IRA statement expected within days…

That’s the BBC view from Barney Rowan, who is one of a handful of journalists in a position to know and one of their top analytical editors, Mark Devenport.

Rowan notes the pressure from developments in the outside world:

In the same way that after the 11 September attacks speeded up the movement towards decommissioning, Gerry Adam and Martin McGuinness will have to ensure that off the back of the London attacks that they get the IRA to the right side of the political lines. That is why the statement has to be crystal clear. If it requires a dictionary to understand, then Tony Blair will put it in the bin.

And there is some circumstantial evidence that ‘something’ is in the wind:

There are a number of interesting little pointers: General de Chastelain and Andrew Sens – his colleague on the decommissioning body – have remained in Dublin. Adams and McGuinness are the “two most significant figures”.

The other thing we should watch out for over the next day or two is for any developments over the case of Sean Kelly. Kelly – the Shankill bomber – was recently returned to jail after the secretary of state suspended his early release licence. Up to this point, he has not made an application to the Sentence Review Commission. I imagine over the next days we might get some indication that that application is now being made.


If the statement was to come out in the course of the next week that would have the benefit for people like Tony Blair could be around in order to give a reaction to it. At the time of the 11 September attacks, people said that this would have speeded up IRA decommissioning and made it more definite. It would also give a bit of a run-up time to any report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) in the autumn. There is a logic to the IRA moving a little sooner rather than later because the IMC will not have anything to verify if the IRA move comes just before they are about to report.

  • Keith M

    I thought Mark Davenport had now moved to the mainland where this “top analytical editor” was reporting on stories which were the modern equivilent of the dog that said “sandwiches”.

  • iain lees

    sausages, not sandwiches

  • slug

    Two things to look for in the statement:

    (i) Have all weapons been decommissioned and
    (ii) Have the IRA said that the use of unlawful methods is over once and for all.

  • crat

    Simpson, not Devenport.

  • circles

    I’m not sure that they are the two things that will be in it. Firstly, it will be worded probably in two parts.

    There’ll be the addressed to the media, where they’ll state that they support the initiative of SF in the peace process and support behind the SF leadership 100% in their efforts. That they hope too for a peacful united ireland, with freedom, justice, and peace for all living on the island, and have taken due consideration of the call made by Gerry Adams, and a wee bit about the discussion itself. Then they’ll say they are ready to move into a different phase and that the results of an internal discussion have come out in favour of putting their energy into the political process (there’ll be a wee section saying that there was considerable debate and that it was an a decison which was taken lightly). Then decommissioning will be dealt with – and I have no idea how.

    Then there’ll be the part addressed to the volunteers, and here the call will be made against the criminal activity. I don’t think they’ll talk about unlawful methods for anything, but will say something clearly about criminal activity that will spark of a debate about what exactly is meant.

    I’m not expecting the earth to shake when this statement comes out (despite its undoubted historic significance). Many will try to make as little out of it as possible, will others will pump it up – although if it says what we all hope it says, I don’t think it will be possible to exaggerate its importance. It will be a significant achievement by SF under Gerry A, and nobody can dispute that.

  • circles

    A lot of mistakes in that post! Sorry – shouldn’t post from work.
    I meant:
    “and support the SF leadership 100%”
    “that it was not a decison which was taken lightly”

  • Dessertspoon

    “significant achievement by SF under Gerry A…”

    Any mention of why it’s taken so bloody long?

  • circles

    It actually hasn’t been that long DS – and it would be wrong to lay all the blame for this at SF’s door.

    Everybody has prevaricated in the process. Some more than others (who the some of course depends on your shade of poltical opinion). But the fact is, that if the IRA do call it a day it will be as a result of Gerry A’s political efforts.

    The British government and unionist parties were trying to get the IRA to disband for a lot longer than the 11 years since the first ceasefire and got nowhere near it, so I think the perception of it being a long time is relative. And I think the republican movement can only go as fast as its slowest refusenik to avoid a major split. I prefer slowly but surely any idea.

  • slug9987

    I would be surprised if its as vague as you say. I think its more likely to state that all the weapons are now decommissioned and that the IRA volunteers are told to stand down and that the organization would enter a new mode as a commemorative organization. However I could be wrong – I am not close to the thinking of the Army Council!

  • spirit-level

    I think it’s being timed so that yesterday’s men in the English Parliament won’t have the chance to stand up and say depressing things.

  • Southern Republican

    Bigger question, do they know where all the weapons are? most important things is the cemtex. IMO, Personaly I think the statement will be a bust.

  • Nic

    Wow circles, amazing twist on things.
    Never forgetting that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness ARE the IRA, your calm assesment that they are deserving of historic praise for struggling manfully with themselves to give up the ould bombin’ and maimin’ eleven years after they copped the game was up is I suppose a prime example of how people with a stake in the Norniron “conflict” are capable of blithely ignoring reality and declaring themselves the winner regardless.
    As to “The British government and unionist parties were trying to get the IRA to disband for a lot longer than the 11 years since the first ceasefire and got nowhere near it… ” you blithely ignore that it’s precisely the pressure from the Unionist parties, coupled with a changing world attitude to subversives that is forcing the IRA to back off any hint of violent intent.
    Don’t you remember the glory days of the “Pan-Nationalist” front from 1994? It all started so promisingly, didn’t it? Until Bush got in and the Twin Towers fell. The Columbia 3 were found playing footsie with FARC and the Pan Nationalist front started to come apart at the seams.
    Net result is Adams has painted his beloved IRA into a corner they can’t get out of. And that from the leader of an organisation that regards itself as the true legitimate government of the whole of Ireland. It’s raison d’etre is to unite the entire Island under it’s leadership, by force if necessary. In eleven years he has brought this organisation to the brink of disbanding, they have conceded the right of the British to be in Northern Ireland, and soon they will have to start turning over criminals in their ranks (they won’t survive another “McCartney” without giving someone up).
    Now, if you’re telling us that that was his goal all along, then I must say he’s been an excellent British secret service mole all this time, wouldn’t you agree?

  • levee

    It’s hard to get excited about this statement. Let’s not forget the Northern Bank robberies and the McCartney murder. Will the IRA’s operating style have changed that much over the past few months?

    Isn’t it feasible that a dissident group (CIRA) will pick up the paramilitary work without it causing any problems for Sinn Fein? Since the CIRA aren’t afiliated with SF, they could continue to hold weapons and carry out street violence without penalty.

    That’s not to rule out a possible split within the IRA if there are a significant number who disagree with disbanding.

    Just my tuppence worth.

  • Dave

    When the SF/IRA Statement comes to public view, it will consist of the usual lies more lies and statistics

    However! The statement will clarify one thing that everyone will understand (Republican/nationalists included) is that the so called “armed struggle” has failed yet again (third time).

    Now it is time for the smear campaign against all those who disagree with SF/IRA and their idea of a peaceful United Ireland.

    Maybe the main reason for the SF/IRA climb down is the fact that they now realise they really are Terrorists.

  • Henry94


    Isn’t it feasible that a dissident group (CIRA) will pick up the paramilitary work without it causing any problems for Sinn Fein?

    I wonder if you understand how much the dissidents hate Sinn Fein. Their only motivation and their only strategy is to destroy the peace process and discredit the leadership of Sinn Fein.

    Since the CIRA aren’t afiliated with SF, they could continue to hold weapons and carry out street violence without penalty.

    Without penalty? Have you no faith in the PNSI? OK me neither. But if we can have an agred police service accountable to the people it claims to police then we can dispose of the ciras and the uvfs without too much trouble.

  • Alan McDonald


    When you ask, Without penalty?, I think you have missed Levee’s point. I believe that the point was that Sinn Fein could avoid penalty because it was CIRA and not PIRA that would be the malefactor.

  • Henry94


    It would be a strange situation if Sinn Fein were to penalised for the actions of cira. It would only serve to give them an incentive to create trouble.

    They would be delighted if they could derail the whole process.

  • DCB

    (in a rush). Mr. Godot told me to tell you he won’t come this evening but surely tomorrow.
    Is that all?
    Yes Sir.
    You work for Mr. Godot?
    Yes Sir.

  • Henry94


    Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!

  • DCB


    V good

  • circles

    It’s all very well to analyse the events of more than 11 years ago through post September 11th glasses and pretend that somehow international presure has created the situation we now find ourselves in (hopefully IRA about to go) – but it is completely wrong, and very opportunistic.
    The fact is that the peace proces was started by an initiative between Gerry A and John H (sadly missed).
    Pressure from the unionists had absolutely zero influence on this (indeed there was no unionist pressure to find a peaceful solution to the conflict at that time), and has had only a very marginal positive effects on the process ever since (particularly not the current dominant strain of unionism under the DUP).
    And to finish by addressing your opening statement that Gerry A and Martin McG ARE the IRA – very briefly, this is a ridiculous claim. Even if they were members of the IRA, 2 men do not make an organisation – especially not one as politically astute as the IRA.

  • T.Ruth

    Tomorrow’s statement by the IRA will hopefully contain a clear and unequivocal statement that its squalid sectarian “war” is over,the bombing materials and the guns are destroyed, and that these events havebeen visibly verified and independently confirmed.
    Hopefully there will also be a positive statement indicating that Sinn Fein and the IRA will no longer be involved in criminal activity and that SF will support the PSNI and do all in its power to create a more peaceful NI. This should include a reversal of the policy of creating interface tension on demand and interfering with the rights of Unionist fellow citizens as they express their culture in Loyal Order demonstrations and processions.
    The last thing we need is another round of concessions to the IRA and numerous secret side deals by a deceitful government which can distinguish between IRA terror and Islamic terror..
    If Sinn Fein has a real desire to live by democratic means alone it should be possible to use this opportunity to create the context for moving fast forward to tackle the real social and economic problems that forty years of pointless paramilitary violence have created.
    A failure to create the conditions for genuine progress will be evidence that this is just more smoke and mirrors.

  • circles

    This may seem like an annoying question to you, but what exactly have these previous “round(s) of concessions to the IRA” been?
    What concessions were made (or rather what do you classify as a concession)?

  • JD

    It would be refreshing for unionist posters, instead of ad nauseum laying out their demands of the IRA and republicans, to outline exactly what unionists are going to do to contribute to this peace process because so far it has been precious little.

  • reality check

    an end of the seige of catholics in north antrim would be very helpful

  • Denny Boy

    “an end of the seige of catholics in north antrim would be very helpful.”

    No, that’s the loyalists, reality check. Nothing to do with the unionists.

  • Globetrotter

    I’m fed up with this nonsense that “loyalists” are somehow different from “unionists”. They both support the union with GB and have always been prepared to do whatever is necessary to thwart any moves towards a United Ireland. Perhaps a unionist would like to clarify how they see the difference?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I’m sick and tired of always waiting around to hear what the Rafia have to say! It has got to the point that I hope their next statement advises us that all IRA Army Council, Executive and General Headquarters staff are going to do our wee country a favour and jump off a bridge into the Lagan!

  • KB

    “an end of the seige of catholics in north antrim”

    Oh, woe is me. Ever visited Cluan Place? (I could go on with the names) I will wholeheartedly admit that situation in North Antrim is problematic, however I never hear a single thing about “seiges” that begin from the green side of the interfaces. Apparently they don’t make for good stories…

  • Denny Boy

    I can see I’ll have to be less subtle with my sarcasm 😉

  • circles

    Would that be enough to appease unionists? Or should the entire republican community do the same just to keep everyone happy?
    And would sack cloth and ashes be the dress code?

    At least that way the Unionist/Loyalist leadership could get back on with the job of running this lovely wee fiefdom as it was planned back in the days of partition.

  • JD

    Would anyone like to attempt to answer my question?

    Once more I say – a ground breaking initiative from unionism to advance the peace process now wouldn’t that be a thing.

  • Globetrotter

    Apologies,only picked up on it when I re-read your post.
    Try learning some of the history of the island you were born in. Did the “Rafia” just suddenly appear and decide to pick on all those lovely, cuddly protestants who were minding their own business and not annoying anyone?

  • Alan McDonald


    Before attempting to answer your question, can you clarify whether “a ground breaking initiative from unionism” would have to include Sinn Fein representatives in a Northern Ireland government?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Any suggestions and I will be happy to give my opinion.

    Unlike SF/IRA’s stereotype of all Orangemen as “sectarian triumphalists” I believe the phrase was, I do not label the entire nationalist community as scum, callous bastards, just the;

    INLA, “PROVISIONAL” IRA, “REAL” IRA, “CONTINUITY” IRA “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT THE” IRA, “LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL” IRA, sectarian murder gang members and supporters…

  • circles

    No that doesn’t count cos its been done already. Reptition is not ground breaking.

  • circles

    “supporters” – so I repeat – would that be the entire republican community (or just all SF voters)?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I am referring to anyone who supports the sectarian slaying of the Protestant people and the targeting of the security forces…does this describe SF voters?

  • JD

    The fact that so far unionists seem unclear what a ground breaking initiative from unionism might mean, begins to make my point. It is an alien concept for unionists and always for others to do, and for them to accept or reject.

    Come on lads/lassies use your imagination!

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Unionists are not the ones who have dual political party/sectarian murdering private army membership…it is up to republicans to prove that they can be trusted.

  • Alan McDonald


    I’m not really a unionist, I was just trying to determine your parameters. I’m observing from the USA, and my observation is that unionism is the status quo. I further observe that those who reject change are unlikely to propose ground breaking initiatives. They think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  • Denny Boy


    “Did the “Rafia” just suddenly appear and decide to pick on all those lovely, cuddly protestants who were minding their own business and not annoying anyone?”

    I said this elsewhere, though perhaps not as eloquently as you! It astonishes me that many unionists still believe this to be the case. From where I’m sitting, the wonder is that the nationalists held off for so long. It was only when the oppressors went too far (Burntollet), and were backed up by the security forces (Bloody Sunday) that the birth of the Rafia became inevitable.

    What is about history that certain unionists do not understand, and therefore cannot learn from?

  • Ginfizz

    Denny Boy

    So what you saying is: like the people of London brought suicide attacks on themselves, the Unionist population provoked the IRA campaign.


  • Concerned Loyalist

    Oh my God, so it’s our fault we were bombed and butchered…i don’t know what else to say other than

    {ed Moderator}

  • JD


    It is unionists who had dual UUP/DUP, Orange Order membership who misruled this part of Ireland for decades and had militias (RUC, B Specials, UDR, RIR, Ulster Resistance) at there side to enforce that misrule. So inititatives from all sides are required.


    The peace process is just that, a process, it needs momentum or it regresses. If unionists only interest is the status quo then a peace process is in trouble. Change is inevitable, my hair will go grey, I will not like it, but it will happen.

    Therefore if unionists are interested in peace, which I believe they are, then ground breaking, even ground quivering initiatives would be welcome, however strange the concept. Republicans have shouldered their burden in attempting to maintain some momentum, an acknowledgement that they bear a responsibility in our conflict. When can we expect any initiatives from unionism?

  • Alan McDonald


    You are right, my hair is turning grey AND falling out! As to unionists and the peace process, didn’t Duncan Shipley Dalton put forward some useful ideas? I believe he was “run out of Dodge,” as they say.

  • Denny Boy

    “So what you saying is: like the people of London brought suicide attacks on themselves, the Unionist population provoked the IRA campaign.”

    Well done, Ginfizz: you’re half right. Glad you were paying attention in the history class.

    “It is unionists … who misruled this part of Ireland for decades and had militias (RUC, B Specials, UDR, RIR, Ulster Resistance) at there side to enforce that misrule.”

    Too right. My mother’s family were burnt out of Belfast, with not a little help from the B-Specials. They had to flee to Dublin. No suicide bombers in those days – and not much IRA presence either. I wonder what could have happened to reanimate an organization that at that time was fairly moribund?

  • Gonzo

    If I was a betting man, I’d stick down a few quid on the IRA statement being released tomorrow.

  • Henry94

    Sean Kelly has been released.

  • MT

    That silenced everbody!

  • Chris Gaskin

    Great news!!

  • Fanny

    This is so choreographed its actually quite embarrassing.

  • Chris Gaskin

    but necessary

  • Fanny

    I love the NIO caveat: released pending a hearing with the sentence review commissioners.
    Newton Emerson must be tearing his hair out.

  • T.Ruth

    Terrorists and mass murderers released from prison and granted ammnesty. Directors of terrorism included in the executive level of government.A superb police service disbanded.Unaccountable Ministers free to make decisions to suit their own community. Stand alone cross border bodies that are not accountable to the people of Northern Ireland.A blind eye turned by government to a whole swathe of assassinations and all types of crime.Secret deals done by the government with one section of the community at the expense of the majority.A total freeze on the democratic process until all IRA demands have been met.In short anything to prevent the bombing of London or other mainland cities.A failure by the police influenced by government diktat to follow up on thousands of murders and assassinations.
    I would consider these to have been fairly major concessions.

  • Denny Boy

    “Newton Emerson must be tearing his hair out.”

    What with, a pair of tweezers?

  • Fanny

    Oh – right enough.

  • circles

    T. Ruth:
    I honestly don’t know where to begin with your mighty long list of “concessions”.

    I suppose suggesting that some of the measures you mention, when worded more mundanely are actually essential to any kind of peaceful settlement to our problems would convince.
    (e.g. reform a police force with a background in sectarian interventions and where one community was effectively polcing the other, acknowledging the democratic rights of all voters).

    Or even pointing out that fantasy is actually not really a substitute for what has happened ( I mean really – Secret deals done by the government with one section of the community at the expense of the majority! A total freeze on the democratic process until all IRA demands have been met!! Unaccountable Ministers free to make decisions to suit their own community!!!)

    Applying that logic, the biggest concession of all was probably accepting the IRA ceasefire in the first place!

  • T.Ruth

    Circles would these count.
    Barbara de Brun and the decision to site maternity services at the Royal-Minister McGuiness’s decision re the eleven plus. The cross border bodies continue to operate even when the Assembly is in suspension and are not accountable to the Assembly. Would the Kelly arrest and release,the amnesty for on the runs and the shameful rush to dismantle security installations before an ounce of semtex is handed in count as secret side deals.
    Would you agree that there was no desire by Tony B Liar to restore the Assembly until the demands of Sinn Fein had been met and they were on board.
    This is how the Unionist people see it and the future of devolved government will arrive only when the majority community has confidence that their demands will be or are being met.
    These include total ,visible,verifiable decommissioning and the destruction of weapons. Putting weapons in dumps for future use is not part of that equation.The arms were put beyond use before but the killing continued so we need to see action not weasel words.
    We need the intelligence community and the appropriate monitoring groups augmented by observers acceptable to Unionists to confirm that the link between Sinn fein and criminality is ended.
    We need information on the “disappeared and the other victims of terrorist atrocities to help the healing process for bereaved families and victims.
    We require genuine support for PSNI as the legitimate Police service or Northern Ireland and the postponement of devolved Policing and Justice powers to a point where both sides of the community have confidence for that to happen.
    it would be entirely inappropriate for former terrorists to serve in that capacity whatever their paramilitary affiliation.
    Its time for the concessions to flow to the Unionist community and for “confidence building measures that enable us to embrace inclusivity and create a better future for all our people”

  • T.Ruth

    PS An end to Mr. Adams policy of contrived inter-face tension and acceptance of fellow citizens right to freely express their culture would be important.An apology for murdering 1800 people including many children during forty years of sectarian terrorism would also help.

  • Nic

    you in your turn forget to ask yourself what could have motivated the IRA to seek a “political process” eleven years ago? The IRA was engaged and committed to an armed struggle up to that point, and if it had been going according to plan, there should be no reason to deviate, let alone call it off, or no?

    Secondly, when the Pan-Nationalist thing got underway, decommissioning was not on the agenda – it was put there by Unionism. And it’s been primarily about decommissioning ever since. Credit where it’s due, eh?

    As to Adams and McGuinness are NOT the IRA and that it’s some great debating club where consensus rules the day. Equally briefly – your forget what the A in IRA stands for.

  • Nic

    P.S.:, circles, apropos Adams-McGuinness the peacemakers – just found the following choice quote in the Sunday Independent and thought I should share it. It’s an Irish government source that’s quoted.

    “After the McGuinness approach, we were less than impressed to see the Sinn Fein leaders portraying themselves as peace-makers in public while they’re still trying it on in private,” a senior government source saidyesterday.