Are not, never were, and never will be.. criminals that is.

The Irish Times carries a report from its Northern Editor, Gerry Moriarty, that has a quote from Martin McGuinness (a quote that the Irish News, in its report, missed) that highlights the dangerous gulf that exists between the image that the leadership of Sinn Féin continue to try to promote, and what both Governments, and all other parties, now acknowledge is a fundamental problem in the ongoing political process – “The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals and in my[McGuinness’s] opinion never will be criminals

It’s a declaration that undermines the repeated denials, from SF, of IRA involvement in any criminal activity and it flies in the face of the reality of convictions of IRA members for, for example, the attempted armed robbery of a post office van in Adare, Limerick in 1996 and the convictions for the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe during that attempted robbery.

The report also includes another warning from SF president Gerry Adams –

Sinn Féin members must prepare to resist any campaign of discrimination by the two governments against its electorate – although elsewhere he’s at pains to define that ‘resistance’ – resistance should be in the form of “entirely peaceful democratic strategies”

Full report
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator, Mr Martin McGuinness, has stated that he “risked” his life for the peace process and would not do anything to damage it.

Mr McGuinness said at a Belfast press conference yesterday that he took “grave exception” to the “absolutely ludicrous suggestion” by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, that the Sinn Féin leadership was aware of the plan to rob the bank.

“What do they think I would be doing if someone told me they intended to rob the Northern Bank?

“I can tell you I would be a very disillusioned Irish republican if someone said to me they were prepared to put a process that I have put my life and soul into, that I have risked my very life for, at risk for 10 or 20 or 30 million pounds – in my opinion it would not be worth it,” Mr McGuinness added.

Mr McGuinness said republicans were also angry at the governments’ attempt to criminalise them.

“The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals, and in my opinion never will be criminals,” he said.

Referring to the statement by the Northern Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, to the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr McGuinness said he was not going to be “lectured” about criminality given the British government’s record in Ireland.

“Successive British governments have presided over a planned and organised campaign of state-sanctioned murder against the broad nationalist community,” he said.

In a separate statement the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, indicated that he expected British government sanctions against Sinn Féin over the alleged IRA robbery of £26.5 million from the Northern Bank.

Mr Adams told the current edition of the republican paper, An Phoblacht, that Sinn Féin members must prepare to resist any campaign of discrimination by the two governments against its electorate.

“The British government now appears to be considering a return to the failed policy of discrimination against Sinn Féin, and the Irish Government for its own reasons appears to be in support of this,” he said.

“Sinn Féin rejects any attack on our democratic and electoral mandate. I have spoken to senior officials in both governments and made this very clear to them.”

Mr Adams said that the Taoiseach’s allegation against the party leadership created difficulties in the relationship between Sinn Féin and the Government.

“I reject these accusations totally and I am disappointed that the Taoiseach didn’t raise any concerns he might have with me directly.”

Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness said they were seeking meetings with the British and Irish governments next week.

© The Irish Times

  • Davros

    Confirmation of the point I was making yesterday.
    There was ambiguity. It is their position that crimes committed by IRA members do not mean that those IRA members are criminals. Martin sometimes let’s things slip. Like the time he insisted that nothing anybody could do could ever humiliate the IRA. That gem rather destroyed their attempts to blame their unwillingness to decommission on “humiliation” inherent in photographs.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    I don’t think you quite got the photographs argument. It wasn’t that photographs were by definition humiliating. It was that humiliation was the admitted political intention of the DUP for introducing the issue.

    That made the demand unreasonable as it would in any negotiation.

  • Davros

    Sorry Henry, That’s simply incorrect. SF raised the humiliation issue on behalf of the IRA long before the DUP discussed it!

  • J Kelly

    Criminals are in it for self gain no-one can argue that the IRA are in struggle for self gain.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    In order to establish the basis of the demand. Paisley confirmed that humiliation was indeed the DUP agenda. As was suspected.

    If you ask me for a loan of a tenner and I ask are you going to pay it back and you say no, you can’t blame the loan default issue on my raising it.

  • IJP

    Firstly, let me be clear that I believe absolutely in ‘equality of justice’. Regardless of whether you had a loved one killed or maimed for criminal or political reasons, you should have equal access to information surrounding that atrocity, and to knowing who carried it out and why.

    However, there is a distinction between political violence and criminal violence. Even the profile of those carrying them out tends to differ. The point of the relevant section of the Agreement was that those who carried out political acts should be released, and in return the political acts should cease completely. Regardless of what the text says precisely, I believe I have summed up what the vast majority of the 71% voted for.

    Did McGuinness know about this? Probably not.
    Was it carried out the way senior IRA members wanted? Possibly not.
    Was it criminal rather than political? Absolutely.

    That needn’t be Northern Bank I’m talking about, it could be McCabe, or Tohill, or any of many others.

    The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals

    If only this were true. But from the above, I’m afraid it appears to be nothing but self-delusion.

    That’s the most troubling thing about all this.

  • Ringo

    J Kelly –
    Criminals are in it for self gain no-one can argue that the IRA are in struggle for self gain.

    Are you saying that they are mutually exclusive? No criminal can ever be in the IRA and no member of the IRA can ever commit a crime?

    I don’t think it is possible to say that about any organisation let alone a paramilitary organisation.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The only reason republicans are in the frame for the Northern job is due to the WORDS of PSNI chief Orde. There is no evidence whatsoever and the intelligenc used to justify the raids on premises and homes, plus the arrest of shoes and Xmas presents has been found to be wanting.

    People have been quick to jump on Ordes’ WORDS alone. By and large these are the same people who told us before Xmas that there could be no progess in the political field unless there was transparent decommissioning and that there had to be a degree of proof.
    The WORDS of John De Chastelain were not enough, confidence was needed and therefore evidence and proof were needed to substantiate the WORDS of De Chastelain.

    Now we are told that there cannot be progress in the political field due to the WORDS alone of Orde. The siren voices, who, before Xmas needed transparency, evidence and proof are not as insistent as they were then. Public confidence it seems can be satisfied by words after all.

    Is there anyone prepared to address this lack of consistency and apparent hypocricy?

  • Davros

    McGuinness is saying that the Killers of Garda McCabe were not criminals. There’s no way round that point.

  • Keith M

    J.Kelly, I’ll give you the benegit of the doubt because it looks like English may not be your first language;

    An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction.

    Crime (noun)
    Unlawful activity: statistics relating to violent crime.
    A serious offense, especially one in violation of morality.
    An unjust, senseless, or disgraceful act or condition

    As you can see criminaly has nothing to do with self gain.

    “Criminals are in it for self gain no-one can argue that the IRA are in struggle for self gain.”

    Is it any wonder that with such a ridiculous assertion that SF/IRA had no problems working with the Nazis, because they wern’t working from self gain either.

  • maca

    No needs for insults Keith.

  • maca

    need

  • Keith M

    Pat Mc L “There is no evidence whatsoever…”. I’m afraid you are wrong there. Just like most serious crimes there may be no evidence in the public domain, but there is enough evidence to convince the Gardai, two Prime Ministers and the leadership of every democratic party in Northern Ireland. We’re not eejits (copyright Bertie Ahern).

  • Henry94

    KiethM

    But not enough evidence to make an arrest? Ye are eejits.

  • Davros

    Henry: are the men in jail for the events at Adare
    criminals or not ?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Pat,

    “Is there anyone prepared to address this lack of consistency and apparent hypocricy?”

    Yip, I’ll address it. At the minute I’m amazed at how out on a limb SF are going at outright denial. To such a point that I’m not totally convinced of their guilt. (Although, I do suspect the Ra were to blame and SF knew about it.) But as you say we don’t have any evidence to back this up. So, at the minute we’re in limbo. And rightly so, as this needs to be cleared up…

    If, evidence is found it should mean the end of the road for SF involvement in politics, regardless of their mandate.

    On the otherhand if the Ra did have nothing to do with it, I’d expect a lot of resignations – the chief constable leading the way.

    We’ll just have to see…

  • Henry94

    Davros

    At the moment I would describe them as political hostages. But the killing of Garda McCabe was something I condem without reservation.

  • Ringo

    Pat –
    Now we are told that there cannot be progress in the political field due to the WORDS alone of Orde. The siren voices, who, before Xmas needed transparency, evidence and proof are not as insistent as they were then. Public confidence it
    seems can be satisfied by words after all.

    Is there anyone prepared to address this lack of consistency and apparent hypocricy?

    Decommissioning:
    What is required: Evidence(photographs)
    What is the best we’ve got so far: Words(De Chastelain)
    Who is preventing the evidence coming to light: the IRA

    Bank Job
    What is required: Evidence
    What is the best we’ve got so far: Words (Orde/Bertie)
    Who is preventing the evidence coming to light: the IRA

    Is that consistent enough?

  • Davros

    Reading Gonzo’s excellent Blog, it looks as if Martin is really tied in Knots .

    “The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals, and in my opinion never will be criminals,” he said.

    Yet he also says

    “Anything that sees innocent people held hostage in their house is a criminal act,”

    The IRA help innocent people hostage in their house many times over the years. Therefore he’s saying the IRA WERE Criminals ….

  • Fraggle

    Ringo, your circular logic is breath-taking.

  • Davros

    Fair enough Henry, Is it OK to summarise it as you are saying it’s a grey area rather than black and white ?

  • maca

    Nicely twisted Ringo 😉

  • J Kelly

    The IRA is not a criminal organisation. No doubt that with any organisation individuals have broken the law but as I have already stated the IRA is not a criminal organisation. The GAA, Orange Order, Salvation Army, Credit Union, Garda to name a few organisations with many members and I am sure with members who have committed offences both major and minor but would any one argue that they are criminal organisations.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Pat,

    I’m quite sure “The GAA, Orange Order, Salvation Army, Credit Union, Garda” do not plan robberies at a leadership level.

    Whereas…

    BTW, would you say the UDA was a criminal organisation?

  • Henry94

    Davros

    I think you are barking up the wrong tree altogether. This issue is not about definitions. I think you have either missed or decided to ignore what Martin McGuinness is saying. Or it is possible that you don’t understand its significance.

    I would put it in the context of his request to the Taoiseach and the British PM to show him the evidence they have.

    I think McGuinness is signaling something here that is very important. If the governments can bring Adams and himself into a room and prove to them that the IRA were responsible for the robbery then there would be implications to that.

  • IJP

    No Henry, don’t spin what he’s saying. McGuinness is saying that the IRA aren’t criminals. Based on the last 9 years, he’s clearly wrong, as evidenced by convictions (i.e. even leaving aside the Northern Bank).

    Anyone with any interest in the principles of democracy can see that defending convicted criminal killers and an organization continuing criminal acts of all kinds is not consistent with seeking genuine stability and fairness for all.

    It’s time to put away the IRA and talk real democracy. Why, in your view, can SF not do that?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    KeithM,

    you are being less than honest on the evidence front. Are you prepared to address my 1.48pm post.

    Congal,

    please re read my 1.48pm post you have not addressed it at all.

    Ringo,

    please re read my 1.48pm post you have not addressed it at all.

    If people are unable or incapable of addressing why on one hands WORDS are not enough on the decommissioning issue but WORDS are good enough over the Northern job at least have the guts to say so. A lot of people who had a lot to say for the past month are now strangely silent.

    Cowards.

  • Davros

    Henry, I know I’m barking, with a lot of other people, up a tree that doesn’t suit SF.
    But that’s the thing about Politics. Politicians have to deal with questions from the public whereas Terrorists aren’t used to being held to account.

    Martin cannot expect to be taken seriously if he says holding innocent people hostage in their homes is a criminal act and then goes on to say that the IRA, who held many innocent people hostage in their homes, have never been criminals.
    The Adare Chickens are coming home to roost.
    There’s a limit to how long people are prepared to accept fudging. Most of us have reached that limit with the present leadership of Sinn Féin.

  • Henry94

    Davros

    Most of us have reached that limit with the present leadership of Sinn Féin

    I can’t say I’ve noticed a change in tone. You just have something new to go on about. But it’s still the same tune as it has always been. Exclusion.

    IJP

    If Sinn Fein left the IRA to its own devices would that improve things in your view? Not in mine.

  • IJP

    Hi Henry

    If Sinn Fein left the IRA to its own devices would that improve things in your view?

    Seems to me quite clear SF has no control over the IRA anyway.

    So yes, SF should ditch the IRA – and then P O’Neill should be brought directly to the table.

  • Davros

    I can’t say I’ve noticed a change in tone.

    Really ? Lot’s of people have commented upon the change in tone from Bertie Ahern and other politicians. Papers that have tended to be supportive of SF in the past such as the SBP, the Guardian and the Boston Globe are now hostile.

    Tut Tut Henry. You are in denial!

  • Henry94

    IJP

    Who do you propose sit at the table with P O’Neill and what would they talk about?

  • George

    Davros,
    I think you’re exaggerating a bit about these papers now being hostile although the politicians have got a little miffed.

    Many believe that Bertie is getting all upset in public is for the simple reason that his internal polls tell him Sinn Fein’s vote is still on the rise. Time for some cutting loose.

    Either way, it doesn’t matter. The people who vote SF, the majority of whom read neither the Sunday Business Post nor the the Guardian, will do so in the next election regardless of what Bertie or the media say.

    Or do you honestly believe the SF vote will drop in the next Westminster elections?

  • davidbrew

    are not, never were and never will be ( on the evidence to date)..democrats that is

  • Ringo

    Pat
    I’m trying, honestly, –
    If people are unable or incapable of addressing why on one hands WORDS are not enough on the decommissioning issue but WORDS are good enough over the Northern job at least have the guts to say so. A lot of people who had a lot to say for the past month are now strangely silent.

    Cowards.

    Words aren’t enough when it comes to decommissioning and word aren’t enough when it comes to the bank job.

    In both cases they are are merely a prelude to what is required.

    You have this warped idea that everybody who’s not a republican thinks naming and shaming the perpetrators of the bank job is punishment for the crime. Nonsense. Until the people who did it are sentenced appropriately we won’t be satisfied. One more time for clarity – Words are not enough.

    And now that this post reads like a Ronan Keating song sheet I’d better stop.

    BTW – whats this cowards stuff about?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Pat,

    “please re read my 1.48pm post you have not addressed it at all”

    I thought I had. To restate, I have a certain amount of sympathy with your views and can understand the points you make…

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Gerry said republicans can’t be criminals.

    Martin said those who robbed the Northern were criminals.

    Everyone outside the republican movement seems to believe – rightly or wrongly – that the IRA carried out the robbery, and are therefore criminals.

    As republicans have been wrong (or lied) about their involvement in previous crimes – McCabe being the obvious one – the result is that there is no-one outside the republican movement prepared to accept the current denial. People are more inclined to believe Ahern, Blair and Orde than P O’Neill’s denial.

    Since the Assembly was fundamentally based on trust between parties, as set out in the Northern Ireland Act (Section 30, IIRC), and trust does not require a court’s standard of proof, any future Assembly will also fall if another ‘event’ occurs.

    The government might like to consider a system of government that could survive in the absence of trust as an interim measure towards something more stable.

  • JD

    McGuinness says that the PIRA are not criminals (under the GFA release scheme, they were treated as political).

    He also says that whoever carried this out are criminals.

    It seems to me that he is simply saying that the PIRA did not rob the Northern. That does not rule out other Republican organisations.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ringo,

    You have this warped idea that everybody who’s not a republican thinks naming and shaming the perpetrators of the bank job is punishment for the crime. Nonsense.

    People from the main unionists parties are calling for sanctions and the punishment of republicans on the basis that republicans carried out the Northern job. Their call is based solely on the word of Hugh Orde. In that context we have to see if those parties are being entirely consistent in their approach, I contend they are not.
    They were not prepared to accept the word of a distinguished ex soldier such as John De Chastelain on the issue of decommissioning, they wanted transparency, evidence and proof. In a complete somersault they do not need transparency, evidence and proof over the Northern and the unsubstantiated words of Hugh orde seem to be enough.

    If we were to await the outcome of any charges and court proceedings that is well and good but as stated unionists are demanding action now based solely on Ordes’ word, in those circumstances it is justified in calling them hypocrites.

  • Davros

    People are more inclined to believe Ahern, Blair and Orde than P O’Neill’s denial.

    Unless there’s been a major development while I was asleep, P O’Neill has yet to comment on the robbery Gonzo

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Quite right Davros. I must stop using shorthand.

  • IJP

    Who do you propose sit at the table with P O’Neill and what would they talk about?

    Whoever is necessary to remove the mafia from Irish society (i.e. at least representatives of both governments and the Assembly parties).

    ‘All-Party Peace Talks Now’, you could say! But we need all the relevant ‘parties’, in the broadest sense.

  • Henry94

    IJP

    I don’t think you have thought it through. The DUP won’t even talk to Sinn Fein so they would hardly meet P O’Neill. The UUP wouldn’t either. The British government could hardly meet him without the unionists. So it would only be the Alliance Party from the British side.

    No mandate meets almost no mandate?

  • davidbrew

    does P stand for Pinochio

  • Henry94

    does P stand for Pinochio

    Only in PSNI

  • Liam

    As Pat has pointed out and others choose to ignore, the double standard on the question of Proof and Evidence is glaring.

    Paisley and others would not accept the Evidence of the International Independent Decommissioning body, nor even the Proof of the eye witness evidence of 2 independent clergymen.

    No….they demanded more Proof, more ‘real’ evidence, statements, eye witnesses, photographs, videos, the lot!!!! They insisted on Proof and Evidence so much that they collapsed the agreement!

    Yet….when it comes to making an allegation against their political opponents…..well then just an ‘opinion’ is fine and more than good enough! They don’t need any Proof and they don’t need to see any Evidence!!

  • IJP

    Henry

    You know rightly it’s a metaphorical table.

    If I really have to spell it out, the talks should proceed on the same basis as before but P O’Neill should be directly present alongside SF. There should be no ‘Well, we’ve negotiated what we’ve negotiated but we’ll have to go off and talk to the IRA now’.

    So it would only be the Alliance Party from the British side.

    Don’t make stupid comments, they destroy your argument.

  • DerryTerry

    Ronan Keaing was right, words are not enough and certainly not when a British PM stands up and states, as factually correct, that Saddam had WMD that could be deployed within 45 minutes. In fact it was suggested at the time that he would not make this claim unless it were true because of the consequences that would flow from it.

    So Iraq was invaded, tens of thousands have been killed and within the last few days the Iraq Survey Group has declared that no WMD existed in Iraq. That is the worth of unproven intelligence and opinion.

  • Ringo

    Pat –

    They were not prepared to accept the word of a distinguished ex soldier such as John De Chastelain on the issue of decommissioning, they wanted transparency, evidence and proof. In a complete somersault they do not need transparency, evidence and proof over the Northern and the unsubstantiated words of Hugh orde seem to be enough.

    In terms of decommisioning the IRA can provide the proof readily if they choose to do so.

    With the Bank job the police/governments cannot provide the proof easily – obviously if they could they would.

    Everyone other than wishful ‘Say it ain’t so, Gerry’ republicans see that they are two different scenarios.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ringo,

    in terms of decommissioning unionists can simply apply the same criteria that that they are applying to the Northern. Then we can all live happily ever after.

  • Ringo

    Pat –

    So Hugh Orde is to witness the decommissioning and report back then?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    Did he witness the robbery?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ringo,

    are you alleging Orde is a unionist, my my.

  • Ringo

    Henry94 –

    not that I’m aware of – but I don’t think the two members of the clergy did either. Is this going somewhere? (Other than proving how ludicrous Pat’s insistence that they two issues are the same is?)

    Pat –

    Of course not. He’s English. At this stage they’re probably keener on a UI than we are in the Republic.

    in terms of decommissioning unionists can simply apply the same criteria that that they are applying to the Northern. Then we can all live happily ever after.

    And as you keep telling us, Hugh Ordes word seems to be the only criteria they are using for the Bank, so that’ll be sufficient for the decomissioning too?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Ringo,

    So you can’t be English and a unionist? Whatever you are smoking you’d better stop.

  • John S

    “The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals, and in my opinion never will be criminals,” he said.”

    Are we making some sort of differentiation between political crime and just plain crime?
    Is it acceptable for the IRA to kill a Unionist because they are unionist but its considered criminal if they rob a bank??

    Maybe McGuinness has become confused because there are now so many branches of the IRA, maybe he is suggesting that the provos are the criminals and the REAL are not??

    Maybe McGuinness is just suffering from extreme humiliation and is ow trying to find any excuse he can! The group he thought he had twisted round his little finger carried out a robbery under his nose (and without pre-informing him) and have made SF look like idiots infront of both the British and Irish Governments.

    This article shows just how hurt Martin’s pride really is. He seems to be reassuring himself more than anyone else