Why the IRA won't go away, you know…

YESTERDAY’s Irish Times carried an article by Anthony McIntyre. He argued that the Northern Bank raid may have put “peace” on hold but it will breathe new life into the peace process, and the process is what keeps Sinn Féin growing.

McIntyre writes:

The response of the British and Irish governments to the announcement by the PSNI boss, Mr Hugh Orde, that the Provisional IRA was behind the robbery of £26.5 million from the Northern Bank was anger tempered by weary resignation.

Anger that they had been misled by the leadership of Sinn Féin pretending that it genuinely wanted a conclusive deal with the Rev Ian Paisley’s DUP; resignation to the fact that in spite of everything the peace process has them transfixed, like the relationship between the moth and the flame.

They know they will go back and, as surely, will be scorched again. There is no avoiding it. They have succumbed to an iron law of the peace process – that the process must always undermine the peace.

The world’s greatest bank robbery came to the accompaniment of the sanguine words of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that there was only 10 hours’ work needed in order to secure a deal that would see both an end to IRA activity and the restoration of the North’s power-sharing institutions.

“Ten hours from peace” is an accurate characterisation if we are prepared to accept an hour this year followed by another hour the year after, and so on. In between those hours there can only be more of what we have now – strategically induced crises.

Such crises are what maintain the peace in a state of process rather than allowing it to come to fruition as a solution. The Sinn Féin leadership, playing by its own rules, benefits from the permanent state of instability. Its primary strategic goal is not an agreement in the North but expansionism, North and South. The attainment of any deal in the North is evaluated within this over-arching strategic framework and never on its own merits.

Sinn Féin’s ability to expand in the Republic is primarily the result of the statesman-like profile of its leader, Mr Gerry Adams. He is its most powerful asset. What puts real wind in the sails of Mr Adams and makes him different from leaders of other minority parties in the Republic is the peace process.

The accruing exposure has made him a celebrity politician with an international reputation. At times opinion polls indicate that he is the most popular political leader on the island.

Central to maintaining that peace process as a “work in progress”, and consequently the profile of Mr Adams, is the continued existence of the IRA. With the IRA off the scene, the peace process comes to the end of its shelf life and beds down as a solution.

But to be of benefit to Sinn Féin’s strategic designs the IRA has to do more than merely exist. It must – employing plausible deniability – continue to disturb the peace, upset the unionists, and allow Sinn Féin to promote the need for a process through which “peace” can be pursued against the wishes of agenda-setting “securocrats and recalcitrant unionists”.

If, however, Sinn Féin was serious about reaching an accommodation with unionism based solely on conditions in the North, it would not have allowed David Trimble to go into the Assembly elections of 2003 without a deal that he could sell to the unionist electorate.

Sinn Féin fully appreciated that the type of unionism to emerge victorious the other side of that election could only be one that would offer terms to it much less generous than those offered by Mr Trimble. This signalled the impossibility of Sinn Féin ever reaching an accommodation with the DUP either at the Leeds Castle talks last September or as a result of the subsequent December negotiations.

For the only deal acceptable to the DUP was one which would bring the peace process to a conclusion. And to conclude the peace process before the Republic’s electorate had been milked for all it was worth never featured in Sinn Féin’s intentions.

By continuing to deposit the capital accrued from the peace process in the hearts and minds of the Republic’s electorate the party’s Dáil representation may well double at the next election. The election after that, possibly in 2010, may be an optimum moment for Sinn Féin to trade in the IRA in return for handsome electoral dividends. From such a strong springboard base Mr Adams will be poised to make a bid for the Republic’s presidency in 2011.

Senior Sinn Féin member Mr Jim Gibney has argued that the peace process has stood the IRA on its head, evidence that the Sinn Féin leadership is in total control. There was little in the way of internal opposition. The organisation could quite easily be put out to graze, but the time is not yet right. Too large a hiatus between concluding the peace and the 2011 presidential bid could seriously arrest the forward momentum of the party.

When commentators wail that the peace process has been destroyed by the robbery, they miss the point. On the contrary, it has been given even more life. It will smoulder but will never be extinguished. After the British general election, almost certain to occur this year, the embers will be fanned, the governments will proceed tentatively at first as they try to bridge the gaps. Then they will move to announce yet more ultimate deadlines, which will be put back endlessly.

At that point the peace process will be back to where it was before the December heist. And banks will continue to be robbed until Sinn Féin’s ability to expand is thwarted by such activity.
Why give up a winning formula?

Anthony McIntyre is a writer and former IRA prisoner

  • Travis

    Bang. On. The. Money.

    Amid all the guff and fantasy about the how, here’s a perfectly written, logically argued, and utterly persuasive explanation of the why.

    Brilliant.

  • Henry94

    So every time the unionists walk out or the British bring down the institutions they are falling for Sinn Fein’s cunning plan?

    Why don’t they stop doing it then? Set up the institutions and if someone robs a bank just investigate it in the normal way.

  • Christopher Stalford

    The solution? Move the “process” to a conclusion without them.

  • cg

    Chris who on the nationalist side will you “Move the “process” to a conclusion” with?

    Or are you calling for a return to the old stormont regime of nationalist exclusion?

  • Christopher Stalford

    “nationalist exclusion?”

    That should of course read nationalist self-exclusion! However, that is not the point. The point is Mr. Gaskin that the IRA have had ten years to deliver on arms and we are still waiting. Why?

  • Christopher Stalford

    I’ll leave you to think about that one. Needless to say I look forward to your reply.

  • cg

    So you admit your wish is to exclude nationalism at this time?

  • George

    “That should of course read nationalist self-exclusion!”

    If you believe this to be the case Christopher, maybe you can tell me how many opposition motions were passed by the Stormont Parliament 1921-1972?

  • Christopher Stalford

    However, that is not the point. The point is Mr. Gaskin that the IRA have had ten years to deliver on arms and we are still waiting. Why?

  • cg

    Ten years ago stalford I was ten so it seems unlikely that arms would have been my concern.

    Seeing as the only arms I have now are my own two it seems unlikely it’s my responsibility now.

  • JD

    I’m beginning to have some admiration for McIntyre.

    But my question is this: what exactly is McIntyre offering in the stead of the peace process? Does he want the IRA gone and SF suitably chastened?

    Or does he want something else? I seem to remember he wrote somewhere (most probably The Blanket) about SF “selling out” Republican principles. What would not selling out such principles mean?

  • cg

    McIntyre is an unusual “dissident”

    At the start dissidents accused the republican movement of selling out to the British. They didn’t like the political road that was being taken by the movement. They wished to see the restoration of the armed struggle. They however have seemed to have changed their tune in the last couple of years, possibly because they are riddled with touts.

    All they seem to do now is snipe from the background. I don’t know what McIntyre wants as I haven’t read much of his stuff.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    As McIntyre has renounced the use of violence (open to correction if I’m wrong, but pretty sure), I think it a little unfair to label him as a “dissident republican”, as that has connotations of those still wedded to violence (CIRA and RIRA).

    Arguably, he is the “mainstream” republican, as he claims to have retained republican values, and Sinn Fein have, he claims, sold out.

    Would “dissenting” republican be more accurate, in the same way that David Vance might claim to be a “dissenting” unionist?

  • JD

    Arguably, he is the “mainstream” republican, as he claims to have retained republican values, and Sinn Fein have, he claims, sold out.

    But I’m wondering what his vision of a return to republican values would be. Rework SF? Disband the IRA? Something else entirely?

  • cg

    Belfast Gonzo

    I never said he was a dissident republican in terms of the real but said he was an unusual dissident.
    Unusual as he is different from the real and other so called “dissident republicans”

    “mainstream” republican”

    I don’t know how you can refer to him as a mainstream republican as mainstream republicanism is the Republican movement.

  • Davros

    But to be of benefit to Sinn Féin’s strategic designs the IRA has to do more than merely exist. It must – employing plausible deniability – continue to disturb the peace, upset the unionists, and allow Sinn Féin to promote the need for a process through which “peace” can be pursued against the wishes of agenda-setting “securocrats and recalcitrant unionists”.

    Spot on. And the need for plausible deniability is why Sinn Féin CANNOT join the Police boards.

  • cg

    Davros

    Sinn Féin can’t join the police boards because the psni is unacceptable to the majority of nationalism. The reaction of Hugh Orde exemplifies this. The psni has the same political agenda as the RUC used to have.

    It has nothing to do with this “plausible deniability” rubbish.

  • Davros

    😉 cg

  • cg

    Davros
    You’re almost as suspicious and sceptical as I am LOL

  • Belfast Gonzo

    cg

    You’re quite right. The denials are no longer plausible.

  • Davros

    Beautiful word:

    Vergangenheitsbewältigung

  • cg

    “You’re quite right. The denials are no longer plausible”

    What do you mean?

  • cg

    Davros
    I don’t see how you use Vergangenheitsbewältigung
    in this context

  • Davros

    You are a clever lad, you’ll figure it out!

  • cg

    I know it means Coming to terms with the past.
    How does it relates to this conversation though ?

  • Davros

    It means a bit more than coming to terms with the past cg. I’m messing about to some extent.

    In its broadest meaning it refers to memory-work as mastering or overcoming the past. So people like McIntyre who discuss a different past than that which the mainstream wishes people to remember are a blooming nuisance.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    cg

    Isn’t that obvious?

    Denials about McCabe, Enniskillen, Birmingham…

  • cg

    Davros

    Is there any such thing as an accurate and impartial reflection and recollection of history?

    Isn’t “history” just someone’s interpretation of past events molded and shaped by their own value system?

  • cg

    Davros
    “In its broadest meaning”

    Isn’t that just an example of you using a phrase and molding and shaping it to fit your viewpoint regardless of its true meaning 😉

  • Davros

    Davros
    “In its broadest meaning”

    Isn’t that just an example of you using a phrase and molding and shaping it to fit your viewpoint regardless of its true meaning 😉

    I was a tad naughty- It’s virtually a quote!
    It’s from an article to do with the contortions of
    the East German and then the new German State over the History of Buchenwald. Not many people know that The Russians kept Buchenwald going after WWII. Then it was tried to be justified as being a place for Nazis, rough justice as it were. However the truth was very different. So official or approved ‘History’ doesn’t just cover how one presents past events – it also covers the filtration of which events are allowed to be remembered. Like the attempts that were made to airbrush out the sectarian component on the Republican side and the attempts being made to airbrush out Collusion and other inconvenient aspects of our past. Drags in the R word that Ambrose posted about with that letter in AP/RN…
    my link to Germany.

    Anybody interested in the relevent article, e mail me.

  • Henry94

    JD

    But I’m wondering what his vision of a return to republican values would be. Rework SF? Disband the IRA? Something else entirely?

    Good question but don’t hold your breath.

  • Davros

    Why not write and ask him ?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Spot on. And the need for plausible deniability is why Sinn Féin CANNOT join the Police boards.’

    Because the PSNI is a rotten sectarian organisation. It is still populated by people who were to the fore in the RUC.
    People who murdered Nora Mc Cane and others and who lied their way through the legal process to try and cover up their crimes.

    The question is why do people support such a bunch of criminals?

  • IJP

    The question is why do people support such a bunch of criminals?

    Leaving aside the fact there were also many people in the RUC who put their own lives on the line to protect the public, regardless of creed and colour, in fact the real question is what is your party doing to produce a truly accountable and efficient police service.

    Answer: nothing.

    Suggested Reason: ‘Republicans’ don’t want an accountable police service, as such a service would get in the way of their own illegitimate, unaccountable and totally unjustified illegal and criminal operations.

    Or perhaps someone knows a better reason for SF not to play its part?

  • John S

    Well said IJP, I second that

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Leaving aside the fact there were also many people in the RUC who put their own lives on the line to protect the public, regardless of creed and colour, in fact the real question is what is your party doing to produce a truly accountable and efficient police service.’

    Totally irrelevant, the fact remains it still retains members who murdered people like Nora Mc Cabe and then lied to cover up their crimes. Your support for such people is telling.
    The majority of nationalists will not support such a force until every one of the murderers and liars are rooted out.

    Also IJP you asked me yesterday on another thread about evidence of police lying and murders, I provided it and you hid and didn’t respond. Wonder why.

  • Davros

    Pat- if you deem the PSNI sectarian because it’s composition doesn’t mirror the community demographic pattern then I assume you also deem Sinn Féin sectarian ?

  • mickhall

    All they seem to do now is snipe from the background. I don’t know what McIntyre wants as I haven’t read much of his stuff.

    Posted by: cg

    cg,

    You seem an intelligent and idealistic person, yet you can write the above and not seem to see any contradictions. McIntyre spent many years as a member of the movement you now belong to and is close comrades with people like Brendan Hughes and the two Tommy’s, who despite no longer being members of SF, are still held in high regard by people who belonged to the organisation Gerry didn’t belong to. One would have thought you would have taken time out to ask why AM has become such a vocal critic of the SF leadership, or do you only read AP/RN and Gerry’s speeches 😉 only kidding) When I became a young socialist activist in England back in the 1960s, an old comrade asked me what papers I read. I replied the party paper and the Guardian (which I had just taken up). He said that is fine, but you would learn more if you read one of the following, The Times, Daily Telegraph and the FT, as they represent the bosses, Plus read one of the other socialist parties left newspapers, or magazine as you may find out what you own leadership does not want you to know. He added if your political commitment is solid you will not change your core beliefs by doing so, but you will learn so much more. He could have added, but did not, that back then, the party daily, like most Party’s newspapers, then and now, was little more than a propaganda rag which allowed no one to write for it who was/is not online with the leadership.

    All the best.

  • IJP

    Totally irrelevant, the fact remains it still retains members who murdered people like Nora Mc Cabe and then lied to cover up their crimes.

    And the organization you support massacred 2000 people including innocent children, tourists etc etc. But just regurgitating that doesn’t move us on, does it?

    Your support for such people is telling.

    More lies. Really not helpful. Show me where I supported them.

    On the contrary, your support for the organization that killed 2000 people and remains utterly unreformed is telling.

    The majority of nationalists will not support such a force until every one of the murderers and liars are rooted out.

    a) Name these murderers and liars and I’ll be happy to go straight to the NIO on Monday, and to the media, and demand they’re rooted out;
    b) Who precisely should do the ‘rooting out’?
    c) Apart from chickening out from compromise and moaning from the sidelines, what precisely is your party doing to secure this ‘rooting out’?

    Wonder why.

    Because I have a life and can’t check every thread?

  • Robert Keogh

    IJP,

    the PIRA killed 1700 people not over 2000. Pat has made it clear he supports Sinn Fein, not the PIRA. You support the RUC/PSNI, Army and the other British security forces which killed 360 people and colluded in a so far undetermined number of paramilitary killings.

    a) Name these murderers and liars and I’ll be happy to go straight to the NIO on Monday, and to the media, and demand they’re rooted out;

    I don’t have names but there are 19 indictments from the latest Stephens report that have been gathering dust for almost two years now. Howabout lighting a fire under the NIO and media with that?

  • IJP

    the PIRA killed 1700 people not over 2000

    Oh well, that’s alright then.

    Pat has made it clear he supports Sinn Fein, not the PIRA.

    Nonsense. SF defends and refers to PIRA all the time, a vote for SF is a vote for direct PIRA influence in the political process, a vote for maintenance of the gun in Irish politics. Anyone who can’t see that is at best self-delusional.

    You support the RUC/PSNI, Army and the other British security forces

    Show me where I have done so or apologize for lying.

    I support law and order and accountable security forces, and action to achieve this. SF supports inaction, from which one can only assume it has no interest in accountable security forces.

    You can’t face dealing with that, so you lie. Standard practice.

    I don’t have names

    Aha… then can I ask, where’s the evidence?

    Howabout lighting a fire under the NIO and media with that?

    The best I can do then is seek assurances that the Stephens Report will be actioned.

    Now, how about b) and c)?

  • ShayPaul

    “Nonsense. SF defends and refers to PIRA all the time, a vote for SF is a vote for direct PIRA influence in the political process, a vote for maintenance of the gun in Irish politics. Anyone who can’t see that is at best self-delusional.”

    IJP – that is far too simplistic and an unacceptable way to label 340000 SF voters.

  • ShayPaul

    It is not too difficult to construct an objective argument to show that SF have contributed enormously to the peace process and the removal of the gun from Irish politics.

  • Davros

    It is not too difficult to construct an objective argument to show that SF have contributed enormously to the peace process and the removal of the gun from Irish politics.

    Would it be more convincing than your claim that 340,000 people voted SF in the North ?

  • ShayPaul

    Yes Davros it would. As stated on another thread, I picked that figure up without checking, and stand corrected

  • IJP

    that is far too simplistic and an unacceptable way to label 340000 SF voters.

    Why?

    Some pro-Europeans vote Tory (for reasons other than European policy), but they are still clear that what they are voting for is an anti-European party and policy.

    Likewise many people may vote SF for reasons other than IRA influence on the process, but nevertheless they are voting for direct IRA (and therefore criminal) influence on the political process. That is undeniable, so my comment stands.

  • cg

    Mickhall

    I accept what you say but never intended my critic of “dissident republicans” to apply to Anthony. I said I didn’t know what his goals were as I don’t read a lot of his stuff.

    On the subject of newspapers I read everything I can on a subject.

    My beliefs are concrete

    On one occasion I was acting in a play and my character was an English fireman, I spent six weeks draped in a fucking union jack 😉

  • Davros

    Have you any pictures ? LOL!

  • cg

    Sadly not 😉

    It actually was a very good piece of absurd theatre, Similar in style to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” called “The bald prima Donna”

    It was an all boys grammar school and the teacher, who was a stoop/uup prick, added the flag part just to piss me off as it wasn’t in the original script. Cheeky bugger told the whole school the reason why I was wrapped in my “National Flag”, his talk not mine.

    In the script The Fire chief also had a romantic interest and since it was an all boy’s school…We just held hands

  • Davros

    Yikes ! Thank your lucky stars you weren’t at an English Public School…..

  • IJP

    Thank your lucky stars you weren’t at an English Public School…..

    Now you just behave, old chap…

  • cg

    I enjoyed the school and we only had the one…err…disagreement.

  • mickhall

    cg

    Nice one about the play, im off to bed with a grin on my face (perhaps I should delete that 😉

  • cg

    “cg

    Nice one about the play, im off to bed with a grin on my face (perhaps I should delete that ;)”

    LOL

  • Robert Keogh

    RK> the PIRA killed 1700 people not over 2000

    IJP> Oh well, that’s alright then.

    What does factual inaccuracy have to do with morality?

    RK> Pat has made it clear he supports Sinn Fein, not the PIRA.

    IJP> Nonsense. SF defends and refers to PIRA all the time, a vote for SF is a vote for direct PIRA influence in the political process, a vote for maintenance of the gun in Irish politics. Anyone who can’t see that is at best self-delusional.

    I understand your reasoning. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of Sinn Fein voters support their role in the peace process not the PIRAs campaign of violence. Your reasoning does not alter the fact these people are voting SF and are opposed to terrorism.

    RK> You support the RUC/PSNI, Army and the other British security forces

    IJP> Show me where I have done so or apologize for lying.

    IJP> I support law and order and accountable security forces, and action to achieve this. SF supports in action, from which one can only assume it has no interest in accountable security forces.

    IJP> You can’t face dealing with that, so you lie. Standard practice.

    Why getting so hot under the collar? How is “I support law and order and accountable security forces” not support for the RUC and Army?

    RK> I don’t have names

    IJP> Aha… then can I ask, where’s the evidence?

    IJP> The best I can do then is seek assurances that the Stephens Report will be actioned.

    Huh? Erm the evidence is in the 2,000 page stephens report from april 2003. You know the one the British published 16 pages of. The DPP has indictments with named RUC officers on file. Why do I have to get the names and evidence the DPP has before you’ll follow through on your pledge to raise a public outcry over collusion?

    IJP> Now, how about b) and c)?

    Who should root out the RUC and what is “my” party doing about it? If you mean Sinn Fein I think they’ve made their position quite clear about what changes they want implemented. There’s a very detailed document on their website about it. I’m not sure what point you want to make about the mechanics of reform of the RUC who do you think should root out the RUC?