50% of IRA weapons are gone…

The word seems to be that the decommissioning act is now complete. But it may not be all of the IRA’s arsenal. The Sunday World today reported that up to 50% of it’s remaining weapons have been disposed of – for instance it believes none of the South Armagh weapons have been scrapped. We’ll have to wait for John De Chastelain, who has a full inventory of what’s in the arsenal, to confirm or deny. He’s the only one with that quality of information. And, last time out, he refused to share it in public. As the PA noted at the time of the IRA order: “…it doesn’t mean the IRA has committed itself to its total disarmament; units may been instructed to dump some of its weapons but retain others”.

Adams yesterday:

“I don’t think republicans have absorbed what it is about. I don`t think the media have absorbed what it is about. I don`t think our opponents have absorbed what it is about,” he said. “But when the IRA delivers, when our opponents and our enemies no longer have the IRA to use as an excuse, what are they going to do? Harking back to the old days is clearly not an option and I suspect that in their heart of hearts they know that.”

For the DUP’s part, they have refused to get involved with Sinn Fein until a lengthy period has passed without organised IRA activity on the ground. They have never looked upon a decommissioning process as important in itself, so much as a confidence building measure for the Unionist community. They’ll be looking to actions, or rather inaction on the ground to prove the IRA’s real intentions. Though prepare yourself for a long (and tedious) psychological warfare between themselves, the British and Sinn Fein.

Even privately the party is briefing journalists for a very very long wait. The occurence of the Northern Bank robbery within weeks of a deal breaking down over the issue of photographing decommissioning, has ensured a long and frosty reception for Sinn Fein and the IRA’s next move. Optimists think spring will see an early move for fresh Assembly elections. The pessimists believe that the deal is off for the foreseeable future.

Realistically, the truth maybe somewhere in the middle. The DUP are dug in for major pressure from Sinn Fein and the two governments. The party cannot risk being wrong footed by the IRA Army Council. In its public profile P O’Neill has been replaced by references to real people – eg an IRA volunteer Seanna Walsh read the dump arms order. An indication of the organisation’s determination to stick to the rules perhaps?

Although there is some anxiety within Sinn Fein that they may be vulnerable to misreporting of non IRA activity in Republican areas, the Republic’s Justice Minister Michael McDowell, often accused of having an axe to grind with Sinn Fein, has thus far confirmed his government’s view that the IRA withdrawal from criminal activity has been solid since its declaration on 28th July.

The Sunday World also reports an IRA source saying: “People are just walking away. They have had enough. But they won’t be joining up with the Continuity or Real IRA”. So is it over? We’ll have to wait and see what the largest political party in Northern Ireland has to say about it. But we’ll have to wait until at least six months hence!

  • maca

    Well, who cares what the largest political party in NI says, you’ll never please that lot anyway.

    The important thing is that decommissioning of ALL republican paramilitary weapons is completed & confirmed asap. And next is loyalist weapons which must also be taken out of action. Lets see what the largest political party in NI says/does about those … not a whole lot me thinks.

  • Keith M

    This appears to be rapidly turning into a non-event. If the reports are all correct, there will be no photographs, no witness approved by the DUP and now not even all the terrorist arsenal. In the words of the bard “much ado about nothing”. The DUP would be best served to ignore the whole thing.

  • peteb

    Just a couple of ponts to add to that, Mick.

    1) de Chastelain will be holding a press conference tomorrow.. although I wouldn’t expect him to give the percentage of the total IRA weapons decommissioned. and there are already reports that some arms have been held back from the process.

    2) Adams first used the line you quoted on Thursday, in a departure from the official script, in a speech to party members in South Armagh.. obviously he believes the IRA statement in July didn’t get the recognition he thinks it deserved.. but he doesn’t ask why.

    Given the intense choreography we are now seeing compared to that statement, it’s worth asking whether any lessons have been learned since then.

  • maca

    Keith
    If the reports are all correct…”

    On the BBC online audio report it says De Chastelain is satisfied that there has been a full decommissioning of IRA weapons.

    Any decommissioning of weapons is hardly a “non-event”.

  • June 74

    Keith M

    The DUP will probably try to do what you suggest, but rather than being best served, I believe that they will do this at their own expense.

    June 74

  • Mick Fealty

    Maca,

    Their mandate was based on a very specific set of propositions in their manifesto. Whether an individual cares about them or not, that gives them a strong defence against the public, political and governmental pressure they are going to come under.

    And the sheer size of their Westminster mandate will make it difficult for the British to make them move before they’re ready. Tony may have to delay handing over to Gordon for a wee bit longer than originally planned.

  • Keith M

    Maca “On the BBC online audio report it says De Chastelain is satisfied that there has been a full decommissioning of IRA weapons.”

    I’m getting a shuddering sense of deja-vu here. Just like Albert Reynolds tried to tell us that “complete” was the same as “permanent” (it clearly wasn’t) 13 years ago, we could now be heading down the rathole of “full” decomissioning versus “complete” decomissioning.

    As it happens I don’t especially care what De Chasterlain says about what he did or didn’t see. Unless the decommissioning is transparent, then it’s meaningless to the political process.

  • Comrade Stalin

    In the absence of an inventory of the IRA’s weapons, other than possibly one provided by the IRA themselves, how can it ever be confirmed that complete and full decommissioning has taken place ?

  • judy

    It must be true if its in the Sunday World !!!

    Any nude romps during the decommissioning act?

    I hear they have another exclusive for next weeks paper

    ‘Decommissioned ak47’s to be melted down and turned into sex toys’

  • maca

    Keith
    “Unless the decommissioning is transparent, then it’s meaningless to the political process.”

    De Chastelain’s word will be good enough for the British & Irish Governments, but I don’t believe anything will ever please the DUP* anyway, so just how “transparent” does it need to be?

    *bar maybe a video of Paisley in his best kilt doing a reel on a stash of weapons

    CS
    “how can it ever be confirmed that complete and full decommissioning has taken place?”

    Through various intelligence sources they probably have a fairly decent fix on the number of weapons. There’s no guarantee of course but they should have a good idea if the got the vast majourity of the weapons.

  • irishman

    Mick

    Sinn Fein’s mandate has never stopped them coming under pressure from the governments, and I don’t suspect the DUP mandate will either. The reality is that leadership brings responsibilities, which Sinn Fein understand in a manner that the DUP are only beginning to realise- just look at their pathetic role in the loyalist rampages this summer, culminating in the ‘Deprivation’ (or should that be DUPrivation?) riots. The DUP acted as cheerleaders and can not have impressed many outside of their rump ideological constituency. Mick, you might think that this is the only constituency that should matter to the DUP, but alas the truth is they have not taken any steps yet to prepare their grassroots for the sight of McGuinness with Paisley on Stormont hill.

  • Brian Boru

    I would take what the Sunday World is saying with something approaching a pinch of salt.

    A while ago when there was a story (unrelated to the IRA/SF) that in Dublin, a father had abused all his family, fathered a child with a daughter, and that the baby had then been killed. The Sunday World simply splashed the father’s face on their front page relating to the allegations.

    Since then, it appears the Gardai are sceptical about the claims made by the woman. But the damage is sortof done when you plaster someone’s face on the front page.

    I see a parallel then with this story. Tabloids are only interested in sales. Paper never refused ink. The credibility of tabloids has to be regarded with a certain degree of suspicion, due to what I have said about, and other similar examples of dubious reporting.

    Also, if decommissioning had only happened today, then it would hardly have been completed in time for today’s edition would it? Wait for De Chastelain’s announcement tomorrow and don’t jump to conclusions.

  • Comrade Stalin

    maca, I agree that we can have a good guess if most of the IRA’s weapons are gone. But we can never know if every single one is gone. I don’t think any larged armed organization in the world, legal or otherwise, knows how many guns it has.

    For that reason I’m wondering about the good faith of some people here. I think that all we can expect from any armed organization in NI is that it stops killing people, and goes away.

  • Tiny

    Keith M,
    De Chastelain’s word was good enough for Paisley when he accused Blair of lying on the strength of it some time ago, also simply ignoring full decommissioning will only give the impression that the Dupes have no answer to Sinn Fein in post ‘war’ mode.
    Remember the Dupes didn’t ride to victory on the backs of their traditional hard-line base, but with the support of those who previously voted UUP and who either switched parties or simply stayed at home, if they feel the Dupes are not up to the job they may switch again, lets face it, the Dupes haven’t exactly delivered on their no more concessions promise!

  • Alan McDonald

    Comrade,

    You say, all we can expect from any armed organization in NI is that it stops killing people, and goes away.

    I say, amen to that, and sooner rather than later.

  • Robert Keogh

    Mick,

    I don’t think it’s possible for Blair to delay handing over to Brown past mid 2007. Blair has a definitive timeline in mind – IICD report & 2 IMC reports, sorting out Policing by January. Once that happens there are no barriers to the assembly being re-established except unionist intransigence.

    Up to now unionism has been used to defying Prime Ministers and getting away with it. This time they have placed themselves right in the path of Blairs legacy and it’s going to be a very interesting showdown.

  • heck

    I know this is not to the subject of this thread but did anyone read Blair’s interview on the subject of the SAS prison escapees in Iraq.

    I couldn’t help but draw similarities to the McCartney killing. Apparently here are two British soldiers who killed some Iraqis and who are escaping punishment. The sovereign Iraq police force (remember the USA and UK have claimed to have handed sovereignty back to Iraq) has asked for them to be handed over to the police (established by the British military) and honest Tony has said that he will not cooperate. He just dismissed it out of hand.

    Am I the only one who is nauseated by Blair’s faux sincerity? His condemnations of violence and akin to Adolph Hitler condemning anti-semitism and his refusal to cooperate with a police force he set up makes his lecturing of Northern Ireland citizens about law and order sickening.

    The IRA’s reaction to the McCartney killing is a model of openness compared to the actions of the Downing Street liar. Even Roy Hatersley in today’s Guardian has come to the opinion that new labor are a bunch of liars.

  • Setanta

    Robert Keogh,

    That is in my opinion, the most accurate analysis that anyone has come up with for a while.

  • ulsterman

    Ten years to late for SF/IRA. No matter what SF/IRA do, it will not mean what jot of difference.

  • maca

    CS
    “But we can never know if every single one is gone.”

    Of course. But if some IRA members hold on to a handfull of weapons it doesn’t mean they are an armed force. There will be a few criminals hiding weapons but as a force I believe the IRA will be unarmed. Each each gun off the street gets you closer to your goal: “I think that all we can expect from any armed organization in NI is that it stops killing people, and goes away.”

  • The Watchman

    After all the weapons are handed in, how about the Chucks returning the £26,000,000 they nicked?

  • T.Ruth

    This most recent act of disposing of weapons of destruction has become an event of little or no significance to the Unionist people.
    If there is to be forward movement to a responsibility sharing Assembly then the Executive in that Assembly must contain only those parties which can establish their democratic credentials. Sinn Fein/IRA has not reached that point in its political development and as a consequence exclude themselves from Executive power.
    The people who talked peace while protecting the murderers of Robert mcCartney and others, the people who talked a new beginning while the Northern Bank was being robbed have no present place in the process.
    The Unionist community must have concrete evidence of an end to Sinn Fein/IRA criminality and terrorism before it engages with that party

  • Gum

    No, T Ruth, the unionist community should reach out and show the republican community why they should trust THEM. This decommissioning should be welcomed, instead the DUP have never seemed angrier. All they are doing at the moment is giving the strong impression that their refusal to share power had nothing to do with guns/bombs but was all about religion.

  • T.Ruth

    Gum
    The problems here are in the Unionist mind very directly related to the effect that the IRA campaign over the last forty years has had on evry aspect of their lives.
    The infrastructure here is devastated and in need of billions of pounds for reconstruction. The money we all paid in taxes has been side tracked to pay for security over the years and now we are being asked to pay again.The IRA bombing campaign has destroyed our economy. Thousands have been killed and maimed. Victims of the terrorists are ignored. Our community is riddled with crime and corruption.Killers and criminals walk the streets and are granted amnesty. We live under a government which has lied and lied and lied again to the Unionist people while conducting secret deals with the IRA.
    When the Unionist people have been persuaded by Sinn Fein/IRA that it seeks to follow a purely political path to construct a better future for Northern ireland then they will consider how Sinn Fein can be included in power sharing arrangements. Until then Unionists will stand firm in the strength of their electoral majority as they survey this latest segment of the peace process charade. When we are permitted to freely celebrate our culture within the island of Ireland, when our civil liberties are restored and protected by government,when the antagonism Republicans display for our very existence is ended,then things may change. .
    The responsibility for political progress rests entirely with the Republican movement moving demonstrably,visibly,verifiably away from terror and crime.

  • tiny

    Until then Unionists will stand firm in the strength of their electoral majority T. Ruth

    Ruth in the UK unionists represent about 2% of the total, the governament can do what it likes, even after the scenes of loyalist violence played out on our streets things are back to normal again despite Dr No’s warning.

  • Henry94

    The infrastructure here is devastated and in need of billions of pounds for reconstruction. The money we all paid in taxes has been side tracked to pay for security over the years and now we are being asked to pay again.

    I love this argument. London owes us money. Because they spent all our tax on security. By the way don’t take down the watchtowers and keep the RIR because we want to have your cake and eat it too.

  • Ringo

    For 10 years we’ve had unionists maintaining that decommissioning was the fundamental stumbling block to progress, while republicans told us (and were still doing so late last week on slugger!) that decommissioning was a red herring and too much importance was being attached to it.

    Now all of a sudden, you’ve Gerry and Martin telling the world that this is the biggest move yet (and that nice man David Trimble had point), while the unionists now think that the republicans were right all along, and it really isn’t the big deal that they made it out to be.

    It appears that the politicans in the north are
    really working hard on reaching out to one another in terms of accepting and trading ideas, it is just that they haven’t yet learned that is is pointless unless they have the same idea at the same time.

  • Headmelter

    T.Ruth,

    IRA declare an end to the armed struggle, full decommissioning of their weapons which unionists have ‘demanded’ since 1994 and still this is not enough. Nothing will ever be enough for the spoilt child.
    Maybe the DUP/TF/UR could demonstrate their democratic credentials to nationalists, after all the armed groups they have been connected to don’t seem to have decommissioned yet and they seem quite comfortable sitting on parade forums and discusssing ‘cultural’ issues with the UVF,a group responsible for orchestrating much of the violence after the Whiterock parade and who are no longer on ceasefire.

    Unless you haven’t realised unionists now have little or no argument, to share power, which is deemed valid by most objectively minded people and unfortunately for unionists this happens to include the british government.
    By refusing to talk and enter devolved government unionist politicians only serve to disenfranchise their own electorate. It’s about time they caught themselves on and did something positive for a change instead of continually refusing to participate until their ‘demands’ are met.

  • excession

    The biggest stumbling block remains Paisley; he will never be satisfied. Even if he gets his photographs, he’ll object that they’re the wrong size, weapons weren’t gift wrapped, etc. There will never be peace while the father of all secterianism can still sully the people of Ulster.

  • 9countyprovience

    T.Ruth

    I’m just wondering, in your opinion, what conditions would be acceptable to get the peace process on the right track?

  • The Watchman

    The impasse over the last decade has been due to IRA/Sinn Fein wanting the spoils of office that come from electoral success whilst maintaining a criminal organisation outside the law. Whether this criminality consists of “military operations” against “Crown forces”, or beatings or exiling or bank robberies, is not important in itself. All of it is unacceptable, regardless of the mysterious act of decommissioning which is alleged to have happened but the details of which we are supposed never to know.

    The DUP would be well advised to ram home one point when they are challenged for being churlish: namely, that they will not be party to bringing the Irish Mafia into government.

  • reggie

    One day on.

    The Sunday World should stick to the ‘Miss Whiplash Stories’

    Utter trash.

  • Gum

    T Ruth, that’s not the way the game can be played. You want to build a better society in NI, different from the one you described in your post earlier? Then it can’t be based on the will of one side of the community. The DUP have no right to insist on having the final say on the issues. I agree that there is deep mistrust of the IRA and Sinn Fein in the Unionist community. But you fail completely to accept that in the republican community there are equal levels of hurt and mistrust. I dont want to start another argument on who suffered more or who started it all – thats an argument for dinosaurs who cant leave the past. If you are serious about wanting a new future in NI then we have to draw a line and start again. Easier said than done, I accept, but it is the ONLY way. Infastructure problems, wasted tax moneys etc etc – we have to get to a stage where we see these as the problems we have to address and to stop sniping about who was to blame for them.

    As I said earlier – for us all to be able to try and put the past behind us, the DUP have as much responsibility to reassure republicans and catholics that they will not discriminate as SF has to unionists.