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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reality Check For Irish Republicans, 20 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Gunsmoke and Mirrors (Hardcover)
"Gunsmoke And Mirrors" is a refreshing change. Henry McDonald, a Belfast born journalist, has turned the spotlight on Sinn Fein and the IRA and illuminated them in a way that so many others in his profession have failed to do. Unlike others in mainstream journalisim, he has side-stepped the Sinn Fein propaganda-machine and revealed what really lurks behind the smoke and mirrors. It will certainly make unpleasant reading for the "true believers" who support Sinn Fein / IRA, as it basically says that Sinn Fein / IRA have ditched their old ideology, but have been careful not to draw too much attention to the fact they have sold out. No doubt many Republicans will try to dismiss the contents of the book, however I believe that is what psychologists call, "living in denial".

McDonald has challenged recent attempts by Irish Republicans to rewrite the history of the "Troubles", and create a myth that will justify and rationalise their campaign of terrorism. He has questioned why so many thousands of people had to die when peaceful democratic avenues were open to Republicans, despite Sinn Fein / IRA attempts to say otherwise. He has highlighted the ideological flip flops that Irish Republicans have had to make, such as now accepting that the "British presence" in Northern Ireland is not simply British soldiers, but actually one million citizens who live there and condsider themselves to be British.

As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein has had to accept the principle of consent, ergo constitutional change can not occur without the consent of a majority. This is in stark contrast to the belief that a strategy of terrorist violence would bring about British withdrawal and a united Ireland, despite the wishes of the majority to remain within the UK. The full implications of this has been missed by many Sinn Fein supporters and Sinn Fein have not exactly been quick to provide them with a reality check. However, former Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has given his assistance by expressing his opinion recently, that a 51% majority of pro united Ireland voters in Northern Ireland, would not be enough for a workable process of change towards Irish unity. It would probably require 65%, therefore the prospect of Irish unity is somewhat in, probably not in our lifetime. That's rather longer than many Irish Republicans seemed to believe, which is not too surprising really, as Sinn Fein have been slightly more optimistic when communicating with it's voters!

In short, constitutional politics has survived and prospered in Northern Ireland, whereas the revolutionary violence of the IRA has been shelved by the very same people who where once it's main advocates. The poacher has been forced to turn gamekeeper. Although, not surprisingly, Sinn Fein propagandists try to put a rather different spin on this.

So why did Sinn Fein / IRA have to wait until now to make the change to democratic politics and accept the principle of consent? Why did we go through decades of death and destruction? Why did so many people have to suffer? These are awkward questions that Sinn Fein / IRA have tried to avoid answering (even when asked by people from within their own ranks). Thanks to books such as this and journalists such as Henry McDonald, people will be forced to confront the facts, rather than wallow in the Republican myths currently being propagated. It's time for a reality check and this book helps to deliver it.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Jun 2009 22:17:55 BDT
Mr. L. Deans says:
A very good and comprehensive review of this book, It has persuaded me to buy it.

Posted on 30 Sep 2010 16:27:00 BDT
Arthur says:
Review or self indulgent Unionist rant? The reviewer states "constitutional politics has survived and prospered in Northern Ireland". This is the form of constitutional politics were until relatively recently Unionists gerrymandered local elections, marginalised Catholics and restricted their civil rights. Why was the Stormont parliament prorogued if it was so benign and democratic? The problem is and remains the fact that the creation of Northern Ireland with the passing of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 blatantly ignored the clearly expressed wishes of the vast majority of the Irish people. Ireland was patitioned because of threats of from a militant Unionist minority in the north east corner of the island, not on any democratic principle. I see from another rewiew that Proactive Karma has a fondness for quoting George Washington. He might therefore find the following quote of interest: 'Nothing short of independence, it appears to me, can possibly do. A peace on other terms would, if I may be allowed the expression, be a peace of war. The injuries we have received from the British nation were so unprovoked, and have been so great and so many, that they can never be forgotten'.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to John Banister, Apr. 21, 1778

His espousal of the theory that it would probably require a 65% majority of pro United Ireland voters in Northern Ireland to make a change towards reunification is absurd given his professed belief in democratic principles. The United Unionist canditate in the 2010 election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Rodney Connor) found that it doesn't require 65% of the vote, or even 51% of the vote in favour of your Sinn Fein opponent to loose the contest. It only took four votes!

In historical terms you could liken what is happening now within the Republic Movement to the "New Departure" startegy of the late 1870's.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Feb 2011 21:10:06 GMT

What a yawn.

Heard it all before. The usual claptrap about the border. The usual excuses for terrorism and self-pity.

There was a border dividing Ulster from the rest of Ireland even back in pre-Christian times. It's nothing new. Try looking at an atlas of Europe in 2011 in comparison to Europe in 1918, for example. Note the changes. Even in recent years, look at the changes in the Balkans. Do you think it would be better to force Serbs, Croats and Muslims to live together in the same country? Personally, I think it's safer to keep them at a safe distance from one another. Which is pretty much the same reason why a border dividing Northern Ireland from the Republic was necessary in the 1920s. Oh yeah, by the way, partition was agreed to by a republican gentleman called Michael Collins. I suspect you've heard of him! It's just a pity that Republicans couldn't honour their agreement. No wonder people can't trust them.

By the way, it wasn't my theory that it would require 65% of the electorate to support a united Ireland. That was Bertie Ahern, who I think you'll find, isn't a Unionist!! On a similar note, even Sinn Fein have woken up to the fact that a united Ireland requires the support of Unionists. Although, bearing in mind the 'Celtic Tiger' has been exposed as a myth, a united Ireland clearly isn't a viable finacial proposition. Although, I'm pretty sure you still think it is, because anything is possible in your pipedream!

Keep on dreaming Arthur.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2011 19:44:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Dec 2011 19:45:31 GMT
I think posts like this are the reason we have the Shamrock Awakening and books like 'Gunsmoke and Mirrors' in the first place, to shatter such falacies and let the truth be free. Ireland was partitioned in 1920 because Lloyd George couldn't ask Ulster Unionists to live under a governemt of Irish Republicans who were busy slaughtering their famillies!
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