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Republican Movement (1994), The 'TUAS' Document

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Text: The Republican Movement ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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The following document is the text of what was referred to as the 'TUAS' document. It is an internal Republican document that first came to public attention when a version was published by the Sunday Tribune (a Dublin based newspaper) on 23 April 1995. The document had been circulated within the Republican movement before being leaked and was believed to have dated from prior to the 1994 Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire. TUAS was initially thought to mean 'Totally UnArmed Struggle' [following the end of the first IRA ceasefire some people claimed it probably meant 'Tactical Use of Armed Struggle']. The following version of the TUAS document appeared as an appendix to Seaton, C. (1998), 'Northern Ireland: The Context for Conflict and Reconciliation'.

The 'TUAS' Document

The briefing paper of April deals with strategic objectives and events to that date in more detail than this paper. However, a brief summary is helpful.

Our goals have not changed. A united 32-county democratic socialist Republic.

The main strategic objectives to move us towards that goal can be summarised thus. To construct an Irish nationalist consensus with international support on the basis of the dynamic contained in the Irish peace initiative. This should aim for:

a.   The strongest possible political consensus between the Dublin government, Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
b.   A common position on practical measures moving us towards our goal.
c.   A common nationalist negotiation position.
d.   An international dimension in aid of the consensus (mostly U.S.A. and E.U.).

The strategic objectives come from prolonged debate but are based on a straightforward logic: that republicans at this time and on their own do not have the strength to achieve the end goal. The struggle needs strengthening most obviously from other nationalist constituencies led by SDLP, Dublin government and the emerging Irish-American lobby, with additional support from other parties in E.U. rowing in behind and accelerating the momentum created.

The aim of any such consensus is to create a dynamic which can:

1.   Effect the domestic and international perception of the republican position, i.e. as one which is reasonable.
2.   To develop a northern nationalist consensus on the basis of constitutional change.
3.   To develop an Irish national consensus on the same basis.
4.   To develop Irish-America as a significant player in support of the above.
5.   To develop a broader and deeper Irish nationalist consensus at grassroots level.
6.   To develop and mobilise an anti-imperialist Irish peace movement.
7.   To expose the British government and the unionists as the intransigent parties.
8.   To heighten the contradictions between British unionist and ‘Ulster Loyalism’.
9.   To assist the development of whatever potential exists in Britain to create a mood/climate/party/movement for peace.
10.   To maintain the political cohesion and organisational integrity of Sinn Féin so as to remain an effective political force.

Present British intentions are the subject of much debate and varied opinion. However what can be said is that sometime preceding the D.S.D. [Downing Street Declaration] of December '93 a deal was done with the U.U.P. [Ulster Unionist Party] to keep the Conservatives in power.

This becomes an obstacle to movement. The D.S.D. does not hold a solution.

Republicans are not prepared to wait around for the British to change, but as always we are prepared to force their hand.

It is nonetheless important to note that there has been no recent dialogue between the Brit government and Republican representatives since November ‘93.

The Republican position is that if the Brits want to talk they should do so through normal political channels.

At the end of the April briefing it states: "Our (strategic) objectives should guide all our actions. Given that these are our guidelines we must now look at what our options are and what initiatives we can undertake."

After prolonged discussion and assessment the leadership decided that if it could get agreement with the Dublin government, the SDLP and the l.A. lobby on basic republican principles which would be enough to create the dynamic that would considerably advance the struggle then it would be prepared to use the TUAS option.

We attempted to reach such a consensus on a set of principles which can be summarised briefly thus:

1.   Partition has failed.
2.   Structures must be changed.
3.   No internal settlement within 6 Counties.
4.   British rule breaches the principle of N.S.D. [national self-determination].
5.   The Irish as a whole have the right to N.S.D. without external impediment.
6.   It is up to the Dublin/London governments with all parties to bring about N.S.D. in the shortest time possible.
7.   The unionists have no veto over discussions involved or their outcome.
8.   A solution requires political and constitutional change.
9.   An agreed united and independent Ireland is what republicans desire. However an agreed Ireland needs the allegiance of varied traditions to be viable.

Contact with the other parties involved have been in that context. There are of course differences of opinion on how a number of these principles are interpreted or applied.

In particular: on British rule breaching the principle of N.S.D.; on the absolute right of the Irish to N.S.D. without external impediment; or interpretation of what veto and consent mean; on the issue of timescales.

Nevertheless, differences aside, the leadership believes there is enough in common to create a substantial political momentum which will considerably advance the struggle at this time. Some substantial contribution factors which point towards now being the right time for an initiative are:

  • Hume is the only SDLP person on the horizon strong enough to face the challenge.
  • Dublin’s coalition is the strongest government in 25 years or more.
  • Reynolds has no historical baggage to hinder him and knows how popular such a consensus would be among grassroots.
  • There is potentially a very powerful Irish-American lobby not in hock to any particular party in Ireland or Britain.
  • Clinton is perhaps the first U.S. President in decades to be substantially influenced by such a lobby.
  • At this time the British government is the least popular in the E.U. with other E.U. members.

It is the first time in 25 years that all the major Irish nationalist parties are rowing in roughly the same direction. These combined circumstances are unlikely to gel again in the foreseeable future.

The leadership has now decided that there is enough agreement to proceed with the Tuas option. It has been stated from the outset that this is a risky strategy. Its success will depend greatly on workload. All activists must be pro-active. Those who continue their present work need to double effect. If you find yourself idle help in another field.

Tuas has been part of every other struggle in the world this century. It is vital that activists realise the struggle is not over. Another front has opened up and we should have the confidence and put in the effort to succeed on that front. We have the ability to carry on indefinitely. We should be trying to double the pressure on the British.

For various reasons, which include the sensitivity of discussions up to this point, communication up and down the organisation has been patchy. Since we are now entering a more public aspect to the initiative communication should be a less encumbered matter and therefore more regular than before.


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