Devolution a year away…?

For various reasons I was out of action yesterday. Still no word on the IRA statement, although PA had this fascinating quote from an unnamed source first thing yesterday morning:

“With unionists not rushing back into government, it would give Assembly members something to do while they wait for the IRA to live up to its promises,” a source said. It would enable Assembly members to debate issues affecting the people of Northern Ireland, even scrutinise what direct rule ministers are doing. It may take a year or two before unionists are convinced that the IRA’s pledges are for real.

“Over this period of time the reports of the Independent Monitoring Commission (which assesses republican and loyalist paramilitary activity) will be critical. The IMC`s reports will tell unionists if the Provisionals have really wound down their paramilitary and criminal operations. They will provide unionists and those in the Irish Republic who are sceptical about republicans with the evidence of whether or not Sinn Fein is fit for government. If the IRA honour their part of the deal, we could see a return to full blown devolution.”

  • levee

    I’m not condoning the IRA, but I’ve always thought it was unfair that Loyalist paramilitaries can get away with anything and people don’t bat an eyelid.

    Of course, these are no more than racketeering, drug-dealing hoods carrying an old banner of paramilitarism.

    I propose a province-wide vote on whether the people still want paramilitary groups. If the majority vote NO, then all NI terror groups should be forced either to disband or to drop the “protecting our people” bulls**t. How does that sound?

  • Henry94

    b levee

    I propose a province-wide vote on whether the people still want paramilitary groups. If the majority vote NO, then all NI terror groups should be forced either to disband or to drop the “protecting our people” bulls**t. How does that sound?

    Only an all-Ireland vote could direct the IRA and I don’t think it would be passed unless the removal of the British Army was included.

  • Jo

    Part of the problem the PSNI faced with the Garnerville situation was – that there were no complaints about the UVF behaviour!

    Not that anyone was going to complain on camera, but there is a chance that flushing out the LVF was a genuinely popular move….the behaviour of the latter didnt make the headlines day in day out, and presumably had a corrosive effect on the local community whereas the more prominent UVF action did so make those headlines…the lesser of two evils???

  • Jocky

    Henry94, Why would only an all-Ireland vote direct the IRA?

    The implication of your post is that, as they can only be directed by an all-Irleand mandate they must have recieved the madate at some point in the past. When was this poll taken?

    Do you really think the IRA’s support is that strong in the republic?

  • Keith M

    I think that this article is pretty much on the money. Unionists in general (and the DUP in particular) are likely to take any IRA statement with a pinch of salt, given all the statements in the past. SF/IRA should be judged on their actions not their words. Personally I think twelve months decontamination is very generous (I would have been thinking more along the lines of five years).

    Levee, the difference between loyalists and SF/IRA is that in general unionists don’t vote for parties associated with terrorists, so there’s no chance of the PUP in the executive. Similarly RIRA/CIRA/INLA activity tends to be ignored when dealing with the future of the executive.

    Personally I’d declare the USDA ceasefire as over and take David Ervine up on his kind offer to spend his days behind bars!

  • Henry94

    Jocky

    The implication of your post is that, as they can only be directed by an all-Irleand mandate they must have recieved the madate at some point in the past. When was this poll taken?

    The 1918 General Election established Dail Eireann and the Dail mandated the IRA. You don’t have to believe this yourself but the IRA do. If you want to vote them out of existence then it would need to be a vote on terms they will recognise.

    Do you really think the IRA’s support is that strong in the republic?

    It’s not a case of support for the IRA but of a balanced view of the problem. The people of the south voted for the Agreement and I think any attempt to move outside that template would be defeated.

  • irishman

    I suppose there’s no chance of a special IMC report into UDA/ UVF violence – or for that matter and given the upsurge in anti-catholic violence in Ballymena in the past few days, a special report into DUP-inspired loyalist violence?

  • Dr Snuggles

    Interesting that Reg Empey has dismissed the notion of a consultative Assembly as an interim measure. Hasn’t David McNarry been enthusiastically flogging that idea for the last year or so?

    A cynic might suggest that the UUP are simply manoeuvering so that they can slam the DUP for entering an Assembly with Sinn Féin.

    Outside of narrow party-political concerns, a Shadow Assembly would provide a useful run-in period for both MLAs and the Assembly secretariat, ahead of the restoration of full-blown power sharing.

  • irishman

    IMO The IRA have a chance to put unionist violence centre-stage now by calling off any statement or intended actions until a number of developments are sought, including:

    a. the British govt. acknowledging the fact that the overwhelming majority of violent incidents is coming from unionism;
    b. the IMC producing a report exclusively on loyalist violence;
    c. unionism is publicly compelled to take responsibility for their paramilitaries.

    I would ask fellow republicans to consider the merit of any IRA statement/ action at a time when unionist violence remains unabated?

  • jocky

    Henry94, thanks for the reply, Im being particularly slow today.

  • Mick Hall

    Whilst I understand why some republicans go down the what aboutery road when discussing the loyalist para-militaries, it totally misunderstands the raison det’re of these organizations. They where formed with the help and guidance of the British State to confront armed republicanism at the sharp end; and to terrorize the nationalist communities from given the PIRA their support. Without armed republicanism, this raison det’re will be removed, as to will be the support of the British state. Thus these groups will appear completely naked, any pretense of there being the protectors of their ‘people’ will be removed.

    We have already seen this to a degree with the downfall of Mr Gray and Mr Adair, neither of whom were prepared to keep a low profile, nor recognize the changing times. The latest feud within Loyalism can be seen in this light as necessary housekeeping. Although in the long run, I doubt it will do much good as once the raison det’re for these groups existence is removed, the British state will close them down, pretty swiftly in my view if they fail to accept the new reality. They are after all being offered generous redundancy terms, a leg up into the business community, community relations or political careers, or if they retire the right to keep their ill gotten gains.

    True some of the neanderthal men amongst them will either be unable, to stupid or unwilling to change, but these will be increasingly treated as criminal gangs are in the rest of the UK/ROI. When they come under pressure or are arrested, I doubt their former handlers in the SB, MI5 or MI will return their calls let alone appear in the middle of the night at some god forsaken police station and spirit them away leaving the local desk sergeant to scratch his head and curse under his breath.

  • Ringo

    Only an all-Ireland vote could direct the IRA and I don’t think it would be passed unless the removal of the British Army was included.

    I don’t think you’ve had your weetabix, Henry.

    Are you suggesting that they have spent the past thirty something years toiling away under the ludicrous notion that the majority of people on the island approved of them? – (I have this vision of Martin saying – ‘well why didn’t ye just say so????’) Isn’t it odd that every single government elected by the people of all hues in the Republic saw them as the greatest threat to the stability of the state and tried to counteract them, if this was at odds with the wishes of the majority of the electorate? (and it would have to be a majority by your logic above). Never mind now, do you think they would have got ‘a mondate’ after Enniskillen?

    Why haven’t the IRA requested a renewed mandate in the past 87 years? Could it be that they wouldn’t have stood a chance – ever? Doesn’t the fact that republicans attract about one in 10 votes despite outspending every other candidate, not suggest to you that maybe, just maybe, we are not exactly totally enamoured with the whole idiotic violence thing?

    British Army? As militaries go, the British don’t exactly raise many hackles down here anymore, I’m afraid. The US in Shannon is a bit more of a sore point. 100,000 people turned up in Salthill to watch the Airshow last month. The US presence attracted a paltry demonstration, the British presence got oohhs and aahhs.

  • slug9987

    Good post by Mick Hall. If the IRA stand down then the police have more room for manouver in tackling loyalists.

    Unionists I am sure don’t want these hoods (UVF, LVF etc) – its like saying that unionism equates to criminality which is hardly fair. The discrediting/disinteration of criminal loyalist groups is just the outworking of their strategic choices.

    With the IRA out of the way and Sinn Fein supporting or at least taking a more positive attitude to the police, the police can face down the criminal paramilitaries more forcefully.

    I hope, anyway.

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    I’m not certain that oohhs and aahhs at an airshow tranlates into support for the military occupation of, for example, South Armagh.

    But you are as entitled to speculate about the result of an all-Ireland vote as I am.

  • slug9987

    I think that the idea of having a period of about a year before the DUP judge whether to enter government with Sinn Fein is not new – this was in the 2004 ‘DUP photograph’ talks.

  • Dessertspoon

    As a curly headed orphan once sang:

    “The sun’ll come out

    Tomorrow

    So ya gotta hang on

    ‘Til tomorrow

    Come what may “

    Of course as many other fine philosphers have written “Tomorrow never comes…”

    We have too many tomorrows in Norn Iron. How about getting on with something TODAY!

  • Mick Hall

    Why haven’t the IRA requested a renewed mandate in the past 87 years?

    Posted by Ringo.

    Ouch, that hurt 😉

    Mick

  • Ringo

    Henry

    I’m not certain that oohhs and aahhs at an airshow tranlates into support for the military occupation of, for example, South Armagh.

    The point is that no matter how valid the objections are in South Armagh, it is a local issue, not a national issue. On the other hand the existence of the IRA is a national issue. And there is certainly an element of ‘they brought it on themselves’ in a way that wouldn’t be applicable to say, Fermanagh or Derry.

    You’re shrew enough at analysing these sort of things, and I don’t think you are being honest in saying that you think the IRA would be given a mandate by an all-Ireland vote (even excluding the Unionist vote). Why are Sinn Fein, who are by far and away the party closest reflecting that opinion, a peripheral party?

    If, as is the logical progression from your claim – the majority of the people agree with their stance re the IRA, does it mean that their economic policies are driving the electorate to vote for other parties? Not very plausible, is it?

  • Henry94

    Ringo

    I don’t think you are being honest in saying that you think the IRA would be given a mandate by an all-Ireland vote

    I’m saying no such thing. What I’m saying is people voted for a balanced settlement and would reject any attempt to replace it with an unbalanced one. If you put disbandment of the IRA to the people of Ireland on its own with no context then I don’t think it would be passed.

    I would not take such a result as a mandate for anything except the Agreement.

  • Ringo

    If you put disbandment of the IRA to the people of Ireland on its own with no context then I don’t think it would be passed.

    Why?

    Why would the people of the Republic vote to maintain a paramilitary organisation? Does Sweden have one?

    Why would the vote to maintain the biggest criminal organisation in the country? Cheap waste disposal?

    This is crazy talk, Henry.
    You’re the one who is taking away the context. The context is modern Ireland. What the hell are they still doing, hanging around, stinking of diesel, running titty bars and flogging porn? The IRA aren’t protecting the people of South Armagh for the British Army.

    With or without the GFA, the people of Ireland repeatedly vote for not just a majority, but an overwhelming majority (circa 90%) for elected representatives who either through their own public statements or party policy have demanded the end of the IRA for decades. Maybe like, you, the IRA just weren’t listening.

    The problem is, and alway has been, that the IRA answer only to themselves, not the people of Ireland. And no amount of referenda would ever satisfy them. See 1921 or 1998 for details.

  • George

    Henry,
    I have to agree with Ringo on this.
    Having been born and lived in the Irish Republic most of my life, I would be astounded if the electorate were asked “Do you want to the IRA to disband immediately without pre-conditions” the vote would be over 80% and almost certainly even hit 90% in favour. Even soft southern SF voters would most likely vote yes.

    I would take all bets on that one at odds of your choosing.

    The GFA was passed by 95% with the unity by consent only principle. The overwhelming majority of Irish people want unity, but only by consent.

    The Chief of Staff of Oglaigh na hEireann is President McAleese.

  • Henry94

    George

    The Chief of Staff of Oglaigh na hEireann is President McAleese.

    Nothing would surprise me.

  • George

    That’s what well over 90% (probably closer to 99%)of the population of the Irish Republic think Henry.

    The only army they recognise is the Defence Forces.

  • Henry94

    George

    I’m not quite sure why you are telling me this. It has nothing to do with any point I made.

  • George

    Henry,
    I disagree. Your point was that the people of the Irish Republic wouldn’t vote for the unconditional disbandment of the IRA, I say they would and one of the main reasons is that the only Oglaigh na hEireann they recognise is the one with President Mary McAleese as Chief of Staff.

    More importantly, the balanced settlement is that if the people of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic vote for unification, then it will happen.

    In other words, it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone to decide their fate.

    The IRA don’t come into it. You seem to forget that they didn’t sign the Good Friday Agreement so aren’t part of that settlement.

    Any referendum demanding they disband would not be outside the GFA.

  • Henry94

    George

    My hunch is that the voters would see it as outside the GFA and reject it. They recognise the Irish Army as legitimate (as of course do I). But the Irish Army does not operate in the six counties. The IRA does and the British Army does.

    The Irish Army are not required to do anything under the Agreement. But I think people have an expectation that the IRA will and the British will depart from the scene.

    My point is that they voted for both and they expect both.

  • slug9987

    I don’t think people voted for the ‘British to depart from the scene’.

  • Henry94

    slug9987

    I intended to post British Army.

  • George

    Henry,
    having worked on the GFA referendum in a non-political capacity, I would say the people of the Irish Republic voted “Yes” for peace, simple as that.

    They didn’t look at complexities, they wanted to make it clear that they wanted the killing to stop forever. Forget blame, just end it.

    True, it was helped by northern nationalism advocating a yes vote because southern nationalism is very, very uncomfortable about splitting with the majority of northern nationalism. It destabilises the south and raises passions to an unhealthy and dangerous level.

    But in 2005, I would say such a theoretical vote (won’t happen) in the Irish Republic would again be seen as a “yes for peace”.

    Unfortunately, the Irish people know they can’t really demand anything of unionism, because they aren’t on the same wavelength, but they can of the Irish people, Irish Republicanism and the IRA.

  • Alan McDonald

    Henry94,

    I just got through saying “Wow” out loud to myself! Your explanation of the reasons behind the vote on the 1998 referendum in the RoI is both astounding and insightful.

    As an American, I never understood why the citizens of the Republic of Ireland rejected the PIRA while there “cousins” in the United States supported it. Thank you for explaining to me that, by voting by 94.4% for the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998, that they were endorsing the PIRA to act as expeditionary army in Northern Ireland.

    Once again, I say “Wow!”

  • Ringo

    Henry

    But the Irish Army does not operate in the six counties. The IRA does and the British Army does.

    But the IRA operates in the Republic, where there are no ‘Brits’ (except at the airshows). The business of the IRA in the Republic is business.

  • Henry94

    George

    They didn’t look at complexities, they wanted to make it clear that they wanted the killing to stop forever. Forget blame, just end it.

    I am sure that was the position of a lot of people and I am also sure that a retrospective blaming or singling out of one side in the conflict would not sit well with the same people.

    Alan

    In return I am impressed by the extent to which you have missed the point.

  • Alan McDonald

    Henry,

    What was the point of saying that the Irish Army does not operate in the six counties. The IRA does and the British Army does?

    How is that statement to be interpreted in the context of the referendum of 1998 and/or George’s suggested referendum on IRA disbandment?

  • Henry94

    Alan

    What was the point of saying that the Irish Army does not operate in the six counties. The IRA does and the British Army does?

    The point was, as I went on to say, that the Irish Army were not part of the conflict, were not seen as part of the conflict and had no obligations under the agreement.

    If a referendum was called on the narrow issue of IRA disbandment then I don’t think it would be passed. I don’t think people would see it as balanced.

    What could be passed and what I believe was in fact passed was a comprehensive agreement which will lead to the end of all the armed groups in our lives and the end of partition by peaceful consent.

  • Ringo

    If a referendum was called on the narrow issue of IRA disbandment then I don’t think it would be passed. I don’t think people would see it as balanced.

    Henry

    I think you are over estimating how hung up on ‘balance’ we all are.

    Do you think that either of the two following propositions would be defeated in a similar all-Ireland poll because they are to narrow and lack ‘balance’?

    1) Reduction of British Army numbers to levels agreed in the GFA?

    2) Disbandment of Loyalist Paramilitary organisations?

    Half a loaf is better than no bread.

  • Dr Snuggles

    I think that the idea of having a period of about a year before the DUP judge whether to enter government with Sinn Fein is not new – this was in the 2004 ‘DUP photograph’ talks.

    Not so – the December proposals would have seen a shadow Assembly established in January, followed by full restoration in March.

    Those aspects of the proposals had been agreed by both the DUP and Sinn Féin.

  • slug

    DrS

    Thats interesting, I thought it was longer than that. Well at least the idea of such a period of shadow assembly -if only three months -was in the talks. I expect the DUP will want a year or more now after Robert McCartney and Northern Bank to allow them to see a few IMC reports.

    In fact I can’t see devolution till 2007.