"Disbandment is only option"

Not exactly a one-two punch.. but Tom McGurk and Vincent Browne in the Sunday Business Post give their view on the way forward. McGurk takes the “softly softly” line – “Decision Time for SF”, while Browne is clear about what that decision must be “Disbandment is only option left for IRA”

Vincent Browne on the “capitulation”, to date, of the republican movement –

The capitulation has been significant. Republicans have been forced to deal with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and have been drawn into the web of the judicial system. Only a few weeks ago, this would not have happened.The PSNI was unacceptable without further reforms, as was the judicial system. Now both have been sanctioned. After years of linguistic evasions, republicans have been cornered into characterising as murder the deliberate killing of an innocent person by fellow republicans.

They have also been caught on the back foot over the Northern Bank robbery.That, too, is now characterised as criminal, and Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin, no longer seems convinced that it was not carried out by the IRA. Did you see him on television at the Press Club in Washington? A characteristically adroit, if wooden, performance, but very unconvincing on the bank robbery.

and on what is still needed to be done –

Anyway, the clarity is this: the IRA has to go away, you know. Lock, stock, barrel, guns, explosives, baseball bats, knives.

Decommissioning isn’t enough; there has to be disbandment, a publicly declared disbandment, and then no more operations, no vigilantism, no assaults, no killings, no robberies, no racketeering, no protection rackets, no defending nationalist areas (that is the responsibility of the police).

And by the way, there also has to be unreserved, total and unequivocal support for the PSNI (if necessary, after further reforms) and the judiciary, and no more carry-on about courts martial or governments and armies, other than the official army of this state.

As he sees it, that is the new reality –

There can be no participation by Sinn Féin in government without all these obstacles being cleared – and being seentobe cleared. If that takes a year, two years, five years or ten years, so be it. That is now the political reality. The IRA, with all its mumbo-jumbo, has simply got to go. The former wriggle room on that issue no longer exists.The McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans have done that. If the IRA does not go away, then no deal with Sinn Féin. If there is any equivocation on policing, then no deal with Sinn Féin.That’s the new reality.[emphasis edded]

And he appears to argue, a failure to take that decision now would tell us more about Gerry Adams than anything else –

It might be that Adams cannot bring the republican movement to this stage now or in the foreseeable future. In that case, we all know where we stand.

  • Tomasmaguire

    “Signing up to the police force would require republicans to divulge where illegal arms are held, and force them to disclose the identity of anybody who had possession or control over such illegal arms. (Illegal arms are those not in the possession and control of the formal security forces of the two states, or those for which there is not a legal licence.)”

    Is an t-uasal Browne really expecting that Republicans will assent to this level of disclosure? It beggars belief that a political journalist in Ireland of Browne’s stature would even (jokingly) suggest such a thing should happen? It demonstrates an appalling lack of insight into the republican mindset. And in my view so misreads the reality on the ground as to totally undermine his credibility as a poltical analyist. Im aghast at his naivete …

  • Henry94

    I agree with Browne that the IRA should go but I don’t think it is easy or without dangers for that to happen.

    There will always be an IRA of some description and I think too many people are focussed on causing political problems for Sinn Fein rather than the real issue which is making sure that the IRA in whatever its manifestation doesn’t have much support.

    If the IRA said next week in an Easter statement that it was standing down the biggist cheer would be from the dissidents. They would see it as their big chance as it would be.

    The circumstances of the standdown could be portrayed as a humiliation and many IRA members might join cira/rira/INLA or some new group.

    I prefer the “new mode” solution where the IRA is left intact but with a much reduced role mainly involving commeration and colour parties.

    This combined with a deal on policing/decommisioning/demilitarisation might just transform the situation.

    If Unionists can’t buy into it straight away then maybe a two-year period to establish that we are in a changed situation might be required.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    What gave you the impression that the the “new mode” is a much reduced role mainly involving commemoration and colour parties?

    AFAIK, no-one has spelt out what this “new mode” actually is.

  • peteb


    To paraphrase Roger Daltry – Say hello to the “new mode”.. the same as the old mode..

  • Belfast Gonzo

    As well as what Henry listed, I think the “new mode” will involve other, non-terrorist, but possibly destablising, strategies.

  • Henry94


    What gave you the impression that the the “new mode” is a much reduced role mainly involving commemoration and colour parties?

    That is just my view on what it should mean.

  • Liam

    Gonzo, Pete and others will refuse to take this seriously.

    The IRA offered in December to completely decommission and to enter a new mode. This offer was rejected.

    Now calls for the IRA to disband in this climate are nothing short of silly – disbandment is just not going to happen anyway, and as Henry pointed out, even in such a hugely unlikely scenario, the ones who would delight most would be the dissident groupings, and for very good reason.

    Now is that really your desired outcome? To stoke the embers, and actually encourage a return to armed conflict? You need to think seriously and maturely about all this.

  • IJP


    The IRA offered in December to completely decommission and to enter a new mode. This offer was rejected.

    Actually the offer was accepted.

    The query was how decommissioning would be verified and what this ‘new mode’ actually is.

    I for one was quite satisfied by the former, but not the latter, which was entirely unclear. Additionally, there was the slight problem of the IRA planning further outrageously illegal activity while the negotiations were ongoing.

    You and your colleagues in SF should think seriously and maturely about that.