But timing is everything and many remain cautious. The republican machine prides itself on news management. It would not want to make its historic announcement when it was not guaranteed to top the news agenda. Having often bombed London, the IRA does not now want to be associated with Islamist suicide bombers or risk seeing its groundbreaking announcement relegated to a paragraph on the wider terrorist threat.
Although if you believed Niall O’Dowd, reported in the NYTimes, you’d think the statement had already been issued –
The Irish Republican Army has given up its armed struggle for a united Ireland, agreeing to turn solely to political methods, an American businessman [Niall O’Dowd] said yesterday after being briefed on a statement expected from the guerrilla group later this week.
The signs that the hype will be used to mask reality may already be there, tucked in at the end of the BBC’s Marie Irvine’s report –
A senior republican told the BBC news website: “It’s going to be a managed disengagement by the IRA. They aren’t just going to switch off the light and leave the stage.
“Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness with the IRA army council have to manage their departure.”
And back to the Guardian –
However, in the past few days, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris, who represents Kerry North in the Irish parliament, are said to have stood down from the IRA’s ruling army council, a body they continue to deny ever being part of.
Some interpret this as paving the way for the IRA’s “new mode”. Veteran republican-watchers say that no matter what the men’s official roles, they still call the shots.
That could be seen to be a reference to the warning of the contrived divorce we previously noted here.
But whether contrived or not we should know by now that any hype, from any quarter, should be taken with a large amount of salt.
And to decode some of the indications already visible, and assuming that John De Chastelain isn’t left kicking his heels – Just as the decommissioning process appears to come to an end.. a process that has been dragged out for a decade and accompanied by many crises.. another process will take its place.