Implausibility denied: Sinn Fein and the IRA

Bob McCartney believes that the flaw in all of last week’s dealing is in the assymetrical recognition of Sinn Fein’s electoral mandate, and its tacit endorsement of the IRA’s military mandate to potentially resume armed struggle.

The notional separation of Sinn Fein from the IRA provided the party with a negotiating advantage which was not shared by its nationalist or unionist opponents. Sinn Fein, wearing its ‘democratic’ hat and relying on its electoral mandate, could claim political legitimacy enabling Adams, McGuinness, Doherty and co to posture as statesmen.

Showered with privilege, place, money, and media attention, they talked the talk of democrats, while the IRA acted as their political and social enforcers and criminal fund-raisers in the nationalist ghettoes.

The separation of Sinn Fein ‘democrats’ from IRA ‘terrorists’ became the key to ongoing benefits. It enabled Sinn Fein to accept the Mitchell Principles and gain entry to the negotiations which delivered the Belfast Agreement.

It secured the release of convicted republican terrorists; the destruction of the RUC, and the placing of Sinn Fein ministers in government. It permitted Sinn Fein to deny responsibility for the decommissioning of IRA weapons by accepting that Sinn Fein did not control the IRA’s activities and should, therefore, suffer no greater political sanction than other ‘democratic’ parties should the IRA refuse to decommission.

  • willowfield

    Reasonable comment, only having criticised the UUP for participating in a process by which the Provos were able to use the existence of their armed death squads to extract concessions, he avoids making the point that the DUP did precisely this after November 2003 – cf. McCabe killers, NI MPs in Dáil – and the failure to get a deal will probably mean even more concessions in return for photos.

  • BobC

    On the subject of SF’s electoral mandate, isn’t it true that SF’s electoral support is more than double what it used to be when the IRA were fully active? How do those who question the legitimacy of the mandate deal with all those whose support for SF is presumably conditional upon no return to ‘armed struggle’. (I’m an outsider to NI and happy to stand corrected on this)

  • willowfield

    No-one questions their “mandate”. The issue is their ongoing attachment to armed death squads.

  • Davros

    BobC: Eamonn McCann made an interesting point in this Interview which, although long, is worth reading in full.

    And one way of looking at the process leading up to the ceasfires is not, as it’s commonly presented, of Mr. Adams and Mr. McGuinness sort of carefully and sensitively leading a militant community towards constitutional politics and luring them away from violence and into constitutionality. Another way of looking at it is that they were realigning their own movement to meet the actual thinking of the people that they sensed that they were, if not far out in front or in another way of looking at it, far behind, but certainly were out of alignment. The ideas of republicanism were not in alignment with the mass of republican supporters, and the adjustment was not the mass of people adjusting themselves to the new stance of republicanism, but the movement itself adjusting itself to where its supporters were actually at and doing that in a way that involved the abandonment of armed struggle, and necessarily the presentation, particularly to their core supporters, of a new strategy as a better way of achieving the old traditional aims. And this was a — to look at it in a cynical way — subterfuge, but I suppose if you wanted to be positive about it, you would say it was just a common sense way of doing it, to argue that they had discovered a better way of achieving a united Ireland than armed struggle, that this meant postponing the achievement of their ideals, abandoning armed struggle and putting in place new alliances with the SDLP, with the Dublin government, with corporate Irish America, and that this would give them a political clout which would be stronger and more effective than the military clout of the IRA. Now it seems to me that that was wrong, but that was the argument. And that strategy may well be coming to grief.

  • abucs

    Another way of looking at it, is that the old one community rule had dissappeared and wasn’t coming back, the British government had moved substantially on redrawing local government boundaries, working with Dublin, asserting legislation for equality, and had moved away from trying to impose a solution on Nationalists to giving them an equal say in the new Northern Ireland. All that was left was a self destructive, self perpetuating war with the British Government that needed help from all sides to bring to an end.
    Part of the rising support for Sinn Fein has been the acknowledgement from Nationalists that Republicans sought a peaceful settlement in the mid 90’s with Britain because of the changed circumstances.

  • Harris

    Willowfield

    “No-one questions their “mandate”. The issue is their ongoing attachment to armed death squads.”

    What “death squads” are you talking about? The IRA haven’t killed your kind for many years now because their arms have been completely quiet. You must think of another excuse Willowfield.

  • Davros

    Harris – that’s the difference – decent people don’t think death squads have the right to kill in their “own” communities.

  • willowfield

    Harris

    What “death squads” are you talking about?

    The Provisional IRA death squads.

    The IRA haven’t killed your kind for many years now because their arms have been completely quiet. You must think of another excuse Willowfield.

    Whether or not the PIRA death squads have killed “my kind” for many years is not the point. For so long as the death squads exist they will always have the potential to kill not only “my kind”, but other people’s “kind”.

  • aquifer

    There is no moral high ground in the IRA not killing ‘your kind’, merely the recognition of a military reality. The IRA could not embark on and win a nakedly sectarian murder campaign without risking the mass murder and possible displacement of its own support that retaliation would bring.

    This is like the batty german lefties who respected the Baader Meinhof gang for being able to shoot down airliners and not doing it.

    Armed coercion worked to a point, but if open ethnic war breaks out Sinn Fein could lose out bigtime.

  • Alan2

    “McCabe killers, NI MPs in Dáil”

    I see no mention of such things in the Governments published proposals. They seem entirely seperate as a”mini deal” between republicans and the Irish government, and the Dailthing is slightlysuspect in legal terms unless it is merely as spectators.

  • willowfield

    I see no mention of such things in the Governments published proposals. They seem entirely seperate as a”mini deal” between republicans and the Irish government, and the Dailthing is slightlysuspect in legal terms unless it is merely as spectators.

    Just because it’s not printed in the governments’ documents doesn’t mean it didn’t result from the negotiations in which the DUP were involved, and the outcome of which the DUP signed up to!!

    Use a bit of intelligence, man!

  • Alan2

    Sign up to what? The DUP quite clearly stated that they would be consulting the party members and grass roots opinion before recommending any deal to the electorate. I see no signature or recommendation. I am all for a deal but there is little point in “doing a Trimble” for the third time in a row. Any deal requires the confidence of the Unionist community. If the Irish governments wants to pander to Republicaqns by undermining their own democracy and legal system that is up to them. It has already happened in Northern Ireland with the release of Loyalist and Republican terrorists, many of whom were convicted of similar criminal activities rather than terrorism so it should be no surprise that the governments press ahead with this, demilitarisation, NI members in the Dail and other initiatives with or without a working Assembly and as such is entirely beyond the power of any Northern Ireland party to prevent.

  • willowfield

    Sign up to what?

    The political agreement arising from the negotiations involving the DUP, the Provos and “the two governments”.

    The DUP quite clearly stated that they would be consulting the party members and grass roots opinion before recommending any deal to the electorate. I see no signature or recommendation.

    So the DUP didn’t sign up? They were dishonest, then, to portray themselves as the ones saying “yes” to the deal?

    What do you think are the chances, by the way, of the DUP grass roots rejecting a deal recommended to them unanimously by their leadership?

    If the Irish governments wants to pander to Republicaqns by undermining their own democracy and legal system that is up to them. It has already happened in Northern Ireland with the release of Loyalist and Republican terrorists, many of whom were convicted of similar criminal activities rather than terrorism so it should be no surprise that the governments press ahead with this, demilitarisation, NI members in the Dail and other initiatives with or without a working Assembly and as such is entirely beyond the power of any Northern Ireland party to prevent.

    Funny how such arguments were never employed when Trimble was in the driving seat!!

    It’s a different world now, isn’t it? Opposition is much easier.

  • George

    “Just because it’s not printed in the governments’ documents doesn’t mean it didn’t result from the negotiations in which the DUP were involved, and the outcome of which the DUP signed up to!!”

    Willowfield,
    talking rights in the Dail for northerners has nothing to do with the DUP, UUP or any overall deal.

    It is an internal matter for the Irish
    government as is the release of the murderers of Garda McCabe.

  • willowfield

    Sorry George, they have everything to do with the overall deal.

    We’re not stupid.

  • Alan2

    A deal was “doable” but they were not about to “do a Trimble”. Either the deal has the confidence of the Unionist community or it does not and the DUP has it`s finger on the pulse of the Unionist grass roots whether others like it or not. I firmly believe “the Doc” wants to sign up to a deal but it must be the right deal. The proposals on offer were not a concluded deal. there were many outstanding issues still to be addressed.

    The McCabe issue is not only beyond the powers of any Northern Ireland party it is outwith the juridiction of Northern Ireland and / or the UK. I don`t agree with releasing the the killers of Gardai McCabe early. I believe they should serve there full sentence as all criminals should.

  • Alan2

    Erm so how is it part of the deal if they go ahead and doit in the absebce of any deal?

  • willowfield

    A deal was “doable” but they were not about to “do a Trimble”. Either the deal has the confidence of the Unionist community or it does not and the DUP has it`s finger on the pulse of the Unionist grass roots whether others like it or not.

    That doesn’t answer the question. Did the DUP sign up or not? If not, they were dishonest to portray themselves as the ones saying “yes” to the deal.

    I firmly believe “the Doc” wants to sign up to a deal but it must be the right deal. The proposals on offer were not a concluded deal. there were many outstanding issues still to be addressed.

    Many? So it was more than the photo?

    More DUP dishonesty!

    The McCabe issue is not only beyond the powers of any Northern Ireland party it is outwith the juridiction of Northern Ireland and / or the UK. I don`t agree with releasing the the killers of Gardai McCabe early. I believe they should serve there full sentence as all criminals should.

    Nonetheless, their release – and the disgraceful moves to allow NI MPs to go to the Southern parliament – were concessions resulting from the negotiation process in which the DUP participated.

    And – worse – these concessions are happening even though the DUP failed to get a deal.

  • Alan2

    Except they were not a part of the deal. The proposals are there for all to see. There is no mention of such things. Where is the deal Mr Trimble signed up to last year? Why have details not been released?

    The DUP did not say YES or NO as far as I am aware. The IRA said NO to photographs and that was the end of it.

    Reading the Newsletter in recent times it seems the UUP have had a lurch to the right and are now firmly anti-Agreement. Would that be the case? The DUP has always stated that it seeks a fair deal. They have no problem with ALL-Ireland and or North / South bodies so long as they are accountable to the Assembly and the work therin is good for Northern Ireland. The strengthening of the East / West connections (Council Of The Isles) is also a welcome development.

    Early release scheme`s are part of the Good Friday Agreement to which the UUP signed up to not the DUP. I note Ken Barrett is also seeking release under this scheme but has been disallowed because he is in an English Jail. Like the saying goes once the genie is out of the bottle……..

  • willowfield

    Except they were not a part of the deal.

    Don’t be so naive.

    The proposals are there for all to see. There is no mention of such things.

    As I said before, just because they’re not written down in a particular document doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the deal.

    Do you honestly think it was a coincidence that these concessions were discussed during the negotiations and agreed at the same time as everything else was (almost) agreed?!

    Where is the deal Mr Trimble signed up to last year? Why have details not been released?

    I don’t know.

    The DUP did not say YES or NO as far as I am aware.

    So they were being dishonest in giving the impression that they said yes.

    Reading the Newsletter in recent times it seems the UUP have had a lurch to the right and are now firmly anti-Agreement. Would that be the case?

    I doubt it.

    The DUP has always stated that it seeks a fair deal. They have no problem with ALL-Ireland and or North / South bodies so long as they are accountable to the Assembly and the work therin is good for Northern Ireland. The strengthening of the East / West connections (Council Of The Isles) is also a welcome development.

    Maybe so, but those are mere amendments to the Agreement which they claimed to oppose and wanted to “bury”.

    Early release scheme`s are part of the Good Friday Agreement to which the UUP signed up to not the DUP.

    The DUP said they’d overturn the GFA, yet the early release scheme remains. When did it become “fair”?

  • Alan2

    Which bits are you disagreeing with? The new accountability within the proposals, the new East / West institutions? the decommissioning of arms with verifiable and visual aspects including photographs? the devolution of policing and justice (when the community has confidence)?

    Is that a better dealor is it not?

    There is nothing naive about it. The only real power Northern Ireland parties have is in the creation of a Northern Ireland government, all other things are outwith their jurisdiction. they may well have some influence but the final decision rests with Dublin and London with regards demilitarisation, early releases, amnesty for on the runs and indeed NI people sitting in the Dail. Are you saying that the UUP could stop the Dail from allowing NI people from sitting in the Dail? Your sounding about as convincing as Tony Blair trying to sell the Euro.

  • Alan2

    The DUP may well have said yes if photographic evidence of decommisioning was available. I fail to see how that is dishonest. A deal was not signed or completed because one party to the agreement rejected it outright.

  • willowfield

    Which bits are you disagreeing with?

    The McCabe killers’ release, and most particularly the moves to allow NI MPs into the Southern parliament.

    The new accountability within the proposals, the new East / West institutions? the decommissioning of arms with verifiable and visual aspects including photographs? the devolution of policing and justice (when the community has confidence)?

    None of that has been agreed.

    Is that a better dealor is it not?

    Other than the McCabe killers release and the irredentist Dail/Senate moves, there is no deal.

    There is nothing naive about it. The only real power Northern Ireland parties have is in the creation of a Northern Ireland government, all other things are outwith their jurisdiction. they may well have some influence but the final decision rests with Dublin and London with regards demilitarisation, early releases, amnesty for on the runs and indeed NI people sitting in the Dail. Are you saying that the UUP could stop the Dail from allowing NI people from sitting in the Dail? Your sounding about as convincing as Tony Blair trying to sell the Euro.

    So why did the DUP blame Trimble for early releases, police reform, etc.?!!

    Change of tune now, eh?

    The DUP may well have said yes if photographic evidence of decommisioning was available. I fail to see how that is dishonest.

    That wouldn’t be dishonest. I’m talking about them claiming to have said “yes” when – according to you – they hadn’t.

    A deal was not signed or completed because one party to the agreement rejected it outright.

    No, a deal hasn’t been done – so the DUP has so far failed. Except the side-deal which is going ahead. Well done, DUP!

  • Mario

    I agree with Willowfield, SF should not have any links with a death squad/criminal org.

    It does not matter who they kill, if they are carrying out punishment shootings and other criminal activities they should be treated like criminals, the same with Loyalist murder gangs.

    SF should distance themselves from the IRA once and for all. Anything less will continue to cause doubts in the minds of their Unionist brothers, who after all constitute half the population of the province.