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The ceasefire represented an IRA loss, not a victory

(Suzanne Breen, Sunday Life)

Only those at the extreme end of the political spectrum wouldn't welcome the fact that 20 years ago today the IRA announced a ceasefire.

The endless funerals of those killed by republicans, loyalists and in some cases the security forces, thankfully belong to the past.

But acknowledging we're now in a better place doesn't mean we should buy the bull***t that so many are trying to ram down our throats.

A nonsensical narrative has emerged about the peace process and the IRA leadership's role in it.

I watched Danny Morrison on UTV last week big up the transformation in Northern Ireland since 1994. It was a remarkable rewriting of history.

Catholics were now able to hold top positions in the state and become senior prosecutors and judges, he said.

But they always were able to do that, Danny. Just when they took up those jobs pre-94, the IRA called them "collaborators with British rule" and tried to execute them.

In the case of judge Tom Travers, they failed to kill him as he left Sunday Mass but shot dead his 23-year-old daughter Mary instead.

So the only thing new about Catholics securing senior positions in Northern Ireland is that Barra McGrory, John Larkin, and Sir Declan Morgan don't have the Provos trying to assassinate them.

Let's get one thing straight. The historic ceasefire announcement on 31 August 1994 represented not the IRA's victory but its defeat.

The leadership ended their campaign without a British withdrawal, something they'd vowed never do. In return for reforms to the Northern Ireland state, they accepted partition.

At the time, most commentators chose not to mention the IRA's defeat because they wanted to encourage the republican movement down the constitutional path.

Two decades later, there's no danger of the Provos going back to war so why on earth should we still keep dressing up the truth?

Rather than slapping IRA leaders on the back and saying 'Well done boys', should we not be asking why it took them 20 years to sign up to the same offer they categorically rejected in the 1974 Sunningdale Agreement?

This isn't some moot point only for those with an anti-republican agenda.

Let's remember that IRA leaders brought the ordinary men, women, and children of this country – and that includes their own members – to hell and back for over 20 years for absolutely nothing.

Almost 2,000 people died in the two decades it took them to decide that opting for the constitutional status quo with a few cross-border bows and bells on it wasn't so bad after all.

Unionists today often resent that Sinn Féin enjoys the trappings of success and its leaders are feted at home and abroad.

They should remember that this was secured only by the party dumping traditional republican ideology.

When asked what happened to the promised united Ireland, Danny Morrison said Sinn Féin had a strategy. That must be the one with the ballot box in one hand and the white stick in the other.

On the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire, republican dreams are further than ever from being realised.

A united Ireland by 2016, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness told their grassroots. How ludicrous does that look now? Republicans lost the war and unionists won – even if many just won't recognise it.

September 1, 2014

This article appeared in the August 31, 2014 edition of the Sunday Life.

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