Complex manoeuvring or Chaos within Republicanism ?

In a thoughtful article in the Sunday Herald, Rebel Hell, Ed Moloney suggests that the Northern Bank robbery was another crafty tactical move to force the hand of the IRA that was knocked off track by the unforeseen savage and barbaric murder of Robert McCartney.

Moloney remembers that Adams manoeuvred the ranks of the IRA, who were unaware of his long-term aims, along the path of his peace strategy by allowing them to use the human bomb tactic which put the hawks in an impossible position.

It would be difficult to devise a greater PR disaster yet it was approved by the Army Council, on which Adams and Martin McGuinness sat, at a time when both men were repeatedly warning the IRA against operations that endangered civilian life. The effect of the tactic was to whip up outrage throughout Ireland and to isolate and demoralise the IRA. It undermined the use of violence and strengthened those, like Adams and McGuinness, who were arguing for a political alternative such as the peace process. The episode was an important staging post on the way to the IRA ceasefire.
In a similar fashion the decision to rob the Northern Bank has left the IRA with only two options: to stay still or carry on down the road that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have mapped out for it.

As Moloney points out Sinn Féin was unlikely to be seriously damaged by an attack on a bank. However, in combination with the McCartney murder, the effect has been far more serious than expected although the tactic might work yet. As Moloney points out the ball is now in the IRA’s court. Their call.

  • Ziznivy

    The robbery was unlikely to effect Sinn Fein very much. Sad really, that a high proportion of voters have such a casual attitude to the law.

  • queens_unionist

    I think the mccartney murder will be more significant than the robbery but the robbery, as an example of sinn fein IRAs criminality, coupled with the murder i think that they are in tense times.
    hey are certianly feeling the pressure.
    The protests on the short strand will definitely be good news SDLP wise.
    But the IRA still have to go away!
    members were expelled but the IRA are still there.
    it was the killing of Robert Mccartney not his murder.
    There is still a long way to go yet, but Gerry Adams, Martin Mcginnes and there comrades on the army counsel have a lot to think about!

  • J Kelly

    The protests on the short strand will definitely be good news SDLP wise.

    Lets get things into perspective the SDLP had their party conference two weeks ago and in the madia and even on slugger one would have thought that the elections had taken and they won all 18 Westminster seats by a landslide. Since then they are back to their old position irrelevant and ignored. The SDLP will need to look long and hard for good news this year. I still forecast that they will lose their three MPs.

  • peteb


    Probably worth pointing out that Ed Moloney mentioned this, briefly, in an interview on RTE radio back on Feb 4, blogged here – The secret present of the IRA?

    Thanks Pete A.U.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    This theory could have some merit. To be honest, I would not be surprised in the slightest if Moloney has hit the nail on the head!

    If true, it is once again confirmation to the democratic world of the extremes that Adams and McGuinness will go to exert their power over the “Rafia”.

    This is in order for them to gain political leverage over the “hawks” in the organised crime gang (I wouldn’t even call them a paramilitary organisation anymore), which in turn will enable them to coerce local grassroots commanders into a period of inactivity in the beating or shooting of “anti-socials”.

    On the outside the naive British and Irish governments will feel that this “military inactivity” constitutes a chance to go into talks regarding a return to devolution.

    Covertly though, the Republican Mafia “Rafia”, are still targeting “legitimate marks”, such as the Westland’s Andre Shoukri (as highlighted in the Sunday Life), so that if enough concessions are not gleaned from the two governments, they have the capability of “returning to war” in order to persuade the “Brits” to end the “occupation” of the “Six Counties” and to coerce us, the Protestant and British people of Ulster, into seeing sense and supporting the cause – a 32-county non-inclusive Irish Republic!

    Not in my life-time, Not in my life-time.

  • mickhall

    Moloney makes some interesting points and one only has to read his excellent book, The Secret History of The IRA to understand how Machiavellian Mr Adams has been at times. The problem Mr Adams now has is that it has taken far longer than he probably thought for PIRA to be stood down. That PIRA has descended into its current level of unacceptable criminality is no real surprise, once the present Chief of Staff was placed into office, if it was not stood down within five years this was a forgone conclusion, as the man genuinely believes it is a patriotic duty to scam the taxpayers of the ROI, UK and EU. Thus he was never going to discipline volunteers under his command for the scams they got up to in Dublin, Derry and Belfast. The difference was however, where he thought what was his was the PRM, some of the volunteers kept much of what they scammed to themselves. Another down side is this man rarely leaves his home area, whereas in a ceasefire, a COS is needed everywhere keeping on top of things.

    If the Unionists where serious about wanting to see the back of PIRA, they behaved in a very short sighted manner at the end of last year. As to the future it looks like with the process at a standstill we can expect more of Mr Adams Machiavellian deals to unravel. Unionists have got to make up there minds what they want the most, to see Gerry Adams get his comeuppance or to see PIRA stood down, they cannot have both within the foreseeable future.…