“Violence is yielding diminishing returns.”
Here we have a concise summation of the reasons why small numbers of republicans only are currently involved in violence. This bald statement of course implies no moral engine for the republican mainstream’s abstention from bloodshed. And therein lies its accuracy.
Returns are diminishing, therefore violence has diminished and support for violence has diminished. Recent dissident attacks have garnered little support and have attracted the censure of mainstream republicanism simply because they are no longer strategically valuable for republicans, not because of any sense of revulsion for the nature of the acts or the effects they might have on victims.
Of course morally there is no distinction whatever between the dissidents and mainstream republicans. Gerry Adams on one hand lauds Irish republicans’ violent acts, committed without any semblance of popular support from the nationalist community, praising them for “keeping faith with their republican past”. And then on the other hand he attacks current dissident republicans because they lack a mandate.
Eamon McCann sums up the hypocrisy of Adams and the rest most concisely. His conclusion is striking for a man who in the past applied the republican label to his own politics. Republicanism has encoded in every strand of its history, symbolism and mythology the idea that unmandated violence is justifiable.
“It is republicanism that is the problem”.