So the DUP has decided there will be no more meetings of the Stormont Executive until the problem of IRA “does it exist?” And Welfare Reform is solved. It looks like an arbitary decision by the DUP but it is all the hallmarks of choreography between DUP and the British Government. There is something re-assuring about journalists standing outside Stormont and telling us we are “on the brink”. All traditionalists will be happy to hear this kinda language.
Basically we have been “on the brink” for a couple of years. The DUP, UUP and Alliance are conservative parties and are politically committed to Welfare Cuts. They are pro-austerity. Sinn Féin and SDLP lean to the left and are anti-austerity. And with the Tories at Westminster holding the purse-strings, we have had this peculiar stand-off. Any direct intervention from Westminster would be welcome by DUP…and just as much by Sinn Féin because they need a sense of resentment at the British and can blame them for making the decisions that Sinn Féin cant make. Sinn Féin need the British and the cover they provide to stay in the Executive.
The problem over IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan on Short Strand last month has raised the stakes. Sinn Féin denies the IRA exists…it “has left the stage” they say…but thats not the same thing. Leaving the stage and leaving the theatre are two different things. We can all see them in the wings watching the drama unfold.
And just as importantly DUP needs to persuade its electorate that the
IRA doesnt exist…even if they know the reality. Remember the good old days …just ten years ago……when the DUP and UUP referred to Sinn Féin as “Sinn Féin-IRA”. They spat out the words. The unionists parties demonised Sinn Féin to justify their unwillingness to deal with them.
Of course nobody in DUP uses that rhetoric now. Sinn Féin is after all propping DUP up as much as DUP are propping up Sinn Féin. And the saintly but hapless Alliance Party, gerrymandered into place as the “third party” of government wont be making any waves …not while there are ministerial salaries, chauffeur driven cars and “advisor posts” avaliable, out of proportion with its votes.
Let me frank …the IRA DOES exist. Not every member of Sinn Féin is a member of the IRA. Not every “hard nut” in an An Féile audience is a member of the IRA. Not every so-called “community worker” in the Markets, Falls Road, Creggan or Newry is a member of the IRA. Not every ex-prisoner is a member of the IRA. Not every man downing a pint of Guinness is a member of the IRA but it is an integral part of the movement, simply and anbiguously known as the “Republican Movement”.
Let me be more frank. The dirty little secret known to the Republican Movement …AND!! The Police…AND!! DUP and UUP ….AND!!! Alliance Party….AND!!!SDLP…and every journalist and every dog in the street is that OF COURSE IT EXISTS.
Arguably, in the early days after the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA was needed to enforce the settlement on potential dissidents. Did the British and Irish governments actually facilitate that? Are unsolved murders in the years after 1998 a “nod and a wink” to the IRA that there were “hoisekeeping issues”, the tying up of loose ends?
How else can the “secret” letters of comfort to scores of republicans be explained? How else can the dragging of feet by PSNI over historical crimes be explained? How else can the Northern Bank be explained? Or the lack of arrests over the Quinn murder in South Armagh? Not to mention the failure to really tackle organised crime, such as smuggling and fuel laundering? How is it possible that there are seemingly paramilitary funerals? How are so many mistakes made in the legal and judicial process…as in the case of Mairia Cahill?
Did the IRA kill Kevin McGuigan in revenge for the murder of Jock Davison? Despite arrests, will anyone actually be charged and convicted? Ever?
Is it not logical to take a pragmatic view that…at best …the IRA will exist to keep a watching brief on how the post-Conflict is working out? And equally logical that…at worst…the IRA will kill people?
Isnt it logical that there is a “command structure”?
Isnt it just the compromise that we all signed up to two decades ago?
While the DUP, Sinn Féin and the rest are playing petty politics, we all need to make a decision. We are as complicit in all this as the main players. We had a Dirty War….we have a Dirty Peace.
How else can the “secret” letters of comfort to scores of republicans be explained?
Really simply, SF got a list of names.
How else can the dragging of feet by PSNI over historical crimes be explained?
Which ones? Republican crimes which the full force of the law prosecuted or other?
How else can the Northern Bank be explained?
Lack of actual evidence. I always found that one strange, how the powers that be ‘knew’ it was republicans but could never prove it.
Or the lack of arrests over the Quinn murder in South Armagh?
Show us who did it John, you appear to know.
Not to mention the failure to really tackle organised crime, such as smuggling and fuel laundering?
Can you put a figure on how much is being committed here John. I know people love to speculate on how huge a business it is, but tbh, it’s not like south Armagh is Lecce, otherwise I’d have lots of knock odd gear being sold in Newry markets.
How is it possible that there are seemingly paramilitary funerals?
I drape a flag over a casket, job done.
How are so many mistakes made in the legal and judicial process…as in the case of Mairia Cahill?
Didn’t someone decide not to proceed with testimony. Honestly, I could be wrong but tbh, cases of historical sexual assault aren’t exactly renowned for being easily prosecuted.
John, define the IRA for us. If it’s a bunch of lads drinking in west Belfast then it exists. If it’s a command structure with the aim of creating a UI then I think you’re paranoid. As Kensei said, it’s not like they had a big headquarters to sell off, they’re a bunch of people after all. They’re talking to one another doesn’t an IRA make.
The basic question is whether it exists or not. I go with YES because its logical. I never expectd it to go away at any time after 1998. From their perspective there needs to be a watching brief…just like I fully expect that British spooks are advising the British Govt. They havent gone away either.
For the most part they cancel each other out.
And in terms of historic enquiries, they have as much to hide. There are just as many letters of reassurance held by people now working in embassies in Islamabad, Washington, Tel Aviv etc.
The Good Friday Agreement had a lot of side deals and Im not a conspiracy theorist. In a conflict that nobody won or lost there are a lot of loose ends.
And thats the real problem.
As for any individual incident I named in original post, Id see your point if there was just one or two unsolved things. But theres just too many.
But when Gerry Adams says definitively that there is no IRA, I have to treat it with the same skepticism when he says he was never a member.
‘I go with YES because it’s logical’
Saying something is ‘logical’ workout demonstrating why doesn’t make it logical John. It’s the adult version of ‘because I said so’.
But you also have defined what the IRA is nowadays. An organisation with its full command structures in place? Continuing to hire? About to set off on hew campaigns? Basically, completely intact from 1995? If so, I think you’re paranoid.
For historic inquiries who have as much to hide? Are you referring to the IRA or London spooks? The former have been pretty thoroughly investigated over the years with 1000s jailed while the latter hasn’t. I’m mindful of Eamonn Mallie having a series of discussions with all sides talking about coming to terms with the past (I think Kearney of SF was at it and ex-UUP guy who writes for the News Letter was there too) and tbf, it was loyalism saying they and the London spooks who had the most to fear. Why do you think that is?
Your point on people in Istanbul holding letters is rambling John. I get it; you see these as get out of jail free cards when of course they aren’t. I’m sure I could point out the legal and factual basis for my argument but for an SDLP member such as yourself it would only add to the ‘stitch up’.
How many side deals are enough john? 2? 3? Seriously, what did you think needs to be done to have some sort of resolution to a long conflict?
As for your digs at Gerry Adams, play the ball John, you and the comments below are showing a bit of a childishness that I’d expect more at Slugger.
Do I believe the IRA exists as in it’s a well trained and funded paramilitary organisation able to strike at British military assets with abandon like it did in the 80s and 90s? No. It’s an old mans club of ex provies up at the Fellons with a few fuck whits deciding to go to dissidents. Anything else is sheer paranoia and wishful thinking.
I think there is a difference between “Beyond Doubt” and “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” but I am basically saying we are ALL compromised. I compromised myself and my family’s future when I bought into this in 1998.
It was a mistake.
We’re all compromised? Perhaps, but some of us are better equipped at dealing with it. I get it, you’ve got buyer’s remorse. Tbh, I’d not expect anything less if I were an sdlp member also; it’s your baby that you guys birthed and sure enough you’re cast aside and it becomes this ‘monster’.
But I often wonder what it is you’d want in its place?
I think thats fair comment. Buyers Remorse but it is based on “I should have known better”.
In 1998, my vote in Referendum was heavily influenced by the Party I voted for from 1993 to 2009…Sinn Féin.
The nationalists were told that this would lead to Irish Unity. The unionists were told the exact opposite.
Nationalists were more convinced than unionists.
To be honest, the Buyers Remorse is as much about my own stupidity as anything else.
The Creative Ambiguity around it was just too much like a Big Lie. And in 1998 and now I was totally unconvinced by SDLP triumphalism…Seamus Mallon “Sunningdale for slow learners” is one of the most stupid statements I have ever heard.
It rings hollow in 2015.
What I regret most is that I bought into it. The Good Friday Agreement is a good enough product but the after-sales is useless.
And I say again that SDLP lays the blame at the feet of the British and Irish governments abandoning SDLP and UUP and promoting Sinn Féin and DUP but that is only half true.
A considerable amount of blame can be placed on SDLP performance in government in the years immediately after 1998.
Post-John Hume…the leadership of Mallon, Brid Rodgers, Sean Farren, Carmel Hanna was not exactly brilliant.
I have to agree a lot with you John. The sdlp loves saying that it’s rigged for extremists but they’re the architects of the whole thing, you know, Sunningdale for beginners? So they need to own it and say what’s wrong, their big plan on how it should’ve panned out at the end of it. That and they need to admit that nationalist voters left them as they were ineffectual. When someone like me calls some of your colleagues a stoop then you’re in trouble, I’m middle class nowadays 🙂
I get the buyers remorse thing, may I ask if that’s felt by many you know in the sdlp?
I wish it was that simple Kevin.
SDLP before 1998 was a very different SDLP to the SDLP after 1998.
They were certainly undermined but rather than huffing about successive Labour(!!) Secretaries of State, they need to look at their own performance in Stormont.
Hard for any person in SDLP to criticise Mallon’s leadership because he is such an iconic figure and still influential in 2015.
Admitting how much they got wrong would be a big step in the right direction.
How many in SDLP have “Buyers Remorse”? I don’t think anybody can bring themselves to admit it PUBLICLY. But the after-service was worse than the actual purchase.
Its different for me…I was not a member of any Party from 1982 until 2011 and while I am certainly “gene pool” SDLP, I emphasise that I was voting SF from 1993 to 2009.
The greater difficulty for SDLP is not that they BOUGHT the Good Friday Agreement……….they SOLD it to voters.
Gerry Adams made a speech last week saying the Iraq does not exist any more.
And he is a credible source?
No. And I think that his lack of credibility has actually grown over time.
But Gerry knows nothing about the IRA. He has said so.
The IRA or IRAQ… I don’t think the country has fallen apart just quite yet.
The IRA I mean.
But surely Gerry Adams would not even know. After all he wasnt in the IRA….he says he wasnt and thats credible isnt it?
But Gerry Adams knows nothing about that kinda thing.