“The real story is not the existence of some skeleton structure, but the sound of gunfire…”

It’s not the still-extant Provisional IRA structures that are the immediate cause for concern, although “stupid” questions could, and should, be asked about their ultimate purpose, it’s the involvement of those Provisional IRA ‘structures’ in the events leading up to, and including, the murder of Kevin McGuigan, and the continued denials [of that reality! – Ed] which have followed.

As I mentioned previously

…a key element in the recent events under investigation, which I noted previously, [is] the Provisional IRA investigation into the murder of Jock Davison that preceded the murder of Kevin McGuigan, which police have stated they believe involved members of the Provisional IRA.

And UTV adds another snippet of information.

It has also emerged that for at least three weeks Kevin McGuigan’s every move was being watched, so his killers could decide when was the right time to strike.

UTV understands there was an aborted attempt, or more than one, to murder him before he was killed and that the murder gang had been operating from a base in the Short Strand.

As Brian Rowan, at Eamonn Maillie’s blog, notes

The real story is not the existence of some skeleton structure, but the sound of gunfire and the police assessment that IRA members were involved as part of “a fallout, a disagreement, a feud within the republican community”.

This is the context for the two recent murders.

The McGuigan killing was a reprisal for the murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison – once one of the most senior IRA leaders in Belfast.

That killing was never going to pass without a response, and it is that response that has placed this spotlight on the IRA in 2015.

Gerry Adams is never going to convince the unionist community that “The IRA has gone away – you know”.

The focus now is on what is still there, why it is there, and who knew and didn’t know about the involvement of current members in the McGuigan shooting. [added emphasis]

Hamilton has no information at this time “that indicates that Provisional IRA involvement was sanctioned or directed at a senior or organisational level within the Provisional IRA or the broader republican movement”.

Well, perhaps… But if they didn’t know, it’s likely to be only because they didn’t want to know [If you don’t ask, you can’t tell! – Ed] Indeed.

And as Suzanne Breen pointed out on Sunday – via Newshound.

The Provos have certainly no desire to kill British soldiers and police officers or blow up town centres. They’ve genuinely given up their efforts to force a British withdrawal and Irish unity from the barrel of a gun.

But they still continue to exist and function. And if their control is substantially challenged, they’ll strike back. Jock Davison’s murder in May shook them.

The scary spectre emerged that his killing mightn’t be the last, that others with historical grievances against senior IRA figures would now be encouraged to wreak vengeance.

The Provos couldn’t run the risk of copycat executions. The man they believed had executed Jock had to be punished.

The week before Kevin McGuigan’s murder, the little known Action Against Drugs (AAD) went public with a threat against Jock’s killers. Retrospectively, it smacks of carefully choreographed, scene-setting stuff.

This self-styled group may well soon issue a claim of responsibility for the killing. Nobody with a titter of wit should give it any credibility even if Gerry Kelly repeats it at the top of his voice outside Connolly House.

AAD can allege ad infinitum that it’s entirely separate from the Provos but logic dictates that, on this one, the IRA is pulling the strings. [added emphasis]

The PSNI says it doesn’t know whether the murder was “sanctioned at a command level or not” by the Provos. That’s an implicit admission that the organisation’s structures continue to function.

I suspect that the increasing lack of public faith in the entire criminal justice system forced the PSNI to be so brutally honest. And the recent criticism of its record by Robert McCartney’s sister, Catherine, certainly stung.

London and Dublin have, of course, long turned a blind eye to what the IRA gets up to for the sake of the peace process. And since they ascended to power in Stormont, the DUP has followed suit.

With calls for more updates, and further discussion of the IRA allegations, the party is signalling it has no appetite to take action. The Provos are fortunate that so many here have a stake in continuing with the grotesque political pantomime that passes for democracy.

Meanwhile, at the Pensive Quill, Anthony McIntyre decodes the windtalking of the peace processors.

George Hamilton is not eagerly giving the green light to the type of murderous activity that claimed the life of Kevin McGuigan.  He is transmitting very clearly that his force will pursue, arrest and place before the courts individuals against whom it procures evidence of involvement in murder.  What is transmitted however is not always what is received and he must know this but has taken the risk all the same for the peace process.  Decoded by the windtalkers of the peace process his message will be received as meaning the IRA has room to manoeuvre, can kill with plausible deniability, that its individual members but not the organisation will be pursued, charges of directing terrorism and IRA membership will be an anachronism reserved exclusively for IRAs other than the Provisional, and there will be no political sanction for Sinn Féin.  Happy days for peace processing.

Ultimately there is a strong logic informing the Hamilton formula.  It amounts to a plausible mechanism for firewalling the peace process and the power sharing institutions from the destabilising effects of violence, now described by all as criminal rather than political.  It was ongoing IRA activity that made the Trimble led executive so precarious and which Peter Robinson was so determined to overcome given that he knew the Provisional IRA continued to function when he entered government with its erstwhile chief of staff as his deputy.

The upshot is this: so long as the Provisional IRA can emulate the Cosa Nostra of Sicily where the Mafiosi who belonged to it referred to it as “our thing” but denied the existence of any organisation and ridiculed, smeared or murdered those who thought otherwise, the show can stay on the road… to perdition.

Read the whole thing.

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  • chrisjones2

    “He is transmitting very clearly that his force will pursue, arrest and place before the courts individuals against whom it procures evidence of involvement in murder. ”

    …but we have heard today from the Bel Tel story on the McCartney that that hasnt been past policy, That at times SF members have had a bye ball. In short there has been collusion to cover up their involvement. That has bred a culture of impunity – ‘how dare they’ investigate poor Gerry is just one example

    ” so long as the Provisional IRA can emulate the Cosa Nostra of Sicily where the Mafiosi who belonged to it referred to it as “our thing” but denied the existence of any organisation and ridiculed, smeared or murdered those who thought otherwise, the show can stay on the road”

    Perhaps. In three of four weeks we will see,

  • Kevin Breslin

    Is Gunfire really the story?

    There’s been gunfire since the troubles ended.

    People want the guns to stop, but we also need to have the decommissioning of mindsets that thinks that the guns necessary.

    Whether these actions below have any connection to Sinn Féin, we need to know the truth about them and that goes to the heart of the existence of some skeleton structure.


    This is not a gun control problem, it is a political one like it or not.

  • Niall Chapman

    Ian Paisley’s fears may well come to fruition: https://youtu.be/pumM9jcVTqM

  • Niall Chapman

    Given the fact that the UUP have officially pulled out of Government and the DUP are about to, will their salaries and expenses be withheld also?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The UUP will automatically lose the salaries of their SpAd and the minister.

    If the DUP withdraw from government, emergency legislation will have to be passed to prorogue or suspend the assembly. Any provision to freeze salaries will have to be made as part of that legislation.

    All salaries, expenses and allowances should immediately ceased following suspension of the assembly, and all employees and workers must be put on redundancy notice.

  • Zig70

    My problem with your analysis Pete, is that you are using moral principles. The important thing is the loss of life but do you actually believe it was loss of someone life that fuels this crisis? Unionists don’t give a hoot about the lives or deaths of folk in the markets, which gets to the heart of the reason they aren’t allowed to govern alone and shackled to a nationalist enemy. I can’t work out if the UUP have moved to the hardline side of the DUP in order to return the favour post GFA, which would make sense given the call for the non-executive TUV to join them out of the executive or the other way given their slight passing swipe on the way out to the unionist forum compatriots.

  • eireanne

    i don’t think the DUP are about to pull out of government, their plan seems to be exclusion of sinn fein

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    I recall Paisley proposing that NI go it alone and break from the UK back in the days after the Anglo Irish Agreement. Dr No sang from any number of hymn sheets it seems. Pragmatic and responsive to the mood of different times perhaps. But hypocritical and inconsistent too. It appears that there was a rather capricious God guiding his hand (one that may have been created in his own image).

  • Niall Chapman

    True, more a slave to his own Ego than a devout worshiper of some fictional man in the sky

  • barnshee

    SF cannot be excluded -they have a mandate-the assembly is rigged to prevent exclusion- the only thing the DUPERS can do is leave

  • Pasty2012

    “First Minister Peter Robinson was one of a number of DUP politicians who wrote letters urging the judge not to jail Mr Tweed” – The DUP seem to have a different view when Unionist Terrorists are brought before the courts though. Tweed escaped justice in 1974 when found with an arsenal of guns and ammunition, yet the DUP think the man should not have been sent to jail – which is a clear U-Turn on their calls for people being sent back to jail if there is any kind of allegation made or the police think it would be an idea to question a Nationalist.
    But then the DUP DID, (according to David Ervine of the PUP), Beg the UVF NOT to go on ceasefire in the first place, and if they didn’t want paramilitary Murderers to go on ceasefire then what did the DUP want the UVF Killers to continue doing ?

    These are the people who slag of Sinn Fein for being associated with the IRA and who still sit in committees and stand on platforms next to the Unionist Paramilitary Murderers. Has anyone heard of any Unionist Weapons Decommissioning yet, No, so WHY are the DUP and UUP still engaging with those Unionist Murderers while at the same time declaring they are not prepared to talk to Democratically Elected Nationalists whilst the IRA (who HAVE Decommissioned) still exist. You would think that the Nationalist Party’s should be demanding that the DUP and UUP get rid of the Unionist Paramilitaries and make them Decommission.

  • Pasty2012

    Maybe Ian Og should start a rent and rates strike until the British Government take the type of action demanded by unionists against the people they don’t like.
    Did the PSNI Chief Constable not come out and declare that he fully believes that Sinn Fein and even the IRA Command he talks about are fully supportive of the Political Establishment and fully supportive of the PSNI. Why have the Unionists not picked up on those Factual Quotes ?

  • chrisjones2

    And right on cue Peter demonstrates why para militarism and politics isn’t a one sided issue


  • “Perhaps. In three of four weeks we will see”


    You’re quoting Anthony’s decoding of the windtalking of the peace processors.

    It’s not a prediction.

  • Zig

    That’s an interesting “problem” to register.

    But you’re missing the point.

    The post is not about the political soap opera, you can look elsewhere for that. It’s about the events that have caused this particular crisis.

    Unless we have a clear view of those events, then speculation about the motives of those reacting to it – aka mind-reading, it doesn’t work, btw – is premature.

    And it’s not the “loss of someone life that fuels this crisis”, per se.

    It’s the involvement of those Provisional IRA ‘structures’ in the events leading up to, and including, the murder of Kevin McGuigan, and the continued denials [of that reality! – Ed] which have followed.

    Post the 2010 devolution of policing and justice powers those events were always going to cause a political reaction.

    But I’m blogging my concerns at those events, not those of anyone else. Although I’d suggest they should also be of concern to others. Yourself included.

  • Well, the “to perdition” you neglected to quote is. But… anyway…

  • Kevin

    “Is Gunfire really the story?”

    Try reading the whole post, again?

  • Paisley lied. And after the fact.
    Who knew!?
    Well, Peter Hain for one… I could find the quote. But I have neither the time nor the motivation.

  • Zig70

    I’m happy that the conflict ended. I think the price paid was worth it and that good people were aware of the compromises. I’m aware many of the foot soldiers are fairly bemused by the Armani clad political beneficiaries that didn’t do the dirty work no matter how much their enemies wish they did. I hear we pay 60k in some cases to community leaders in order to keep them from tearing the place up and it is probably time we faced up to the fact that there are other socio-economic reasons for this than the culture wars that need to be addressed before we can remove this carrot. I never expected the IRA to disappear. The essence of the core republican families would make that impossible. Even if you had a UI, these guys would still be meeting up, bemusing the lack of a socialist Ireland. Just as decommissioning was a red-herring for sack cloth and ashes, They bought guns before and could buy them again. None of this is news. I think there are bigger things to be concern about, the poverty gap, the homeless, the growing lack of unskilled jobs. Even on our local conflict front, the very active and terrorist engaged loyalist paramilitaries and the growing sense that my kids aren’t safe from them or just the underlying sectarianism in Newtownabbey with it’s grim Arch. So back to your point, I didn’t blink when some hood got stabbed, I have concerns about the intelligence of the security forces when you read it in conjunction with their clean up rates, I didn’t believe all the hype from journo’s that make a living out of talking about the IRA or bloggers that oppose the current SF path. Like everyone else here, I believe my own crap but I’m not to concern about structures and to me the whole thing about structures is political. Stormont is a neat political trick in distraction and I’m happy for it to stay that way until times change.

  • “Like everyone else here, I believe my own crap but I’m not to concern about structures and to me the whole thing about structures is political.”

    That’s were we differ.

    But good luck with that.

  • Zig70

    I guess it comes down to the fact that I believe most of those who have sent kids out to do dark deeds in the name of Ireland know it wasn’t going to achieve what they wanted and whether you think they have the mark of Cain on them as Colonel Tim Collins put it. These structures aren’t going to restart the war. It’s about political bogeymen and the cultural attitudes which maybe underlies why I think the OO structures pose a bigger threat to our society.

  • chrisjones2

    The fact its on the road top perdition is immaterial in terms of the process. The NIO view is that so long as it is on the road all is well!!!!

  • chrisjones2

    “Maybe Ian Og should start a rent and rates strike ”

    ….but the Assembly and Parliament pay his anyway don’t they

  • chrisjones2

    They can be excluded but a PoC will prevent it

    In practice the DUP then have the choice to stay or to walk. That is why they are so angry at the UUP. It will make the hang wringing look so false

  • Kevin Breslin

    Vigalate killings for drugs happened before the Assembly got up and running, and during the last suspension. They weren’t given the same political attention.

    I don’t see these vigilante groups stopping whatever happens in the Assembly.

  • Pasty2012

    No, the real story is why the Unionist Party’s of the DUP and UUP continue to engage on a daily basis with Fully Armed Unionist Terrorists who continue to Murder and Rob whilst at the same time as demanding the removal of a Nationalist Party who the Chief Constable of the PSNI has stated he believes is fully supportive of the Police and the Law and of the PIRA which he believes are channeling their actions in politics.
    Of course there will be, as the Chief Constable of the PSNI said, individuals acting for their own gain just like the DUP/UUP members and ex members who have taken actions without the knowledge of the leadership ?

  • Niall Chapman

    Paisley a liar? Sure he was a man of god 😉

  • Stravage

    Suzanne Breen, nailed it.