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With enemies like this...
Father Seamus Murphy, the Jesuit philosopher who recently raised a storm of protest after he accused the Gaelic Athletic Association of being a sectarian organisation, has claimed that support for the IRA in Éire is much more deeply rooted than most people realise.
Father Murphy has compiled what he describes as a nine point `ambivalence' test of beliefs and attitudes which he uses to measure the degrees of support for or opposition to the IRA among Éire citizens. It is not Fr Murphy's contention that they are deliberately secret Provo supporters, but that many of them hold to political positions which are inconsistent with serious opposition to the IRA.
In his Studies article, I Don't Support the IRA but... Semantic and
Psychological Ambivalence he asks those who describe themselves as Irish
nationalists to ask themselves what they feel about the following nine issues:
According to Fr Murphy, the IRA relies more on the tacit support of those who
share its political goals than those few who are willing to cheer on every
murder or act of violence. He said that it was possible to 'abhor' political
violence, yet still support the perpetrators by endorsing their goals. "To think that there is no problem with voting for Sinn Féin or that
unionists have no right to refuse unity 'by consent' or that the Republic's
territorial claims on Northern Ireland are unproblematic, amounts to watering
down one's opposition to the IRA!
Fr Murphy also criticised as unhelpful the all-too-common media description of IRA acts of violence as `mindless and irrational'. This ignored the IRA's real political significance which in turn minimised their moral significance for Catholics. To suggest that Provo volunteers are insane tends to absolve them and their sympathisers of any moral responsibility for their actions. He pointed out that everything that is known about the IRA/Sinn Féin leadership indicated that they are logical and cool-headed not mindless psychotics. Any such group would have collapsed a long time ago.
Fr Murphy said that IRA support was partly rationalised by what he called the delusion that Irish unity was intrinsically good, detachable from the means used to achieve it, and that this abstract and imaginary 'goodness' could compensate for the slaughter, misery and terror which purchased it.
The IRA don't expect the Roman Catholic Church to endorse its 'military campaign' but do expect political support for its goals. As long as priests and bishops keep to denouncing acts of violence they can say what they like, but if any cleric is so bold as to attack the legitimising ideology he is thought to have gone over to the enemy.
Fr Murphy concluded that a just society could not be built in Ulster unless the 'nationalist community' in both parts of the island of Ireland confront and name the evil which comes from its own side of the house.
So far there has been little sign of this. Quite the contrary as we have witnessed the SDLP's John Hume getting into the same political bed as Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams.
James Connolly on Parnell
Father Seamus Murphy's comments on the relationship between 'physical force'
and 'constitutional' Irish nationalism show that little has changed from the days of
Charles Stewart Parnell. In the Irish Worker (August 15th, 1914) James Connolly
wrote of Parnell that he,
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