October 25, 2011 by Nash Riggins
From a business standpoint, Martin McGuinness appears to be an ideal candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Ireland – a country whose blatant financial turmoil is threatening to dismantle the entire Euro zone. In the UK, McGuinness has established himself a sterling reputation as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, proving to be a job creator who is credited with having founded a pragmatic and effective coalition government in Northern Ireland with the Democratic Unionists. In addition, the candidate has already denied himself the Irish presidency’s €250,000 yearly salary should he win election; however, McGuinness may carry too much baggage for the liking of Irish citizens.
“I don’t think the majority of people, to be quite honest, care,” McGuinness recently said of his leadership role in the Irish Republican Army. On the record, Sinn Féin’s presidential candidate McGuinness has admitted to being the second-in-command of the IRA in Derry from 1972, where the leader established a reputation as a notorious street fighter. Although he argues that he left the organisation in 1974, McGuinness has also served two prison sentences for his participation in the terrorist organisation. Furthermore, McGuinness was one of the few names specifically mentioned in the belated publishing of the government’s official account of’ Bloody Sunday’ – in which it was confirmed that he was on the streets and armed with a machine gun.
That being said, voters in Northern Ireland view McGuinness as one of the primary figureheads in finalising the peace-process that disarmed the vast majority of IRA forces; however, this support gains him no merit south of the border, where he is running for election in a country in which he is not even registered to vote. Many Irish citizens paint a predominately demonic portrait of the ‘activist,’ who has been attacked virtually non-stop on his campaign trail with damnations from the families of IRA victims, and is clearly ripping open vicious wounds that the country was desperately praying had healed.
Whilst the Sinn Féin leader resents the word ‘murder’ when discussing many IRA activities, he has admitted that several incidents – such as the 1987 Poppy Day bombing in Enniskillen – were ‘attrocious,’ and shameful to all Irish Republicans. In addition, many Irish voters have been asking why Martin McGuinness – ‘former’ IRA leader – is any different than David Cameron or Barrack Obama authorising attacks in Libya and Afghanistan that regularly kill more civilians than military personnel. The rebuttle toward this argument is complicated to say the least.
Setting aside the perceived notion that bombs in every form can be construed as terrorism – as well as the coincidentally newsworthy bullet point that the late Muammar Gaddafi provided Irish Republicans with copious amounts of weaponry and funding – the IRA’s label as a terrorist outfit goes 100% uncontested on the international stage. This label has gone unargued for a number of reasons, least of all being that these ‘freedom fighters’ appear to kill indiscriminately of social and political affiliation – and as of late, this sentiment has proven truer than ever.
For the past several months, the few Irish Republicans who have yet to disarm – who label themselves the ‘Real’ IRA – have primarily targeted Irish police, who put their lives on the line every day for the good of a country they believe in. As this dedication seems a fairly accurate definition of republicanism in its most basic form, these recent attacks by the RIRA appear to illustrate a lack of fundamental understanding by its members toward their own cause, which begs the question: do they even know why they’re fighting for anymore?
The IRA’s leadership has clearly jumped ship – Martin McGuinness is evidence enough of that – therefore the vast minority of unemployed and uneducated Irish Republicans who continue their mission have absolutely no real sense of purpose or direction. The jihad is over, and the sooner the RIRA can accept that, the sooner everyone can move on and focus on more topical social issues that are actually worth tackling.
McGuinness clearly agrees with this sentiment where economic recovery is concerned, yet he continues to toss around worrying remarks on the campaign trail, including that he wants to be the president ‘of all of Ireland’s thirty-two counties.’ Perhaps one could give Mr McGuinness the benefit of the doubt in assuming that his math skills aren’t up to par, but the more viable explanation is that his radicalist Republican tendencies will never be overcome – whether he is the president of the IRA or the president of the Republic of Ireland.
Above all else, it is for this one, simple reason that Ireland may be a far better place without Mr McGuinness. The leader worked tirelessly to end his organisation’s reign of terror in Northern Ireland, yet it appears that he is more than willing to fan the flames south of the border, where times are already tough enough. Ireland simply doesn’t need this sort of trouble right now.
Martin McGuinness is not the only presidential candidate with fresh ideas regarding Ireland’s economic recovery – however he is the only candidate who has gladly authorised acts of violence under a terrorist vessel. Sinn Féin brought McGuinness into the presidential election because he is a notoriously skilled deal-maker in a notoriously anti-establishment party. Yet with all due respect, perhaps what the Republic of Ireland needs right now is, in fact, a little more establishment. The IRA’s archaic goals have been justly swept under the rug – and Ireland has absolutely nothing to gain from electing a president who continues to champion its forgotten mission in Dublin.