'The time for indulgence is long over'

Today’s Irish Times editorial would seem to sum up the prevailing mood of the Irish, British and, now, the US Government – “We share the view of the British and Irish Prime Ministers that the continuation of paramilitarism and associated criminality remains the central obstacle to a lasting and durable peace in Northern Ireland“, US State Department spokesman.

Irish Times editorial –

The mask is slipping in the IRA’s second statement. It is not clear whether republicans are just being sullen and petulant because Sinn Féin has to take responsibility for their actions or, more likely, the statement is intended as a sinister and nasty prelude to a threatened return to war and terrorism.

The IRA has raised the ante by warning the Government that it should not underestimate the seriousness of the current situation. That is certainly true. But the time for indulgence of the twin-track strategy, the Sinn Féin ballot box in the one hand and IRA gangsterism in the other, is long over.

The IRA has drawn attention to its threat not to “remain quiescent” in the future, even as the Independent Monitoring Commission reported on its activities. Its response has emanated from the perfectly reasonable request that Sinn Féin should act as a stand-alone political party, like all others in Dáil Éireann today, and that the IRA should go out of business.

After nearly 11 years of formal ceasefire, however, the republican leadership is clearly not prepared to abandon violence and criminal activity in favour of exclusively democratic politics. There are those within the IRA who are not prepared to accept that progress towards a united Ireland should take place on an agreed basis and within the framework of the Belfast Agreement. Are they now in the ascendant within the republican movement? If Sinn Féin now speaks for “ourselves”, as Mr Gerry Adams said yesterday, what is going on within the IRA? What influence do he and Mr Martin McGuinness have to deliver the end of all criminal and paramilitary activity?

Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness were told by the Taoiseach last week to go away and reflect on the situation in the aftermath of the Northern Bank robbery and to come back when they were in a position to say the IRA would end its activities and leave the stage.

In the past, the IRA withdrew from talks with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning when sanctions were imposed on Sinn Féin as a result of its paramilitary activity. The organisation reacted with aggression, intransigence and ambiguity to successive attempts by the two governments to bring an end to its paramilitary activity, punishment beatings and other criminal acts.

Time and time again, all parties in the Dáil have stretched their democratic constituency to make space for Sinn Féin at the negotiating table, even in the shadow of an active IRA. That situation can no longer be tolerated. Mr Ahern and Mr Blair have made clear that if Sinn Féin is to share power in either jurisdiction then republicans must unambiguously endorse the rules of democratic society. It is no good pointing the finger at the governments, the Progressive Democrats and the Democratic Unionist Party for Sinn Féin’s discomfiture. The republican leadership can no longer parade as international statesmen while their lesser-known associates rob and kneecap without accountability.[my emphasis]

© The Irish Times

  • ulsterman

    Oh dear the whole agreement for the Republicans is falling around their ears. The hypocrisy of the last few years has finally being realised. The “seriousness” of the situation is being treated as a nauseating joke as or the IRA statements from Dublin.

    The criminality of the IRA over the last few years must not go unchecked.

    [edited – peteb]

  • PaddyCanuck

    What if the Provos really did’nt do it!?

    What if the IRA and Sinn Fein are not inextricably linked? What if they have there are on leadership and decision making structures?

    What if Sinn Fein is at odds with various local IRA commanders who carry out punishment attacks?

    Martin McG seems to be pretty adamant that the IRA did not carry out the bank robbery (see Nuzhound: “McGuinness rounds on ‘criminal bank robbers'”)

    Also Danny Morrisson makes some very crucial points in his article in the Irish Examiner (see Nuzhound).

    I have heard the ‘dogs in the street know it’ analogy for many years, it has been used to propogate myth and inuendo for many years, drip fed to so called Security experts like Brian Rowan.

    I think their is a an effort afoot to marginalise Sinn Fein and the Republican electorate, and no I am not paranoid.

    I also know that the media, governments, and editorials have pushed Sinn Fein into corners before, the thing is they are also marginalising their electorate, and the thing is, the electorate will come out and show there rejection of this marginaliation at the next set of elections.

    I hope the process can survive in the meantime…

  • JD

    Okay, so if the time for “indulgence” is over, what are the penalties? Is there an element of “stop or else…” about all this rhetoric?

    If so, “or else” what? Exclusion? Full blown war with the IRA to “erase” them? Either would be disastrous: either course (or a combination) would only serve to radicalise and destabilise NI all over again.

    What can these governments actually “do” to the IRA?

  • puddinhead

    Paddy Canuck
    What if there was Santa Clause?

    Mc Guinness and Morrison are both liars.

    SF/IRA need to get real and stop all criminal activity.

    Ten men died because Margaret Thatcher tried to criminalise the IRA.

    Now look at SF/IRA more like mafiosa than Freedom fighters.

    Power corrupts!

  • Davros

    Mr Canuck – any chance of you addressing the question I have asked ? How many Plastic bullets were fired by the Police in riot situations in 2003, 2004 and so far during 2005 ? The reason I ask is to establish if you have any credibility … after all you claimed that the PSNI rely as much on using the Plastic Bullet as the RUC did in the past.

  • peteb

    Isn’t that a different thread, Davros?

  • Davros

    Just reminding him as he doesn’t seem to be following the thread where he made the claim pete …and his credibility on ALL threads is at issue..
    After all the PSNI have fired NO plastic bullets since September 2002!

  • peteb

    Yes I know, Davros, but it’s a little too early for this thread to be completely side-tracked… although I accept that few so far have actually addressed the content of the original post.

  • Davros

    Sorry Pete 🙂 I’ll think of a suitable penance.
    Ah! I’ll read about the grand mufti !

  • peteb

    There’s no need to go to that extreme, Davros.

  • PONeill

    I think it is make or break time for Reoublicanism. The IRA cannot continue to exist if there is to be a workable Agreement.
    If the IRA refuse to go away (which is what I believe will happen) the chances of the Agreement working is slim.
    The challenge is can the Nationalist electorate vote in the direction of a political party that is “exclusively” democratic? I believe that at the moment they cany. Why? Because the only party on offer is the SDLP and they have been significantly weakened, with no sign of Durkan being able to command the Nationalist electorate, he simply does not let his voice be heard.
    It is my belief that there is a huge opportunity for a new party to make gains in the North. The obvious party is Fianna Fail.
    As they have a Republican ethos, in the proper sense of the word, it is my belief that they would swallow up alot of the SDLP membership AND a significant amount of Sinn Fein also.
    This is what will happen. Fianna Fail will take the majority vote in the North, followed by Sinn Fein and the SDLP will slowly wither away.
    The next time there is a Westminster election circa 2008/9 Fianna Fail will be in the North.

  • PONeill

    Excuse my errors in my writing

  • PaddyCanuck

    Largely due to the fact that the republican movement has up to now been very successful at marshalling the peace process, I agree that the PSNI not fired many plastic bullets since 2002.

    The intervention of Sinn Fein members and others in the ardoyne, and other interface areas, has prevented the escalation of very tense situations.

    But these efforts and contributions, in conjunction with the ceasefires, decommissioning, Sinn Féin changing its constitution to recognise a Northern Assembly; supporting the amendments of Articles 2 & 3 as a concession to unionist sensibilities; compromising and accepting the Patten proposals on new policing have all been minimlised by the likes of yourself, unionism, and both governments.

    But while, the IRA has been decommissioning, the PSNI has been adding year on year to their stockpile of Plastic Bullets, they hold them in reserve, and their is no evidence whatsoever that they will not use them in future as they have done in the past, and as they did in 2002, in a disproportionate manner against the nationalist community.

    We seen last year when they overruled the Parades commission decision over the march through Ardoyne, that they will always revert to type. Minimalising change will not placate the Nationalist majority, as it does the SDLP. The majority of that community want to see the full promise of the GFA achieved, having the Attwoods et al on a few talking shop quangos is not enough, and their lies the true root of this current impasse.

  • James

    Davros:

    “grand mufti”

    God’ll getcha for that.

    Peteb:

    “The republican leadership can no longer parade as international statesmen while their lesser-known associates rob and kneecap without accountability”

    But they are. Both governments and Bush have underwritten it.

    Sinn Fein is rebooting the negotiation starting point to the initial position. DUH!! That’s why the IRA must appear to be more of a threat so that Sinn Fein can step in and cool the mad bastards down . Read Tom Wolfe’s Mau-Mauing The Flack Catchers for an inner-city angle to this tactic. The rest is posturing for the next election.

    The separation of Sinn Fein (speaking for themselves, etc.) is good politics because distancing themselves from the Guidos with the baseball bats may hinder Ahern’s ability to don his orange tie and savage O’Caolain in the Dail. It will also come in handy if things do really get out of control.

  • Davros

    I’m taking it back to the proper thread Mr Canuck.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Where is the thread?

  • peteb

    James

    I know, and you know that I’ve posted about that before.. it’s not clear yet whether, or how, the indulgence will stop.

    While the ‘stepping back to a previous position’ is what SF are attempting.. no-one’s swallowing that line. And what SF have, arguably, missed in the new and increasingly ‘alone’ stance, is that to now refuse to do what they have been doing could be portrayed as a breach of the Agreement.

    Bertie’s questions have still not been answered.. that’s where everyone else still is.

    and yeah I have Wolfe in my bookcase.

  • PONeill

    PaddyCanuck,
    If SF accepted policing conditions, as you say, why are they not involved in the institutions?http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/patten_report/

  • PaddyCanuck

    Because the report agreed to was watered down in parliament, and not implemented in full!

    One of the reasons why the Nationalist electorate rejected the SDLP, they jumped on to the Policing Board before a new start that is needed was fully in place.

  • Davros

    Mr Canuck – where in the GFA was the agreement to implement Patten ? As with the other issue, I know I’ll have to give you the answer… There ISN’T any obligation or committment in the GFA to implement Patten 🙂

  • PONeill

    Thats Sinn Fein spin PaddyCanuck that you have been fooled into believing. If it was watered down in Parliament why is it that Sinn Fein are willing to accept all the new Policing arrangements if there is a transfer of power to the Devolved Stormont. Only one thing. Thats it, nothing else. What do you make of that?
    Is this more a case that Sinn Fein spin so well in the media that you believe them?
    Can you name one inadequacy in the Patten proposals that stops Sinn Fein from signing up?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    “But while, the IRA has been decommissioning, the PSNI has been adding year on year to their stockpile of Plastic Bullets, they hold them in reserve, and their is no evidence whatsoever that they will not use them in future as they have done in the past, and as they did in 2002, in a disproportionate manner against the nationalist community.”

    So to rephrase what you’ve said, you won’t accept the PSNI until it has completely decommissioned all of it’s plastic bullets, and until that day comes you regard it as a threat. Is that right ?

  • PaddyCanuck

    Thats why SF has not signed up to policing, the promised new beginning in policing has not been realised.

    And Davros, i do bow before you, your encyclopedic like knowledge, it is truly unsurpassed, please forgive me for daring to blog on the same site as you.

    I have been in the boonies too long…

  • Jacko

    As a Prod. (I know – it shouldn’t make a difference but it does) and unionist with a tiny ‘u’, I really do believe that FF, FG, the PDs and Irish Labour etc. should organise and stand for election here. Let’s have law abiding, non-criminal, democratic republican parties giving a real choice to the entire electorate here.
    And before the shinners get on their high horse about Ray Burke and brown envelopes, spare us – there is no comparison.

    How much longer are they going to allow the name of Irish republicanism to be associated solely with sectarianism, murder and criminality?

    They might just be surprised as well at the level of support they might attract from people like me.

  • JD

    Does anyone know the current state of play with respect to parties from the South organizing in the North?

    Are there actually any concrete moves being made, or is this all speculation?

  • Davros

    Good Post Jacko. I would welcome a worthy alternative to The Unionists, SDLP and SF. All I’m left with at the moment is SEA.

  • Davros

    This is the only thing I have seen recently JD-

    Fianna fail prepare to stand in Derry

    By Brian Hutton
    newsdesk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

    21 January 2005

    A senior minister in the Republic’s Fianna Fail government is to launch a recruitment drive in Derry as it emerged the party hopes to stand in local elections, it can be revealed today.
    The party recently lifted its ban on full membership to those living outside the Republic and are now actively seeking new recruits in Northern Ireland.
    The Derry-based Eamonn de Valera Cumann, the only Fianna Fail association in Northern Ireland, is now seeking full official status, which will allow it to stand candidates in elections.
    The Cumann currently has a “friends of Fianna Fail” status, according to its chairman, Kevin Downey, but the scrapping of the membership ban signals the party’s intention to take on Sinn Fein and the SDLP at the polls.
    A senior party figure has agreed to address a meeting of Derry members in the coming months as part of their efforts to firmly establish the party in the city, said the solicitor.
    “The noises we are hearing from Dublin are very positive. But as far as the leadership is concerned, they are only noises at the moment,” he said.
    “They are mindful of all the issues with the peace process at the moment.
    “Realistically we would be looking to stand candidates in the local and Assembly elections next time around.”
    Mr Downey, a former director of elections for the SDLP, claims the Derry Cumann has up to 50 members at present, who when fully signed up to the party, will have voting rights at the ard feiseanna (annual conferences).
    Previous suggestions of a Fianna Fail/SDLP pact to counter the growth of Sinn Fein is no longer seen as an attractive option, according to the solicitor.
    It is believed that the Republic’s Finance minister, Brian Cowan, is among the leadership figures who are backing attempts to organise in Northern Ireland.

  • aquifer

    “But while, the IRA has been decommissioning, the PSNI has been adding year on year to their stockpile of Plastic Bullets, they hold them in reserve, and their is no evidence whatsoever that they will not use them in future as they have done in the past, and as they did in 2002, in a disproportionate manner against the nationalist community.”

    Plastic bullets are fired during violent riots and generally to control violent rioters.

    Were SF really ready to take responsibility for the Health and Safety of police officers?

  • JD

    Cheers, Davros.

  • Richard Delevan

    I think I just figured out who will replace Mitchell Reiss as the US envoy to NI, with a message for Sinn Fein. Dick Cheney.

  • Henry94

    PO’Neill

    The next time there is a Westminster election circa 2008/9 Fianna Fail will be in the North.

    I hope so (I’d love to see them dealing with the issue of the oath) but I doubt it very much.

  • aquifer

    Fianna Fail should press ahead. The SDLP seem more middle aged or muddled nationalist than democratic socialist. A vigourous irish national party should help things move on constructively. There is little danger to life and limb if a separate labour or socialist alternative emerges, as it might have done in Derry without the SDLP nationalist composite.

  • Henry94

    20 years ago Unionists would have flown into a rage if Fianna fail had run in the north. Now they are almost begging them to set up in the hope they will damage Sinn Fein.

    I’m reminded of Conor Cruise O’Brien’s advice to unionists that the best way to stop Sinn Fein was to opt for a united Ireland.

    Maybe he was on to something.

  • Jacko

    Just to follow the same theme as above.
    Surely I’m not the only person, irrespective of political outlook, who looks at the rest of the UK and then the Republic and realises that, as those two democracies gallop on into the 21st century, we are still running on the spot somewhere in the middle of the last.

    How long do we allow this to go on?
    How long to we continue happily wallowing in the stone age?

    The people of the rest of the UK don’t want us, and who could blame them, their patience has been stretched way beyond the point of reasonableness.
    The people of the Republic probably aren’t anxious to have us either, but still, we should at least be giving serious consideration to how we might fit in there. We should be looking at all the options.

    Or are we just going to continue to allow the provos (and I’m generalising here, because there are bound to be genuine republicans in that movement but are swamped) to masquerade as solely representative of Irish republicanism?

    It’s time the democrats on this island came together to try and map a way forward – together.

  • Davros

    20 years ago Unionists would have flown into a rage if Fianna fail had run in the north.

    How would Republicans have reacted 20 years to suggestions that the IRA might start decommissioning and SF would sit in Stormont helping to administer British Rule ? 😉

  • aquifer

    The Brits should move things on. Get some paras up in cherrypickers to remove those disgusting decomposing rags that were once loyalist or union flags. Put some squads out to paint kerbstones a concrete colour instead of leaving them daubed with red white and blue. Painting them is quicker than trying to clean them, safer for the workers, and costs only £1 per kerb when cleaning costs £15 each time.

    If someone comes along to re-paint the kerbs or stick up and leave flags, arrest them and fine or jail them under planning law.

    Unrealistic to catch them all but be sure to get some.

    Call it zero tolerance.

    The IRA will get the message.

  • Jacko

    Henry94

    Who are “they”, I am one person merely floating an idea.

    Democracy itself needs protecting from the fascist, sectarian, gangsters and war-criminals who have hijacked the name of Irish republicanism dragged it through the gutter and brought it into disrepute.

    If you support the green mafia that’s your business, lots of decent republicans don’t it’s time they came together with other demcorats.

  • Jacko

    The last line above should read: “…it’s time they and other demcorats came together.”

  • AW

    Would seem the Greens An Comhaontas Glas will be organising in the north through GPNI judging by this motion to their conference tomorrow. Of these islands and this island sort of structure envisaged.

    Motion to Conference
    1. The Green Party in Northern Ireland has proposed new organisational structures which will strengthen the links between itself and the Green Parties of Scotland, England and Wales, and ourselves Comhaontas Glas. We welcome this strengthening of links and will therefore amend our own organisational constitution to incorporate these structures. This means that the Green Party in Northern Ireland will be a region of the Green Party of this Island and of these Islands from the date of the next National Council meeting.
    2. From this date, all members of the Green Party in Northern Ireland will become members of the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas as well as members of the other Green Parties in these Islands, subject to – in Comhaontas Glas – the same requirements for voting rights as existing members of the GP/CG, that is, they must have paid a subscription for the current year either to the GP/CG and/or the GPNI and they must be a member of either party for 6 months to be entitled to vote.
    3. Members in Northern Ireland may organise themselves into Constituency Groups that will apply, on the recommendation of the GPNI, to the NEC for recognition in accordance with the party’s constitution.

    This Convention requests National Council to create a Regional Council for the Northern Ireland area and to set an annual subscription rate for membership in sterling

  • PONeill

    This is a worthwhile discussion. It is interesting to note that Fianna Fail would have a certain welcome moving North.
    I am a Republican and find Sinn Fein and their brand of Republicanism as highly offensive. I seriously maintain that Sinn Fein are the biggest obstacle to Irish Unification.
    I think there are aspiring Republicans within the SDLP and Sinn Fein and possibly other parties. Fianna Fail will do very well in the North. I cant see anybody having a problem entering a devolved Government with this “genuine” brand of Republicanism.

  • James

    “I really do believe that FF, FG, the PDs and Irish Labour etc. should organise and stand for election here.”

    Pocketbook issues attract attention in the Republic and the politics there are described by the wicked and the cynical as, ahem, patronage politics in the post Haughey era.

    I have not noticed this ever to be the case in the North, except probably at council level which is beneath my radar. I am not alone in this observation because I recall a post by Yank in Ulster on Slugger just after the last assembly election that he was astounded that pocketbook issues proved to be a damp squib.

    My question, accordingly, is not should southern parties organize in Ulster but can they operate at all there?

  • AW

    Nationalism and Republicanism are disappearing up some cul de sac. The solution is not SF organising in the south but democratic parties from there organising here. Equally it could be said that parties of here really have limited horizons and increased involvement from British parties would also be beneficial.

  • Jacko

    AW
    “The solution is not SF organising in the south but democratic parties from there organising here.”

    Exactly what I am suggesting.

    Particularly in the case of unionist demcorats (I had to be careful with the phraseology there), all options should be considered.

  • Jacko

    I should have been just as careful with the spelling “demcorats”(?).

  • IJP

    Mr Canuck

    Thats why SF has not signed up to policing, the promised new beginning in policing has not been realised.

    Nonsense. It’s because its friends in the IRA would have to give up their control of ‘republican heartlands’.

    Otherwise SF would be able to explain exactly what changes they require, via the policing board for example…

    Davros

    Remove the ‘SE’ from ‘SEA’ and you have a party with some real clout and a heritage of supporting exclusively democratic means, power-sharing and social justice in which you’ll be more than welcome!

  • Davros

    IJP – they are not socialist and I don’t have a mortgage. It’s hard for me to get past the dreadful Alliance party types I knew when I lived in Bangor and worked in Dundonald. The do however deserve great credit for their non-sectarian stance.

  • GavBelfast

    I went to an Alliance Party buffet once and nearly did myself an injury tripping over the discarded crusts.

    😉

  • cg

    “Nonsense. It’s because its friends in the IRA would have to give up their control of ‘republican heartlands'”

    Now that is nonsense

  • Davros

    I went to an Alliance Party buffet once and nearly did myself an injury tripping over the discarded crusts.

    Couldn’t have been in Benn-Gawr…. they only eat cake 😉

  • IJP

    cg

    Really?

    I look forward to SF proving me wrong by proactively seeking a position where civil defence and law enforcement in ‘republican heartlands’ are carried out by an independent service accountable to the people of NI/Ireland and all their elected representatives, rather than to the IRA Army Council. It can do this by joining the Policing Boards to oversee this development rather than reactive MOPEry.

    Are you seriously suggesting I’ll be proved wrong any time soon? Didn’t think so…

    Davros

    How do you intend to achieve a socialist NI?

    You could vote for sectarian parties. Or you could vote for parties that have no say in anything.

    Or you could join the movement for stable democracy (which must be based on power-sharing, genuine equality of opportunity, respect for rule of law), which is a prerequisite to the socialist NI you seek.

    I do not seek a socialist NI. But I do seek an NI in which I can debate the merits of socialism, liberalism and anything else with you on a fair and equal basis and on behalf of all our people, as I’m sure you do. I believe it behoves all of us who share that aim to work together towards achieving it.

    You also might like to attend an Alliance Party Council event and count the number of executive cars in the car park, I will guarantee you there are more on average at an SDLP, UU or DUP function for starters.

    (In other words, that was a Bangor thing not an Alliance thing…!)

  • Davros

    How do you intend to achieve a socialist NI?

    I’m passive. There’s too many people trying to make this place this, that and the other.
    I’ll lend moral support and hopefully it will come about through Europe via “bottom up” changes rather than being imposed or made from the “top down”.

    You also might like to attend an Alliance Party Council event and count the number of executive cars in the car park, I will guarantee you there are more on average at an SDLP, UU or DUP function for starters.

    which cheap shot do you want ? 😉

    a) they have their money ploughed into their mortgages

    b) There’s a heck of a lot more people involved with those other parties than with the APNI

    Joking apart, fair play to APNI for a lot of their
    attitudes.

  • slug9987

    “hopefully it will come about through Europe via “bottom up” changes rather than being imposed or made from the “top down”.”

    Is Europe bottom up? It feels top down a lot of the time – how many folks in Bangor or Coleraine have studied this new onstitution we have to vote on? Possibly none.

    In the UK we have to write off a cheque to Mr Brown for 24% or 40% of our income each year to pay for other health and education on the basis of need. Fairly socialist. Lack of government intervention in the economy is not Northern Ireland’s problem.

  • IJP

    Davros

    I’m always up for a joke, but I’m deadly serious. There are far more mortgages, yachts, executive cars and nice holidays among the ranks of those directly involved with other parties than those directly involved with Alliance.

    To try another way, take a look at the cheek-by-jowl council houses in inner-Bangor, take a look at the beautiful detached houses outside the Bangor Ring Road, and let me tell you where I’d rather canvass for Alliance…

    All parties cover people from different social backgrounds of course, but the idea that Alliance is for golf-playing yacht-sailing rich people is a total myth promoted by those who resort to labelling because they can’t deal with Alliance’s arguments.

    Let me say:
    – Alliance doesn’t help itself in this regard;
    – I like anyone else have differences with the Alliance Leadership, specifically its failure to deal with communications issues (including image and clarity of purpose);
    – Alliance has made big mistakes in the (recent) past.

    Nevertheless, I believe in the greater cause of democracy in NI, and anyone who wants that change should consider how they are going to get it.

    It won’t do simply to believe the labels other people place on people without checking them out thoroughly, and I have to say in the course of human history ‘passive’ has achieved anything. All it takes for evil to triumph…