BEN Lowry reported yesterday in the Tele how a lecturer on terrism at the University of Ulster has said that it had “been apparent for years” that the Provisional IRA had no intention of abandoning violence or criminality such as the Northern Bank raid.
James Dingley, of the University of Ulster, said that there had been an “understandable reluctance” to hear some truths about paramilitarism in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is not surprising that, in yearning for peace after 30 years, people have been reluctant to hear a negative interpretation of the peace process.
“Many people hoped that the IRA would be hooked on politics, but that expectation forgets that instability suits the IRA.
“Violence or the threat of it is their major political weapon and it has been seen to work successfully over 30 years.
“It is central to their existence. This has been apparent for years.”
Mr Dingley, the only Northern Ireland academic who lectures on terrorism, added: “The debate over whether the bank raid should lead to sanctions that the IRA would consider minor, or no sanctions at all, will confirm the IRA’s belief that events revolve around them, and that there is no real will to confront them.”
Mr Dingley was speaking in the wake of the Independent Monitoring Commission’s report that the IRA, including senior Sinn Fein members, sanctioned the £26.5m heist and other raids last year worth £3m.
Mr Dingley, who has been studying terrorism for 20 years, said that the Provisional IRA Army Council, including some Sinn Fein leaders, was “pretty unified” so that opponents of the IRA should not raise their hopes of a split.
“PIRA have never stopped buying and making weapons, targeting, recruiting and training.”
In the autumn, amid rising expectations of a deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP, Mr Dingley was predicting that the IRA would be able to produce a major act of decommissioning with ease because it had been relentlessly buying weapons.
“Mortars are so easy to make, as are home-made bombs.
“Even more sophisticated weaponry like assault rifles and assault machine guns – they are happy to get rid of them, particularly those that have forensic fingerprints.
“They can decommission such weapons and then use totally clean ones.”
Mr Dingley gathers information from talking to political and paramilitary sources, members of the security forces, and journalists.