Sinn Fein: nonentities without the gunmen?

More evidence that Sinn Fein is losing friends and influencers. The New Statesman has a stinging editorial on the de facto deal it believes the governments’ struck with Sinn Fein. The site is subscription locked, but here is some of the highlights:

“The true terms of the Good Friday Agrement were never spelt out, for the very good reason that many of the parties, particularly British Labour Ministers, could not admit the terms even to themselves. But they were simple. The IRA, in retrun for a role in governing the province, woudl cease its attacks on the British mainland, the British Army, the British governing classes and the business areas of Belfast and Londonderry.

“It would remain, however, in control of the working class Catholic enclaves of Northern Ireland’s cities, while Protestant paramilitaries continued in control of their equivalent pitches. In those areas, paramilitaries would continue to murder and knee cap as they wished – the IRA carried out 103 punishment shootings in the first year after the Good Friday Agreement – and to make money through drugs and racketeering.

“…it has become increasingly clear that that is the deal the IRA thought it was making. It might in due course, give up some of its heavy duty weapons becasue those were primarily suitable for large scale city centre attacks. It is doubtful if it ever invisaged giving up most of its small arms, which are needed to police the proletarian ghettos. The “peace process” is now in jeopardy becasue the IRA has broken the terms of the deal”.

It goes on to explain how the raid before Christmas “the IRA carried out a £26.5m bank raid”, and argues that the IRA may do what it likes in the Bogside or the Falls Road. It is not supposed to attack big businss. That defeats the whole point of the deal.”

It argues that ministers hoped that Sinn Fein leaders would turn into legitimate democratic politicians. “But that it was never a very realisable hope, given that Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness would be nonentities , lacking any substantial political programme, without the gunmen looming behind them”.