Narrative gap holds potential for problems.. again

The suspension of the early release licence of Séan Kelly, convicted of the Shankill bombing in 1993, has started a ripple of statements that have the potential to cause even more problems ahead. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is the latest to comment on the case, and his phrasing of the question is likely to cause a few furrowed brows.. again. But the ball started rolling with a terse statement from Peter Hain on Saturday that was disappointingly short on detail. And it’s the lack of detail, so far, that has allowed others to step into the narrative gap with their own speculation on the decision.

SF’s Conor Murphy yesterday also described the decision as Peter Hain’s “first serious mistake” – according to this Irish Times report[reg. req.]

That lack of detail has been sketched in by suggestions in a couple of reports.. but, with the decision to suspend the early release of Kelly following so closely on from the statements in the House of Commons from the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds[16 Jun 2005 : Column 491], combined with SF’s position on the re-arrest of Séan Kelly, “wrong and unjustified” according to SF’s Conor Murphy, and Gerry Kelly’s statement that “He [Séan Kelly – no relation] has also played an invaluable and positive role in keeping the situation calm at interfaces in North Belfast.” – although many would see that as a somewhat unsuitable role – means that the final decision on his early release licence, to be taken by the Independent Sentence Review Commissioners, will be closely examined.

As the SDLP’s Alban Maginness indicated, it’s a case that needs as much detail as possible made public.

And, as with so many situations here, I’d suggest we would all benefit from a lot more light.

  • Harris

    “This was a calculated decision that will increase tensions in North Belfast and elsewhere in the middle of the marching season. It was a cynical decision.”

    Will have to agree with this assessment. Given what happened last week in Ardoyne, and the reluctance of the Orange Order to positively engage with the Boagside Residents Group before the July 12th march in Derry, tensions and the prospect for violence has definitely been increased.

    Unionists should be careful what they wish for!

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Who do you believe is going to respond violently to this?

  • Robert Keogh

    SF’s Conor Murphy yesterday also described the decision as Peter Hain’s “first serious mistake”

    I would think accepting NI SoS was his first. Is this a sop to unionism for his pro-unification stance the papers are running with?

  • peteb

    As I said –

    “it’s the lack of detail, so far, that has allowed others to step into the narrative gap with their own speculation on the decision.”

  • peteb

    Just to add –

    Let’s try to keep the speculation on this thread to a minimum.

  • dunc

    While the events at the OO parade at the weekend clearly increased tensions in the north of the city,the attempted burning of Catholics in their homes last night,moves things to another level.

    Lets hope things do not get out of hand

  • TAFKABO

    “While the events at the OO parade at the weekend clearly increased tensions in the north of the city,the attempted burning of Catholics in their homes last night,moves things to another level.”

    Has it been categorically proven that this was deliberate arson attempt by Loyalists?

    It would be extremely foolish to start talking about something like this in these terms, since it could conceievable provoke a severely violent backlash,and turn out to have been an accident all along.

    “Lets hope things do not get out of hand “

    You are hardly helping things to stay calm with comments like those above.

  • Robert Keogh

    TAFKABO,

    You are hardly helping things to stay calm with comments like those above.

    Comments on this board are nowhere near as inflammatory as the OO marching through areas it is not wanted. Yet you single some text out for criticism rather than the coat trailing by the OO.

    Mote, beam, eyes.

  • Harris

    Jimmy_Sands

    “Who do you believe is going to respond violently to this?”

    Well, I thought that would be pretty obvious. The increased tensions are not being CAUSED by nationalists. With the PSNI’s blatant disregard for nationalist concerns (see Ardoyne), and allowing the O.O. to practically dictate where they will march, especially in unwanted areas, the prospect for violence by nationalists will increase dramatically.

    Just what unionists/loylists want.

  • TAFKABO

    Robert.

    That’s a discussion to be had somewhere else, no point in diverting this thread into an argument that is going to pop up quite a lot over the coming weeks.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Harris,

    So if I have this correctly, the violence will come from nationalists but unionists will be responsible for it. Unionists want nationalists to be violent. Do nationalists want nationalists to be violent? If not, how will the violence come about?

  • Comrade Stalin

    “With the PSNI’s blatant disregard for nationalist concerns (see Ardoyne)”

    Certain people keep saying that the PSNI are illegitimate, not wanted, not welcome in their neighbourhoods. Sounds a bit like they’re heeding that request ?

    [I don’t doubt the loyalists were behind the attempted murder of a family by setting fire to an oil tank last night. Republicans however, since they require documentary evidence before jumping to conclusions, will undoubtedly be waiting to see until the hard facts becomes available.]

  • Harris

    Jimmy_Sands

    “So if I have this correctly, the violence will come from nationalists but unionists will be responsible for it.”

    That sounds about right, but it will be the O.O. and their loyalist henchman, who will be to blame. Do you not think this scenario would suit the DUP and all the nay sayers, especially now, since an IRA statement is pending?

  • Robert Keogh

    Jimmy_Sands,

    So if I have this correctly, the violence will come from nationalists but unionists will be responsible for it.

    Say a man kicks you in the nuts ten times, and on the 11th you punch him in the face. You are certainly responsible for your actions – but everyone is going to agree the other guy had it coming. Is unionism mature enough to see that in a few cases it’s summer marches cause grave hurt and offense to their fellow countrymen?

    There are over 1100 parades in the 6 counties. Only about 10 of them cause problems and unionism is incapable of talking to residents let alone reaching a compromise in these few cases. By trying to hold on to everything they will eventually lose everything.

  • tra g

    1100 and rising

    There has been a large increase in the number of parades passing the Short Strand area in the last few years

    I wonder why ?

  • TAFKABO

    And Hey Presto!

    A story about a prominent IRA member being involved in terrorism suddenly turns into a thread about the Orange Order.

    And the greatest irony of all?, this from the people who say that dialogue is healthy.

    Ho hum.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I’m reminded of a debate (and I use the term advisedly) on another board where a poster cited as evidence of police bias the “fact” that at a street altercation in which he had participated, the police had permitted prod stonethrowers to get closer to the taig stonethrowers than the latter were to the former. You can’t really argue with that.

    Robert

    I’m normally unimpressed by the extreme/inappropriate analogy. You are of course entitled to resist your hypothetical nut-kicker and without waiting for ten hits before you do so. Whether this attack is a fair comparison with an offensive march is open to question. To suggest that it is a reasonable comparison for the local mass murderer getting pulled in for a parole violation is really very silly indeed.

    Harris

    The idea that nationalist violence plays into the hands of extreme unionism is a reasobale one. It begs the question, why do it?

  • aquifer

    Violated parole. Busted.

    What’s the real problem?

    SFPIRA street manpower?

  • aquifer

    He did not have to accept the terms of his license, and could have stayed in jail if he had principled objections to them. He promised not to:

    * support a specified organisation
    * become concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland, or
    * become a danger to the public.

  • Gum

    If he broke the rules of his release then he should return to jail. However, with so little detail, the case is very worrying. Hain has been under heavy pressure to show he is not sympathetic to republicans. A lack of any detail leaves open the possibiity that this move is a political stunt. Not saying it is, just agreeing that info is needed.

  • Jo

    …because so few have been returned to jail, it makes one think that there must have been something pretty compelling for that decision to have been taken at this time.

    I dont think it was something so crass as to balance things in terms of Hain’s perception as pro-Nationalist..then again…

  • Young Fogey

    Has it been categorically proven that this was deliberate arson attempt by Loyalists?

    No. There’s always the possibility that some wee pixies did it with their magic powers.

  • Betty Boo

    “support a specified organisation”
    Maybe they should have specified “support”.
    One can find himself easily these days in a position supporting a specified organisation just by working with Sinn Fein councillors.

  • Jo

    Have to agree with Gum about the lack of detail.

    One would have thought that there would have been some political interest in having a transparency built into the process whereby the opportunity to make political capital out of unilateral SoS power to revoke could have been avoided.

  • DerryTerry

    Struck by an excellent letter in the DI (no lets not revisit the sales figures)contrasting the efforts of Sean kelly to defuse tensions in North Belfast with recent remarks by two alleged UDA Brigadiers concerning action staken by that organisation recently.

    We can no doubt wait for the arrests of these delighful Commanders by the PSNi within days.Something along the likes of membership of illegal organisations, directing terrorism or possession of a bloody brass neck.

    Then again, maybe there is something a little political about the re arrest of Mr Kelly.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Terry, not that I would ever suspect republicans of not comparing like with like, but were these 2 men released under the GFA?

  • tomasmaguire

    THE UNTOUCHABLES

    When the PIRA conducted its own investigation into the McCartney slaughter guess who was appointed one of the investigating officers? Yip DCI Sean Kelly who I’m told clearly felt very confident and comfortable, dare I say UNTOUCHABLE, in this role as he had allegedly been “breaking the rules of his release” by being active practically from day one of his coming home almost five years ago.

    Indeed the Psuedo-policia of the Belfast Brigade have for years strutted around these districts dispensing their own self serving brand of justice playing toy soldiers in the community watches, hooding and interogating anyone “off script” from their agenda while abandoning our communities to the scruge of drug dealers and death drivers and paedophilic molestations.

    All of this power and legitimacy underwritten by the british powerbrokers who were ecstatic at having the provos as the flying column armed wing of their presence here, how fabulous must that have been for the N.I.O, the provo-police parachuted in to save the brits again from attack by nationalists in Ardoyne both last year and last friday night.

    Only this time the Belfast Brigade failed to contain the situation, local resistance through their justifiable anger prevailed, the provo-polica were found lacking & misjudged the mood. Next day DCI Kelly was returned to jail, and this arrest has shaken the Provo intelligentsia to the core, the brits have suddenly and inexplicably strayed ‘way’ off script.

    This explains an taoiseach’s remarks about Kelly being kosher or not? ‘Kosher’ meaning a member of the psuedo polica. ‘Not kosher’ being something else entirely a dissenter perhaps who has fooled everyone including Sinn Féin? As Bertie said, he’s going to find out!! I mean what the hell are the Brits doing arresting our own security people, surely there must be some mistake !!

    It also explains Gerry Kelly’s evident outrage at the arrest. DCI Kelly is one of his most trusted officers, who loyally stood shoulder to shoulder with him against the Ardoyne nationalist hoards. Both will feel totally betrayed that to have taken such a pro-brit stance against their own community they now have been publically and unceromoniously sacked by their political puppetmasters … and poor Gerry doesnt even have so much as a bandaged arm for another big claim with which to console himself.

    UNTOUCHABLE NO MORE

  • Belfastwhite

    Indeed the Psuedo-policia of the Belfast Brigade have for years strutted around these districts dispensing their own self serving brand of justice playing toy soldiers in the community watches, hooding and interogating anyone “off script” from their agenda while abandoning our communities to the scruge of drug dealers and death drivers and paedophilic molestations.

    …..and your contribution to community policing has been what exactly tomas?

  • TAFKABO

    This is of course, all speculation.

    But isn’t it feasible that the Brits are sending out a signal to the RM that any statement committing the RM to solely peaceful and democratic methods will be
    taken very seriously by the security forces?

    That explanation seems at least as credible as the notion that Peter Hain took a look at the bad press he had been getting, and decided to throw a sop to unionists.

  • DerryTerry

    Beano,
    that explains a lot. Unless you have been released under the GFA you cannot go to jail. Whilst surprising it definitely explains many of the more bizare sentencing practices of the northern judiciary, like Andre’s little slap on the wrist for possession of a loaded gun at the height of a loyalist feud.

    TAFKABO,
    Could you elaborate on the message to the RM theory?

    Tomas
    Are you suggesting the re arrest is the result of Republicans not preventing the anger of Ardoyne residents spilling over?

  • tomasmaguire

    …..and your contribution to community policing has been what exactly tomas?

    Thanks for the question belfastwhite, my ‘role’ in community policing is to make sure the kids in our street and our estate are never demonised and harassed by these thugs. That we know where they are at night, that we still know who lives in the house next door and the one up the street, that the young people feel valued and respected and know their worth as young nationalists, that they have the resources and safe spaces in which to play and that they have a voice which needs to be heard.

    Finally on a personal note that when life gets too tough they have someone professional to talk with on their own terms so that dark temptations like suicide or self harm are less of an option.

    A very far cry from the glamour and adrenalin rush of last Friday night in Ardoyne and the community watches I know, but personally very rewarding nonetheless.

    Tomas

  • TAFKABO

    DerryTerry (great name BTW)

    I was just suggestiNg that the Brits might be signalling a zero tolerance approach is the new reality, as opposed to the turn a blind eye to the RM that has been the case for the last few years.

  • tomasmaguie

    Derryterry

    In my opinion the British new order of Hain et al are simply flexing their political muscle, in arresting Sean they are firing a shot across the bows of the republican movement letting them know whats what, a power play of sorts.

    I don’t profess to know the ins and outs of N.I.O strategy nor am I familiar with the goings on in the war of the shadows as there have been some peculiar events lately like the aborted attack on Orde with a remote control bomb in Newtownabbey (light years from general dissident technology & operating ability ) that perhaps suggest something is afoot.

    What i do understand is the politics of power and any new order will not hesitate to assert itself if one of the players doesnt hold up its end. If the provos can’t police the communities like Ardoyne because the residents don’t fear them any more then what function do they serve the brits? Sean kelly and numerous other GFA released prisoners have been active for years in the communities often to great effect sometimes not so much … why re-arrest him the next day after the Ardoyne riots other than to send someone a message?

    Tomas

  • JD

    Tomas, your analysis and description – “Psuedo-policia of the Belfast Brigade” is unwarrented in my view. Although I have to say that I am not from Belfast so I am at a disadvantage.

    However it is clear that republicans risked life and limb (Gerry and Sean Kelly included) at the Ardoyne shops July 12th last year to avert what was undoubtedly another possible Bloody Sunday on the streets of North Belfast. They do not put themselves in these unenviable situations at the behest of British or Irish Governments but in the interests of their own communities and their own people. If six or seven young nationalists had have been killed by British troops on that day, and it is clear that they were on the verge of opening fire, where would we be today. What would be left of the peace process.

    Yes the people of Ardoyne are angry, the young people in particular, they have every right to be however at times such as these it takes leadership to use that anger in controlled and constuctive ways to effect change on the situation that you are angry about.

  • harpo

    ‘Violated parole. Busted.

    What’s the real problem?’

    The real problem is that during the ‘peace process’ the Provos (both wings) have become used to HMG bending over backwards to ignore reality to keep the process going. Thus the blindingly obvious has been ignored, all in the interest of keeping the Provos happy. Gun running? No problem. Shooting people? Internal housekeeping and no breach of the cessation. Spying? Let’s not look at it too closely. Robbery? The work of a few criminals. Knifing a guy to death? Not an authorized operation.

    The Provos have become so used to not only being given the benefit of any doubt, but to having obvious reality ignored, that they thought that people like S. Kelly could breach their license restrictions with impunity. The only shock here is that HMG has for some reason grown a backbone for once.

    It definitely shocked me. I’d say this is a warning shot for the Provos – the message is ‘make the right decision or we will start to apply the rules fully’.

  • tomasmaguire

    jd

    Ahha, so its all for their own good?

    The young and not so young were being threatened, beaten and slapped in a public display of humiliation for doing something which one day is sound and another day isn’t, depending on Sinn Féin’s political fortunes.

    So resisting the state and loyalist attempts to degrade and triumph over them by coat trailing through their area isn’t for the community’s own good.? Does Sinn Féin now determine what is and isn’t good for us?

    The fact is, to a young person getting hit for resisting the state, whether its from a peeler, a brit or a loyalist or even worse a provo its still sore, still remembered and still resented and still resisted …

    and it might be worth remembering that the boy will grow into a man shaped by his experiences and perhaps much better placed to hit back against the peelers, the brits, the loyalists and yes even worse the provos …. and so it continues !!

  • aquifer

    On the inter-generational abuse thing

    How many Provos were hit by Christian Brothers at school?