The Info List - Armalite And Ballot Box Strategy

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The Armalite
and ballot box strategy was a strategy pursued by the Irish republican movement in the 1980s and early 1990s[1] in which elections in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
and the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
were contested by Sinn Féin, while the IRA continued to pursue an armed struggle against the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and loyalist paramilitary groups.[2] This strategy was a matter of some controversy within republicanism; some IRA members and supporters who disagreed with the strategy left to form Republican Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
in 1986. Armalite
refers to the AR-15
and AR-18
ArmaLite rifles. Both were originally manufactured by the Armalite
corporation, later Colt. The IRA smuggled significant quantities of these rifles into Northern Ireland
during the early 1970s and the "Armalite" became a symbol of republican armed struggle.[3] Through the AR-18's mass use by the PIRA and volunteers' love of the weapon for its accuracy and compact nature, the rifle became known as the "Widowmaker".

The AR-18

History[edit] The strategy emerged after the 1981 Irish hunger strike
1981 Irish hunger strike
as a response to the electoral success of Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
in the April 1981 Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election and pro-hunger strike campaigners in the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
local elections and Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Dáil Éireann elections of the same year. It was first formulated by Sinn Féin organiser Danny Morrison at the party's Ard Fheis (Annual Conference) in 1981, when he said:

Who here really believes we can win the war through the ballot box? But will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in this hand and an Armalite
in the other, we take power in Ireland?[4]

The strategy was a mixed success. Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
had a solid core of 9-13 percent of the vote in Northern Ireland, which gave the party some credibility on the international stage. However at home it highlighted the dominance at the time of the non-violent Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern nationalist politics, while Sinn Féin's vote in the Republic remained tiny once the emotion generated by the 1981 hunger strike subsided. In the longer term it had two important political consequences, each of which fed in to the emergent Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
peace process.[5] When the governments of the UK and the Ireland
drafted the Anglo-Irish Agreement, this convinced many in Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
that it was possible to make political gains without violence. However, some[who?] would also argue that electoral setbacks suffered by Sinn Féin, such as the loss of 16 of the party's 59 council seats in 1989 and the defeat of Gerry Adams in the Belfast West constituency in 1992, pushed the emphasis of the Republican movement away from the Armalite
and towards an election-focused strategy. For some time after the IRA ceasefires of 1994 and 1997, opinion in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
remained divided on whether the armalite and ballot box strategy had ended. However, with the cessation of large-scale political violence, the complete decommissioning of weaponry by the IRA and a statement from the Army Council that 'the war is over', the majority of unionists have overcome their scepticism and now believe that the strategy has been abandoned.[citation needed] The strategy has also been attributed as having inspired members of the Loyalist Ulster Defence Association
Ulster Defence Association
such as John McMichael
John McMichael
to seek a similar route into electoral politics through vehicles such as the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party (later Ulster Democratic Party (UDP)).[6][7] However, parties directly linked to Loyalist paramilitaries had minimal success in elections in Northern Ireland, with the UDP's and Progressive Unionist Party's (PUP) combined electoral share failing to exceed 1% before the May 1996 elections for the Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Forum.[8] Notes and references[edit]

^ McAllister, I. (2004). "'The Armalite
and the ballot box': Sinn Féin's electoral strategy in Northern Ireland". Electoral Studies. 23: 123–142. doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2003.10.002.  ^ "Provisional IRA: War, ceasefire, endgame?". BBC. Retrieved March 13, 2014.  ^ J. Bowyer Bell (2000). The IRA, 1968-2000: Analysis of a Secret Army. Taylor & Francis. p. 183.  ^ English, Richard (2005). Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA. Oxford University Press. pp. 224–225. ISBN 978-0-19-517753-4. Retrieved 19 May 2013.  ^ A Secret History of the IRA, 2nd Edition, Page 33, Ed Moloney, Penguin Books, 2002, 2007. ^ McDonald, Henry; Cusack, Jim (2004). UDA: inside the heart of Loyalist terror. Penguin Ireland. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-84488-020-1. Retrieved 19 May 2013.  ^ Dillon, Martin (14 October 2011). The Trigger Men: Assassins and Terror Bosses in the Ireland
Conflict. Mainstream Publishing. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-1-78057-376-2. Retrieved 19 May 2013.  ^ Norris, Pippa; Kern, Montague; Just, Marion (2013). Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government and the Public. Routledge. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-135-93822-2. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 

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Provisional Irish Republican Army


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The Troubles
(Timeline) Haughey arms crisis Officials-Provisionals split Provisional IRA campaign Arms importation Disappeared Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape Blanket protest Dirty protest HM Prison Maze Anti H-Block 1981 Irish hunger strike Maze Prison escape Armalite
and ballot box strategy Smithwick Tribunal Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
peace process North American arrests Barrack buster Good Friday Agreement


IRA Army Council Internal Security Unit Active Service Unit (ASU) Provisional IRA Belfast Brigade Provisional IRA Derry Brigade Provisional IRA South Armagh Brigade Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade Provisional IRA Balcombe Street Gang ASU


Insurgency, 1969–1977

Battle of St Matthew's 1970 RUC booby-trap bombing Scottish soldiers' killings Balmoral showroom bombing Abercorn bombing Donegall St bombing Battle at Springmartin Bloody Friday Claudy bombing Coleraine bombings M62 coach bombing Guildford pub bombings Brook's Club bomb attack British Airways bombing attempt Birmingham pub bombings Bayardo Bar attack Caterham Arms pub bombing London Hilton bombing Green Park tube station bombing Scott's Oyster Bar bombing Walton's Restaurant bombing Drummuckavall ambush Balcombe Street siege Kingsmill massacre

Long War, 1977–1988

1978 Lisnamuck shoot-out Jonesboro Gazelle downing La Mon restaurant bombing 1978 Crossmaglen Ambush Warrenpoint ambush Dunmurry train explosion Lough Foyle attacks Chelsea Barracks bombing Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings Harrods bombing Woolwich barracks Brighton hotel bombing Ballygawley land mine attack Newry mortar attack Ballygawley attack The Birches attack JHQ Rheindahlen bombing (Germany)

Peace Process, 1988–1998

Corporals killings Lisburn van bombing 1988 Netherlands Attacks Inglis Barracks Ballygawley bus bombing Jonesborough ambush Deal barracks bombing Derryard attack Derrygorry Gazelle downing RFA Fort Victoria bombing Proxy bombings Downing St mortar attack Mullacreevie ambush Glenanne barracks bombing Teebane bombing Cloghoge attack 1992 Manchester bombing South Armagh sniper campaign Warrington bomb attacks Cullaville occupation Bishopsgate bombing Battle of Newry Road Shankill Road bombing Crossmaglen Lynx downing Drumcree conflict Docklands bombing 1996 Manchester bombing Osnabrück mortar attack Thiepval barracks bombing Coalisland attack July 1997 riots

Chiefs of Staff

Seán Mac Stíofáin (1969–72) Joe Cahill (1972–73) Seamus Twomey (1973) Éamonn O'Doherty (1973–74) Seamus Twomey (1974–77) Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
(1977–78) Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
(1978–82) Ivor Bell (1982–83) Kevin McKenna (1983–97) Thomas "Slab" Murphy (1997–2005)

Personalities (Volunteers)

Billy McKee Gerry Kelly Dolours Price Marian Price Roy Walsh John Joe McGirl Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Dáithí Ó Conaill George Harrison Billy Reid Michael Gaughan Pat Doherty Hugh Doherty Séanna Breathnach Proinsias MacAirt John Kelly Rose Dugdale John Francis Green Peter Cleary Kevin Coen Frank Stagg Kieran Nugent Francis Hughes Brendan Hughes Tommy McKearney Raymond McCartney Gerry McGeough Gerard Casey Thomas McMahon Eamon Collins Gerard Tuite Patrick Magee Bobby Sands Raymond McCreesh Joe McDonnell Martin Hurson Kieran Doherty Thomas McElwee Michael McKevitt Alex Maskey Fra McCann Owen Carron Paul Butler Dessie Ellis Angelo Fusco Breandán Mac Cionnaith Rita O'Hare Martin Meehan Arthur Morgan Danny Morrison Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde Kieran Fleming William Fleming Bernard Fox Paddy Quinn Laurence McKeown Pat McGeown Matt Devlin Pat Sheehan Siobhán O'Hanlon Jackie McMullan Patrick Joseph Kelly Larry Marley Jim Lynagh Pádraig McKearney Brendan McFarlane Charles Breslin Sean O'Callaghan Séamus McElwaine Gabriel Cleary Daniel McCann Seán Savage Mairéad Farrell Martin McCaughey Dessie Grew Fergal Caraher Patricia Black Malachy Carey Martin McGartland Joseph MacManus Paul Magee Pearse Jordan Thomas Begley Martin Doherty Ed O'Brien Diarmuid O'Neill Carál Ní Chuilín Ian Milne Conor Murphy Martina Anderson Jennifer McCann Liam Campbell Colin Duffy

Espionage & Supergrasses

Denis Donaldson Freddie Scappaticci (allegedly "Stakeknife") Martin McGartland Raymond Gilmour Kevin Fulton Joseph Fenton Eamon Collins


Cumann na mBan Fianna Éireann South Armagh Republican Action Force Direct Action Against Drugs NORAID Provisional Clan na Gael Friends of Sinn Féin Cairde na hÉireann Troops Out Movement


Continuity Irish Republican Army Real Irish Republican Army

Prominent killings

Michael Willetts Jean McConville Columba McVeigh Billy Fox Martin McBirney Steven Tibble Ross McWhirter Sammy Smyth Christopher Ewart-Biggs Jeffery Stanford Agate Robert Nairac Richard Sykes Gerard Evans Lord Mountbatten Baroness Brabourne Norman Stronge James Stronge Robert Bradford Lenny Murphy Kenneth Salvesen Anthony Berry Maurice Gibson Robert Seymour Heidi Hazell Joseph Fenton Nick Spanos Stephen Melrose Ian Gow Donald Kaberry Thomas Oliver Sammy Ward Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Ray Smallwoods Joe Bratty Raymond Elder Martin Cahill Jerry McCabe Andrew Kearney Eamon Collins Matthew Burns Robert McCartney (allegedly) James Curran Joseph Rafferty (allegedly