Speculation continues

The speculation continues about when statements will start being issued – since most report that the decommissioning process itself is over. Athough in this BBC report, Peter Hain is still using the future tense, UTV report that the decommissioning has been witnessed by “a catholic priest from West Belfast and a high profile methodist minister”.. and that the statements will start tomorrow. There are sceptical voices, Brendan O’Connor in the Sunday Independent – “Trust us, this time it’s gonna be big, baby” – while the Sunday Business Post remains cautiously optimistic – “it appears that confirmation of a major act of decommissioning is imminent, signalling the historic retirement of a significant physical force element to Irish nationalism.” Somewhere between the two are Greg Harkin in The Independent and Henry McDonald in the Observer.

From Henry McDonald’s report

Republican and government sources said the formal announcement that a vast arsenal of tonnes of illegal rifles, rockets, anti-aircraft guns and Semtex explosive had been put beyond use will be made possibly in the next 48 hours and definitely before Tony Blair’s keynote speech to the Labour party conference this week.

However, there will be no photographic evidence of the disarmament, which was witnessed by two churchmen from Northern Ireland, one a Catholic priest, the other a Presbyterian minister.

John de Chastelain, the Canadian general who has the task of overseeing paramilitary disarmament, will deliver an inventory of the weapons destroyed at a press conference early this week.

The IRA will also hold on to a number of personal protection weapons for its so-called ‘internal security teams’, many of these guns coming from a batch of weapons smuggled from Florida in 1999.

Whether UTV is correct about a statement from de Chastelain tomorrow isn’t clear, but the choreography is likely to revolve around the resumption of the Dáil.. and Blair’s keynote speech on Tuesday to the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

..and RTE report that transparency remains an issue for the DUP

  • Denny Boy

    The fur will surely fly tomorrow! Do we know who the two clergymen are?

  • spirit-level

    Splendid and resplendant; all going according to plan,no glitches in the matrix; and should dovetail nicely with the PM’s statement this week in Brighton.
    The times they-are-a-changing!
    You don’t know how lucky you are 🙂

  • mr

    I couldn’t care less what the ira does behind backs , if they can’t let us see for ourselves what is the point of this exercise. I don’t trust the IRA or the British or Irish governments and as for the two clergymen that have been appointed, i don’t trust them either. because I don’t know them haven’t heard of them before so therefore I am not prepared to put my trust in mere men.

  • Jeremy

    Mr – “i don’t trust them either. because I don’t know them haven’t heard of them before so therefore I am not prepared to put my trust in mere men.”
    Dont get it how can you say you have’nt heard of the clerical reps before. Nobody knows who they are yet. If you do then please share the secret.

    I am tired of hearing commentators saying this act should have happened 7-8 years ago. If that were the case then the CIRA and RIRA would be much stronger than they are today due to defections. Probably better armed too due to the risk of quartermasters defecting before any act of decommissioning. It took this long because thats how long it takes to ensure everybody will be on board.
    Monday is as good a day for the announcement as Tuesday. You get a week long news cycle – monday announcement, Tuesday – Blair and Labour(Tuesday TV / Wednesday papers), Wednesday – the dail(Wednesday TV/Thursday papers) The weekend full of opinion pieces.

  • Robert Keogh

    I am not prepared to put my trust in mere men.

    Well if we can conjure up a deity I’m sure you’d find a problem with that too…

  • Bill

    Quote “I couldn’t care less what the ira does behind backs , if they can’t let us see for ourselves what is the point of this exercise. I don’t trust the IRA or the British or Irish governments and as for the two clergymen that have been appointed, i don’t trust them either. because I don’t know them haven’t heard of them before so therefore I am not prepared to put my trust in mere men. “

    Is your title short for Mr. Andrew Mc Cann by any chance ?? ;D

  • jen

    Hello –

    I’m doing a research project on the troubles and I have had quite a bit of anecdotal information indicating that the RUC/Brits succeeded in intercepting major bombing attempts by extracting info from provo/loyalist suspects in custody who knew about the bomb’s whereabouts – sometimes with only hours to spare. Civilians were cleared from these areas prior to these explosions.

    If you know of 2 to 3 such incidents, would you be good enough to tell me where they happened and a rough date, so that I can cross-reference on Google and obtain more in-depth info.

    Thanks very much!

  • Dr Snuggles

    “The fur will surely fly tomorrow! Do we know who the two clergymen are?”

    The Protestant clergyman is the important one, I suppose. I’m guessing if it’s the former moderator of the Methodist Church, Dr Kenneth Wilson, the DUP won’t exactly be doing somersaults. His staunchly pro-agreement credentials will hardly float Big Ian’s boat.

  • Denny Boy

    “…the DUP won’t exactly be doing somersaults. His staunchly pro-agreement credentials will hardly float Big Ian’s boat.”

    Eh!?! Isn’t all this an intrinsic PART of the agreement? I wouldn’t expect an anti-agreement clergyman to have anything to do with it; it would be none of his business.

    And if “Big Ian” doesn’t like it, tough. It isn’t his agreement; it belongs to the majority in NI.

  • Oilbhear Chromaill

    Decommissioning done and dusted, RTÉ and BBC are reporting.

    It’s over to you, Big Ian….the ball’s – an O’Neill’s ball – is in your court…

    Alex Reid and Harold Good were the witnesses – I don’t see anybody doubting their credibility….

  • dave

    Now for the unionist terrorists weapons

  • Denny Boy

    Wonderful news!

  • Brian Boru

    The Protestant witness will be Harold Good, former Methodist president. The Catholic witness will be Fr.Alex Reid.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Eh!?! Isn’t all this an intrinsic PART of the agreement? I wouldn’t expect an anti-agreement clergyman to have anything to do with it; it would be none of his business.”

    What a bizarre response. These boards are becoming so combative that one can’t even make an observation without the gloves coming off. For your info, Denny Boy, I was making a speculative prediction, not betraying my own political opinion. For the record though, I am pro-agreement and welcome decommissioning.

    Clergy witnesses were, of course, not specified in the agreement, not part of the IICD, and were used precisely to boost the credibility of decommissioning among those unionists who would have to be persuaded to share power. Everyone knows that the Catholic priest witness is essentially ballast. My point is simply that it would speed the DUP’s movement into powersharing if the Protestant witness had been to their liking. That was the whole point of the witnesses in the first place.

    Your response seems to be that anyone who voted ‘no’ can get stuffed. Not exactly inclusive, and certainly against the spirit of the very agreement you profess to support.

  • ulsterman

    Harold Good should be ashamed of himself. I hope he enjoys spending his blood money.

    Makes little difference.Him and his Papal sidekick wont be believed.

    Once bitten, twice shy.

    The DUP will never sell out Ulster.

  • Dr Snuggles

    “Harold Good should be ashamed of himself. I hope he enjoys spending his blood money.”

    He should be “ashamed of himself” for playing a part in the circumstances of the destruction of tonnes of weaponry capable of killing or maiming thousands of people? Are you for real?

    Swords into ploughshares, my friend.

  • irishman

    I suspect unionism will react in its typical hostile and begrudging manner.

    The purpose of the witnesses was to illustrate the conciliatory act republicans were undertaking- completely outside the Agreement.

    The DUP choice would never have been an acceptable option for nationalists. Unionists need to realise that we are long past the era where they could whinge and get whatever they wanted.

    What should happen now is the focus should change to unionist paramlitaries, who should follow the IRA’s lead. The very least we should hear is the DUP calling very clearly for reciprocation from the UDA/ UVF.

    Of course, what should happen and what will happen are two different things.

  • ulsterman

    What will happen will be nowt.Whose to say that there arent more weapons somewhere?. What about the Northern Bank money?.

    There will be no negotiations with murdering filth like SF ever.

    The DUP know that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’d like to see opinions on Harold Good – I’ve personally never heard of him. Is he a figure likely to give encouragement to unionists ?

  • mr

    prove it!!!!

  • Brian Boru

    Ulsterman is a total whinger.

  • Nick Kelly

    Reverend Good should appeal to all Christians, including Unionists. Here is an excerpt of an article from Worldwide Faith News Archives:

    “The
    president of the Irish Methodist Church, the Rev. Harold Good, called his
    own first encounter with the Loyalist Commission on April 15 “helpful and
    constructive.” Good, who also serves on Northern Ireland’s Human Rights
    Commission, said the real battle to be waged is against everything that
    degrades and deprives people, whoever they may be, of the right to a decent
    life in a safe and secure community.”

    http://www.wfn.org/2002/04/msg00254.html

  • yerman

    I’ll personally wait to see what Harold Good (if it does turn out to be him, but it seems likely) actually has to say at the press conference before delivering any final verdict.

    However, I dont think he is the best choice if the IRA were 100% intent on maximising confidence in whatever they have done amongst the unionist community, particularly the more sceptical within that group (which seems to be an ever increasing number). Whether it is right or wrong, his ecumenical history and pro-agreement stance will not help him.

    If he is free to, and maybe more importantly, is able to, give a very full and convincing performance at the press conference as to what he has witnessed then it may be a first step.

    Fr Reid is hardly a big surprise though – you really would have thought the IRA could have been a little more imaginative…….

  • Keith M

    “The Protestant witness will be Harold Good, former Methodist president. The Catholic witness will be Fr.Alex Reid.”

    RTE are reporting that Godd was NOT the Proestant churchman approved by the DUP. If that’s the case, I smell a rat. Why was the churchman who had the support of the DUP not used? Where are the photographs? This has the potential to rapidly turn into a damp squib if there is no transperancy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Keith, would you care to outline your problems with Good’s credibility. Do you think he is the sort of person who would cover for the IRA ?

  • greener fields

    Keith M,
    Have you been living in a cave for the past month?
    Does anyone really believe the IRA would be so stupid as to allow a DUP Free P witness to this event? They want someone who will accurately report what they saw to their community. Not someone ranting on about phoney decommissioning, Ulster being at it’s gravest hour, blah, blah!

  • slug

    Dr Snuggles

    It is good to see you again. I wonder if you remember that discussion we had some time ago?

    If so I’d like to apologise for being argumentative and that, through it all, I came to really have a high opinion of you.

    Great to see you back.

  • Keith M

    Comrade, I have no knowledge of Good, my issue is not with him, it is with the fact that he is not the churchman approved by the DUP. My understanding was that SF/IRA would not allow photographs and instead the compromise of the DUP approving a witness was agreed. If SF/IRA have renaged on that, then expect a rightly cold response from the DUP. I don’t want to pour cold water on this, but as things stand this is NOT transparent decommissioning and is yet therefore piece of SF/IRA media hype.

    greener fields : my understanding was that the churchman proposd by the DUP was not a Free Presbyterian but David McGaughey the former Presbyterian moderator. The question is why was he not used.

    For quite a long time I have harboured the belief that SF/IRA were not interested in resoring the institutions in Northern Ireland, but were trying to pass the blame for the collapse of the local administration onto unionists and thereby trying to get their goal of joint authority. If it’s a case that there are no photographs AND that the DUP’s nomination was not used this only confirms my suspicion.

  • yerman

    Comrade Stalin,
    I dont think anyone would accuse Harold Good of ‘covering’ for the IRA, but its a matter of whether he can inspire the kind of confidence necessary amongst the unionist community.

    There is also the problem of course, that can anyone by word alone inspire that required confidence – a couple of pictures might not have been too much to ask for some might say.

    Greener Fields
    Wake up son, the witness which was widely tipped as the DUP ‘pick’ was not a Free P. He was a former (Irish) Presbyterian Moderator from Kilkeel. You have to wonder what the IRA would have had to lose by choosing him this time. Surely if they wanted a way to criticise unionists for reacting sceptically then it would have been to have used ‘their’ choice when they were organising it themselves.

    If there has been decommissioning however then hopefully that can be the start of the end of gangsterism etc and maybe, just maybe its a start to something positive. But proof and pudding spring to mind.

  • Nick Kelly

    Keith M,
    Where did you obtain the following apparent mis-understanding?
    “My understanding was that SF/IRA would not allow photographs and instead the compromise of the DUP approving a witness was agreed.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Comrade, I have no knowledge of Good, my issue is not with him, it is with the fact that he is not the churchman approved by the DUP.

    What are the implications of him not being approved by the DUP ?

    My understanding was that SF/IRA would not allow photographs and instead the compromise of the DUP approving a witness was agreed.

    My own recollection is that the suggestion was made (probably by the British government) that witnesses be taken as a compromise. The DUP, at the time, repeated that only photographs would be acceptable. I don’t remember at any point the DUP proposing anyone as a witness. I don’t remember the DUP at any point moving from their position that only photographs would suffice.

    but as things stand this is NOT transparent decommissioning and is yet therefore piece of SF/IRA media hype.

    How likely is it that a leading Methodist would play a role in SF/IRA media hype ? You are accusing this man of helping the IRA’s objectives. On what basis are you doing that ?

    I dont think anyone would accuse Harold Good of ‘covering’ for the IRA, but its a matter of whether he can inspire the kind of confidence necessary amongst the unionist community.

    Explain why Good will not inspire the required confidence. Is he a liar ?

  • Keith M

    Nick Kelly “Where did you obtain the following apparent mis-understanding?” From the BBC, they were quoting the ones that named McGaughey as the witness proposed by the DUP.

    Comrade Stalin “What are the implications of him not being approved by the DUP ?”. That the decommisioning is not transparent to the DUP.

    “How likely is it that a leading Methodist would play a role in SF/IRA media hype ? You are accusing this man of helping the IRA’s objectives. On what basis are you doing that ?”
    I have noaxe to grind with Good. It is simply that he was not proposed or briefed by the DUP, therefore making him an all but useless witness, in terms of the political process.

  • Tiny

    Kieth M, does the Rev Good need to be briefed by the DUP to recognise a rifle or a handgun or to count them?

  • u.f.b

    I think KeithM will only be happy if the IRA televises the whole event and asks for Ian Paisleys forgivness. As for me I will be happy to hear if this has really happened and await the announcement of loyalist paramilitaries following suit.

  • Robert Keogh

    Comrade Stalin,

    Explain why Good will not inspire the required confidence.

    you are smart enough to know it has nothing to do with Good or whomever was chosen – it is about manufacturing an excuse not to enter Stormont.

  • Dr Snuggles

    Hey Slug, thanks for that. I do remember our discussion – and I think I owe you the same apology. But it was a good ol’ debate, and that’s what this place is all about, I guess.

  • question

    Just for information…is the Rev Good still a member of the Alliance Party?

  • Dr Snuggles

    I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think Harold Good has ever been a member of the Alliance party. He is, of course, Richard Good’s father, and Richard was an Alliance councillor, so there are links, but I think that’s the height of it.

  • Reader

    Robert Keough: you are smart enough to know it has nothing to do with Good or whomever was chosen – it is about manufacturing an excuse not to enter Stormont.

    Precisely. If SF had wanted to get the DUP into an Assembly, they would not have left them such an obvious escape hatch.

  • Nick Kelly

    Keith M,

    Which only goes to show that those quoted by the BBC can include “ones” who aren’t telling the truth.

    There was never any such “deal”, no matter how much the Paisley crowd might have wished it.

  • cladycowboy

    Keith M

    Photographs? Are these to prove that these weapons exist? Surely you’re not just going to take the word of reliable sources that say these guns do exist? I’m guessing you’ve seen photographs of these hidden arms dumps, otherwise you’d have to do like the rest of us and rely on reliable sources to tell us arms (that these sources have told us exist) have been decommisioned. No photos needed to believe they exist but photos needed to believe they don’t? Intellectual retardation yet again from the paisley drum