'A lesson governments would be foolish to overlook'

The excellent Newshound has this article by Ed Moloney from Ireland on Sunday. Whether the movement he notes is a ‘momentous step’, or a sideways shuffle, is a matter of interpretation. But his conclusions, and recommendations, are worth noting.

Those final paragrpahs indicate that he clearly believes that any talk of an IRA split is only talk. And, more importantly, he notes that it was the public pressure, in support of the McCartney family, that forced the IRA to take the (limited) action they have taken –

The IRA action [expelling three members] also settles another issue, that of growing speculation about a split between IRA hardliners and the Sinn Féin pragmatists on the Army Council. This is a decision that will benefit Sinn Féin, not least by removing any threat of electoral damage, but if there really was a split and the hardliners were in the ascendancy, as some observers have claimed, it never would have happened. Had they been in charge the IRA hardliners would have insisted on standing with their men and hunkering down for the storm. If anything the decision demonstrates that it is the Sinn Féin element of the IRA leadership which is calling the shots.[my emphasis]

Having said that the IRA and its political spokesmen had to be dragged, almost kicking and screaming to this decision and had it not been for the persistence and courage of Robert McCartney’s sisters it is likely this would never have happened.

This carries an important message about the way this IRA and Sinn Féin leadership behaves and it has lessons for the wider problems caused to the peace process by the Northern Bank robbery. Without intense and unrelenting pressure that leadership will resist making any move at all in the hope that it if it sits long enough something will happen to improve fortunes. But if the pressure is applied strongly and resolutely enough that leadership will move. [emphasis mine]

As the Irish and British governments look forward to new peace talks and the hope that they can persuade the IRA to disband, decommission fully and abandon criminality it is a lesson they would be foolish to overlook.

  • Davros

    Does the below make sense to you Pete ?

    “The immediate effect of the expulsions will be to release the witnesses, said to number over 70, from any fear of reprisals if they go to the PSNI to give statements. They can now do that in the knowledge that they will not be informing on IRA men but on ordinary civilians suspected of having played a part in murder.”

    It’s hard to see how statements could be given without involving those IRA men who weren’t expelled.

  • peteb

    That would seem to be a fair point, Davros.. but I think it may just be part of the attempt Ed Moloney is making to over-emphasise the “momentous step”..

    The importance of the limited action by the IRA will be through undermining future attempts by SF to promote a policy of non-cooperation with the PSNI. But that’s not the intention of the action, as Moloney appears to imply, it’s a side-effect.

    In the same way, the IRA can hardly complain about the detail in statements being made, as witnesses have been encouraged to come forward.

    There’s still a lot of shuffling going on.

  • dave

    It seems to me that SF/IRA are and have done what they needed to do to save themselves, it has nothing to do with “justice for Robert McCartney’s sisters”

    Like the author of the article stated:

    “Having said that the IRA and its political spokesmen had to be dragged, almost kicking and screaming to this decision and had it not been for the persistence and courage of Robert McCartney’s sisters it is likely this would never have happened.”

    Had the victim been a Protestant, I believe that SF/IRA would have continued in the nornal mode.

    For years the dogs in the street knew that the ordinary Catholic living in any Northern Ireland nationalist area were subject to silence by fear and intimidation by the Republican movement.

    It is not the paramilitaries nor is it the governments of the U.K. and the RoI who will bring peace to a land were Two communities live, it will be the people who deliver peace the Mc Cartney sister’s have shown what needs to be done, boycott the paramilitaries and the bully boy’s.

  • James

    “Without intense and unrelenting pressure that leadership will resist making any move at all in the hope that it if it sits long enough something will happen to improve fortunes”

    Maloney left something vital unsaid within that statement.

    Ahern, Trimble, Blair, Paisley and McDowell can bash the bejesus out of Sinn Fein and never land a punch. The army of scribblers who have been boring the paint off the wall aren’t even on the republican radar, well, maybe if the chuckies have fish to wrap.

    It is when Sinn Fein’s power base exerts the pressure that change occurs.

    If you want to topple the Soviet Union, you don’t rant at Gorbachev, you don’t deploy the Neutron Bomb, you make his constituents want Levis.

    Get it?

  • Davros

    James – Mary Kenny writes an interesting piece expanding on a point also made by Maloney in the Times, that the leadership and movement has itself been ensnared by capitalism :

    The IRA: too rich for bombs

    “Their financial empires, now reaching into many legitimate fields of finance (er, yes, regrettably through the process of money-laundering) may eventually have the effect of turning the shadow of the gunman into the substance of an entrepreneur. Nonsense-talk about a 32-county “socialist republic” will strike a note of incongruity among those whose entire way of life depends upon risk-taking capitalism. To demonstrate against “globalisation” will seem a little odd to those who know that their financial empire draws upon outreaches in Turkey, Bulgaria, Libya and Colombia.”

    ( anybody unable to access full article can e mail me)

  • James

    “the leadership and movement has itself been ensnared by capitalism :”

    Great. Why not if it morphs them into the doppleganger of the Soldiers of Destiny? Corrupt, venal and banal but not at your door with a Louisville Slugger.

    It is going to be interesting to see how the RM reconciles it’s entrepreneurial efforts in capitalism, that highly efficient engine of production driven by greed and envy with it’s Enlightenment republican ideals. Just the same, True Believers are a laboratory case for cognitive dissociation so what’s to stop them?

    “Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.”
    ———–Al Pacino as Don Corleone in GFIII

    There is an interesting mob parallel here.

    Paul Castellano tried a banker’s approach when he took over the Gambino Family in 1976. He didn’t completely let go of muscle but basically he was a businessman who looked at gang war as a balance sheet liability.

    Gotti’s regime saw this as weakness. They were right because when they assassinated Castellano in 1985 neither he nor his driver were armed and they were without an escorting vehicle.

    So what’s Armani got in Kevlar?

  • aquifer

    Ireland is in the rich developed part of the world, and most of the workers are elsewhere. The rate of home ownership is one of the highest in the world, and even the farmers own their farms. The economy has developed fast by being open to outside investment. Most owe our livelihoods to capitalism.

    The idea that this can become an independent socialist republic seems unlikely.