The booby trap in the IRA statement?

Henry McDonald on the Guardian newsblog is distinctly unimpressed with the IRA statement. He believes that short of disbandment, there is little prospect of the IRA pulling out of the practical grip it has on various working class areas.

Interestingly, he notes alleged developments in the Republic in which money raising and laundering are said to have been privatised:

Moreover, with the quasi-military structure still in extant, the ability to raise millions of pounds and euros for the republican movement’s political wing remains. As has happened already in Dublin, the IRA has “subcontracted” most of its illegal fundraising activities out to ordinary criminals in the Irish capital, who are “taxed” by republicans.

  • DavidH

    devin79: T[he] Army, the UDA/UVF and even the vaunted SAS were bested by the IRA.

    The IRA didn’t bother to take on the UDA. The two terrorist blocks were far too useful to each other.

    And did the IRA fight for 30 years for the Good Friday Agreement? They should have said so much earlier…

  • George

    Could we remove the abuse of Henry McDonald in the first post please?

  • Jo

    In view of the recent Ed Moloney posting, which the first poster may have missed, I think those remarks require prompt excision – and no further comment.

  • Jo

    A “cash cow” organisation (which at least knows the whereabouts of the Northern Bank funds) can be quite a corporate power in various commercial areas. I heard Sir Reg comment on the expectation that sales of legitimate fuel should begin to rise as proof that fuel smuggling had ended…

  • soapy

    “The IRA has proven it is the world’s most potent paramilitary army, and that unlike the scum of Al Qaida and Hezbollah, they are NOT terrorists.”

    Devin79, this is hilarious. The IRA could barely move without being watched by the British army and RUC. Four out of five of its ‘operations’ were being stopped in the final days of its squalid little war. It was riddled with informers from top to bottom, it has a horrible history of attacking the softest targets imaginable and killed hundreds of civilians – men, women, children and babies.

    This is not the record of ‘the world’s most potent paramilitary army,’ this is the record of a terrorist organisation which HAD TO take the political road. By its own actions, and by those of the security forces which got the better of it, it was cornered.

    As to the idea that it wasn’t even a terrorist organisation, then I’d like to get a look at your dictionary. Terrorism is the use of violence in pursuit of a political goal.

    There is an idiotic, naive and bankrupt ideology at play here which I hope one day we’ll see the back of. The form of the criticism of Henry McDonald is proof that it’s alive and well. Anyone who doesn’t sing from the ‘right’ hymn sheet is a, what is it now, pro-British racist… even if they hail from a republican area?? Terrible that a columnist can’t express an opinion without being blasted – if it’s the ‘wrong’ one.

    As I say, hilarious…

    As to the big story of the day, it’s great news. A cloud has been lifted, a new wind blows. I’m delighted, but I hope no one minds if when saying goodbye to the active IRA, I don’t offer my thanks.

    And that’s all I have to say on the whole darn thing.

  • Pacman

    Jo, Reg is being a bit optimistic in his assumption. Down here we’ll do as we always do on a Sunday. We’ll fill up across the border and fuel (bad pun) the Irish economy.

  • red crom

    Surprised Henry did not use the official ira/workers party as an example of a supposedly defunct organisation who are still heavily involved in gangsterism and money lending/laundering.

  • spartacus

    IMHO Slugger was wrong to cave in to Moloney. I had a look through the archives, and unless the comments he was complaining about have been removed, his reaction is petulant and unjustified. In MacDonald’s case, George, … edit – mod … Should paid journalists be allowed to sell any old story they want while the blogging public has to watch their words?

    Soapy: if terrorism is the use of violence for political ends, can you name a single state in the world that cannot be categorized as a terrorist state? Surely by that definiton the British government’s deployment of troops to sustain the union was a terrorist operation, albeit a much more heavily funded and militarily sophisticated one.

    As to McDonald’s argument: what do you expect? I am continually amazed that someone with such a fantasist demeanor get paid to write, but maybe I shouldn’t be. His last full paragraph is complete rubbish of course. If the SF leadership have managed to hold the ranks through the past decade, and through all the provocations by loyalism, etc., why would rank-and-file resentment present a problem five years down the line?

  • Young Fogey

    Henry has some good points, as always, but he seems much to negative and jaundiced.

    On Radio 5 this lunchtime, within minutes of the statement being released he was rubbishing it. Even Jeffrey Donaldson took a more balanced view!

    I can understand Henry wanting to wait and see, but the Republican Movement are in a bind insofar as if they keep on with the punishment beatings and crime, no-one either side of the border will want anything to do with Sinn Féin as a political party. So, the Chucks will have to deliver.

  • Jo

    I usually fill up in Omeath, so Im afraid Sir Reg will wait some time for me to start adding to the Exchequers income from over priced fuel!

  • wendy

    It is a negative article and a bit stickie in parts

  • Pacman

    I agree totally Jo. I have to say though, that as a smoker, I’ll be annoyed if the smuggled cigarettes are not available. Deeming the black market as “criminal activity” just doesn’t wash when you consider the cost of Golden Virginia on the continent as opposed to the over-the-counter price for the same product. And it’s British made!!! I’m afraid some politicians are just going to have to live with smuggling as it’s a simple case of supply and demand. Long may it prevail.

  • Mark McGregor

    Henry read the IRA statement and thought? :

    ‘punishment……beatings…exiling…intimidations…quasi-military…structure….millions of pounds……..”……..illegal fundraising………..ordinary criminals ………”taxed” by republicans.

    I may be wrong but I think Henry approached his reading with his opinion formed.

    I think he is a great man and profound*

    *Call this the Moloney tactic; if you aren’t sure the scribe isn’t sensitive enough to take Slugger’s to court be a bit nice.

  • Mick

    You don’t have to be nice. Just take it to bits in its own terms. Going for the man is dull and doesn’t stand in for substantial criticism.

    Re the libellous stuff, well I think people need to relax a bit. The issue with Mr Moloney is settled amicably.

    My understanding is that if individual commenters cross a legal line, we should be safe so long as we respond to a request to remove it.

    The matter is closed as far as I’m concerned.

    Now play the ball, and leave the man alone.

  • Robert Keogh

    … the IRA’s control of working class areas across Ireland, north and south, will continue.

    The arrogance of Mr McDonald. His point of view is so obviously correct that anyone disagreeing with him cannot possibly do so of their own volition. No, instead they must be “controlled” by the IRA. What a farcical statement.

    Sinn Fein has support in working class areas because people in those areas choose to cast their vote for them. Perhaps Mr McDonald can outline the method in which the IRA control the marks people make on secret ballots?

  • Robert Keogh

    Terrorism is the use of violence in pursuit of a political goal.

    The term terrorism is a propaganda tool of powerful states to discourage use of asymmetric warfare by an enemy that cannot defeat them in open battle.

    During the Irish war of Independence the british called the IRA terrorists and in response De Valera called for a general army attack on the four courts, which played exactly into british hands and severaly damanged the IRAs ability to continue the war.

    British terrorism has wrecked infinitely more harm in Ireland and around the world than anything the IRAs have ever done.

    Kenya – 50,000 civilians murdered, 10s of thousands of women raped and 1,000,000 forced to resettle into concentration camps by the british army and authorities.

    Until you are able to admit the crimes committed in your name by your government, your opinion on the “terrorism” of others is just a stale fart in the wind.

  • D


    I saw that it in the movie, but did it really happen the way you describe?

  • Chris Gaskin

    “De Valera called for a general army attack on the four courts”

    It was the Customs house not the four courts but you are right about everything else.

    The ill advised assault by the Dublin Brigade of the IRA under Oscar Traynor is not spoke about in the 26 counties because it was Dev’s idea.

  • beano

    You mean it was whitewashed over because it doesn’t fit the romantic Irish nationalist notion of the ‘struggle’ ?

  • Chris Gaskin

    No, it was a disaster and it isn’t spoken about because it was Dev’s doing.

  • George

    The British Army are called terrorists on the memorial blurb at Kilmichael in County Cork.

    a lot of things aren’t talked about in Dublin, mainly becuase we’re not arsed about much. We would probably knock down the GPO if it would make us buck.

    Back in the day, we were the biggest brothel in the empire, biggest cesspit but we don’t do Angela’s Ashes toss never mind whitewash. Too manky.

  • aquifer

    In their previous mission to coerce a million UK citizens into a United Ireland while having little electoral or governmental support, SFPIRA were bound to fail against a government that failed to substantially reciprocate their atrocities and disregard for human rights, although they may well have blackmailed the UK government into co-operation with them. Their most likely mission now is to make Northern Ireland ungovernable except on their terms, with a combination of electoral progress, the domination of Catholic areas, sectarian territorial aggression, and the harvesting of cash to fund political and constituency services and control. Outright armed conflict will not be used for a long time as the toleration for this by governments is likely to be expired, although the domination of Catholic areas and their expansion in the republic lays a good foundation for any resumption. They might also rely on PIRA trained ‘dissidents’ to front any resumption, on the basis of ‘no claim no blame’.

    Or they might just have dropped their fascist and narcissitic ways and be prepared to take their democratic chances with the rest of us.

    As global market competition and the EU has shrunk the size of the political cake amenable to control at the national level, and as cultures cross, it is not worth killing people for the flag.

  • willis


    “Until you are able to admit the crimes committed in your name by your government, your opinion on the “terrorism” of others is just a stale fart in the wind.”

    Exactly. However common usage does not ascribe war criminal status to all combatants who murder civilians. Dropping cluster bombs is seen as different from rounding up and massacring a village. If there is no agreement on “war criminal” why should there be on “terrorist”?

  • Macswiney

    I went to school with Henry at St Malachys College and knew him quite well. Henry came from a very anti-mainstream Republican background. He was very involved with The Workers Party in his early teenage years. I cannot recall a single article ever in which Henry has attempted to give any sort of analysysis into the broader Republican movement. He focusses almost entirely on Unionist/Loyalist perspectives . Personally I would hold little store in Henry’s insights into the republican movement as he doesnt really have any…

  • Jo

    Each to their own I suppose. It would be difficult to have credibility and insight into both loyalist and republican paramilitaries, although David McKittrick is excellent all round.

    Personally I thought the UVF book was insightful, or was that more Jim Cusack than Henry then?

  • el-diablo

    “If there is no agreement on “war criminal” why should there be on “terrorist”?”

    or what colour ‘blue’ is, or whether it’s Friday…

  • I knew him when so it must be true of course

    Post removed

    Very funny. But, I’m trying to get some blogging done here. 😉 Mick

  • DCB

    A lot of SF posters, when talking about H McD behave like DUPers do when dealing with SFers. In the latter case the DUPers scream – don’t listen to him he’s a provo. While the Shinners tell us to ignore McDonald cause he’s a stick.

  • Macswiney


    I have a personal preference for journalists who are brave enough to give honest perspectives from both sides of the camp. (NB I dont always enjoy it when my own prejudices are examined but i always feel personally that its much more beneficial to confront our own prejudices at times). I have great respect for the minimal number of hacks who are courageous enough to do this. How many can you name? The same as myself i’m sure. Henry’s background (like my own)in being brought up in the Markets during the worst of the troubles should have given him a real edge on the many of our local journalists who came from the more affluent and rural backgrounds.

  • JD

    On an unrelated matter, I just wondering when the media are going to stop wheeling out Sean O Callaghan for insights into republican thinking. Any insight O Callaghan had is twenty years out of date, and his ex-comrades regard him as a walter mitty who continually over exaggerates its role in the IRA.

  • Macswiney

    Couldnt agree more. The funniest one lately was the sight of O’Callaghan being interviewed yesterday sitting on a wall by The Thames and pointing across the river at The Houses of Parliament. He proceeded to inform viewers that Parliament was once a target for the IRA (well ther you go!) followed by some ancient nonsense about Republican strategy. The term ‘insult to intelligence’ comes readily to mind…

  • Robert Keogh

    It was the Customs house not the four courts but you are right about everything else.

    Thanks Chris, when I was writing I couldn’t remember four courts or customs house (I always confuse the locations of the two events).


    Yes it happened exactly like that – read Frank Kitsons book on the tactics he used to in fighting the Mau Mau. His next appointment after Kenya was NI. BTW you should probably be aware of this already because the british gvt is now being sued by the victims – bbc probably doesn’t mention it so try google.

  • Robert Keogh


    Exactly. However common usage does not ascribe war criminal status to all combatants who murder civilians.

    I understand your point but I disagree – murdering civilians is a war crime, committing a war crime makes you a war criminal. It is precisely this inability to acknowledge the crimes ones own side has commited that fuels recruitment into paramilitary organisations. If people could get satisfaction legally, in the courts they would. It is when they can’t they then turn to violence.

    Dropping cluster bombs is seen as different from rounding up and massacring a village.

    And it’s a ridiculous distinction to make – your acts aren’t criminal if you do it from 50,000 feet? Just because the governments with air forces say it’s ok doesn’t make it so. In my opinion killing is killing is killing. Whether you perform it in clean pressed uniform in a nicely air conditioned room or face to face with a bayonet. Just like those nazis who organisedd the train schedules to the death camps were criminals.

    If there is no agreement on “war criminal” why should there be on “terrorist”?

    You are correct, terrorist is merely a propaganda tool to justify not addressing the legitimate grievences of your opponent. Hell, not even that, it’s just an excuse not to talk in public. As we all know now, britain never stopped talking to the IRAs.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    The problem with McD’s theory – that the IRA will continue to control workimg class areas[sic] – is that it’s complete fallacy. Sinn Fein have gained ground in such areas because the other parties didn’t want to get their chinos dirty going in there.

    McDonald is on a par in terms of offensiveness with Eric Woe in the Telegraph who wrote today that people in nationalist areas were somehow obliged from birth to bleed the state.

    Perhaps he’s referring to the high unemployment rates in nationalist areas – a testament not to laziness or deliberate dependance but to state failure to attract industry to these areas and the allied policy of locating industries in loyalist areas where nationalists were discouraged from, and indeed intimidated out of.

    The reason above anything else nationalists and republicans want a united Ireland is not so much to do with its romantic attraction but in a greater more meaningful with the idea of getting the British mis-rulers out of this country so we can rule it properly – or at least make our own mistakes. Direct Rule does not describe our relationship with the British government adequately – it is direct misrule.

    It would be far better for Ireland – and for Britain – for the colonial connection to be finally severed and for us to begin to get on as neighbours and partners in Europe.

  • Mick

    I’m on my way out of the office. Can one of the other moderators have a go at sorting out the man playing on this thread? Endemic or what!

    [Mod] done

  • Levitas

    Sounds to me like an awful lot of thinking will have to be done by the unionists now, you see the IRA move has played so well with the worlds media, do any of the unionists actually ever listen to the BBC world service and its round up of international coverage especially in the all important USA? Its doubles and back slaps all round for Gerry and Martin, and theres even a little gleam of post-IRA nostalgia growing in the US media “rebels who fought the one of the most formidable armies in the world ” was a quote on a world service vox-pop from LA. If the unionists continue to throw their rattles from the pram they are shown up, or if they enter negotiations then its seen to be a loss of face from they’re “NEVER NEVER” stance..Either way mark my words I have it on good authority,that theres now going to be a LOT of pressure applied to the DUP by the Brits and the Yanks…many of the senior civil servants are quite relishing putting the thumbscrews on them politically (since they are so personally obnoxious,one thing the provo’s never lacked was a serious and consistent effort to be pally with the Brit civil servants, whereas the DUP were almost always noticeably rude-ask any of the Brit support team at Leeds Castle )…You see the USA and Britain WANT this sorted BIG TIME, and the egotists and bombasts of the DUP will soon melt when confronted by the sheer heat of the power of US/Brit “gloves off” tactics which will now ensue.
    Now, the provies are the good boys in the class, and according to my sources theres the little matter of some quite smelly canards concerning leading DUP’ers and other Unionist obstructionists which may well be used to apply pressure….the Brits and most importantly the USA have all the cards. and a very full file on Paisley’s confederates,at least two minor functionaries of the aforesaid are said to be in the pay of the Brits anyway.This dynamite, it is confidently expected is sufficient powerful to blow a whole in this apparent wall of resolute obduracy, it should take about 6 months for face saving purposes.

  • DavidH

    Levitas: theres the little matter of some quite smelly canards concerning leading DUP’ers and other Unionist obstructionists

    But if they are canards it will only be republicans that believe them – won’t it?

  • JD

    I have it on good authority that we should get belted in for a fast ride – on demilitarization, the economy, major cross border cooperation, justice issues, peace dividends, and the restoration of the assembly.