Irish opposition parties will today seek all-party support for a private member’s motion in Dail “calling on the Republican movement to abandon all violence and fully embrace democracy”. The motion should be debated tonight from 7 GMT tonight. You can follow it online: try logging on here. Question Time today (2.30 GMT) and leader’s questions (4.15 GMT) may also provide good value!
Sean Farren welcomes the opportunity to open the issue in the Dail chamber:
This debate is timely. In the Dáil chamber are members of parties whose leaders in the past chose to travel the road that Sinn Féin must now also travel, the road to undiluted democracy.
As democrats the leaders of those parties knew that democracy and paramilitary organisations operating outside the law are incompatible. The criminal activities of the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries clearly demonstrate that those organisations now simply want to operate as criminal gangs pursuing their own selfish interests.
There is no vestige of patriotism in what they do. They have defied the democratically expressed wishes of the people in whose names they have claimed to act. They have bombed, robbed and murdered against the wishes of the Irish people.
Irish democratic political parties cannot allow such mafia type organisations to continue. The Northern Bank raid was but another in a long list of criminal acts which included other recent incidents to which a blind eye has been turned: the Makro raid, the Gallagher and Jonesboro robberies.
Those who carried out the Northern Bank raid showed no respect for working people, no respect for families and no respect for the Good Friday Agreement. When the people of Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement, they voted for paramilitaries to go quietly into retirement. They did not vote for armed robberies to fund the luxury lifestyles that many are carving out for themselves.
That raid has dealt a real blow to the Good Friday Agreement and to the peace process. Critically it has damaged any confidence that what the IRA says about its commitment to the peace process means is trustworthy.
Democrats cannot allow this situation to persist. The Good Friday Agreement offers the best framework for political progress. The two governments must act decisively to map out a way forward based on the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, not on the failed and so-called Comprehensive Agreement of last December.
Delaying developments until after the forthcoming general election means delaying developments indefinitely. Worse, it means once again allowing our future to be determined by faceless and ruthless gangsters.
The forthcoming debate must emphasize these messages and indicate that a watershed has been reached and that further temporizing with paramilitary and criminal activity will no longer be tolerated.