The End of the Northern Ireland Model of Peace Processing?

Even with the recent apparent spike in terrorist activity, including a large car bomb abandoned near Newry, and public paramilitary displays, it’s probably premature to talk of “the IRA’s resurgence”.  But that’s the reference used in this article by Michael Rubin

Perhaps the most important fact I learned was that British security officials believe that their pact with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) may be unraveling.  British intelligence and counter terror officials are now tracking and interrupting more IRA terror planning that at any time since before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The problem is not simply IRA dissidents, as some reports suggest, but mainstream IRA upset that their goals are not being fully met through the political process.  The reason why the collapse of the IRA model is so important is because it has increasingly been the key justification for negotiation with terrorists.

Probably premature… but they haven’t gone away, you know.  And such arguments throw into sharper relief the comments by Sinn Féin chairman, Declan “Something, Something, Something, Dark Side” Kearney – “there is no other IRA” –  as well as Martin McGuinness’ offering to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe [OSCE] conference in Dublin – “The war is over”.  [For you, Tommy Martin, the war is over – Ed].

Naturally, the coverage of Martin McGuinness’ speech focused on interpreting his vague futuring.  And ignored his proffered self-serving narrative of “the Irish Peace Process”.  [Is that the same as the Northern Ireland Peace Process? – Ed]  Probably…

A notable exception in that coverage was BBC NI’s Mark Devenport’s blog on the event

Besides listening all the places visited by Stormont politicians, Mr McGuinness acknowledged the places which haven’t taken the Northern Ireland example on board.

He expressed great disappointment that his visit to Sri Lanka hadn’t assisted the Tamil Tigers and the government there to broker a Northern Ireland-style deal.

Instead the Sri Lankan army tried to finish the conflict there by force, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of Tamils and the continued displacement of tens of thousands more in holding camps.

After the formal opening speeches, the press left the hall, so I can’t give you a blow by blow account of what points the various foreign delegations raised (although one source suggested the Moldovans wanted to know how you could ensure the media toe the line!)

Whilst Martin McGuinness and Michael Rubin are talking about the lessons from the Process here, for different reasons, both would probably agree that there is no direct analogies to draw elsewhere.  Rubin is explicit with his concerns in the article – “With the IRA’s resurgence, hopefully the arguments for engaging and appeasing terrorists can be put to rest.”

For McGuinness there is at least one unmentioned [white] elephant in the room.  And one of a darker complexion.

What both neglect to mention is what was also un-aired in San Sebastián in October last year.

Because in the passing caravan of peace-process tourism there is normally no mention of the secret war conducted by the state and its impact in convincing republicans they could not win the war.

Rather it is all sweetness and light; testimonies to how “dialogue” and “talking” persuaded the key violent actors in Northern Ireland to reverse out of the “armed struggle” cul-de-sac and into constitutional politics.

During the discussions in San Sebastián there will be lots of references to the example of Northern Ireland as a light unto other nations embroiled in conflict.

In any realistic analysis it is worth examining exactly how deeply even such a professional outfit as the Provisional IRA was infiltrated by the beginning of the 1990s.

[Denis Donaldson? – Ed]  For example. 

And the final destination rarely matches that stated on the sold ticket…

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