"Maybe Shame Will Disarm the IRA?"

Given the reasons cited for not signing a comprehensive deal before Christmas, this headline from the Washington Post is either deeply ironic, supremely naive or maybe both!

  • Alan McDonald

    I already sent an email to the author of this piece, Glenn Frankel, saying:

    That was a very nice piece, but check out today’s results in the Meath by-election to see that Sinn Fein is alive and well, at least in the Republic of Ireland. My personal prediction is that the IRA will continue to exist for exactly as long as Gerry Adams needs them, which means until SF is offered a part in the RoI government.

  • lo_rre

    Like wise is this headline in Cincinnati .

    “Reputed IRA Commander Here Seeking Support

  • George

    I think come May you’ll find Sinn Fein is alive and well north of the border too.

    Personally, I don’t its within Gerry Adams’ power to get rid of the IRA.

    That is as naive as the Washington Post headline.

  • Alan McDonald


    I was thinking about your comment, and I decided that I can accept “naive.” Actually, I would also accept “ignorant” since I have no insights into the workings of the IRA.

    I based my comment on the assumption that when Bertie Ahern says that Sinn Fein can’t join the Irish government until the IRA are disbanded he really means it. As to elections in Northern Ireland, they are irrelevant since Sinn Fein won’t sit in the Westminster parliament and the Assembly won’t sit at all with SF and DUP as the top vote getters.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Glenn Frankel (LONDON) just about says it all really.

    ‘Plummeting’ well done Glenn, unfortunately the facts as displayed by the electorate expose your analysis as not being very good.

    NOTE to Glenn – must do better!

  • New Yorker

    The headline writer may be naive. But, I can assure you, everyone in the US invloved in key decisions regarding NI will read Glenn Frankel’s article very carefully; especially on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. Decision makers over here will not be paying much attention to the Meath by-election. They have paid attention to the BT/BBC poll which shows the trend, ie, SF down 3.5%, SDLP up 3% equals 6.5% increase SDLP vs SF in two months and seven weeks before next election.

  • Pat Curley

    Isn’t the problem the system where a party that gets, say, 14% of the vote, gets 14% of the seats regardless of whether they actually win anywhere? That system seems flawed because it encourages fringe parties and doesn’t force them to become more mainstream. We have the Greens here as the only modestly significant 3rd party and they basically can’t get any elected positions except on city councils of very liberal cities. It acts as a moderating influence.

  • New Yorker

    Dear Pat,

    You are exactly right. It is an argument about which is the better system and has gone on for a long time; probably because there are positives and negatives to both systems.

  • j5o6hn

    Why would you give these murderous thugs the time of day,it may have started out as a great thing but the IRA now is a group of thieves and bandits who call themselves the protectors of the catholics so is the Mafia,as for SF when the leaders of SF cop to there crimes maybe they will be in a position to have a go at others,the Orange order leaders and both the udf and uda and there ilk should be given a bullet in the back of the head and the whole lot disbanded from what we get here in Australia Northern Ireland is turning into a criminal state where the tuugs rule and the politcians either dont have the guts or are so badly comprised ie SF they wont do anything about it thanks

  • Moderate Unionist

    The problem appears to be that the only way to get anything done in Northern Ireland is to be extreme.

    Even then the two extremes oppose each other leading to stalemate.

  • ShayPaul

    Moderate Unionist

    The problem is even simpler, too many people in power here have a vested interest in stalemate.

    This statelet doesn’t work as a modern democratic society, and too many in power like it that way.

    That’s all that’s wrong with NI.

    The tools to keep it that way are sectarianism, excessive security
    forces, gerrymandering, gangsterism, media circus, and political bullshit of the purest form.

    These tools have been finely tuned for many years, several of them for several decades and others several centuries.

    Conclusion, “the only way to get anything done in northern Ireland is to be extreme” … yes that is a fine epitaph to a failed state, and sadly it is once again becoming truer and truer day by day. Dr NO and the Dupes will ensure that we all dance to the same tunes.

    Once again the good people of NI have been betrayed by politicians who place their own political skin and personal comforts above the interests of the people.

    Real progress requires real leadership, so when will we produce men or women with the capacity to step out of the vicious circle ?

    Better start looking to the future generations ….

  • George

    “As to elections in Northern Ireland, they are irrelevant since Sinn Fein won’t sit in the Westminster parliament and the Assembly won’t sit at all with SF and DUP as the top vote getters.”

    If you believe over a quarter of the Northern Irish voting electorate plumping for Sinn Fein in May is irrelevant then I’m afraid I’d have to say that’s naive too.

    If SF manages to increase its vote then this will be the springboard for the 2006 Dail elections. The more power SF has on this island, north and south, the more it will try to undermine Northern Ireland’s union with Britain.

    You don’t need to be a military genius to know that attacking the border on two fronts is going to be more successful.

    Unionism can only implement the economic and social changes necessary to make Northern Ireland work with the the support of the Irish population there and at the moment it sees most of them, SDLP people included, as fifth columnists rather than fellow citizens.

  • New Yorker

    Dear ShayPaul,

    I take exception with your read on the current situation in NI. The problem is SF/IRA. They have wrecked the GFA at every juncture. They have not lived up to what they signed on to. Seven years on it is all too clear. Criminals do not want the peace process to work because that would mean legal and efficient policing, a transparent border, etc. That is the biew from the US on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day. As Bush’s Special Envoy said it is time for the IRA to go out of business which implies that SF will go out of business shortly afterwards.

  • George

    “As Bush’s Special Envoy said it is time for the IRA to go out of business which implies that SF will go out of business shortly afterwards.”

    No it doesn’t. That is a pretty huge leap you are making there. I’d say over 90% of the population of Ireland couldn’t even name Bush’s special envoy.

  • lo_rre

    Has the penny at last dropped in AMERIKA.?

    “For the last 3-1/2 years one of the most persistent streams of correspondence I’ve had is from British readers sneering, ”Oh-ho. So America’s now waging a war on ‘terror,’ is she? Well, where were the bloody Yanks the last 30 years? Passing round the collection box for IRA donations in the bars of Boston and New York, that’s where.”

    These Irish eyes are smiling at White House snub of IRA

  • Alan McDonald

    Hello, George. I’ve been away from the computer all day.

    Now, getting back to Sinn Fein and electoral politics, I’m still confused with the notion that power can derive from election to a non-functioning Assembly or to absentee MP positions in London. I admit to being an “ignorant Yank” on this subject. Is there really power in being elected to a no-show position? It sounds like winning a popularity contest to be Hobo of the Year.

    Election to the Dail, on the other hand, does result in a real job. That’s why I raised the issue of Bertie Ahern’s promise not to form a government with Sinn Fein until the IRA was gone from the picture. Whether Gerry Adams can accomplish that single-handedly is not important. Whether Bertie Ahern really means it is.

  • Henry94


    Bertie will never need Sinn Fein to form a government. Labour will step into the PDs shoes if required.

    But if Sinn Fein won a Dail majority on their own or with the support of other TDs they would be entitled to form a government. There would be no legal or constitutional basis for keeping them out.

    The souths system is based on voluntry coalitions. the north’s is not. Otherwise the unionists would form a majority government a scenario which even they don’t see as acceptable.

    Under the norths system parties qualify for government on the bais of their vote and there is no voluntry coalition.

    So comparing the two systems is not a like with like example.

  • Alan McDonald


    Thanks for the clarification. Parliamentary government is confusing enough; the NI Assembly is beyond understanding.

  • New Yorker

    Dear George,

    I bet 99.9% of Americans could not name Dr. Mitchell Reiss, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. But what does that have to do with his important role? Nothing. You will get no where with Americans arguing that there is a material difference between SF and IRA. It’s like a ham and cheese sandwich, one part ham, one part cheese, one sandwich. Which part is ham? By the way, the chief ham is in for a real roasting this coming week.

  • Moderate Unionist

    Consider this. Whether as part of the United Kingdom or a United Ireland. The six counties will be a small region with little natural resources save the wit of its people, remote from the centres of commerce and influence. The only people that really care about Northern Ireland are those of us who live here, not Dublin, not London, not New York.

    Sooner or later we are going to have sort things out amongst ourselves. We will need and want strong economic links with both the Republic and Great Britain but we need to control our own future our face economic destruction by the forces of the global market and centralisation.

    As for the Union, for every £1 we raise in tax we spend £2. Economically the Union has it. If England could give us away she would, if the republic were offered the deal I doubt she would take it. Might be different if we were economically strong and didn’t offer to shoot people. Roll on the next 100 years. Have a nice day.

  • Alan

    Talking Tax, does anyone know if the Greens here have the same economic policy as the Greens in GB. There was a piece on the Politics Show about them wanting to raise additional tax to provide each individual with a guaranteed income of £2000 per year. That was on top of existing expenditure!

  • mickhall

    Moderate Unionist

    Good post, when I read it and some post by those who support SF, it is clear a deal can be done, why because as you so eloquently put it, necessity makes it so. German and France have fought three major wars in the last hundred odd years, yet today there is no manned border between them. In comparison what has happened in Ireland has been a mere scuffle. Once PIRA is stood down; and it will be, all is to play for and both parts of Ireland can look forward to a bright future. Indeed within the structures of the EU the motor for unity is already running; and in all probability it will be unstoppable. I any case, whether it is England or Ireland, in the long run it looks as if we are all going to end up as provinces of the European Union super State.

  • Circles

    Nice post moderate unionist – I just hope we don’t have to drag ourselves across another 100 barren years before we vote for people with the wit to realise that we are all in this NI/six county mess together.

    That 99.9% of Americans couldn’t name Reiss as special envoy is no surprise – after all the american public is not particularly noted for its deep interest in foreign affairs.
    And whether americans believe or not that the IRA is not Sinn Fein (and vice versa) is also, IMO, of no great immediate relevance. Americans do not vote in Irish elections (phewww!) and I don’t think Bush’s ban, nor SFs pariah status will last very long. By the end of 2005 the IRA will have wound down (hopefully) – and the SF fund-raising machine will be back in business.

  • ShayPaul

    Moderate Unionist

    I believe we agree.

    I would suggest that “leaders” concentrate on eliminating the vested interests that make progressive politics here unworkable. They should concentrate on creating the basic conditions that will allow all our people here to treat our problems together.

    As you have pointed out the present system awards the extremes, and sectarianism can only progress in such a system.

    Destroying the vested interests requires real leadership and a value based approach that will reward initiative and risk taking.

    As you will know I am for a republic of the people and for the people. The only Union worth fighting for is that of the people here, all other unions are false and serve only to divide us.

    The status quo might be in the vested interest of many powerful groups but it is not in the interest of the people here, they deserve a better future than that.

    Roll on a generation capable of producing enough real leaders to brush aside the wasters that eat up all the oxygen.