (after which hatred mutated into a deeper variant) have ceased. 
Moreover, the documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA and Loyalist ceasefires of 1994 is a little misplaced bearing in mind after the IRA cessation of 1994 there was the Docklands Bombing (Canary Wharf).  Conclusively, the IRA detonated a device in London’s financial district in 1996 which was to be the defining moment in the conflict (some even describing it as a military masterstroke). 
Remembering that the Bishopsgate Bombing of 1993 (Bishopsgate being the main thoroughfare in London’s financial district) had already caused rumours to circulate that the massive financial organisations in London were considering relocating to Frankfurt.
Therefore the sceptics would assert that it was financial loss not civilian loss as to why the British negotiated over Ireland.  Not forgetting the British Prime Minister of the time John Major’s prolonged and histrionic insistence that there must be words like ‘permanent’ inscribed in any Provisional armistice. 
One should also not forget the daring rocket attack on 10 Downing Street that predated the bomb blasts of 1993 and 1996.  In February 1991 there was an attempt to assassinate the War Cabinet, meeting to discuss the Gulf War.
Not to mention that festering in the British political psyche would be the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton when the ruling Conservative government were nearly wiped out.