IRA stand down would end Republican gaffes?

It’s fairly typical that in June there is little to report in Northern Ireland beyond the usual disturbance, or as it was last year, a comparitive absence of trouble. Sport and international conferences will no doubt give us something to talk about this summer, and of course we are expecting the outcome of the ‘Adams Initiative’ (a neat branding effort to push the now retired John Hume to the peace process background?). Noel Whelan anticipates the benefits of a stood down IRA.

He draws attention to the price Sinn Fein has paid for the Northern Bank robbery, responsibility for which most serious commentators pin squarely on the IRA Army Council:

The events earlier this year have also changed the context in which Northern policy is made in the Republic. Some (particularly Northern pundits) are very hung up on how the perceived threat from Sinn Féin exerts an influence on Bertie Ahern’s policy. However, the fastest growing party in the Republic, currently, is Fine Gael. If it repeats or improves on its performance in last year’s local and European elections, and if the Government continues to languish at its current low level in the polls, then Fine Gael will threaten more Fianna Fáil seats than Sinn Féin could ever dream of. The Government attitude to Sinn Féin and the IRA has become a significant leverage issue for the middle ground, middle-class portion of the electorate in the Republic where, like everywhere else, they are the key swing constituency.

He also notes that this alleged IRA activity has given rise to a significant strengthening of Unionism. He cites Tommie Gorman speaking on RTE:

Tommie Gorman made another point on Monday about how much of the optimism and trust which was around after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 has since drained away. If anything that was an understatement – the hundreds of gallons of water leaking from the National Aquatic Centre are nothing compared to the trust and confidence which has seeped away from the peace process on the unionist side – and support for the process was shallow enough at that end to begin with. This has given rise to another significant event “earlier this year” which now has to be factored into the equation, namely the dramatic strengthening of the DUP’s mandate in May’s Westminster elections. Not only did the DUP spectacularly surpass the UUP, but it also gobbled up the support base of most of the smaller unionist parties and unionist independents.

  • MacSuiblaig

    I am always amused when I hear of pundits stating that all of the trust and optimism has now evaporated because of the alleged actions of Republicans etc etc etc. Just where on earth was this trust and optimism demonstrated in the operation of the Executive and Assembly or in public pronoucements by various ‘luminaries’? I recall a cyclical series of votes on expelling the Shinners by the various of the Unionist parties. There has never been one drop of trust or optimistic behaviour shown. It was ultimatum after ultimatum, post dated letters of resignation, time and time again. Whoever thinks that the Unionist community (or at least their pubic representatives, not always the same thing) would ever find it palatable to share power with their avowed enemy (and that includes those nice people in the SDLP) is residing in a utopian dreamworld. IRA moves be damned, there will always be something to stop movement.

  • iluvni

    Nonsense…despite the misgivings and very understandable mistrust of Sinn Fein, for the sake of the ‘peace process’ (doesn’t that phrase just make your skin crawl now), the majority of Unionists did bite the lip and accept Sinn fein into positions of responsibility.
    Given that we, not too unreasonably I’d say, wanted nothing but peace and stability in Northern Ireland in return, those of us who voted ‘yes’ had our generosity of spirit thrown back in our faces, time and time again.

    3 times we tried, 3 times we were let down.

    will there be a 4th time?…not with my backing.

  • J Kelly

    It’s fairly typical that in June there is little to report in Northern Ireland beyond the usual disturbance. I thought there was quite alot report on UTV broadcast a punishment beating and a spying operation has been uncovered. I suppose its not news when the Brits or the PSNI step out of line.

    If any of these incidents had been attributed to republicans reporters would have been camped on the Falls Road looking for reaction. On slugger we would have had hours of amusement discussing debating and the current crisis in the process. But no crisis the state can assault and spy on who ever it likes.

    Theres plenty of news out there if someone would go and look for it.

  • MacSuiblaig

    iluvni, if there was a majority of Unionists who voted for the Good Friday Agreement, it was a bare majority. It seems that although the UUP lost only one assembly member in the last elections, the Duppies picked up quite a few, taking the support from the rest of rejectionist and hard line (though the hard liners were much more pragmatic)unionism. Are you suggesting that the Duppies spent their time getting on with the Shinners in the chamber, or did they table motion after motion calling for their expulsion which failed due to the cross community support requirement?

  • Mick

    JK

    I’ve looked in the UTV News Room, but I must have missed the spy story. Any chance of a link?

  • J Kelly

    Not that tecnological you can find it at BBC Radio Foyle. The story is Derry Republican Andrew Mc Cartney found a listening device in his house while carring out renovations.

    The fact that this cannot be found on UTV, BBC or RTE tells its own story. Would they be carrying it if republicans were bugging the PSNI, The NIO or even each other.

  • DerryTerry

    Shame on you JK.

    Don’t you know by now that the action itself is not important? Its whether it fits the required narrative that decides whether it is newsworthy or not.

    The PSNI beating up young people in Derry isn’t worthy of comment and the PSNI Special Branch/MI5 or military intelligence spying isn’t worthy of comment either.

    News, news, we didn’t like your stinking news around here

  • GavBelfast

    Mr McCartney was interviewed about this, at some length, by Mark Carruthers on ‘Evening Extra’ on Tuesday evening.

    I had never heard of him before, but all of the sound bytes were there.

    Sorry if this throws a spanner in the MOPEry fest, guys.

  • Mick

    Lads, if it’s not out there, or no one tells us, how can we pick up these stories?

    We do the best we can with the time and resources we have. We’re even happy to raise stuff that comes directly to us.

    In the meantime, whilst it’s good to have these matters raised, there seems to have been very little direct discussion of anything Whelan actually said.

  • aquifer

    The trust that has drained from the Unionist population, as distinct from what their politicians did, is a major problem for the GFA. And for republicanism in Ireland, as distinct from irish sectarian separatism. Being a law abiding democratic and conformist lot for the most part, even the prods who voted no could probably have moved along to public sharing if the IRA had fulfilled its side of the bargain.

    And what did the SFPIRA gain by clinging to the death metal? Any return to war must now be rapidly suppressed, as they are clearly never capable of concluding an honourable peace, having failed in the most benign circumstances.

    And Paisley ascendant? Gaffe, or got him where you wanted him?

    Unionism as characature?

  • JD

    “He draws attention to the price Sinn Fein has paid for the Northern Bank robbery, responsibility for which most serious commentators pin squarely on the IRA Army Council:”

    I am not sure whether this statement is attributable to Noel Whelan or to Mick but it does deserve some comment. Have any of these ‘serious’ commentators stopped to ask themselves why, with 45 of the north’s top detectives working since the 20th December last year by my calculatations a total of 69,120 detective hours, has not one shred of evidence linking the IRA to the Northern Bank robbery. Along side this you also have the Gardai who have taken 41/2 months to try and establish if the money found in Cork is conclusively linked to the Northern Bank robbery and have failed to do so. Something tells me, it isn’t, but they are reluctant to admit it. ‘Serious’ commentators might not have taken the opinion of a Chief Constable as gospel and might have used their ‘serious’ investigative skills to look at other opinions or possibilities. If you spend 69,120 hours looking in the wrong direction it might explain why over six months later you are still standing scratching your head.

  • JD

    In relation to the bugging incident in Derry. It is clear to republicans that the PSNI special Branch/British military intelligence has no intention of entering a new mode and their war on republicans continues. Not so strangely, I doubt that incidents such as this will appear in any IMC report.
    Republicans are being asked to make huge moves in the interest of building confidence. Hugh Orde and Peter Hain (or one of his predessors), who authorised this burglary of a republicans home and the planting of this device, need to ask themselves what confidence does this build in republicans that their war is over.

  • Ringo

    Along side this you also have the Gardai who have taken 41/2 months to try and establish if the money found in Cork is conclusively linked to the Northern Bank robbery and have failed to do so.

    The last utterances from the Guards and the Justice department on the issue is that the money found as part of an operation against Provisional IRA money laundering was from the Northern. Not to mention that it was also stated by the PSNI that money from the Cork raids was from the Northern.

    If you’re waiting for
    a) Noel Conroy to call around to your house and tell you personally – you’ll be waiting.

    b) ‘conclusive forensic evidence’ that ‘we were promised’ – you’ll be waiting. At least until someone is up in court, because that is where evidence is presented. And unfortunately there won’t be exceptions made because a bunch of thieves have made life a little uncomfortable for their politician mates.

    But, in the meantime, while you are pretending to be waiting, have a bit of dignity and stop pretending to have a difficulty understanding the situation. No amount of bullshit from the likes of you is going to change the fact that the IRA robbed the bank and that cash retrieved from republicans in core as part of an investigation into IRA moneylaundering retrieved some of it.

    And based on your mathematical formula for figuring out how much police work has been done – can you work out how many man hours have been spend on Lord Lucan’s case? Its nonsense, like the rest of your post, isn’t it?

    In relation to the bugging incident in Derry. It is clear to republicans that the PSNI special Branch/British military intelligence has no intention of entering a new mode and their war on republicans continues

    And since when did bugging constitute being at war? When the Yanks bugged Kofi Annan was it clear to the UN that they were at war with the US, or again, are you talking though your hole? Did Ireland declare war on Geraldine Kennedy, but we missed it?

    Awful shite to have to be reading on a Friday morning.

  • Jo

    “And since when did bugging constitute being at war? ”

    er, about the same time as being stopped at checkpoints was an act of war which justified later shooting or blowing up the men who had delayed your getting to the pub.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    The last utterances from the Guards and the Justice department on the issue is that the money found as part of an operation against Provisional IRA money laundering was from the Northern. Not to mention that it was also stated by the PSNI that money from the Cork raids was from the Northern.

    We are aware that is their stated opinion. It was also their opinion that they would be able to back it up with forensic evidence but they have failed to do so.

    It’s clear from your post that you are emotionally invested in pinning this on the IRA but you will still need evidence. So will the police.

  • JD

    It disturbs me greatly that I have upset you on a Friday morning Ringo.

    As Henry pointed out the Guards and Justice Department have offered nothing but opinions and “we are sure but still testing” about the money in these cases, in fact the money in Cork may well have to be returned to its owner. After all this time they can still show no concrete proof, how long would it take to test if motes came from the Northern Bank raid? But sure you don’t need proof Ringo your mind is made up, as is McDowells and Hugh Orde and it is much easier to continue to try to prove yourself right rather than entertain the thought that you might wrong.

    “And since when did bugging constitute being at war? ”

    In that case if the IRA had bugged Peter Hains’ office there wouldn’t be a word out of you.

  • jocky

    Henry,

    do you expect the police to have a press conference and detail all their evidence before any court case?

    And following on from JD’s logic “if the police dont prove it then it didn’t happen”. Have you any idea how many crimes the police dont solve? Obviously none of these happened either.

  • Ringo

    It was also their opinion that they would be able to back it up with forensic evidence but they have failed to do so.

    We’ve been around this tree before Henry –
    Since when to the guards provide evidence to anyone aside from in a court of law?

    You need to take total leave of your common sense, and all available information in the public domain to come to the opinion that it was probably the work of anyone other than the IRA.

    It’s clear from your post that you are emotionally invested in pinning this on the IRA but you will still need evidence. So will the police.

    My opinion, no more than that of the sad folks like JD who deny this, is irrelevant when it comes to provision of evidence. At best all you or I am likely to get is a few second hand court case reports on the news. If you can’t accept the word of the Garda Commissioner, the Chief Constable of the PSNI, the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Taoiseach, I don’t think that Charlie Bird or Tommy Gorman telling you the same thing from outside the Special Criminal Court will make any difference. The guards, on the other hand will, as you point out, need evidence to enable the DPP to provide a compelling case for a judge to hand down a conviction in a court of law.

    If your point is that there needs to be compelling evidence to convict anyone for either the robbery or the subsequent money laundering – fair enough.

    If your point is that the world is against republicans and all the enemies of republicans are conspiring to pin responsibility for a robbery in Belfast that they didn’t do on them, then that I’m afraid is complete horseshit and nobody other than the usual performing monkeys are buying it.

  • Henry94

    jocky

    do you expect the police to have a press conference and detail all their evidence before any court case?

    I wouldn’t expect detail. They promised forensics would link the cash to the bank. In the case of the money found it the RUC club they announced that forensics did indeed make such a link and I don’t think anyone doubts they would do the same for the Cork mnoney. If they could.

    Have you any idea how many crimes the police dont solve?

    Let’s not forget the number they get wrong. That is why standard of proof is important. Guilt by police assertion is not acceptable.

  • JD

    Jocky,

    The reason that there is an onus on the PSNI to produce evidence to produce proof is that Hugh Orde decided to take the unprecedented step of attributing blame to an organisation within days of the incident, knowing that it would have extremely serious, if not potentially fatal, ramifications for the political process.

  • martin

    Henry,

    Wherever the money actually comes from I am almost certainly sure the money wont be returned to its owners–A family friend in Skibbereen co Cork had his house broken into while he was at work 12 years ago and 600 pounds was stolen he reported it to the guards and the thief was caught the same evening along with about 550 pounds–50 having been spent in the pub–thief confessed—When is this money going to be returned–they are hardly still using it for forensic tests since they already have a confession based conviction.

  • jocky

    Agreed, henry, with all the focus on the police thats probably the reason they’re keeping they’re cards close to their chest, it’s to important a case for them to fit someone up for it.

    With reagrds to Hugh Orde taking the unprecedented step, do you think he did this lightly? ah, stuff investigating well just blame the IRA. Maybe he did this because of the unprecedented circumstances? Whatever the reason a fair few important people seemed to agree with him.

    I just dont buy the grand conspiracy theory.

  • Henry94

    jocky

    I’m not advancing a conspiracy theory. I’m waiting for evidence.

    With reagrds to Hugh Orde taking the unprecedented step, do you think he did this lightly?

    I assume Orde believes what his former RUC underlings tell him. But I do hope he is getting impatient with their failure to produce.

  • JD

    It is possible that some posters are misunderstanding my position. I am not attempting to argue that there is a grand conspiracy to fit the IRA up for the Northern Bank raid, maybe they did do it, however my point is that there has not been any credible shred of evidence to show that it was them. However the fit up is for Sinn Fein, their political opponents needed to get the message out that the IRA was responsible in advance of elections in an attempt to politically damage their electoral progress, they could not wait for evidence. They succeeded with Hugh Orde and Michael McDowells’ help in getting the message out but failed, however, to politically damage Sinn Fein. But with elections now over I think it reasonable that politicians and other ‘serious’ commentators would wait for some evidence in court before condemning republicans for a robbery they deny.

  • reality check

    Sure the ira will give in to unionist pressure.Loyalists will stop sectarian attacks on catholics.AYE RIGHT!

  • Zorro

    ‘Adams Initiative’ (a neat branding effort to push the now retired John Hume to the peace process background?).

    I agree. Isn’t this yet another example of the Spinn Fein media machine in action?Are SF attempting to re-write history?