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03 June 2003

I don't usually like to put very long quotes in my weblog, but I have to make an exception for Why I Stood Up for Bobby Sands by John McDonnell, MP.

I see my task now as doing all I can to get the political show back on the road, to create the kinds of formulations through which the IRA, the loyalist paramilitaries and the British army can all depart the scene without a sense of abiding grievance. No side will move if movement is portrayed as humiliating surrender.

Among British people there has to be an acceptance that the violence of the past 35 years had a root cause. It wasn't some pathological trait of the Irish. Britain faced such violence in virtually every colony from which it was forced to withdraw...We have to face up to the fact that without the armed uprising in 1916 Britain would not have withdrawn from southern Ireland. And without the armed struggle of the IRA over the past 30 years, the Good Friday agreement would not have acknowledged the legitimacy of the aspirations of many Irish people for a united Ireland. And without that acknowledgment we would have no peace process.

Irish republicans have to face the fact that the use of violence has resulted in unforgivable atrocities. No cause is worth the loss of a child's life. No amount of political theory will justify what has been perpetrated on the victims of the bombing campaigns. An acknowledgment is also needed that loyalist paramilitaries were motivated by the same dedication to their cause as IRA volunteers and that many British troops demonstrated similar bravery in what was in reality a long and brutal war. Above all else, republicans need to accept that the time for violence has gone.

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