First we should start with a snippet from Tom Kelly, a member of much maligned Policing Board:
If we continue to sacrifice the political process on an altar of compromise on the issue of paramilitary driven criminality, policing will never be able to provide the service expected of it and the paper tiger will not be the board but the entire criminal justice system.
Elsewhere in the Irish News, Kelly is more direct:
By Tom Kelly:
Gene Kerrigan and Pat Brennan wrote a book a few years ago called This Great Little Nation. It was an A-Z of Irish scandals and controversies from the foundation of the Irish State until the mid 1990s. The title is said to be from alleged comments made by a bank manager to Charles J Haughey.
The authors confined their attentions south of the border obviously believing that there is no ‘cute hoorism in the north’. Yet when it comes to sheer gall and the scale of our ‘whoppers’, we merit a mention in any new edition.
Last week the Chief Constable rightly pulled the plug on the political farce that the peace process has descended into.
Having successfully mastered the ability to take a trojan horse into the body politic, Sinn Fein found that their considerable skill in riding two horses from the republican stable at the same time had come unstuck.
In full view of the media, what once look liked a thorough bred steed, was looking as farcical as a pantomime horse.
Of course, Gerry and the Peacemakers hit the airwaves to deny any IRA involvement in the Northern Bank heist.
If the denials sound familiar it is because similar denials were made by Sinn Fein about IRA involvement in the Limerick heist which resulted in the death of Garda Jerry McCabe and whose killers Sinn Fein now want set free as part of a final political settlement. If you recognise those denials it is because they were the same ones used by Sinn Fein after the IRA Newry post office heist that left postman Frank Kerr dead too.
If you believe in the Sinn Fein conspiracy theorists and apologists, you probably also believe the Colombia Three were actually eco-tourists and if you believe that, you probably believe in leprechauns and gold pots at the end of the rainbow.
The decision to undertake these robberies and subsequent murders were not taken by the British or Irish governments or Ian Paisley or David Trimble, no matter how much the outcome may have suited the political agendas of the latter two.
Nobel peace prize winner and deputy Israeli Prime Minister Simon Peres said at the weekend there were three elements to any truly peaceful settlement and they were ‘military, political and economic’. He said throwing money at peace won’t make it work.
In Northern Ireland, we have only achieved a military settlement.
We have not got the political or economic dividend of peace.
The British and Irish governments with their successful lobbying of the EU have thrown substantial funding into the social economy in an attempt to buy peace.
There has been no meaningful economic peace dividend. The reality is that after 30 years of violence and 80 years of a border mentality there is a systematic culture of non compliance throughout the north.
Paramilitary groups on both sides of the divide have been quick to exploit that non compliance for their own entrepreneurial but illegal ends. The grip of paramilitaries on whole communities is rife throughout the north.
John Hume used to speak about getting the paramilitaries off the backs of the people; he once claimed if he was to ever lead a civil rights movement again, he would do it against the IRA.
It is a pity that lack of time and political will prevented the SDLP from doing just that. While all eyes were on the ultimate prize of a political settlement, the privatisation process of paramilitary activities rolled on unabated.
Electorally speaking, Sinn Fein may hold the upper hand, but they too are mere monkeys to their paramilitary organ grinders who control the economic and patronage system of the republican organisation.
For the godfathers of terrorism not only call the tune and pay the piper, they own the pipe and the piper.
The economic clout of paramilitaries and their organisational muscle ensures the subrogation of local communities.
Though not as numeric or as organised as republicans, the loyalist godfathers wrecked havoc on the lives of thousands of citizens living in working class unionist communities.
Think of the consequences of both political and economic forces combining in nationalist communities and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra starts look to like a benevolent society.
Having endured the economic costs of an unwanted war, in peace we cannot allow our society to be lumbered with the perversion of paramilitary gangsterism.
Since the ceasefires, racketeering is rife and many so-called legitimate security firms have sprung up across the north ‘encouraging’ businesses to avail of their ‘protection services’.
The scale of illegal fuel smuggling beggars belief and combined with a thriving trade in counterfeit goods and illegal tobacco sales it is putting many small businesses to the wall.
While loyalists profit through racketeering and drug distribution, there is little doubt republicans license opportunities to drug dealers so they can trade within nationalist areas.
If the war really is over then perhaps the politicians in Sinn Fein and their travelling apologists may like to explain why it is business as usual for the entrepreneurial side of the republican organisation?
Why are there continued raids on post offices, banks and credit unions? Why is there involvement in illegal smuggling or counterfeit goods?
Why the need for strong armed security firms and drug licensing? Why maintain links with other international terrorist organisations?
If there is no war to fund then whose lifestyles are being maintained by the millions stashed away by those involved in these activities?
Surely, ordinary republican families did not lose fathers to years of imprisonment, or worse still lives, to fund Armani lifestyles of fancy cars, foreign holidays and holiday homes stretching from the Algarve to Aran?
The rarefied air that surrounds the normally surefooted Sinn Fein elected members seems to be affecting their judgment.
After the ceasefires, cynics used to say that the only difference between Stickies (ie Sinn Fein/the Workers Party) and Provies (ie Sinn Fein/the Armani Party) was 25 years.
Many of the politicos in Sinn Fein/the Workers Party spent years in denial over the lifestyles of their erstwhile colleagues who were out robbing banks and living the good life on the backs of the hard up tax payers in the south.
Sinn Fein/the Armani Party may also be committed to the electoral process.
But unless they jettison the nefarious activities of their balaclava-covered colleagues, they may find the phrase ‘sic transit Gloria mundi’ (‘so passes the glory of the world’) applies as much to electoral success as it does to the transitory nature of all other human vanities.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty